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Old 08-26-2006, 07:04 PM   #1
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Baking: "Sifted Flour" vs. "Flour, Sifted"

I'm fairly adventurous when I cook most things, but I'm a strict constructionist -- indeed, an originalist -- when it comes to baking, which I do infrequently. I'm also a literalist -- I assume that the recipe says what it means and means what it says, and that's what I do for fear of running my cake or whatever. But what I know about baking I learned from my mother like 45 years ago, and the rest is pretty much self-taught and limited to a "need to know basis."

I made a dessert today to take to my daughter's family tomorrow, just a simple bar cookie called Congo Squares, or something like that from one of our old cookbooks, sort of a blonde brownie with chocolate chips and nuts. The recipe called for "X cups of sifted flour." I've always interpreted that to mean something different from "X cups of flour, sifted." If it says "sifted flour," I sift a bunch of flour, then measure it; if it says "flour, sifted," I measure the flour, then sift it. My untested assumption is that sifting the flour first, then measuring it, results in slightly less flour than measuring the flour unsifted, which can affect the texture of the finished product.

So, my question to you more experienced bakers is whether my assumption is correct. Does it make a difference if I sift, then measure, or measure, then sift?


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Old 08-26-2006, 08:00 PM   #2
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Ok, I would say that if your recipe calls for X cups of sifted flour, you sift it first. If it calls for X cups of flour, measure it out then sift. I think either way it doesnt make a huge difference as long as the flour is sifted. I think your correct that if you sift flower it does come out to less flour content wise, but I dont think you should add more flour. I would assume x number of cups is what the recipe calls for. I guess you can experiment with two cakes and see what happens.
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Old 08-26-2006, 08:29 PM   #3
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Bread recipes (what I do most) often call for flour by weight, rather than volume. This reduces the liklihood of differences from such variables as the method of scooping flour. Sifting flour introduces a substantial amount of air.

For me, two cups of all-purpose flour taken in 'scoop and sweep' weighs about 10.8 ounces. Two cups of just sifted flour, then taken in 'scoop and sweep' weighs 8.6 ounces, a substantial difference as a matter of percentage. This may, or may not, make a substantial difference in the result taste and/or texture of the recipe.
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:16 PM   #4
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FryBoy:

You are correct in your assumptions. How did the bars turn out?
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:26 PM   #5
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Sifting shmifting, I just dump in the flour.

Lee
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Old 08-26-2006, 09:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Sifting shmifting, I just dump in the flour.
This can (will) have a drastic effect on texture in many (most) recipes.
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Old 08-26-2006, 10:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Blackwell
...two cups of all-purpose flour taken in 'scoop and sweep' weighs about 10.8 ounces. Two cups of just sifted flour, then taken in 'scoop and sweep' weighs 8.6 ounces....
Yes, indeed, that's a HUGE difference, 25.6% extra to be accurate, or the difference between 4 cups and 5 cups. That could easily ruin a recipe.

Thanks for the info!
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Old 08-26-2006, 10:22 PM   #8
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Congo Cookies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
How did the bars turn out?


Mucho good-o!

Here's the very simple recipe from 1965:

CONGO COOKIES

2/3 Cup Butter
1 Pound Light Brown Sugar (about 2 1/3 cups)
3 Eggs, Beaten
2 3/4 Cups Sifted Flour (Sift, Then Measure)
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Walnuts or Pecans)
6 Ounces Chocolate Chips
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Melt butter, add to sugar and cool.

Add beaten eggs and vanilla to sugar mixture.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring well.

Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.

Spread in buttered 13" X 9" X 2" baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool on rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then cut into about 36 bars; leave in pan until completely cool.
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Old 08-26-2006, 11:32 PM   #9
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Sifted flour means to sift the flour into the measuring cup ... flour, sifted means to measure the flour and then sift it. Yep - how you measure flour can get you off by 25% with no problem .... and that could mean the difference between the recipe works - or doesn't.
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Old 08-27-2006, 01:13 AM   #10
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Darn volume!

I like the Congo Cookie recipie! I'm thinking it would be aesy to substitute Maccadamia nuts and white chocolate perhaps?

thanks for sharing FryBoy!
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