All About Baking Powder
Baking Powder is a leavening agent that consists of a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber (like cornstarch). It has the action of yeast but it acts much more quickly. It's used in batters where there is no acid present. such as many baked goods: cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, quick bread, etc.
It makes these types of food products voluminous by allowing gas formation when an acid comes into contact with it and/or when it's heated. Baking powder acts immediately upon addition of water, therefore a filler (usually cornstarch) is added to absorb the moisture and prevent premature activity.
Learn about the History of Baking Powder.
Following are the most common brands of baking
powder found in your local grocery stores:
Double-Acting Baking Powders vs. Single-Acting
Baking Powders - Most baking powders are double-acting, which means they
the baking powder reacts twice; contain one acid
that dissolves when it comes in contact with water and another acid that
does not dissolve until it reaches a higher temperature in a hot oven. This
type of double action ensures that the finished product is light and fluffy.
Single-acting baking powders are mainly used by manufacturers and are
usually not available for retail sale.
Powder - When
buying and stocking up on baking powder, try to find the
most current date
available by looking for a manufacturing or expiration date on the
product. Keep in mind when it was manufactured and how long it has been
sitting on the store's shelf, because time weakens its potency. Just because
you bought it last week, it doesn't mean it was made last week and is as
fresh as possible. Once a can is opened, fresh baking powder should be good
for 3 to 6 months.
Food Chemistry Rule in Using Baking Powder
When creating a recipes, the
food chemistry rule is 1
to 11/4 teaspoons of baking powder per 1 cup flour. If too much baking
powder is used in your recipe, this produces big bubbles that run into each
other, rise to the surface and pop. There goes the leavening, and the result
is that the muffins, cakes or quick breads become heavy or sunken.
Storing Your Baking Powder:
Baking powder should be stored at room temperature
in a dry place. A cabinet or pantry away from the sink or heat source (such
as the stove, direct sunlight), is a perfect place. Do not store baking
powder in the refrigerator as it may shorten the shelf life due to
condensation that occurs on the can.
Testing Your Baking Powder:
If you have run out of baking powder you may be able to make a substitution by using the following:
If you are not using immediately, add 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch to absorb any moisture in the air and to prevent a premature chemical reaction between the acid and alkali.NOTE: Remember that a recipe for baked goods is like a formula. The ingredients work together to create an acceptable finished product. Substitutions don't always work as well as the original ingredients called for in the recipe. Any substitutions that you make come with the risk that the recipe will not turn out as intended.