Saturday, March 5, 2011

Converting Grams to Cups (Problem & Solution)


Measuring Flour02

Since I posted the recipes of tangzhong bread, I started receiving emails from readers asking the same question like this, “Could you convert (the recipe of xxx) from grams into cup measurement for me because I don’t have a kitchen scale?” I lost count of how many emails of such I received so far. I think it’s time to write a post to respond to all who might have the similar question.

I pretty understand that it is quite confusing when spotting a recipe with different measurements. It might be disappointing too if you really like to give it a go, but don’t know how to convert to the measurement you used to. As a food blogger, seeing my readers succeed in trying my recipes will definitely motivate me and make me happy.

Unfortunately, there’s no one formula to help convert different ingredients from one kind of measurement to another. The only way is to weight the ingredient one by one, then measure it by a cup/tablespoon, or vice versa.

I don’t mind taking some time to go back all the requested recipes and convert them into cup measurement. The problem is that I found measuring in cups/teaspoons is not quite reliable.

Every time I measured out a cup of plain flour, leveled it with a knife, then place on my electric kitchen scale, it gave me a different answer: 141 grams (1st time); 143 grams (2nd time); 150 grams (3rd time); 142 grams (4th time); 140 grams (5th time); 136 grams (6th time)……

Measuring Flour01

Measuring Flour03
So, which one is correct? How much plain flour is in a cup actually? How come the differences?

Cup is a tool for measuring volume. The problem occurs when measuring a dry ingredient, like flour or sugar, by volume, it results in a variety of different weights. Even though I used the same method, by spooning and leveling with a knife very carefully, the different weights I found were quite significant.

Actually, if a cup of flour is scooped out from a container or packet, you’d probably get a weight from 142 grams to 113 grams, by tapping or without tapping. That’s a huge difference!

As for making delicate cakes or soft, fluffy breads, like this one and this one, that I posted on this blog, a slight difference of flour weight would make a big impact on the texture of the end result. By the same token, the difference of sugar has great impact on taste.

The most accurate way of measuring is to use a kitchen scale. If you can afford, an electric kitchen scale will do the best. It’s worth saving you from unexpected cooking disasters or spending time on converting. (As you might’ve known that there are heaps of conversion tables out there when you google it.) With a kitchen scale, you can be sure that you have quality control of your desserts or breads. My kitchen scale was bought at about 14 dollars many years ago, still in a good condition.

Having said that, I understand many of you come from a country that commonly uses the cup measurement. If you desperately need to try out a recipe after a long search, unfortunately without a kitchen scale at hand, below is a conversion table for you, that I created by measuring each ingredient over ten times with my electric kitchen scale.

Happy cooking to everyone!
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Converting “grams” to “cups”:
Please note that all recipes on this blog use metric measurement (Australian).
  • 1 metric cup = 250 ml (cc)
  • 1 tablespoon = 20 ml (cc)
  • 1 teaspoon = 5 ml (cc)
bread flour:
  • 1 cup = 155 grams
  • 1 tablespoon =12 grams
  • 1 teaspoon = 3 grams
plain flour/all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup = 140 grams
  • 1 tablespoon =12 grams
  • 1 teaspoon =3 grams
cake flour
  • 1 cup=130 grams
  • 1 tablespoon =10 grams
  • 1 teaspoon =2.5 grams
self-raising flour
  • 1 cup = 150 grams
  • 1 tablespoon = 12 grams
  • 1 teaspoon = 3 grams
corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon = 12 grams
  • 1 teaspoon = 3 grams
white sugar
  • 1 cup = 220 grams
  • 1 tablespoon = 16 grams
  • 1 teaspoon = 4 grams
caster sugar
  • 1 cup = 224 grams
  • 1 tablespoon = 18 grams
  • 1 teaspoon = 4 grams

    45 comments :

    1. Wow, thanks Christine for taking your time to share all this! It's very detailed. I also highly recommend people to buy a digital scale, especially if you're serious about baking. I wasn't sure if I needed one, but now it's so easy to measure things out and I can also use lots of recipes that I see on peoples' blogs. However, if you don't have a scale, this website will also help you. http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/sugar_amounts.html

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    2. Very informative Christine:D I am guilty tool

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    3. Thanks Christine for this great write out. I feel that one should invest in an electric scale too if one wants to avoid disaster in cooking or baking. To me a measuring cup is just as important a tool as an electric scale . A must have items in my kitchen. Conversion is never accurate.

