Monday, September 14, 2009

Tip of the Day: Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Salt

What is Baking Soda?
            In simple terms baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a compound that when mixed with an acid release carbon dioxide gas. This process is what makes baked goods rise.

What is Baking Powder?
            Baking Powder is actually baking soda mixed with cream of tartar and a drying agent. The cream of tartar is the acid that mixes with the soda when added to a liquid that produces the carbon dioxide gas. The drying agent is added in to prevent this reaction from happening in the container.
            A double acting powder just means that there are two acids, one that reacts at room temp and another that reacts at higher temps (120 degrees and higher).  This makes it helpful in longer baking times.
            Keep in mind that baking powder deteriorates rather quickly, especially after opening as moisture gets in which starts releasing carbon dioxide.
                You CAN NOT use baking soda to replace the baking powder in a recipe; however you CAN use baking powder to replace baking soda.   If you are out of baking powder you can mix two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda.

Why do some recipes call for soda and others call for powder?
                Since baking powder contains both a base and an acid it provides a neutral taste. You will see it in recipes where the liquid is neutral too such as milk.
                Baking soda is a base and has a bitter taste. It requires the addition of an acid such as buttermilk, yogurt or vinegar, to balance it out.

Onto Salt!
                In bread making, salt reacts with the yeast and effects taste, texture, and crust color. In other baked goods salt is used to enhance the flavor of the finished product much like vanilla or MSG, without tasting the salt itself. 

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