All About Baking Powder
I have given several friends, who like to cook, a copy of the book “What Einstein Taught His Chef”. One of the ongoing mysteries we can all use a update on, is what is baking powder and why? I hope this little research article helps.
If you want to bake biscuits, scones, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, quick breads, and pancakes, in all likelihood you will need baking powder or baking soda. Baking soda and baking powder, like yeast, create leavening or “lift” in baked goods with carbon dioxide gas.
Some recipes call for baking soda, some call for baking powder, and some call for a combination of the two. Next time you find yourself without baking powder (or with expired baking powder) use this simple baking powder substitute recipe to make it yourself.
What Baking Powder Does
While yeast produces carbon dioxide gas as it metabolizes sugar, baking powder produces carbon dioxide gas from an acid base reaction with liquid, such as milk. Baking soda is a base (or alkali ingredient), so it requires acidity to work. It is often used in recipes with acidic ingredients such as buttermilk or yogurt.
But baking powder already includes acid in the form of potassium bitartrate, so it can be used in recipes that do not have any acidic ingredients.
The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder
So what’s baking powder then? Baking powder is made up of baking soda (which acts as the base) along with the addition of some acids. These acids react with baking soda once they are hot and wet. This reaction causes carbon dioxide gas to release, causing bubbles to expand, and thus leavening the mixture.
Store-bought baking powder starts to lose potency as soon as the package is opened and usually only lasts nine to 12 months at most. If you’re not sure if your baking powder is still good, combine a spoonful of baking powder in a glass of warm water. If you see bubbles form, it’s still good. If not, you will need to make baking powder with baking soda. Keep reading to learn how.
How to Make Baking Powder From Baking Soda
An advantage to making your own baking powder is that it will be aluminum free, since most commercial brands include sodium aluminum sulfate which some people claim imparts a metallic flavor.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- To make baking powder using baking soda, combine two parts cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) with one part baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
- If you don’t plan to use it right away, you will want to add some cornstarch to keep it from clumping. It is also a buffer to keep the acid base reaction from happening prematurely. Add one part cornstarch to the cream of tartar and baking soda.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.