Has anyone ever had a sifter that actually works? Of course years ago we all sifted flours and every now and then I get a recipe that needs that. My sifters always seem to get very difficult to use. The inward motion to shift is OK but to release it again I have to use my hand to put it back to stage 1, a real pain in the neck. Do I really need to sift flour in this day and time?
By Nancy from Lewisville, TX
For many years I have not sifted flour, instead I just whisk.
I have a sifter with a handle that you crank or turn and it works all the time.
Best thing to do when you get a bag of flour it put it in a new container, that puts some air into it right away. Then use a wire strainer.
Best way to measure flour is by weighing, then you know you have exactly what you need, if you used flour before and after sifted, you can get two different measurements.
Martha Stewart also suggests, weighing flour (I got a Biggest Loser scale for 14.99 with coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond, works great!) then using a whisk with all the dry ingredients, waa laa, "sifted"!
I think that most flour comes pre-sifted, although I don't know how that is supposed to work because by the time you purchase it from the grocery store and bring it home, it would all have compacted again. If something calls for sifted, I would just subtract a little less flour than what the recipe calls for. I have my mom's sifter and it was a very simple one that worked great. I have never seen another like it. It is all rusty now but still does the job when I need it.
I have relief for your sifting woes! Don't sift with a sifter. They're hard to clean (you should never wash them), they're hard on my hand, etc.
If you want to sift something together, there are two ways of doing it. First, use a cheap mesh wire strainer (like shown here: http://www.cpapc.com/8-Single-Mesh-Wire-Strainer-P1947C226.aspx ). That will sift out clumps and aerate your flour and other dry ingredients as a sifter would. Also, they do double duty as you can use them to strain your custards, sauces, make yogurt cheese, etc. Just put the flour etc in while the strainer's over a bowl, tap on the side with your wrist.
Alternately, as Alton Brown suggests (and his baking suggestions work are are the best) put your dry ingredients in a food processor and give them a couple of whirls instead of using a sifter. You just wipe out with a paper towel, no cleaning necessary, clumps are broken, and again you've aerated the flour.
Honestly I'm probably going to throw my sifter away or give it away to some poor fool as it simply takes up room in my cabinets now.
And yes - when called for, sifting is necessary because of that aerating of the flour I mentioned before. But sifters aren't. :)
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