how many grams in cup of flour

I know, this seems like an easily google-able thing, but you would be surprised at what a range of answers come up - anything from 120 (King Arthur) to 150 (Nigella). I'm asking because I recently started to use a scale for baking, but I find that my dough is generally a bit wetter than I would expect. So far the recipes have had both cups and grams listed, and the amount of flour I end up using is closer to the cup measure in the end. I can only assume that the recipes were developed for cups and converted by the authors. I know that there is a lot of variation depending how how you put the flour into the cup, but is there a generally accepted standard?

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11 Comments

Sam1148 September 9, 2018
It gets worse. Flour of the same brand often has diffrent gram weights for regions of the country. People in the south like a softer flour for biscuits...go Gold Medal AP in the south is sometimes a finer mill than the north.
I know people say 'weigh your flour'...but when they say that in a recipe, they should explicate state what flour they're using to test the recipe. I tend to use cups, with a 'swoop' method in the bag.
 
Catherine September 9, 2018
Thank you all for your responses. The recipes in question come from more trusted websites (like Smitten Kitchen and this website) that are developed with the home cook in mind. In any case, for today's recipe that prompted the question, I used cups and had fabulous results :p

I always find it funny when people expound on the virtues of scales by using consistency as an argument in favour of scales. When you consider factors ranging from where and how the flour was milled, to the humidity, to the age of your ingredients and then add in how fallible our memories are with respect to anything, let alone taste, I find it to be a pretty weak argument in favour of scales.

I think from now on, should it be readily apparent when I read the recipe, I will stick to cups when the recipe has been developed for cups and metric when it has been developed using weighted measures.
 
Smaug September 10, 2018
Glad to hear that, scales are great for many situations, but have definite limitations; my occasional comments to that effect have mostly drawn outraged replies
 
Catherine September 10, 2018
I hear ya. People get pretty offended when someone implies that scale measures may have limitations, or heaven forbid, requests cup measurements on a recipe that only has metric. The response of "you should get a scale, they are not expensive" assumes that everyone has $10-15 lying around with no better use. That may be the case for some, but certainly is not the case for all. I have been baking with cups and spoons for years and I have never heard any complaints from the people stuffing their faces with treats :p Maybe their palates are too unsophisticated...

The only reason I bought the scale was to try a bread recipe from this website that I have not even tried yet. Personally, I find the scale great for weighing chocolate and other things with less variation than flour.
 
Clare M. September 9, 2018
I've been using the following chart for a couple years and it seems to be fairly accurate when baking bread. https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/ingredient-weight-chart.html
 
C S. September 9, 2018
It seems to me that bread dough has a lot of variables other than the exact amount of flour used - even humidity can affect the responsiveness of the dough. Most recipes I have used give a range in the amount of flour specified and both judgment and experience are useful in determining the sweet spot. Also, if you let the dough rest fro 10-15 minutes while it still seems too "wet" the flour has a chance to hydrate and it may become stiffer without adding more flour.
Fortunately most breads are fairly forgiving. Good luck and have fun working with breads.
 
Smaug September 8, 2018
Well- 130 is kinda standard, but really not dependable; it's really better to finish bread doughs (and most others) by touch rather than relying on measurement- too many variables.
 
Catherine September 8, 2018
I get that, and that is what I generally do with breads I have made before. It's more an issue for when I am trying a new recipe and I don't have a frame of reference for how it should be. I'd like to know the standard weight in order to gauge the accuracy of the recipe author's conversion.

Thanks for your reply!
 
Smaug September 9, 2018
True enough- with new recipes you are at the mercy of the writer to be clear about their intentions, both by accurate measurements and by useful descriptions of the process, a real art that has few true masters. Even given perfect measurements you face a lot of variables; the (usually professional) cooks who write the recipes are apt to have different sources- the flour may be milled differently, have a different mix of wheats etc., eggs are likely to be different sizes and different quality, and so forth). Storage conditions will be different, turnover times more consistent and faster, pans of different materials and shapes, heat distribution and thermal characteristics of the ovens different; on and on. maybe I'm old fashioned, but I greatly prefer getting recipes from books whose authors I'm familiar with than from unknown or less known authors on the internet. Of course you don't always have that choice.
 
702551 September 9, 2018
To expound on Smaug's excellent response, it's important to note that recipes from cookbooks don't always react the same.

If a dish calls for milk or cream, it may vary over the seasons as cows switch from grass to hay thus changing the quality and properties of their milk.

In a slightly more obvious way, it's like trying to make strawberry shortcake in the dead of winter. Sure, it can be done, but the results won't be the same as fresh strawberries at the peak of their season.

Over time, recipes from old cookbooks may not work with modern, commercially available ingredients.

Example: eggs today are produced from laying hens who are vastly different than their ancestors 40 years ago. Even if you buy the same size/grade (like large), the egg white-yolk ratio is different these days. If I recall correctly, more white in contemporary eggs as the laying hens are much younger, which may call for an extra egg (more yolk) to compensate for the missing protein/fat and to reduce the liquid elsewhere in the recipe.

For sure, it is nearly impossible to buy a chicken in America called for in a sixty-year-old recipe with a modern chicken. Today's American chickens are bred so huge that the breasts of a contemporary chicken weigh the same as an entire chicken from 30-40 years ago.

But ultimately, I agree with Smaug. There is a higher chance of success by starting with time-tested recipes from reliable sources. Cookbooks in libraries are a better source of recipes than the Internet as a whole.
 
Smaug September 9, 2018
Also perhaps worth noting- a lot of recipes for rustic type breads, baguettes, pizza crust etc. to tend to be pretty wet doughs (up to English muffins, which can be made from a batter more the consistency of oobleck than bread dough)- depending on what sort of experience you have, these doughs can be a little surprising when made properly.
 
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