Posts Tagged ‘baking powder’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder

August 1, 2017

They are both white powders whose roles are to help your baked goods rise. They are often in similar packaging, and although they look the same, and have similar end uses, they are very different. I’m talking about baking powder, and baking soda.

Trust me, I have tossed multiple batches of scones because I grabbed the wrong container. While they looked ok, albiet a little more bronzed than usual, the taste of two tablespoons of baking soda is not the same as the required two tablespoons of baking powder.

Baking soda, is a base mineral, which when combined with acids produces carbon dioxide, and in turn, bubbles. Remember those grade school volcanos, where you mixed baking soda and vinegar to create an eruption?
In baking, it is usually something a bit less overtly acidic, like brown sugar, yogurt, buttermilk, lemon, or even pumpkin, that creates the more subtle reaction. The acid also interacts with the gasses to counteract that bitter, almost metallic taste that my scones had. Things baked with soda are usually crisper and more browned that those made with powder.

Baking powder, on the other hand, consists of baking soda, cream of tarter ( or another dry acid), and cornstarch. Most commercial baking powders are double acting. This means that the leavening is activated the first time it comes in contact with liquid, and the second action is heat activated. This allows it to be used without other acidic ingredients, without the nasty aftertaste.

Recipes sometimes call for a mixture of both products. This is usually the case where you don’t want to neutralize all the acidic flavor, such as when making buttermilk pancakes, but don’t want the bitter soapy flavor that comes with it. The delicate balance between the two, create the rise, keep the tang, and reduce the bitterness.

Remember that both of these products have a shelf life. Be sure to check dates to insure that the leavener of choice still has the power to lift your baked goods. To tell if baking powder is still fresh, you can place a 1/2 teaspoon in a bowl and add 1/4 cup boiling water. If it bubbles up, it is still good.  To check the freshness of baking soda, place a spoonful into a bowl, and add a little lemon juice, or vinegar. It should produce bubbles if it is active.

Also note,that batters relying on baking soda should be baked as soon as possible, where baking powder based batters and doughs can usually wait to be baked, as some of the “poof power” is heat activated.

Confused? We hope not, but just in case, the most important take aways here, are that these items are not interchangeable, and must be fresh to do their jobs. Oh, and if you are like me, to always look twice to make sure that you have the right cylander in your hand before you scoop!

 

 

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Heavy Metal

November 24, 2015

baking-power

Did you ever wonder why some baked goods have a slightly metallic aftertaste? No, it’s not caused by the pan they were baked in. Its the baking powder that was used that might emit a tinny taste.
Many commercial baking powders contain aluminium, which is the source of the problem. Before you bake those Thanksgiving biscuits, check yours to make sure it is aluminium free. Brands like Bob’s Red Mill, are carried at most large supermarkets and do not add aluminium. We use Trader Joe’s double acting baking powder, which touts being aluminium free right on the label and is inexpensive.

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How To Tell If Baking Powder/Soda Is Still Good

April 2, 2013

4093602237It seems that no matter how much I bake, I never seem to use up the baking soda or baking powder in my pantry. These products do have a shelf life, and lose their effectiveness over a period of time.

Baking soda has an expiration date on the box, often 3 or 4 years from the date of purchase! Baking powder has a shorter lifespan of about 9-12 months.

If you are uncertain that they still have the power to “poof your pastries”, here is how to test them:

For baking soda, add a little vinegar to ½ cup of very hot water and add a little of the soda. If it fizzes, you are good to go. No bubbles mean you are not likely to get a rise out of your baked goods. Get a fresh box, and save the old stuff for cleaning projects.

Baking power can simply be stirred into hot water, (sans vinegar) as above. If it bubbles, it’s still good. If not, it needs to be replaced.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Homemade Tortillas

August 20, 2012

My family loves Tex-Mex inspired dishes and anything in a tortilla seems to get eaten. Tonight, I served homemade tortillas and they were a big hit!

Surprisingly easy to make, these flour tortillas are a bit smaller and more rustic than the machine formed ones, and taste much better. You can always size them up and make a few less, if you prefer larger ones.

Homemade Tortillas

Mix together 3 cups flour, ½ teaspoon baking power and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1/3-cup canola oil and mix it with your hands until it resembles fine crumbs. Add 1 cup hot water and knead the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes before using. You can leave the dough out for several hours, or refrigerate it overnight, if you like to plan ahead.

When you are ready to make the tortillas, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.

Roll them into balls and flatten them on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll them into circles.

Cook them  in a hot, ungreased frying pan over medium high heat until one side is blistered. Stack them up and keep warm until ready to serve.

I filled them with lime-marinated chicken breasts, diced fresh tomatoes and homemade guacamole. Even B loved them!


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