As many of you know, I am organizing recipes into a personalized cookbook, copies of which will eventually be given to my children. I am making this book a compilation of all the recipes that are favorites in our family, with tips and anecdotal comments about each recipe. Recently I have been adding general cooking and baking information and describing the techniques I have found helpful and wish someone had shared with me when I was first married. The following information is from the section I have written on the correct way to measure ingredients for baking and cooking.

  • Granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar — Spoon lightly into a measuring cup until level with the top edge of the cup. Level off with the edge of a knife.
  • Brown sugar — Spoon into a measuring cup. Pack it down with the back of the spoon just enough so it will hold its shape when turned out of the cup. Fill to the top edge of the cup, then level off with the edge of a knife.
  • Flour — Dip measuring cup into flour container, then level off. Older cookbooks advise sifting the flour first. Modern cookbooks advise not to sift flour first. I like to stir the flour before I dip the cup.
  • Baking powder, baking soda, salt, corn starch, cream of tartar, spices — Stir, then dip and fill the measuring spoon to the top edge. Level off.
  • Solid shortening (like Crisco) — Have shortening at room temperature. Scoop shortening out of the can and pack it firmly into a measuring cup up to the top edge of the cup. Level off with the edge of a knife. If you’re measuring less than 1/4 cup, use the appropriate measuring spoons.

Golden glow gone wild
  • Butter or margarine — Have butter or margarine at room temperature. Measure using the same method as for shortening. One stick of butter or margarine equals 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons, one-half stick equals 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons, etc.
  • Liquid oil (like olive oil) — Pour into glass measuring cup, use measuring spoons for smaller amounts.
  • Melted fat — Before melting, measure like Crisco. After melting, measure like liquid oil.
  • Soft bread crumbs — Pack lightly into a measuring cup. Press gently until level with top.
  • Dry bread crumbs — Spoon lightly into a measuring cup. Level off with a knife, don’t shake or tap the cup.
  • Shredded cheese or grated cheese — Pack lightly into a measuring cup until level with the top edge of the cup. Follow the same process with coconut, nuts, and dried fruits like dates or raisins.
  • Milk and other pourable liquids — Use a glass measuring cup. Fill to appropriate level.
  • Sour cream, yogurt, peanut butter, and other thick ingredients — Spoon into a measuring cup until level with the top edge of the cup. Level off with a knife.