Photography: Ronald Tsang
Accurate measuring is crucial to making perfect cookies. Here's how.
Nowhere in baking is measuring more important than with cookies. This is especially true for the flour—a little extra will turn chewy, crisp cookies into dry, tough little pucks, and too little will make cookies spread out and lose their shape.
So remember, working over the canister, spoon flour into a dry measuring cup until overflowing, then sweep off excess with the back of a knife to make it level with the rim. No shaking the cup, packing it down or making do with a liquid measuring cup.
Below, our Test Kitchen's tips for measuring ingredients:
Always use dry measuring cups or dry measures. These nesting metal or plastic cups usually come in 1/4-cup, 1/3-cup, 1/2-cup and 1-cup capacities.
- All-purpose flour, bread flour, granulated sugar, icing sugar and cocoa powder: Spoon into dry measuring cup until heaping. Don't pack or tap on counter to level. Level with straight edge of knife or spatula.
- Brown sugar: Pack into dry measuring cup until level with rim and firm enough that sugar holds its shape when turned out.
- Baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices: Fill standard measuring spoon to top; level with edge of knife. If recipe calls for a "pinch," use what you can hold between the tips of your thumb and forefinger, approximately 1⁄16 tsp.
Always use liquid measuring cups or liquid measures. These are glass or clear plastic cups with a spout. They range in size from 1 cup to 8 cups. Divisions are clearly marked on the side.
- For large amounts, use a liquid measuring cup placed on work surface. Bend down so your eye is level with marking on cup while filling.
- For small amounts, fill measuring spoon to top. Resist the urge to measure over a mixing bowl—this may lead to a spillover.
Butter & shortening: Follow markings on wrapper or use this guide.
1 lb (450 g) butter is 2 cups. Cut into halves for 1 cup, quarters for 1/2 cup, sixths for 1/3 cup or eighths for 1/4 cup.
TEST KITCHEN TIP
To avoid a sticky mess when measuring honey, molasses, corn syrup or maple syrup, mist measuring cup with cooking spray so ingredient slides out easily. (This works for peanut butter in a dry measuring cup, too.)