I want to share something with you all, and hopefully no one or their grandma will be offended in the process. This is something that I always share in my cooking classes and cookbooks, and it’s really important if you like to bake.
With the release of Vegan Diner, I thought that it might be timely to talk about measuring, or at least how I measure when I create my recipes. believe it or not, this is super important, and will affect the outcome of your baked goods.
When I went to culinary school, I was taught to measure one of two ways (yes Cecilia, I was paying attention!). The first, and most accurate is by weight. A good scale is just as important as a good mixer. Truly! You want a scale that preferably will weigh up to 10 pounds, offers a tare feature, and will measure in grams as well as ounces. My favorite scale is the Escali scale, which not only measures in cups, tablespoons, ounces, pounds and grams, but was developed with the King Arthur flour company and is pre-programmed with more than 150 ingredients that are commonly measured in cups. This is by far the most accurate way (or weigh, ha!) to measure. Plus, who doesn’t love a cheat sheet!
Scales can be pricey, so if you don’t have one or they aren’t in your budget, there’s another option. Dry and liquid measuring cups. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not quite as cut and dry as it might seem. First of all, dry measuring cups are for any ingredient that is dry and granular (flour, sugar, salt, etc…). Liquid cups (the glass kind with a lip), are for measuring anything wet (oil, milk, agave, molasses, etc…). If you use a liquid cup for flour (or vice-versa), you won’t get a correct measurement.
When it comes to measuring dry ingredients, a lot of people measure with the scoop and scrape method. That is, dipping your measuring cup into your flour, scooping it up and either shaking the top flat or scraping with your finger. I know that a lot of people are taught to measure this way, but I plead with you to stop. The reason is that measuring your dry ingredients this way can give you an additional 1/4 to 1/3 cup per scoop. That can equal dry, tough baked goods that don’t come out right. Trust me when I tell you this!
The way that you want to measure dry ingredients is by first taking a spoon and fluffing up your flour. This is because the flour can really compact in the bag or container. Then spoon (I use a large soup spoon for this) your flour into the cup, and using a skewer or knife, simply scrape the top of the measure. That’s it. It’s easy to do, but it may take a little while to break the old familiar habits and start anew.
Trust me when I say that I want everyone to have the most perfect, tender, beautiful baked goods around. When I develop recipes for my books, Everyday Dish, magazines and TV, you can count on the fact that if you measure the dry ingredients this way, the recipes will come out as anticipated.
I get emails from time to time, from readers who want to know why the batter for my oatmeal cookie recipe seems very dry, or a cake batter seems too thick. It always seems to comes back to the way the flour is measured.
So now that I’ve spoken my mind on the very serious topic of measuring flour, I will leave you with one of my favorite recipes for Cinnamon Coffee Cake ; )
Cinnamon Crumble Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F
9 x 13-inch glass baking dish, greased
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or medium)
4 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup vanilla or plain soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or medium)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
Egg replacer for 1 egg, mixed with necessary water according to package directions (I like Bob’s Red Mill Brand here)
1 tsp vanilla
1. Topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, melted Earth Balance and cinnamon, mixing well. Set aside.
2. Cake: In a measuring cup, mix together the soymilk and vinegar to create “buttermilk” and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder, mixing well. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl), combine the sugars, oil, applesauce and vanilla, beating well. Add the reconstituted egg replacer, beating on high speed until well beaten, about 20 seconds or so. Alternately add both the reserved “buttermilk” and flour mixtures to the mixer bowl, beating just until smooth.
3. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle reserved topping evenly over batter. Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, place on a rack and let cool completely before cutting cake. If desired, lightly dust cooled cake with powdered sugar.
Copyright © 2006 Julie Hasson