By Faye Davenport
When I first started baking, I, of course, used the baking equipment that I already owned, which was, in all honesty, a hodge-podge of inexpensive grocery-store pans and hand-me-downs from assorted friends and family. I was just happy to have pans, and after all, a pan is a pan. Yes…and no.
The same thing can be said for the purchase of my first Bundt cake pan. I saw it, it was pretty, it was “non-stick”, and I bought it because I wanted to make a cake. I didn’t know that a dark-coated pan of cheap tin would bake a cake differently than a non-coated aluminum tube pan. Plus,the tube pan was old and straight-sided and boring. The Bundt pan had a lovely design.
As my baking interest bloomed, I discovered all sorts of things that were new to me. And as I explore the world of small batch baking, I am again discovering all sorts of things that are new to me. And I have a favorite new discovery.
There is a line I have seen attributed to King Arthur Flour which says, “cooking is an art, baking is a science”. I’ve learned that in developing a recipe for small batch baking, science can be tricky. Very often the recipe for a cake intended to serve 16 does not produce the same results when it has been altered to serve two. And, how do you measure out something that is now ¼ of ¼ of a teaspoon?
As it turns out, there are measuring spoons that actually do just that. It also turns out that these spoons use terms that I always thought were approximates. A “smidgen”, a “pinch”, a “dash” and a “tad” are actual quantity measurements.
A “tad” is a quarter of a teaspoon, and that is a measuring spoon found on all standard measuring spoon sets. A “dash” is half a “tad”, or 1/8 of a teaspoon. A “pinch” is that aforementioned ¼ of ¼ of a teaspoon, which is 1/16 of a teaspoon, and a “smidgen” is half of a pinch, which is 1/32 of a teaspoon.
Sometimes called spice spoons, there are sets that seem to be widely available both in kitchen stores and online, and they do make the science of small batch baking a whole lot easier.
FYI A couple more measurements: A “drop” is 1/64 of a teaspoon, and a “hint” is half a drop. Please let me know if you find the spoons that measure those.
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After more than 35 years as a producer/director in Washington, D.C., life has relocated Faye Davenport to her hometown outside Philadelphia, PA. She says she was once a NotMom by choice but became a NotMom by chance after marriage. She’s now divorced and enjoying a good relationship with her adult stepdaughter. Through it all, she’s been passionate about cooking good food and baking delicious desserts.