When you purchase a five-pound bag of flour, you may imagine the dozens and dozens of cookies, loaves of bread, and cakes you can bake. While flour is sold by weight, many recipes list flour measurements in cups. How many cups does this five-pound bag hold?
It depends. The amount of flour in a five-pound bag depends on the type of flour and the method of measurement. According to Cook’s Illustrated, one cup of all-purpose flour contains approximately 5 ounces, so a five-pound bag would contain approximately 16 cups. According to King Arthur Flour, one cup of all-purpose flour equals 4.25 ounces, so a five-pound bag contains slightly less than 19 cups.
How You Scoop Flour Is Crucial.
Numerous variables are in play, which makes it difficult to say with certainty how many cups of flour are in a five-pound bag. How you scoop flour into a measuring cup affects how much ends up in the cup and in your recipe.
For instance, dipping the measuring cup into a bag of flour and scooping it out will likely result in a large amount of flour in the cup. If you scoop the flour into the measuring cup, you will end up with more flour than if you used another method.
The standard method for measuring flour is to spoon it into the measuring cup and then level the surface with the back of a knife. According to Cook’s Illustrated, the amount of flour in a cup can vary by up to 20 percent depending on the method used to measure.
Compared: Sifted vs. Unsifted Flour
Whether the flour is sifted prior to use in a recipe also affects the number of cups in a bag of flour. Sifting flour before adding it to a recipe helps break up any clumps and makes the flour lighter by adding air. Typically, sifted flour weighs less but has a larger volume than un-sifted flour.
An important consideration if you intend to sift flour. Examine the ingredient list carefully. If a recipe calls for “1 cup of sifted flour,” sift the flour before measuring it. For recipes that call for “1 cup sifted flour,” measure the flour and then sift it.
Varieties of Flour
The weights and volumes of various types of flour vary. According to King Arthur Flour, one cup of whole wheat flour weighs less than one cup of all-purpose flour. One cup of whole wheat flour typically weighs four ounces, as opposed to 4.25 ounces for one cup of all-purpose flour.
Measuring Flour by Weight versus Volume
You can add a pinch of seasoning here and a splash of oil there while cooking without much thought. It is essential to use accurate measurements when baking. Otherwise, the final product may not meet your expectations.
Since measuring by weight is typically more accurate than measuring by volume, many bakers prefer to weigh their ingredients instead of using measuring cups.
How to Improve Measurement Precision
If you do not own a kitchen scale and have no intention of purchasing one, you can still bake to your heart’s content. Simply learning how to measure flour will increase accuracy and produce consistent results. Ensure that you are using a measuring cup designed for dry ingredients. Instead of scooping flour directly from the package, it is preferable to spoon flour into the measuring cup.
Try not to shake or slam the measuring cup as you spoon flour into it. You should avoid compacting the flour. Otherwise, you risk having too much.