Scoop or Spoon? – How to flour!

Baking isn’t something I do super often, but I do enjoy it.  My cooking style had always been more art than science.  “A pinch of this, a dash of that, pour until it feels right!”  That doesn’t works well for baking.  Baking is much more of a science.  It took me a while to figure this one out.  How much of a difference does it REALLY make?  I decided to find out by experimenting with flour in what I am calling the….


I am making peanut butter cookies for Thanksgiving (Plus PB chips and using homemade peanut butter!) and decided to cut the recipe in half and do half with scooped flour and half with spooned.  The scooped one involves scooping out a mound of flour with the measuring cup, then leveling it off with a knife.  This packs in more flour than the spoon method.  Spooning means you scoop flour with a spoon and shake it into the cup.  Level with a knife.  Seriously, how big of a difference could there be?

Quite a bit of a difference as it turns out.  The recipe called for 2-1/2 cups of flour.  I cut that to 1-1/4 cups.  They measure 6-5/8 oz for the scooped version, and 5-3/4 oz for the spooned one.  Assuming the spooned is exactly what you want, that is a 15% increase in flour by weight.  That doesn’t sound terrible, but maybe it is.

The only way to know for certain is to go through with the half batches.  I creamed all the sugars as one big batch and divided them in half by weight.  The baking soda, salt, and baking powder were measured, combined, weighed, and divided.  This is a lot of work and a pile of dirty dishes for cookie science!  Once combined I made sure both went into the fridge (1hr according to the recipe) next together and in the same container.  The spooned batch was lighter in both color and texture.

They came out of the fridge at the same time and shared space on the cookie sheets.  A 1″ cookie scoop regulated the size to make sure that didn’t vary between the batches.

Once cooled I tested one a bunch of each.  It isn’t as big of a difference as I thought it might be.  The spoon cookies were lighter and soft on the inside while having a crisp on the outside.  The scoop ones were heavier and chewier.   I guess I prefer the spoon, but sometimes a dense PB cookie is pretty awesome.  Maybe this makes a bigger difference in sugar or chocolate chip cookies.  This recipe has about half the flour as a chocolate chip recipe.  If this were mythbusters we would say plausible but not confirmed maybe?  Regardless, I got to eat cookies for science!!!

On a completely unrelated note, I think I have eaten too many cookies.

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