How many times have you seen these instructions in a recipe: Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt... Quite a lot, right? How many times do you follow it? We're curious about how often you sift your flour and dry ingredients - are you a rule-follower when it comes to baking?
Take our survey then click through for our own answer, some more information on sifting, and tips like how to sift flour without a sifter.We admit that we chose "Sometimes..." Commercial flour is far better sifted than its early predecessors, which needed to be sifted free of lumps, chaff, and even bugs. We sift our dry ingredients when we want to be really, really sure that they are all combined, like when we are making a very finely textured cake. But usually our modern high-powered mixers will do their work so well that this isn't much of a concern.
• If you are being very particular about sifting you may wonder if you sift the flour before or after measuring. The key is in how the recipe is written. If the recipe tells you the quantity first, then says to sift it (ie 3 cups flour, sifted) then measure it first then sift, along with the other dry ingredients. If the recipe says "3 cups of sifted flour" then you should sift a quantity of flour and take your three cups out of it.
• How to sift flour without a sifter: Simply press the flour down through a large sieve, which is a more common tool in a kitchen than a sifter.
The sifter picture above is from Crate & Barrel and retails for $14.95.