To sift or not to sift. That is the question and boy it is a good one.
In general, when baking bread there is no need to sift. However, there are a number of reasons you would sift flour. Here below you will find the reasons you might want to.
- If your flour is clumpy or you live in a humid climate.
- If your flour has been sitting for a while and you might have bugs in it ( I know, gross, but it happens )
- If you are baking delicate cakes or cookies that need to be airier
- When mixing other fine ingredients into the flour like Coco or Cinnamon.
Sifting flour was required more in earlier days when flour was not ground as fine as today and it would have been sifted to get the bran out to create a lighter flour. What we call today white flour. Also, sifting was done to get bugs and mites that might have been feasting on the flour.
For the most part, you do not need to sift your flour these days. Especially for bread baking.
Today sifting is done for the reasons mentioned at the beginning of this post. To get clumps out of your flour in humid environments, make the flour airier for more delicate dough and still yes to get bugs out if your flour has been sitting around for a long time.
Sifting Flour Will Change Your Measurments
When you are sifting flour you are making it arier. Meaning you will have less flour per the volume you are measuring so if you use measuring cups be aware of this. 1 Cup of sifted flour will weigh less than one that is not.
How Can I Measure My Flour Properly If It Is Sifted?
Your recipe should tell you if to sift or not to sift. If it does not mention it then do not sift the flour. Measure it with your measuring cup and sift it afterward. This way you should be able to get that airy flour and still have the right amount.
Now I know most home bakers like to use measuring cups and heck, most recipes online are given in cups as they are geared towards the home baker but if you want to get consistent results and fine-tune your craft of baking bread or pasties you should always weigh your ingredients. This is how professionals do it and this is how you should do it as well. Scales today do not cost much so I strongly recommend you go out and buy a scale today. Make sure your scale measures in grams from 1 gram up to 8 kg if possible.
Not only will a scale help you with your recipe but later on in the baking process if you want to portion your dough for rolls or loaves of bread and especially braided bread you will use the scale again to get the correct size of dough without guessing. A scale will simply take you to the next level of baking. ( check out this link for my recommended scale. )
If you do not have a scale and you want to sift your flour just make sure to add your water slowly while mixing to get the perfect consistency in your dough. Or the other way around, adding the flour slowly, just make sure to sift more flour than the recipe calls for as you would probably need more.
What should I use to sift flour?
If you do not have a sifter you can always go out and get one or find one out