One of the most accurate ways to measure ingredients when you are making a cake is to use a scale. Making a cake is such a precise science that you really want the ingredients to be as accurately measured as possible which is why many professional chefs and baking enthusiast prefer to weigh ingredients rather than use cups and measuring spoons.
However, not everyone has a kitchen scale on hand. Do not worry! You can still accurately measure cake ingredients without a scale and get perfect cake results and I will tell you how.
Liquid Measuring Cups and Dry Measuring Cups
You may have seen liquid measuring cups and also dry measuring cups in the stores and wondered if you really need a set of both. The simple answer is yes, you definitely do.
While both kinds of measuring cups hold the same volume, they are each designed to accurately measure their respective ingredients.
Measuring dry ingredients in a liquid measuring cup with not be very accurate and if you try to measure wet ingredients using a dry cup, you are likely to spill the wet ingredients, once again making the measurement inaccurate.
Here is a little bit about each kind of measuring tool and how each should be used in order to measure your cake ingredients perfectly.
Liquid Measuring Cups
Liquid measuring cups are typically one large cup that has lines marking the levels along the side. If you have a one cup liquid measuring cup, it will have lines along the side that mark where ¼ of a cup is, half a cup and ¾ cup.
There may also be lines to show 1/3 and 2/3 of a cup and also the ounces for each measurement may also be written on the side.
If your measuring tool is designed to measure one cup, it may actually be a little larger than one cup if you filled it to the brim. This, again is part of the design.
After you measure a liquid, you will need to pick up the cup and move it to your mixing bowl. Having the cup be larger than the maximum quantity you are measuring will prevent any from spilling as you move it around.
Dry Measuring Cups
Dry measuring cups come in various sizes and are usually sold in a set. Each set will likely have a ¼ cup, 1/3 cup, ½ cup, 2/3 cup, ¾ cup and 1 cup measuring tool. Each one is individual since they are meant to be filled to the top, measuring the exact amount you need.
To measure a dry ingredient, you scoop the ingredient up with the cup then use a knife (or any flat tool) to scrap the excess off, making the cup completely level and precise.
Weights of Ingredients
If you have a recipe that is measures by weight rather than volume, you will need to do a little bit of math.
While the standard rule of thumb for liquid ingredients is one cup equals eight ounces, this is not true for dry ingredients. All dry ingredients have different weights per volume so knowing the weights of each ingredient is imperative.
Of course, that is a lot to remember! It is a good idea to take your recipe that is written in weight and look up each ingredient, one at a time, and write down the volume conversion.
Here are a few of the most common ingredients used in baking cakes to help you get started. I am writing the weights for one full cup so you can do the math from there!
- 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
Extra 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!
Level the Cup
When using a dry measuring cup to measure dry ingredients, use a spoon to scoop the ingredient into the measuring cup. Fill the cup to the brim, piling the ingredient into the cup as high as possible.
Then, take a knife, flat spatula or leveling tool and scrap the excess off the top of the cup, pressing the leveling tool against the top of the measuring cup to make the ingredient completely level with the top of the cup. This will ensure your measurement is perfect.
Do Not Pack
When measuring ingredients into a dry measuring cup, do not press the ingredients into the cup. You do not want to pack the ingredients in as this will change the quantity.
For example, packing flour into a cup, pressing down on it in order to fit more, can actually add a significant amount of flour that is not needed in 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. Sometimes, a recipe will specifically ask you to pack your brown sugar into the cup so if you see this written in your recipe, pack it in!
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 (like your counter). Bend down so that you are eye level with the cup and see how much liquid you have, looking at the lines on the cup.
When you look at the cup at eye level, you will be able to clearly see where the ingredients line up at the markings, knowing right away if you need any more or less of your wet ingredients.
Butter typically comes wrapped in paper that has pre measured markings. To measure butter, you can use a sharp knife to cut through the paper at the line which marks the quantity you need.
Unwrap the butter and then use it as needed!
Check the Wording
Always read recipes carefully to assess how they are worded. This can really determine how much of an ingredient you need.
For example, a recipe may ask for one cup of finely chopped strawberries which will be much more than a recipe which calls for one cup of halved strawberries. One cup of halved strawberries may only be about 3-4 strawberries while a cup of finely diced strawberries would be around 6-8 strawberries.
Wording in the recipe definitely matters to accuracy in measuring! While scales are great for measuring ingredients, you definitely do not need one!
Measure using the correct tools, read your recipe carefully and take your time when you measure your cake ingredients and you will have no problem- no scale needed!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.