The cookbook is open on the table and the ingredients are all ready to go, but one instruction keeps glaring at you from the pages before you: Sift the dry ingredients together. But what about those people who don't have a flour sifter? There are tips and techniques that will help you get around the call for a sifter.
Do you need one?
When a recipe calls for the sifting of flour or other dry ingredients, ask yourself if you really need a sifter before even worrying about it. If you're simply sifting flour, then there's a good chance you can just fluff the flour with a fork to add in the aeration the recipe is looking for. If it asks you to sift together the dry ingredients first, consider giving the ingredients a quick spin with a hand-held mixer before adding them to the wet ingredients. There are many cases where hand mixing with a fork will add enough aeration to make the recipe a success without the use of a sifter.
Sieve or strainer
According to both "Baking Bites" and "The Food Lover's Tiptionary," the sifting of ingredients can usually be accomplished by using the nearest strainer, mesh screen or sieve.
The fine holes in the mesh will work well for dry ingredients that need to be sifted. Simply place the ingredients into the sieve, or other instrument, and shake is lightly back and forth. The ingredients will shake through, adding aeration in the process.
For stubborn ingredients, use a spoon to push the ingredients through the mesh.
For desperate situations where ingredients that need to be sifted are clumping and there is no sifter available, put the ingredients into a colander and shake it back and forth. This will break up the clumps and allow the ingredients to mix together without the worry of having to break up each small clump by hand.
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