If you have a passion for baking, you understand that the only hack to baking perfect products is being exact with ingredients measurements, one of them being powdered sugar. Now try and picture this situation; you’re up for your next baking session, and the recipe you plan to use calls for cups of powdered sugar.
The thing is, you don’t have some at the moment and the next thing you do is make a stop at the local store to grab a few pounds of powdered sugar.
The first question you’ll ask yourself is, how much will be enough for the number of cups stated in the recipe? If you’re a professional, you’ve probably dealt with this a couple of times, but for beginners, it can be quite a hassle, and that’s why you need to know how many cups are in a pound of powdered sugar. This will help you make the right decision of the quantity to buy so that you don’t run out of the same before you finish baking.
About powdered sugar
Also known as confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar refers to a finely-granulated sugar comprising of 3% corn starch. It’s the corn starch that keeps it in shape by keeping the granules from caking the moment it absorbs moisture which can sometimes be unavoidable irrespective of how well you store the sugar. With such a smooth texture, it’s recommended for making frosting, icing and any other relative cake decorations. It also adds a unique sweetness to baked products like brownies and all you have to do is dust it on the final product.
Tips on How to Accurately Measure Powdered Sugar
In general, the number of cups in a pound of powdered sugar usually vary depending on the nature of sugar in question. As we will later see, powdered sugar comes in two forms, that is, sifted or not sifted. With non-sifted powdered sugar, a pound can give you up to 3 cups when measured accurately and with sifted sugar on the other hand, you can get up to 4 ½ cups. The thing is, there’s more to these general conversions because if you don’t do the measuring the way it should, the results will be nothing close to these approximated numbers. Therefore, before you start measuring, remember to consider the following:
- What does your recipe say?
With powdered sugar, you might find that your recipes specifies on whether you should use 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, or 1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted. That coma truly matters, because the moment you don’t figure it out before going ahead, you could end up with the unexpected. Now here’s the difference between the two phrases.
For the first option, remember to sift the sugar first before you measure it. With the latter on the other hand, it means that you have to do the measuring first, then sift the sugar. This is key because once powdered sugar is sifted, even the volume changes because of aeration, so always pay attention for accuracy. Just like cooked rice, sifting makes the powdered sugar granules fluffy with no compacting, and that’s why the volume increases.
This also brings us to the question of how and why you should sift powdered sugar. First off, powdered sugar is often prone to hardened lumps developed once it absorbs air. These lumps can only be easily removed by sifting in order to have it in the right position recommended for most recipes like frosting or making icing.
To sift, all you need is a fine mesh strainer or sifter and a bowl. Never let the hard nuggets get in the way of you achieving a perfectly made icing or frosting just because you didn’t sift the sugar. I mean, the process isn’t even bothersome, is it? To avoid spills and creating a mess, ensure that you only sift spoonfuls at a time as you work gently on the strainer or sifter.
- The item you’re using
As we have seen, one of the greatest threats to the fine texture of powdered sugar is moisture. Basically, what this means is that any form of contamination has its own effect on the number of cups you’ll get, and also the quality of the final baked product. Talking of contamination, also remember to set aside the measuring tools you’re using on the powdered sugar, so that you don’t use them after measuring other ingredients in the recipe because this can also contaminate the sugar, interfering with your desired results.
Clumping doesn’t only occur when sugar lies unused, but chances are that you could have to deal with nuggets if you don’t mind the nature of the cup you’re using for measurements. That being said, the only safer way out is keeping both the working area and all the items you plan to use in a dry state. This will not only give you an easy time when sifting but also helps keep the sugar from getting spoilt.
- How do you measure?
This is nothing close to rocket science and all you have to do is pay attention to certain precaution measures. One, the best way to get powdered sugar into the measuring cup is by scooping or pouring and not compacting as many people usually do. The moment you compact it down, you’ll see a huge difference in terms of weight, unlike when you pour or scoop it into the cup.
In simple terms, compacting can happen when you do things like putting the cup directly into the sugar, so always avoid such. Another habit to avoid is tapping the measuring cup in a bid to level it out because this can also make the granules compacted. Therefore, once the cup is filled, just smooth out the edges using anything with a sharp and straight edge like a knife to ensure that no extra heaps are filled into the cup.
Knowing how to measure finely-textured ingredients like powdered sugar has a key role in terms of accuracy, and that’s why other people might end up with 4 cups of from a pound of sifted powdered sugar and others 3½ cups. As mentioned, it’s also important that you avoid contaminating your sugar at all times, so always keep and measure the sugar in surfaces that are free from moisture.
After putting everything into place, I would also recommend that you consider investing in best powdered sugar brands and it’s a guarantee that your baked products will never taste the same. I hope that after reading this piece, you now have an idea of how many cups there are in a pound of powdered sugar and also how to ensure that you measure it accurately.