Phase 6: Rethinking Baking Powder Over the past 30 or so years of measuring and weighing baking powder, I had established an average weight of 4.5 grams per teaspoon. But a few months ago, after much deliberation and vacillation, I made the decision to remove all the weights for baking powder from the manuscript because they varied so widely from day to day, by as much as 2.2 grams per teaspoon. I thought this was because of humidity or possibly that the baking powder was settling, so I tried whisking it before measuring it and also writing down the humidity indicated by my hygrometer on the day I was weighing it. I even checked it against the weight of a teaspoon of salt which is almost always exactly 6 grams. None of these factors seemed to influence the consistency of the weight of baking powder so out went the weight. But a few weeks ago suddenly the following thought occurred to me: What if the inconsistency in weight was due to a variable way in which the baking powder was settling on storage. Maybe it was more prone to inconsistent settling even when whisked than other granules or powders. So over the period of 12 days, I first sifted the baking powder into the spoon until it mounded slightly over the top, leveled it off, wiped off any powder from the bottom of the spoon and weighed it on my Mettler scale which is accurate to a 100th of a gram. Eureka! The weight varied only by 0.2 gram. Back into the charts went the weights! Of course if you are not using a highly accurate scale designed to weigh such minute amounts, it is better to use spoon measures and best to whisk or stir the baking powder before measuring. Note: Do not sift it into the spoon as that method was used only to establish consistency of weight. The recipes were developed and tested using the average weight of the baking powder measured by the dip and sweep method, which is about 1 gram more than when sifted. Conclusion: it is most accurate to weigh the baking powder and convenient when using a large amount but the differential caused by measuring will not significantly affect the results. Note: I did not list weights for other powders such as cream of tartar or spices, because these ingredients only need to be weighed when used in large volume.
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