Mihai Aurel
How to measure ingredients when baking


Accuracy when measuring out baking ingredients is super important. We really can't stress this enough.

It’s just a case of getting into good measuring habits and not letting little slip ups affect what is (or isn’t) in your mixing bowl.

Rule 1: Know which ingredients matter most 

Certain ingredients make the structure of your mixture. These are typically things such as flour, sugar, eggs and butter. These are the ones you need to watch closely when measuring out.  

Ingredients which are added for moisture are also important, such as milk, buttermilk and water, as this affects the dryness of your final bake. Ingredients such as food colouring, which affect the visual appearance of your final bake, are also important to get right.  

Pay special attention when measuring any ingredient that makes up the core mixture of the recipe and try to be as accurate as possible.  

Any ingredients which are added as ‘extras’ such as chocolate chips in a cookie mixture, won’t make or break the recipe if you put a little too much or too little in there.  


Rule 2: Follow ingredient directions as instructed

It’s important to remember that ingredients where there is a comma and a direction afterwards should be measured first and then the direction followed.   E.g. 100g strawberries, chopped  

The strawberries should be weighed out whole and then chopped. You can chop a bit off a strawberry, of course, to get your accurate measurement.  

If you see a recipe where the ingredient is specified as already chopped, for example, then it is probably an ingredient which can be bought ready-chopped to make measuring out easier.   E.g. 100g chopped pecans  


Rule 3: Always use accurate scales and measuring cups where the readings are clearly visible 

It’s quite surprising how many bakers will use vague scales and murky measuring cups with no clear markings and then they wonder why their bakes didn’t work out right.  

We always use digital scales in our bakeries for an accurate reading and a good pair of digital scales is a great investment for any baker. Likewise, some measuring cups can look pretty but they don’t do the job properly.

Always choose cups and spoons which can be easily emptied and levelled off with a knife. Pick a measuring jug which you can see through with clear markings.

Dry ingredients (finely ground)

Don’t pack them into the measuring cups! Ingredients such as flour, icing sugar and baking powder/bicarbonate of soda can compact in storage. Give them a good shake to free up the powder and then spoon the ingredient into your measuring cup or scale bowl.  

White sugar doesn’t compact as much as powdered ingredients, so it’s okay to scoop this from the bag with your measuring cup.

Never pack your dry ingredients into the measuring cup. The exception to this rule is sugars such as brown sugar, which can be very sticky and will resist being scooped or poured.

Treat brown sugars like the chopped ingredients below and pack them a little to ensure there is not too much air in the cup. In any case, use the edge of a knife to level it off.  


Dry ingredients (chopped or grated)

Lightly pack! A good guide is to see by eye how the dry ingredient compacts into the measuring cup.

Packing flour or icing sugar down can add a LOT more to the measuring cup as they are very finely ground, but chopped ingredients may need some help in getting into the measuring cup.

Once you’re satisfied there isn’t too much air in your cup, use the edge of the knife to level it off.  

Ingredients such as desiccated coconut or chopped nuts can trap quite a lot of air, so it’s helpful to pack them down just a little so that your measuring cup isn’t just measuring out air pockets. The same goes for things like dried chopped fruit. 

Liquids (thin/free flowing) 

Use a see-through measuring jug and a level surface! Use a glass measuring cup with clear markings. We all know that battered old measuring cup where you need to squint to make out the markings! Chuck it away and invest in a see-through glass measuring cup or jug where the markings are clearly visible.  

A wonky table will give you a wrong reading, so always measure on a flat, stable surface. Let the liquid settle and then view the measuring mark at eye level by bending down to see the liquid is at the mark. At the very least the lowest dip of the liquid should be exactly at the mark, not lower.  

And no holding it up to the light and measuring with the measuring cup in your hand. That’s fine if you’re making a salad dressing, not so great if your birthday cake is relying on milk to the exact millilitre!

Liquids (thick) 

Make sure the cup is properly filled! These require a spatula to pack down into the measuring cup. You can also tap the measuring cup lightly on the work surface if the ingredient will settle easily into the shape of the cup e.g. yogurt, buttermilk.

Always use a spatula to scoop out every last bit into the mixing bowl.  


Liquids and pastes (sticky) 

Use oil to prevent sticking! Measuring out goopy, sticky liquids such as golden syrup or treacle, or even peanut butter, can be a real pain in the spatula. Thankfully, a quick squirt of non-stick oil will provide a barrier to stop it sticking to the spoon.  


Butter Don’t use the measurements on the butter pack for anything other than a vague guide! They are not accurate enough.

Always slice your butter and measure into your measuring scale bowl when it is cool enough not to stick or melt. Let it come to room temperature after measuring.  

Melting butter can stick to the bowl and you’ll end up with less butter in your mixture than you planned when you come to scoop it out.

Hummingbird Bakery measuring spoons 

We have our very own set of measuring spoons as part of our baking gifts range. On a detachable ring to keep them together, this pretty set of spoons is perfect for measuring out with accuracy every time.

Order your set of Hummingbird measuring spoons exclusively on Amazon UK here.

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