Differences in basic American & English ingredients.

I'm British, but when I moved to Los Angeles last year for the first time I started cooking out of American baking books. Recipes and books that worked great for me in California keep going wrong and I can't understand why. I've checked I've got translations of measurements/ cooked using cups so many times, as well as the oven temperature. First my roll out cookies were a disaster and far too short, and now I've tried Snickerdoodles for the first time from the same book (Joy The Baker) and they've had the same problem. It *feels* like I'm using too much flour, but I've checked I'm not. So, does anyone know any differences in things like flour that I'm going wrong with. In LA I used Whole Foods All Purpose Flour as it felt one of the best qualities I tried, and it the UK I use high quality plain flour. I always use large eggs, and even in America I used the same French or Irish unsalted butter. All the British recipes I used to make all the time worked with American ingredients, and while I have not tried cakes yet, brownies have worked. It has only been my cookies that have been a total failure.

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9 Comments

pierino September 2, 2013
It is ironic that decades after Britain went metric in America we are stuck with old English measurements for everything from volume to length.
 
Declan September 2, 2013
Nothing to do with weights, conversations, etc. the ingredients are not comparable ... Flour in particular. There is absolutely nothing in common with North American flour and European flour. Easy (and, in my opinion, only answer) when in US use a Us recipe, and when in Europe ... A European recipe.
 
HalfPint August 31, 2013
Here is a great conversion chart that you can use,
http://www.cookitsimply.com/measurements/

It has metric equivalents for American measurements.
 
HalfPint August 31, 2013
Sorry, I have to go. You can search for the corresponding weights for water and liquids online. Butter should measure out like a liquid. But you should be able to get that info easily. Good luck!
 
Rachel P. August 31, 2013
Thank you.
 
HalfPint August 31, 2013
Typically, how many grams or ounces is your cup of flour? I ask because a lot of people (in the US, at least) make the mistake of assuming that 1 cup of flour is 8oz (~227g). For all purpose flour, 1 cup should be 128 grams. If you are converting an American recipe that only has volumetric measurements, this would explain why it feels like there too much flour in your cookies. I can only think that the brownies worked because there is usually more liquid in a brownie recipe. Likewise, weigh your eggs. 1 large US egg is 57g. Not sure what a large British egg should weigh. Seems every country has a different standard for egg size classification. This will be important when you make cakes. And 1 c cake flour should be 100g. The cake flour has less protein and is lighter than all purpose flour.
 
Rachel P. August 31, 2013
Oh my god thank you. I've always had it in my head that a cup is 227g, and that is how much flour I've been using. Thank you, thank you! So, how do I work out what all the different measurements are for different cups then? I'm assuming liquids and butter will have different weight values too, then?
 
Monita August 31, 2013
You may want to weigh your ingredients to insure that your equivalents are correct. I have an inexpensive scale that translates grams to ounces and that helps when I'm using recipes that aren't from American cookbooks. It may be that your weights are off by a little -- depending on whether you scoop into the flour and then level or spoon into your measuring cup and then level. A scale will be more precise. Also, if you don;t have an oven thermometer you might want to get one to make sure your oven is really at the temperature the dial says.
 
Rachel P. August 31, 2013
Hmmm. I only tried using the cups after things failed with the scales, personally I think they are very inaccurate. Also, I know my oven is 5 degrees hotter than the dial, so it can't be that... but thanks for your suggestions!
 
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