The Baking Powder Test
Did you know baking powder loses potency over time? If you can’t remember when you bought yours, run a test before using it. Here’s how: Put ½ teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl, then pour in a quarter cup of hot tap water. The more vigorously the baking powder bubbles, the fresher it is. (Try this test on a fresh box of baking powder so you know what to look for.) Also, when buying baking powder, be sure to check the expiration date on the box. Once opened, it will remain fresh for about a year.
The Baking Soda Test
If you’re not sure how old your baking soda is, test its activity level. Stir a quarter teaspoon of baking soda into about two teaspoons of white vinegar. If it doesn’t bubble vigorously, throw it out.
Not sure whether the flour in your canister is self-rising or all-purpose? Taste it. Self-rising flour is a bit salty because it contains baking powder.
Is your yeast too old? Proof it to be sure it’s not ready for retirement. Dissolve a little sugar in some warm water, then sprinkle in the yeast. The mixture should begin bubbling within five to seven minutes. If it doesn’t, the yeast is too inactive to provide the leavening function, and you should throw it away.
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