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    4. yea, a kitchen scale is pretty important especially for baking!

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    5. Bottom line is: one cannot be a serious baker without a scale. I'm not joking here, the cups system is good for cooking stews and soups, bakery is more like pharmacy!

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    6. Thanks to all for your precious inputs!

      I believe many of my readers know there are heaps of conversion tables online.
      What I'm trying to make a point on my post here is that even though we have a great, accurate conversion table, we're still risking at not getting the right amount of flour with a cup!

      Take an example, if a recipe calls for 350 grams of plain flour, then you refer to a conversion table saying it's about 2.5 cups. But, after scooping out the 2.5 cups of flour, you might actually get out 282 grams or much much more than 350 grams, depending on the way of scooping flour.

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    7. I have a cups to grams calculator that I use... you are awesome to test it out :)

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    8. Excellent resource! Since moving to Manila, I've had to brush up on the metric system. I particularly like the fact that you broke this down by specific ingredient - after all, volume measurement (i.e. 1 cup) of flour vs sugar are the same but weight measurement is completely different! I am now definitely being 'converted' to using a digital scale and weighing my measurements as much as possible. 8-)

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    9. You're such a great teacher!!! I usually prefer baking recipes (especially for bread) with grams as it is more accurate.

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    10. Thks for the info! Great help!

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    11. Thank you so much for this very useful information, this is great!

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    12. Christine, you are so right...and you know what I noticed? Depending where you live the humidity does make a difference as well...it is sure very complicated. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead :-)

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    13. Christine, how helpful and meticulous of you. A very useful post indeed.

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    14. Found cheap scale for just $5 at target!

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    15. this is such an useful post. Thank you!

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    16. This is really useful, I find it so confusing when i am trying to convert recipes. Also, I never knew what size a cup was before, so i could never work out if i was using one that was too big or too small.

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    17. How can i give money to support Japan?
      I am so unhappy about what happened in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami and I genuinely wish to assist them by simply donation.

      Does anyone know an internet site or anything where one can donate to help Japan?

      ReplyDelete
    18. @Anonymous:
      Your good heart is much appreciated.

      Try Japanese Red Cross:
      http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/index.html

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    19. I can well understand weighing of flour, sugar, butter, etc, but milk and oil are also referred to by g in the recipes. Do we weigh these, too, or how do I convert them into liquid measurement units of ml, tsp, tbsp or cup like we use here in Canada? Thank you so much ...

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    20. @Nancy:
      Yes, you're right. Normally, we use cups/tablespoons/teaspoons to measure liquid. But for making some delicate Asian breads, we need accuracy to balance all the dry and wet ingredients, so in such case, the recipes call for liquids measured in grams.

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    21. When you level the measuring cup with a knife, you ensure a compact cup that's measured accurately.

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    22. Thank you for the recommendations about converting grams to cups. No wonder I screw up the measurements for dishes all the time.

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    23. Measuring what you use while cooking is very important so that the food will always be constant.

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    24. Hahah, this is definitely better than using an iPhone app to convert. Come to think of it I'll just print your list and laminate it for easy reference.

      - kitchen units webmaster

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    25. Ok, thanks for the info, but what if I am using gluten free all purpose flour?? haha I am sooooo lost!!!

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    26. @Anonymous
      Invest an electric kitchen scale, then everything will be easier, haha....
      Happy cooking!

