Healthy Cooking

‘I’m a Pastry Chef, and This Is the Secret To Making Bakery-Quality Bread’

Photo: Stocksy/Nataša Mandić
It's okay to get a little loosey-goosey with a recipe when you're cooking—but when it comes to baking, precision is key. As anyone who’s ever attempted to make professional-grade cookies from scratch knows, this can be tricky to do with measuring cups alone—they leave too much margin for error when measuring exact amounts of key ingredients like flour. (I mean, how easy is it to pack that stuff too tight and accidentally mix in twice as much as you intended?) Fortunately, you can squash your baking trepidations for good, however, by utilizing this tip from pastry chef Kaitlin Garske.

Garske took to TikTok, where she goes by the handle @whiskkid, to share a tip that she says will make you a better baker overnight. And it's pretty straightforward: Learn how to measure your flour the right way. "The fastest, easiest way to bake is by using a scale, but I understand not everyone has one at home and that's fine, you don't necessarily need one" she says. "Learning to measure flour can make a huge difference in how your pastries turn out."

Okay, so what's a person to do if they don't have a scale? Garske says that instead of dipping your measuring cup into the flour and scooping it out, then leveling it, you should use a spoon to stir the flour and scoop it into the measuring cup. Then level your scoop off. This trick helps to eliminate a significant portion of that aforementioned margin of error, because it keeps you from packing the flour into the measuring cup.

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To really drive the point home, Garske got out her food scale and weighed flour that was measured each way—spooning it into the measuring cup weighed significantly less. That's because the scooped flour was more compacted, while the spooned flour was airier. "This is important, because when you bake you're following a formula," she says. "And you don't always have to be extremely precise for every recipe, but this little bit of flour can actually make a big difference." There is one exception to this, however. She notes that if a relative taught you a recipe, you should measure it the way they did.

It's worth noting, though, that Garske still highly recommends using a food scale. "You'll never go back to the old way," she says.

Ready to rumble (er, bake some delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies or carrot cake)? Shop our favorite food scales before you preheat:

GreaterGoods Digital Kitchen Scale — $11.00

This baby has the distinction of being the number one bestseller on Amazon in digital kitchen scales. It’s got a simple, modern design that’s easy to clean, and it comes in nine different colors.

Ozeri ZK14-AB Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale — $11.00

This simple scale has over 73K reviews on Amazon, and a rating of 4.7 stars. Reviewers mention that it is an “easy to use” and “lightweight,” scale, and they also note that it’s very precise.

Etekcity Food Nutrition Kitchen Scale — $17.00

This scale is slightly larger than the other two, but can also be purchased in a smaller size for $10. While most reviewers used it for baking and other food-related tasks, the cutest review goes to the person who uses it to weigh her puppies (and yes, they did include a photo).

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