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I am making mini quick breads for Christmas. The recipe calls for 3 cups of flour.

Do I need to sift the flour? If so, should I sift it before or after measuring?

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quick breads are typically dense and do not require sifting, they also do not require kneeding. They are supposed to be quick and easy :)

If the recipe calls for "3 cups of flour, sifted" then you would measure 3 cups of flour, and sift that. I have never seen a recipe call for "3 cups of sifted flour" but if it did you would have to sift, and then measure. Hope this helps.

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Sifting flour is to introduce air into a cake mixture.

Any air you introduce in this manner to bread, is going to get knocked out when you knead anyway. Bread gets its lightness from rising with yeast (or soda). So, there's not need to sift flour when making bread.

Reliable bread recipes give flour quantities by weight, precisely because the amount of flour in a cup can vary hugely depending on how compacted it is.

If your recipe gives a weight alternative, use it.

If not, just pour or scoop and hope for the best - make a note of the weight you end up with, then you can fine-tune if you make the recipe again.

Or find a better recipe!

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Well, you don't knead quickbreads. – derobert Dec 22 '11 at 21:45

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