Last week I made two batches of brownies that failed miserably. This was vexing, as the recipe has never failed on me before. So I had to spend some time considering what went wrong and why, which affords me the opportunity to lay a little baking science on you. (Only a little, promise!)
Freshly milled flour is light and fluffy, but once it’s sat around your kitchen for a while, it will settle.
The standard way to measure out flour is what’s called the dip-level-pour method where you dip your dry measuring cup into the container of flour, level off any excess, and then pour it into your bowl. This works fine with fluffy flour, but if your flour is old, you’ll end up with too much flour in your mixing bowl.
And that was the reason for my failure last week.
Now, this isn’t a fatal problem, and it’s usually easy to fix. You can aerate your flour with a fork or even your measuring cup and then measure it out the usual way. Or you can measure by spooning the flour into your measuring cup. But both these methods can still lead to the occasional failure.
Have you ever wondered how bakeries put out perfectly uniform baked goods day in and day out? The secret is instead of measuring flour by volume, they measure by weight. Fluffy flour and old flour still weigh the same; so you can’t end up with too much flour in your baked goods if you weigh it out.
I conducted a little experiment a few days ago to prove this point, and learn just how much extra flour I’d ended up with in my recipe. 2/3 cup of fresh flour weighs 80 grams. When I weighed out 2/3 cup of settled flour using the dip-level-pour method, it weighed 95g! That’s quite a bit of extra flour, and it’s no wonder the brownies last week came out cakey instead of fudgy.
So the lesson here is: if you want consistency in your baking, you should weigh flour rather than measuring it by volume.
Tenacious LD’s Brownie Recipe
The recipe today is something I developed after looking at and testing a whole lot of other people’s “the best brownie” recipes. Hope you like this one!
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 ounce bittersweet or unsweetened baking chocolate — I use Ghirardelli 100% Cacao
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, unsifted (80g)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan and set aside.
Heat butter and chocolate over low heat, until melted. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa to the saucepan and stir just until mixed. (Don’t overdo this, just mix until blended.) Add flour, salt, and baking powder, mixing until blended.
Turn batter into pan and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
The consistency should be a good, rich, chewy-fudgy brownie, not in any way cake-like.