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How to Measure Cake Ingredients Without Scales

How to Measure Cake Ingredients Without Scales

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Precision matters if you want to make the perfect cake. As such, professional chefs often use scales to measure ingredients over using cups and spoons like some home bakers.

However, if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you might struggle to keep up with the precise measurements needed for a delicate pastry recipe.

But you don’t need to fret! I’ll guide you through measuring cake ingredients without a scale and nail it every time. I’ll also share some tricks to make the best slice you’ll ever savor.

Use Liquid Measuring Cups and Dry Measuring Cups

You may have come across liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups in the store and wondered if you need a set of both. The simple answer is yes, you do.

See, while both measuring tools contain the same volume, they measure different kinds of baking ingredients. Swapping one for the other can make your measurements less accurate.

But how do you use these measuring cups, exactly?

How to Use Liquid Measuring Cups

Liquid Measuring Cup

Liquid measuring cups typically come in one large cup with lines marking the levels along the side. As its name suggests, you use it to gauge wet ingredients, from water, milk, cooking oil, broth, honey, and syrup.

A one-cup liquid measuring cup will have lines along the side that mark where ¼ of a cup is, half a cup, and ¾ cup.

Some liquid measuring cups may also feature lines to indicate 1/3 cup and 2/3 cup, and display ounces for each measurement.

If your measuring tool is designed to measure one cup, it may be slightly larger than one cup if you fill it to the brim. This, again, is part of the design.

After you measure a liquid, you’ll need to pick up the cup and move it to your mixing bowl. The larger cup capacity ensures you don’t spill the wet ingredients as you move it around.

How to Use Dry Measuring Cups

Dry Measuring Cups

Dry measuring cups come in various sizes and are usually sold in a set. Each set will likely have a 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup, and 1 cup measuring tool.

The cups are designed this way because you’re meant to fill them to the brim to get the exact amount of baking ingredients.

To measure a dry ingredient, you scoop the ingredient up with the cup then use a knife (or any flat tool) to scrape the excess off. Easy right?

Weight vs. Volume

If your recipe calls for ingredients measured by weight rather than volume, you will need to do a little bit of math.

While the general rule of thumb is one cup equals eight ounces of liquid, this isn’t true for dry ingredients. Dry ingredients have different weights per volume so knowing the weights of each ingredient is necessary.

But remembering all that information can be overwhelming! Even I struggle to recall each dry weight when baking. So, you’re not alone in this hitch.

To make things manageable, take the weight-based recipe and look up each ingredient individually. Then, jot down the information on a sticky note for future reference.

But to help kickstart your conversion journey. Here are some of the most common cake ingredients and their weights for one full cup:

  • All Purpose Flour: 1 cup = 4.25 ounces
  • Cake Flour: 1 cup = 4.25 ounces
  • Brown Sugar: 1 cup = 7.5 ounces
  • Powdered Sugar: 1 cup = 6 ounces
  • Granulated Sugar: 1 cup = 7 ounces
  • Chocolate Chips: 1 cup = 6 ounces
  • Cocoa Powder: 1 cup = 3 ounces
  • Honey: 1 cup = 12 ounces
  • Oats: 1 cup = 3.125 ounces
  • Butter: 1 cup = 8 ounces

Tips and Tricks for Measuring Cake Ingredients

Now that you know all about using measuring cups, measuring spoons, and how to calculate cups from ingredient weights, here are a few more tips and tricks to help you accurately measure ingredients when making a cake.

Follow these pointers and you are sure to have perfect cake results!

Tip #1: Leveling the Cup

Level Dry Measuring Cup

When using a dry measuring cup to measure dry ingredients, use a spoon to scoop the ingredients. Fill the cup to the brim, piling the ingredients into the cup as high as possible.

Then, take a knife or a flat spatula and scrape the excess off the top of the cup. Press it against the top of the measuring cup to make the ingredients completely level with the top of the cup.

Tip #2: Avoiding Packed Cup

When measuring ingredients into a dry measuring cup, avoid pressing the ingredients into the cup. Doing so will change the quantity of the ingredients.

For example, packing flour into a cup, and pressing down on it to fit more, can add a significant amount of flour unnecessary to the recipe. 

Simply scoop the dry ingredients, level and pour them into the mixing bowl!

The only exception to packing dry ingredients into a measuring cup is when using brown sugar. If a recipe specifies packing sugar into the cup, follow the instructions to the letter.

Tip #3: Exacting Wet Ingredients

Liquid Measuring Cup On Flat Surface

The same principles apply when measuring wet ingredients into a wet measuring cup. 

Pour the liquid into the cup and then place the measuring cup on a flat surface. Bend down so that you are at eye level with the cup and see how much liquid you have, looking at the lines on the cup.

Tip #4: Measuring Your Butter

Butter typically comes wrapped in paper that has pre-measured markings. To measure the butter, you can use a sharp knife to cut through the paper at the line that marks the quantity you need.

Of course, unwrap the butter and then use it as needed. You don’t want your guest chewing and having a piece of aluminum foil stuck on their teeth!

Tip #5: Checking the Wording

Pay close attention to the recipe’s words. It only takes a wrong light angle to take one measurement for another!

For example, a recipe may ask for one cup of finely chopped strawberries, which will be much more than a recipe that calls for one cup of halved strawberries. 

One cup of halved strawberries may only be about 3-4 pieces, while a cup of finely diced strawberries would be around 6-8.

In short, you may reduce or increase the amount of ingredients, which would alter the taste of your cake.


Do you care to learn more baking knowledge? Here are some commonly asked questions you might find helpful:

How can I measure 100g of flour without scale?

There are several kitchen hacks to measure 100g of flour without using scales or cups. For one, you can use a tablespoon to weigh the flour (yes, you read that right).

See, each spoonful of flour weighs approximately 20 grams. So, to get to a hundred, you only need five spoonfuls of the powder and start baking.

You can even use a teaspoon in place of a tablespoon! One teaspoon can carry about 10 grams of flour, so you need around ten scoops.

Why should you measure by weight when baking?

Using weight is the most accurate way to measure ingredients. You can’t compress weight, so five ounces of flour will always be five ounces.

Do you want to make a consistent pastry batch without changes in taste or texture? Measure everything by weight and never miss another batter shot.

Final Thoughts

Voila! You can now measure cake ingredients without relying on a scale. Using cups and kitchenware already available in your home is more than enough.

Nevertheless, I’d still recommend investing in a scale for a more precise baking experience. If you plan on cooking batch after batch of cakes, having a reliable tool can save you valuable time and effort!

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