Dear Ruthy, I love baking and have my favourite go-to recipes — but sometimes they don’t turn out right. In the last few attempts the batter was too thick and stiff, and my baking turned out dense and a bit dry. I’ve been using the exact same brand of flour, so I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Please help!
Ooohh I know that can be frustrating, especially when you know how moist your baked goods should be. I’ve got a good idea as to what might be causing the problem. The first thing to keep in mind is that humidity can affect the consistency of the batter. If you live somewhere with dry winters and humid summers and use the exact same ingredient measurements, the batter might be wetter and looser in the summer and thicker in the winter.
(Photo from Heart Beet Kitchen)
The other consideration that will have an even more significant effect and can be a problem any time of year is the way you’re measuring your flour. Whether it’s stored in a jar, plastic container or bag, flour gets compacted as it sits and settles. For this reason, I love to bake using weights rather than volume measurements, particularly for flours and grains. But if you don’t have a scale, or if a recipe you’re following doesn’t provide weights, follow these steps to make sure that you measure the right amount of flour every time.
- Be sure to “fluff” the flour around in the container or bag with a fork before scooping.
- While holding your measuring cup over the container/bag or a small bowl, use a spoon to lightly scoop the flour into the measuring cup. Do NOT pack it down or tap the cup to settle the flour.
- Using the straight edge of a knife, level off the flour across the top of the cup (back into the bag of flour).
These simple steps should get you blissful baked goods every time!
(Header image by Erol Ahmed)
Ruth Elnekave is a Toronto-based chef, holistic nutritionist, culinary instructor, recovering corporate lawyer and founder of JOYÀ. Her projects are fuelled by one main goal: to spread the pure joy and wellbeing experienced when sharing and savouring delicious, real food.