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Do you use measuring cups? Are you weighing your flour?

Too much flour and your bread turns out dry, your cookies crumbly and your pie crust a total bust. Too little and you might as well use the stuff to wallpaper your kitchen. How can there be so much variation in a cup of flour? It all depends on how you measure it.

Baking is a science, unlike the much more forgiving art of cooking. As a result, measurements have to be precise, or you risk a surprisingly wide margin of error. Here’s how to measure one cup:

Take a 1-cup dry measuring cup and dip it into the flour so that it heaps way over the top. This is not your cup of flour. Take a butter knife and drag it across the heap, leveling it. Bonus cleanup move: tap the cup lightly to release the excess flour that would otherwise end up on your counter or the crack between your stove and counter. Now you’re ready to make the best pancakes, ever.

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