Thursday, November 18, 2010

Part II Baking Powder Home-made

Today class I will teach you more than you ever wanted to know about baking powder and baking soda. I'm sure you are all a flutter in anticipation. No, well maybe we can stir up some excitement over the subject. I'm sure the rest of you have questions so let's answer the first one. Oh, no-one asked it? Well, I'll answer it anyway. What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Very good class, they are both leavening agent, kind of. Maybe I had best clarify that statement. Baking soda is a leavening agent if subjected to an acid such as buttermilk, citrus juice, yogurt, brown sugar (must be the molasses in it), ect. But baking sodas main job is to neutralizes the acids. Think of it as an anti-acid agent balancing the PH's. in the foods. Baking soda acts immediately when it comes into contact with the liquids in the batter forming carbon dioxide bubbles.

Hence, if the baking soda enhanced batter is left unbaked for too long, the bubbles pop and down tumbles the batter.

Baking soda has an indefinite shelf -life if store in an air tight container. They recommend if you leave it in a box that you use it within a year. The box has a expiration date on it. My plan is to use my Seal-a-Meal which removes all air after taking the product out of the cardboard carton which allows for absorption of moisture. To test baking soda to see if it is still good subject it to an acid. They recommend 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 teaspoons of vinegar. If it bubbles nicely, it's good.

What happens if you add too much baking soda to a recipe. You don't know? Wow, little Miss Flop here has learned that lesson more than once. Added baking soda instead of baking powder to muffins and yuck, the result was a soapy taste with an open coarse crumb.

Have I stirred up your curiosity about the subject of baking powder and baking soda? I hope so as we'll discuss baking powder next, which you learned yesterday has baking soda in it and one or more acid salts like cream of tarter and the corn starch is thrown in to keep them dry and non reactive until your ready. (Wow, long sentence.) The acid salts which in the home-made version is cream of tarter, reacts with the baking soda when they come into contact with liquid in the batter forming gas bubbles. These gas cells expand when placed in the oven.

Too much baking powder and your batter rises to high, the gas cells collapsing and the cake falls. It also leaves a bitter taste, and a course fragile crumb if you over do it. Too little and you have a tough, poor volume, with a compact result. When a recipe calls for baking powder and baking soda, the baking powder is doing most of the leavening and the baking soda is neutralizing the acids, plus adding some tenderness, and a little leavening.

To test baking powder to see if it is still good you add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to 1/2 cup of hot water. The mixture should bubble immediately. They say baking powder is good for 6 months to a year.

An added tip for you when you are baking with either of these products. Add them to the flour and stir so it becomes evenly distributed in your batter. Also, if you wish to add volume, creaming your ingredients before adding the flour with the leavening agent of choice. The creaming creates air pockets that are enlarged by the baking powder, baking soda, or both. Bake right away so that the air bubbles don't have time to collapses.

It's that last bit of advice that I have trouble with, the bake right away as it goes contrary to my energy levels and time constraints put on me by my grand daughters. You know my brain is going to be whirling on that avenue.

Just in case you haven't had enough I'll tell give you a short history. History isn't your thing? Well, skip on down to the next recipe for home-made baking powder.


When did baking powder first come into existence and why. It was the 1760's when they began playing with the ingredients but in 1843 Alfred Bird, a chemist, came up with a formula for baking powder because his wife was allergic to eggs and yeast. Until this time quick breads and the like needed yeast and we know that yeast takes from an hour to two hours to do its stuff. Since baking powder is 15 minutes or less, that is a decided time improvement on time.

Then in 1866 the Royal Baking Powder Company began manufacturing its version. You know them, they were the company that Anne of Green Gables wrote the romantic story and her best friend sent it in to the Royal Baking Powder Company contest and she was all embarrassed when she won.
Then Calumet Baking Powder Company in 1889 invested double action baking powder. That company I'm familiar with as it sits on our grocery shelves.


Baking Powder

1/4 cup Baking Soda

1/2 cup cream of tarter

1/2 cup arrowroot starch (this does the job of corn starch)

Store in a air tight container.
This too is single action baking powder meaning most of the punch of leavening happens when it comes into contact with the liquids in the batter. There isn't suppose to be a second reaction to heat from the oven. Mmm... what will happen...?

Now you know all I know about baking powder and baking soda but the burning question is just how well does this single action baking powder work and what happens if I mix up my cream biscuits which has lots of baking powder in it and freeze the dough to bake layer? Just how flat will my quick breads or cookies be if they are left in the refrigerator for a while before baking?

Let the experiments begin!!! Join in with me and we'll share our results.

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