L.A.Times Test Kitchen tips: Measuring ingredients
-- Use liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients, and dry measures for dry. Honestly, I can't stress how important this is; nothing will throw a recipe off more quickly than measuring out your flour in a liquid measuring cup (you'll end up with much more than is called for in the recipe). Measuring spoons can be used for both liquid and dry ingredients.
-- Place the measuring cup on a flat, level surface before measuring. This goes for both liquid and dry ingredients.
-- Level off your dry ingredients so they're flush with the top of the measuring spoon or cup. Do this gently with a flat level, such as a ruler or the back of a knife.
-- Gently spoon -- don't pack -- the flour into the measuring cup. Packing will throw off a recipe by adding more flour than is called for. And don't scoop the flour using the same spoon/cup with which you're planning to measure — this will pack the flour.
-- Pack the brown sugar into your measuring spoon or cup. Yes, this is the total opposite of the flour.
Finally, follow the recipe as it is written. Changing or substituting ingredients alters the recipe, and will almost always alter the results. Especially when it comes to the chemistry of baking.
If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Noelle Carter
twitter / noellecarter
Photo: Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times