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    27. Thank you, Christine, for all the trouble you go through to make it easier for your readers. I convert all recipes from cups to metric measurements. It makes baking so much easier!
      Anyhow, the problem with flour weight lays actually in the wheat; sometimes there is more moisture in it, depending on the seasonal weather, and so the flour is 'heavier' than other times. So far I have ignored this problem and just weigh cup/s of flour the first time and then stick with it for any further making the same recipe. Might not be ideal but it has worked so far for me, and I bake and cook a lot. Cheers, Ingrid@foodpoet.net

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    28. @Ingrid
      Oh, thanks for your precious sharing.

      I also find that every time I measure 1 cup of flour, I'll get different grams. For making delicate bakery, it might bring great impact on the end results. But other than that, will be no harm at all.

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    29. Wow, thank you so much! I am an American married to a Pole and I have so much trouble trying to cook from Polish cookbooks. This will help tremendously when I bake a traditional Polish engagement cake for our wedding anniversary tomorrow. And as soon as I can, I will invest in a scale. Thank you again!

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    30. This is just the thing I was looking for!
      On a small note, I did the same thing with butter, and that come to about 250g to a cup.

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    31. Thanks for the conversion table. I was confused earlier as I always thought one table spoon = 3 tea spoons (but again it depends on what size is the table spoon)

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      Replies
      1. Yeah, very confusing.
        In Australian measurement, 1 tablespoon = 4 teaspoons (20ml).

        But recently, I found some 15ml-capacity tablespoons, that are imported from other countries, in nearby kitchenware shops.

        Kindly note that all recipes on this blog are measured with my 20ml-capacity tablespoon.

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    32. Thank you so much for your helpful hints. Have been a fan of your site for a while and I am planning on getting your book. Your recipes are great! I have a question ; I have a few baking books in Chinese and most of the measurements are all over the place and the discrepancies in the English/Chinese translation is not very helpful either. Can you tell me when they say 1 cup in the recipe, does that mean 1 cup in American cup measurement? Or is there another set of cup measurements in Hong Kong and China? I have been having many problems with many of the recipes in these books and it is really frustrating! Thanks for your help!

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      Replies
      1. Yes, cup measurements are very confusing indeed.
        Take a look at this article and you'll get that the measuring cup in US equivalent to 240ml, whereas the metric cup is 250ml.

        When it comes to baking, different volumes of measuring cups used will bring a great impact on the end products. That's why I like recipes of bakery using gram measurement because it's accurate.

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    33. Thank you for taking time to share this, its very helpful!

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    34. Intelligent and interesting. Thank you. :) The Yeti is highly appreciative.

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    35. Interesting but you never said whether you tapped the cup to settle the flour to come to the conclusions that you did. So, as you originally said, there is a vast difference in weights by doing that, therefore your measurements are not accurate..

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      1. I never tap the cup so I didn’t mention it at all. I just scooped the flour out with a spoon into a measuring cup until the cup is overflowing. Then leveled off the flour with a knife. Every time I used the same method.

        The main idea I wanted to say here is that even though the same person used the same method would get different amount of flour if not using a kitchen scale.

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    36. Christine, you practise patience and tolerance really well. I admire your personality....you would be much blessed!!

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    37. I tried converting from another link & it tell me that 1 cup of self raising flour is to 125g (http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/flour_volume_weight.html).

      Could you kindly explains to me why is it so?

      Thank you!

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      Replies
      1. What is the volume / size of their cup ?
        Mine is 250ml, in Australia.

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    38. Im planning to buy an electric scale. But my question is when we weigh the ingredients with a bowl that i see you use here, do i need to subtract the weight of the bowl?

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      Replies
      1. We don't need to do the math to subtract the weight of a container.
        Every electric kitchen should have a "tare" function. After you place an empty bowl on top, simply press the tare button, then you'll get the balance of zero.

        But before buying, do check and make sure the product has got the tare function.

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