Sunday, March 11, 2012

Measuring flour

I'm taking part in a baking workshop at the Christian Chefs International annual conference. Chef Jim Krieg, a former culinary school baking instructor, is leading the intense three-day workshop.

In four hours this afternoon, 10 students prepared five doughs. We each prepared a personal pain ordinaire (basic bread dough). We will prepare a second pain ordinaire dough tomorrow as well.

Then in teams, the students mixed and formed bagel, donut, ciabatta and focaccia doughs. The focaccia was baked for our dinner this evening. We retarded the bagel, donut and ciabatta dough for tomorrow.

The workshop and conference are being held on the campus of Canby Grove Christian Center in Canby, Oregon. Chef Ira Krizo is the executive chef.

Here Chef Jim shows us the proper way to measure flour into a measuring cup. The average cup of bread flour weighs about 4.75 ounces, said Chef Jim. To measure, scoop flour into the measuring cup as shown in the picture. Do not dip the measuring cup into the flour. His cup weighed 4.85 ounces.

To show how dipping methods vary, Chef Jim packed bread flour into the measuring cup. It weighed 6.9 ounces. He lead us through this exercise to demonstrate why bakers preferred measuring by weight to measuring by volume. By contrast, my average cup of flour typically weighs 5.5 ounces.

The proper method for measuring will help the baker produce a consistent cup of flour. It is useful when converting a baking formula from volume measurement to weight measurement. The average pound of bread flour should measure in at aproximately 3-1/3 cups. Use this as a guide when converting recipes.

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