How to Sift Flour – With or Without a Sifter

Here’s another post on How to Bake From Scratch.  A good friend of mine who has been following this blog e-mailed me this week to ask if she could sift flour without a sifter.  The short answer is “Yes!”.  But, let’s back up and examine if flour should be sifted and why.

Back when my grandmother was baking and cooking, flour needed to be sifted to remove lumps and anything that didn’t belong in the flour.  Now, most flour is pre-sifted.  However, sifting is still a good idea.  It aerates the flour which helps create volume in your baked goods.  Also, it’s a good idea to sift all the dry ingredients together to ensure that the salt, the leavening agents (baking soda, baking powder) and other ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Now, do you need to use a sifter?  No, there are other ways to accomplish this.  For example, you can use a strainer.  Pour the flour into the strainer, which you have placed over your bowl.  Gently tap the strainer until all of the flour has passed through the strainer into the bowl.  You could also take a fork and mix the flour in the strainer – that will encourage the flour to flow through the strainer.  I also use a strainer for powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Both of those ingredients tend to get lumpy.

You can also use a whisk to the mix the dry ingredients together.  This will aerate the mixture and this is a good way to mix all the dry ingredients.  This is usually what I do.

One last thought – it’s a good idea to sift first and then measure the flour for your recipe.  If your recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, then put 3 cups of flour through your sifter or strainer.  Then measure 3 cups from that flour.  After sifting and aeration, the flour will be lighter.  So, you’ll probably have some sifted/strained flour left over!

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4 Responses to How to Sift Flour – With or Without a Sifter

  1. Lisa McKeown says:

    Great info! I usually would not sift but after reading this, I’m going to sift!

  2. fredibaker says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tips – I can almost hear the sound my sifter makes – I am a great sifter. Pie crust maker, not so much. You are helping me get inspired. ;-)

  3. Thanks for the tip Susan, I do not usually sift my flour, hence the reason for heavier crusts. Great timing as I will be baking pies in a few days and will definitely sift the flour and other dry ingredients first. Love your blog, it is so inspirational and makes me want to bake.

  4. Lauren says:

    Great tips, thank you!! I always wondered if sifting really helped my cakes at all. Now I know it does for sure:)

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