Most places outside the US work in metric but a LOT of recipes are American and still use things like “cups” and Fahrenheit. Awkward. So in a vain attempt to help here’s a great infographic I found on the Everest Kitchens website.
As a measurement, ‘cup‘ seems to be very simple. Grab a cup, fill it, add it to the recipe. Done. However, if you’ve ever tried to convert a ‘cup’ to some sort of metric equivalent for solids you know that it gets really complicated, really quickly. The issue is that ‘cup’ is a volume measurement which is fine for liquids but not so good for solids like flour or sugar. For example,
- 1 cup milk = 8 fl oz
- 1 cup water = 8 fl oz
- 1 cup flour = 125g
- 1 cup sugar = 250g
Not to get too scientific, but flour and sugar have different densities which means a certain volume (or cup) of one will weigh something different than the same volume of the other.
When used in recipes, ‘cup’ is what I call a relational measurement in that it is meant to show the relationship between amounts.
So don’t get too hung up in the detail of exactly what a cup of x weighs. Get yourself a set of measurement cups and use those! You can find some here if you don’t have some already.