Measuring is tricky. People always say that cooking is an art but baking is a science and honestly I’m not inclined to believe them.
Many pros make it seem like if you are even a little off on the ingredients, your recipe will be ruined and honestly that’s just not the case. Most recipes are fairly forgiving. I mean, measure out what the recipe tells you to (someone has already figured out the proportions for you), but don’t stress if you put in a little too much flour.
That said, the way you measure flour and white sugar (and powdered sugar for that matter) is different than the way you measure brown sugar. At least I do it differently and so far no complaints.
For the lighter ingredients (flour, white and powdered sugars), fill your measuring cup until it’s overflowing and then take a straight edge – a knife works fine – and even it out by scraping the excess off so that you have a flat top. Unless the recipe specifically says something different, this is likely the measure they’re looking for.
Brown sugar is different, though…and completely delicious by the way.
For brown sugar you want to actually pack the sugar into the measuring cup…not just pour it and level it. Get as much in there as you can. I don’t even level brown sugar – I find that if I put in a little extra I’m not mad at how the recipe turns out. Interestingly I don’t feel that same way if I put too much white sugar into something.
So, that’s my take on measuring dry ingredients, but feel free to disagree or add some comments! The bottom line is, do what works for you and this method of measuring has worked really, really well for me!