How Does Sifting Affect A Recipe?

Baking By augurey Updated 25 Sep 2011 , 9:29pm by mommynana

augurey Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 10:47pm
post #1 of 15

Sometimes a recipe states you have to sift x, y, and z ingredients, others don't.

What does sifting actually do to a recipe?

I was making a scratch red velvet yesterday morning which called for sifting. I had everything in the sifter and my sifter was impossible (I need to get a new/better one), so instead of swearing for half an hour as I watch it lightly fall out of the sifter (not clogged, it just sucks), I said screw it and dumped it in. My cake seemed to come out just fine.

Does it change the texture? Can a recipe fail if you don't sift?

14 replies
kakeladi Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 11:30pm
post #2 of 15

........What does sifting actually do to a recipe? ............

It unpacks the soft ingredients and help them mix together better.
By unpack I mean it lightenes it up.
A cup of all purpose flour can actually measure up to 1 and 1/3 cup after sifting. You can easily see how this can effect some recipes. Yes, some recipes can fail if you don't sift.

kakeladi Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 11:31pm
post #3 of 15

........What does sifting actually do to a recipe? ............

It unpacks the soft ingredients and help them mix together better.
By unpack I mean it lightenes it up.
A cup of all purpose flour can actually measure up to 1 and 1/3 cup after sifting. You can easily see how this can effect some recipes. Yes, some recipes can fail if you don't sift.

ReneeFLL Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 11:41pm
post #4 of 15

How do you know when to sift or not? Only when it calls for it? I use the WASC http://cakecentral.com/recipes/2322/white-almond-sour-cream-cake-wasc. It does not call for it, but should I be sifting it?
TIA

Alery Posted 19 Sep 2011 , 11:47pm
post #5 of 15

I hate those sifters too. I use a mesh strainer like this one:
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/oxo-stainless-steel-strainer/?pkey=cstrainers-colanders
Just dump everything in and shake back & forth over a bowl.
I have also just used a whisk to get a similar result, it breaks everything up, mixes it together, and lightens it up a little.

cmom Posted 24 Sep 2011 , 8:21pm
post #6 of 15

I got a wonderful book out of the library called Bakewise which talks a lot about the "science" of baking. The author actually said that she prefers mixing the dry ingredients very thoroughly with either a fork or hand mixer and she feels it blends the leavening in better than sifting. I have been doing this ever since I read it and always get a light, fluffy cake with great crumb. I am so glad I read that because my overpriced sifter is the pits and always gets clogged.

augurey Posted 24 Sep 2011 , 8:33pm
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alery

I hate those sifters too. I use a mesh strainer like this one:
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/oxo-stainless-steel-strainer/?pkey=cstrainers-colanders
Just dump everything in and shake back & forth over a bowl.
I have also just used a whisk to get a similar result, it breaks everything up, mixes it together, and lightens it up a little.




The sifters I have just seriously suck. I've been skipping over the sifting part because they just barely work. It's almost like watching snow light drift from the clouds rather than an obvious snow storm. Sorry for the poor reference lol but that's just how I see it in my head.

Any time I've not been able to sift, I have mixed the dry ingredients together with a whisk to make sure that they are well mixed and broken up of clumps.

I think I may invest in one of those strainer types.


cmom, I will have to look into that book. I'm not familiar at all with the science of baking. I just follow the recipe the best I can and hope for the best. Though I know that I do need to understand the science if I'm hoping to turn this into something more than a hobby some day (far far in the future, providing my skills improve).

Does it also go into the difference of sifting pre-measured amounts or sifting to get the specified amount? I know some recipes go between the two and I've always been confused as to which I should be doing.


kakeladi, Thank you for the information icon_smile.gif


ReneeFLL, looking at the instructions, I don't think you would need to as it doesn't call for it. However, it states to mix all dry ingredients with a whisk which is what cmom and Alery mentioned in their posts, so I guess it's doing the same thing as the sifting would.

cmom Posted 24 Sep 2011 , 8:56pm
post #8 of 15

I pretty much just measure out what the recipe calls for and "fork sift" and use that. I do not remeasure. I seem to have success with that.

cakestyles Posted 24 Sep 2011 , 9:58pm
post #9 of 15

I agree with Kakeladi that you'll be able to fit more unsifted flour into a 1 cup measuring cup than you would sifted flour.

One way to avoid that is to bake by weight not volume. It's really the most accurate and consistent way to measure your ingredients.


Also note that some recipes are written....

2 cups of sifted flour (sift first then measure)
vs
2 cups of flour sifted (measure first then sift)

See the difference?

If you don't follow the directions exactly it could effect the outcome of your cake.

KayMc Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 7:43pm
post #10 of 15

Every time I bake, I wonder if I should sift first and then measure, or measure first and then sift.

You've convinced me: I will now start baking with weight instead. So, again: I should sift the flour and then weigh the sifted flour?????? NOT, weigh the flour and then sift??????????????????????????????????

cakestyles Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 8:46pm
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by KayMc

Every time I bake, I wonder if I should sift first and then measure, or measure first and then sift.

You've convinced me: I will now start baking with weight instead. So, again: I should sift the flour and then weigh the sifted flour?????? NOT, weigh the flour and then sift??????????????????????????????????




Every recipe is different.

Some of my recipes instruct to sift first (2 cups of sifted flour) and some of my recipes instruct to sift after measuring (2 cups flour, sifted)

Read carefully and you'll notice that the wording is different in some recipes.

KayMc Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 8:48pm
post #12 of 15

Cakestyles,
that makes perfect sense. If the recipe just says 'flour', then what?

kakeladi Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 8:56pm
post #13 of 15

My opinion is if it does not state anything about sifting - I don't icon_smile.gif

cakestyles Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 9:16pm
post #14 of 15

Same here. Unless it's a delicate cake then I would measure first and sift anyway.

mommynana Posted 25 Sep 2011 , 9:29pm
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alery

I hate those sifters too. I use a mesh strainer like this one:
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/oxo-stainless-steel-strainer/?pkey=cstrainers-colanders
Just dump everything in and shake back & forth over a bowl.
I have also just used a whisk to get a similar result, it breaks everything up, mixes it together, and lightens it up a little.




I have that same one, And i love it, I got in the habit of sifting the box cakes cuz. there are so much clumps in it,

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