This section is from the book "The American Woman's Cook Book", by Ruth Berolzheimer. Also available from Amazon: The Domestic Arts Edition of the American Woman's Cook Book.
Learn to Measure Accurately - All the measurements in this book, and in most modern cook-books and magazines, are level. It will not do to use a heaping teaspoon, tablespoon or cup when a level one is meant. To change proportions by-wrong measuring causes poor results, for example:
Too much fat will make cakes oily and may cause them to fall; it will make grease-soaked doughnuts and greasy gravies and sauces.
Too much sugar will make a cake with a hard crust, or a sticky cake; it makes a soft, sticky jelly.
Too much liquid will make a cake that falls easily.
Too much soda gives a disagreeable taste and bad color to breads and cakes.
Have Accurate Equipment for Measuring, as follows:
A measuring-cup holding one-fourth quart and divided by ridges on one side into thirds and on the other side into fourths.
A quart measure divided by ridges into fourths. Each fourth is a cupful.
A standard tablespoon that holds one-sixteenth of a cup.
A standard teaspoon that holds one-third of a tablespoon.
A tested scale.
To Measure Dry Material - Fill the cup, spoon or other measure to overflowing, then pass a spatula or the straight edge of a knife over the top, leveling the material. For an accurate half-teaspoon or tablespoon of dry material, fill spoon as above, then, owing to the difference in capacity of the tip and bowl of the spoon, divide the material in half lengthwise.
To Measure Fat - An easy and accurate way to measure solid fat is by means of water. For instance, to measure 1/3 cup of solid shortening, fill a standard measuring cup 2/3 full of cold water, then drop in pieces of the shortening, pushing them under the water until the water level reaches the one-cupful mark. If 1/2 cup shortening is called for in the recipe, fill the cup one-half full of water, and so on for any quantity desired.
Another accurate method especially recommended for small quantities, is to pack the shortening into a standard measuring spoon and level off evenly with the straight edge of a knife.
To Measure Liquids - Fill the measure with all it will hold.