I bought a giant container of baking powder over a year ago because as bargain shoppers everywhere know, it was a better value. Cheaper for the volume than a smaller container. And I also thought it would be nice not to run out of baking powder as often – despite my better intentions there are always those moments where I run out of a crucial ingredient right as I have the most intense craving for whatever it is that I’m missing an ingredient for.
A few months ago I started noticing a difference in quality in my baked goods. They still tasted great, but they weren’t rising like they used to. Muffins would barely crest the top of the baking cups, pancakes started looking more like crepes. What was going on? I hadn’t altered the recipes or changed the temperature they baked at. I was using only the freshest ingredients – all except the baking powder, that is.
Baking powder is an active ingredient. Over time it loses its potency. I know that. But I just wasn’t thinking about it consciously. I wasn’t even thinking about it as I ran out of that giant container of baking powder and purchased a new, smaller container (because fate intervened and the store I was at rightfully didn’t sell giant containers). I noticed the difference one day while I was making pancakes. I turned around to grab a pan to put on the stove, and when I turned back, the bowl of batter had risen. Amazing! And those pancakes were light and fluffy and very much pancakes, instead of imitation crepes. I made pumpkin spice muffins just this morning and they were light and had beautiful golden-brown domes on them. A revelation of simple science right in my own kitchen.
So the lesson here is that baking powder is an ingredient that should be bought in small quantities, like your favorite artisan olive oil or coffee beans that you freshly grind every morning. It cannot and should not be stored in bulk like white sugar or dried bread crumbs or canned goods. Respect your baking powder!