I had the suspicion that my baking powder had lost its leavening effect. I’ve been using up this container of baking powder for almost a year now so I thought it was the problem when a batch of muffins didn’t rise. I was very well prepared to bang my head on the spot reserved for baking failures on my wall, but as I would later find out, it was the recipe’s faulty instructions that were to blame. Thank goodness.
I did follow the usual storage instructions for baking powder: store in an airtight container at room temperature in a dry place, away from any source of heat. I never put it in the fridge to avoid any unwanted moisture inside the container either. So I just had to find out, was it really the baking powder’s fault?
It just doesn’t make sense to bake a batch of muffins with my old baking powder, and bake another with newly bought baking powder just to test if the old one is still working. It’s tiring, and you’ll have to think of a way to dispose of the muffins without throwing them out or getting a massive sugar rush. Turning to our friend the Internet for some advice, turns out there’s a much simpler way to find out, with no baking required.
Here’s what you’ll need: about 3 tablespoons of water, and half a teaspoon of baking powder.
Once you drop your baking powder into the water, it should fizz and bubble gently. This is an indication that your baking powder is still active. The same goes for baking soda, except this time, instead of water, use the same amount of vinegar and the same amount of baking soda. The effect should be similar, although the vinegar will cause a stronger fizz because of its acid content. If they both still work, mark the dates on the container and check back after a few months using the same methods. If not, you know what to do the next time you pass by a store.
Most of the sites I visited advise that if baking powder has been sitting in your pantry for a year or more, it should be tossed out. I guess the days of my old baking powder are numbered.