Dry ingredients such as flour and sugar must be measured precisely in order for your recipe to turn out as expected. Flour provides structure to baked goods and if measured inaccurately affects your recipe's final consistency, including its ability to rise correctly. Sugar affects the texture, colour and flavour of your favourite recipes; too much or too little will alter the browning rate and crispness in your baked goods. Dry measuring cups are different than liquid measuring cups and should not be used interchangeably, especially when measuring dry ingredients.
Stir the flour or sugar before measuring to avoid using a product that has settled, causing your dry product to pack down. This is important especially when you are measuring flour -- using packed flour will result in a dry, crumbly end result. Stirring also breaks up any lumps that cause air gaps in your measuring cup.
Lightly spoon dry ingredients into your measuring cup. Be careful not to pack down the product as you fill your measuring cup.
Level the measuring cup using a straight edge, such as the back of a knife, by scraping any amount over the top edge back into your flour or sugar container. Dry products are measured level with the top edge of your measuring cup.
Use your measured dry products in your favourite recipes.
Brown sugar is measured differently than other granulated sugar. It often is packed into your measuring cup; individual recipes clearly state the measuring method for brown sugar. Old recipes might indicate the necessity to sift the flour. Because of modern flour processing, this is no longer necessary. However, if you prefer to sift flour, it will not adversely affect your recipe.