Friday, August 8, 2014

Cooking 101 Part 2

In my last Cooking 101 post, I talked about the easiest ways to chop and dice.  If you missed it, you can read it here:

Today, I want to show you the proper way to measure ingredients.  Once you've been cooking a while, you can kind of eyeball measurements.  But, when you first start out, you should measure properly.  When you bake, you should ALWAYS measure properly, no matter how long you've been doing it.  Baking is an exact science.  Accurately measuring ingredients is the key to success.

First, let's talk about the difference between wet and dry measuring cups.  When you measure liquid ingredients, you should use a cup with a spout and measurement lines on the side.  Fill it to the line of the measurement you need and look at it from the side, not from above, to make sure it is exactly on the line.

This is how you should measure all liquids.

Dry ingredients should be measured in dry measuring cups that can be filled up to the top and leveled off.  They come in a variety of sizes.  A set usually includes 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup sizes.

Now, I'd like to talk about how to measure specific ingredients.  The first ingredient is flour.  When you measure flour, you don't want it to be packed down.  You want it to be light and airy.  What I do is use a spoon to fluff it up, then gently spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup.  Finally, use a butter knife (flat edge) to even off the top of the cup.

Flour should never be packed down, brown sugar on the other hand, should be.  Sometimes a recipe will specifically say "1/4 cup packed brown sugar" sometimes it won't.  However, it is a good rule of thumb to pack brown sugar.  All that means is that you spoon it into the dry measuring cup, then press it down with your hand until it's level with the top of the cup.

Using measuring spoons is similar to dry measuring cups.  Just fill it up and level it off.

Here is a tip about measuring baking soda.  The box has a built-in flat edge that you can use to level it off.

The baking powder can has a flat edge as well.

Another tip:  When you are baking something, say a cornbread, measure the dry ingredients into a bowl, then measure the wet ingredients into a separate bowl.  Then, mix the wet and dry ingredients together.  This is a tried and true method.  If your recipe has specific instructions, follow them, of course.  Otherwise, this is the way to go.

So, now you know the right way to measure liquid and dry ingredients.  You're one step closer to becoming the next Iron Chef!  Happy Cooking!

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