The Freshman Cook: Measuring Your Ingredients

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For my first official blog page I want to talk about measuring your ingredients. When you are cooking sauces and soups, or seasoning foods like meats or veggies you can give a pinch of this or a dash of that. In other words, SEASON TO TASTE. But when you are baking, you must measure your ingredients precisely and correctly. Too much flour will make your cookies dry and tasteless. Too little flour will make them not bake properly, and run on the tray. It has been said that baking is a science, and it is true. Ingredients react to other ingredients, and if done properly, create the masterpiece you are looking for.   Lets start with your measuring cups. To measure dry ingredients, use a plastic or metal measuring cup like this one.     To measure your flour, start by taking spoonfuls of flour from the bag and placing it in your measuring cup. Don’t pat it down, don’t shake it, don’t try to even it out. Just let it fall into the measuring cup. Fill the entire cup until it is a little bit above the top. Then place a small bowl under your measuring cup that you have in your hand, and slowly, with a knife scrape the top of the cup, making the flour scrape off your measuring cup into the bowl below it. You now have a true one cup of flour. Add that to your bowl for your dry ingredients, not the bowl you scraped the extra flour into, and do it again.  When you are done with all the flour, throw the extra that you scraped off  back into the bag to use later. If you measure like this each time, you will always have the precise amount.  

  Now, what about measuring liquids? You will need a glass measuring cup. Fill the cup to the amount you need, being careful not to overflow. When you think it is where it should be, put the glass at eye level and double check. 

Do you love brown sugar? I know I do, and I love to put it into cookies and cakes. Brown sugar must be measured correctly. If you use too much it will ruin the taste by overpowering your other ingredients, and too little doesn’t give the amount needed for that deep, rich molasses flavor that we all love! So grab your plastic measuring cup, and your bag of brown sugar. Start by using a spoon to move the brown sugar from the bag to the measuring cup. As you fill the cup press down with the back side of the spoon, pushing the sugar down into the measuring cup, leaving no spaces for air. Put in a couple more scoops and do it again. When you get to the top, pat the top down until it is even with the top of your measuring cup. Then flip it upside down into the bowl you are using.

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