Frequently Asked Questions

1. Some of my ingredients came back in bold - what does that mean?
When an ingredient comes back in bold it means the calculator has only made a partial match on your ingredient. For example, the calculator might have matched on banana when the ingredient you were trying to convert was banana liqueur - banana will be in bold to indicate this has happened. There are many thousands of ingredients in our database, and we are adding more regularly. If one of your ingredients comes back in bold, just make sure that you double check it before you start your baking.

2. What does it mean if an ingredient comes back in red?
This means the ingredient isn't in our database yet. Ingredients are continuously being added into our system. Check back in a few days, and it might be there!

3. One of my ingredients has come back in red italics - what does this mean?
When an ingredient comes back in red italics it means the calculator has not understood what you are asking it to convert. The calculator has a built-in natural language interpreter meaning it will understand most ways ingredient strings tend to be written - e.g., 1.5 cups sugar, one and a half cups sugar, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 cup plus 8 tbs sugar - but it is not flawless. If you get a red italics response, check to ensure you don't have words missing, and that the ingredient string adheres to standard conventions for ingredients within recipes.

4. How did you source your database of ingredient measurements?
Thousands of hours have gone into building the database. Ingredients have been measured and remeasured using American customary cups and precision digital weighing equipment. For the vast majority of ingredients, the spoon and level method was used (see below).

5. What is the difference between US, UK and Australian cups?
There is a small differene in the volumes of US, UK and Australian cups. This Wikipedia article on cooking weights and measures has the details. This calculator assumes the use of American customary cups.

6. What is the spoon and level method when using measuring cups?
People fill their measuring cups with dry ingredients in a number of different ways. Some sift ingredients into the cup, some scoop and level, and some spoon and level. Each method results in a slightly different volume, and it is really a matter of personal preference which one you use. For consistency (and replicability across individual ingredients), all our measurements are based on the spoon and level method. We spooned the ingredients into a cup, and then using the flat edge of a knife, we leveled off the top. Using the scoop and level method (scooping the flour out of the bag, and leveling by shaking the cup or flattening with a knife) can increase the amount of flour in the cup by 20%-30%.

A few of the ingredients in our database, such as all purpose flour and icing sugar, also have the weights for packed cups (where the ingredient is packed firmly into the cup) and sifted cups (where the ingredient has been sifted into the cup). The calculator will automatically convert to packed or sifted where appropriate.

7. The gram measurement came back different for sifted powdered sugar than powdered sugar. Why?
Sifted powdered sugar/flour is less dense than non-sifted sugar/flour, so weighs less! If the word sifted appears before the ingredient the calculator will make the appropriate adjustment to the conversion. However, if the word sifted appears after the ingredient or in brackets, it will assume the measurement is for the ingredient prior to sifting.

8. Are your measurements heaped cups or level cups?
Level cups - see question 6, above.

9. Are your measurements heaped spoons or level spoons?
As with cups, the measurements for spoons are based on ingredients that have been leveled. If heaped or heaping tablespoons are specified in an ingredient string, the calculator will make the required adjustment.

10. Are the volumes of different brands of cups identical?
No. Make sure that you use the same set of cups when measuring your ingredients. We have tested a number of different cup sets and found there to be a significant variation in their volumes. We have one trusted metal cup set that measures 1 cup of flour as 120g and a ceramic cup set that consistently measures 1 cup of flour as 145g.

11. What's the problem with liquids?
We're glad you asked! So much so, we've written a whole piece about how our converter deals with liquids.

12. What are sticks?
In the United States, butter is sold in half pound or one pound packs, and these are individually packaged into sticks. A stick weighs 113 grams, which is ¼ pound or 4 ounces. Most packaging has indicator lines dividing the stick into 8, with each line marking out a tablespoon. Butter conversions in this calculator go from grams to sticks and tablespoons. We chose sticks over cups because measuring butter in cups is a messy business. If the original recipe contains cups of butter, then by default the conversion will be to grams.

13. How many ingredients are in the database?
Many thousands, with more being added regularly.

14. Why don't you have more savory ingredients in your database?
At launch, our converter caters primarily for people who make cakes, cookies and desserts. We are adding savoury ingredients to our database, but this will take some time (and a lot of chopping, dicing and measuring!).

15. I get a different result to yours when I weigh flour. What's going on?
This can occur for a number of reasons. We filled our cups using the spoon and level method (see question 6, above). There is also significant variation in the size of cup sets by different manufacturers. Remember, cups are a measure of volume, and there is no absolutely precise conversion between volume and weight for dry ingredients.

16. Is it best to measure by volume or by weight?
Measuring by cups (i.e., by volume) is seen by many as a more convenient way of measuring ingredients. However, proper baking is chemistry and a precision endeavour. Too much flour in a recipe, and your cake may turn out dry and hard, too little flour, and the cake may never rise properly. Most pastry chefs would stress the importance of using a set of scales for weighing ingredients to get the best results. However, a lot of homes in the United States don’t have a set of scales, so cups will be used instead. If you are using cups, make sure that you use the same set for all your ingredients in that recipe, and use one method of filling the cups.

17. How does the calculator actually work? How do its alogorithms generate the results?
By magic! Sorry, our technology is protected intellectual property.