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why do we use baking soda in cooking

Almost every cook has faced this scenario: you re following a recipe that requires baking powderPbut you only have baking soda. What do you do? Can you substitute? Or this one: you haven t baked for a while, you make a favorite biscuit and use baking powder, only to find that your biscuits bake up flat as hockey pucks. What went wrong? Baking soda and baking powder are both leaveners used in baking, but they are chemically different. The easiest way to explain it is that baking soda is a base it sPalkaline. Remember those experiments we did as kids, adding vinegar to baking soda to watch the eruption of bubbles? When you mix a base (baking soda) with an acid (vinegar) you get a reaction (bubbles). So if you encounter a baking recipe that uses baking soda, often that recipe will have an acidic element as well, such as vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, molasses, or yogurt. When the two come into contact, bubbles of carbon dioxide are formed, creating the leavening in your dough or batter. Baking soda will create leavening on its own when it is heated (try pouring boiling water over baking soda in a sink to help unclog a drain, it will bubble up! ), but unless it is balanced with an acidic ingredient, the resulting taste may be metallic. Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and a dry acid, such as cream of tartar, and perhapsPsome cornstarch to help keep the two separate and dry. Most baking powders on the market are double acting, meaning that some leavening occurs the minute the baking powder gets wet, and the rest of the leavening occurs when it is heated.

How long do baking soda and baking powder last? It depends on storage conditions. Baking soda can last quite a long timePif stored sealed in a cool, dry space. Baking powder however is problematic. It can last 3 months, or it can last a year. PIf you are in a humid environment, once opened, baking powder mightPnot last more than a few months. Having ruined a dish or two with old baking powder, I try to buy small cans, and I write the purchase date on the side of the can, so I know how old it is. The easiest way to test baking soda to see if it is still good for leavening is to put some in a small bowl and add a little vinegar to it. (Make your own baking soda volcano! ) If it bubbles up, it s still good. The easiest way to test baking powder to see if it still works is to put some in a small bowl and add some water to it. If it foams up, it s still good. If you have a baking recipe that calls for baking soda, and you only have baking powder, you may be able toPsubstitute, but you will need 2 or 3 times as much baking powder for the same amount of baking sodaPto get the same amount of leavening power, and you may end up with something that s a little bitter tasting, dependingPon the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, you ll want to substitute with 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking powder. Just make sure your baking powder is still effective and not passed its use-by date. If you have a baking recipe that calls for baking powder and you only have baking soda, you may be able to substitute if you increase the amount of acidic ingredients in the recipe to offset the baking soda.

You ll also need much less baking soda as it is 3 times as powerful as baking powder. You ll need about a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of baking powder, you ll want to substitute with a teaspoon of baking soda. You ll also want to add 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to your batter. You can also easily make your own baking powder. If you live in a humid environment, or don t bake that often, it might be easiest to make your own baking powder when you need it. Packaged baking powder loses its effectiveness over 3 to 6 months, especially if it exposed to air or humidity. To make your own homemade baking powder, you ll need cream of tartara dry acid in powder form (no idea why it is called cream )and baking soda. If youPintend to store homemade baking powder, you ll also want to add some cornstarch to keep it from clumping. Baking soda is much stronger than baking powder. To make baking powder, mix one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar. So, if you recipe calls for 1 tablespoonPof baking powder, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda, mixed in with 2Pteaspoons of cream of tartar. If you are storing the homemade baking powder instead of using it right away, stir in 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Homemade baking powder is not double acting, and will start to react as soon as it gets wet, so work quickly and don t let your batter sit around!
If you learn nothing else from this post, remember this: Baking powder puffs (rises).

Baking soda spreads. LetБs take the example of cookies. (Yum,б! ) For, youБd use baking powder because it allows the dough toб rise but doesnБt make your proud gingerbread man look like he had a close encounter with a car tire. But for, youБd useб baking soda because it allows the dough toб spread, and you get thinner, crisp edges with a tender center. (Now IБm craving! ) That, in an easy-to-remember nutshell, is the science behind baking powder and baking soda. Of course, IБm not going to leave it there. Deb Wise, our resident baking expert and Test Kitchen Recipe Developer and Tester, walked through the science of the two ingredients with me: Both are chemical leavenersБthat is, they both break down in the presence of moisture and/or heat and release carbon dioxide bubbles. The gas bubbles are trapped by the starch in the batter or dough and cause the baked good to expand while in the oven. In essence, these leaveners are responsible for making baked goods so light, porous, and fluffy. Baking soda needs an acidБbuttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, or sour cream may be usedБto begin reacting, releasing gas bubbles, and rising. Baking soda is also typically responsible for any chemical flavor you might taste in a baked goodБthat bitter or metallic taste is a sign youБve used too much baking soda in your recipe, and you have unreacted baking soda left in the food. Baking powder needs first a liquid (as when mixed into a batter) and heat (from the oven) to react and begin releasing gases.

You may see this described as Бdouble-actingБ baking powder. Shelf Lives Baking powder needs to be replaced every 6 to 12 months (follow the expiration date on the can). Baking soda, however, can last you several years, if stored correctlyБthat is, in a cool, dry place. Because she is a kitchen nerd, Deb likes to date her new can or box so she can remember when to replace it. Test your baking soda to see if itБs still a viable product by pouring 2 teaspoons vinegar in a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. If the mixture bubbles immediately, your soda is still good for baking. If it makes a paste but no bubble, toss the soda. Test your baking powder by combining 1/2 cup hot water with 1 teaspoon baking powder. If it bubbles, your baking powder gets the thumbs up. If it doesnБt, thumbs down. Toss it, and get another container. DonБt have baking powder? You can actually make your own. For one teaspoon of baking powder, combine 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch. (The cornstarch absorbs any moisture and prevents a reaction before the DIY baking powder is in the batter, so donБt skip it. ) Be sure to б sift or whisk together your baking powder or baking soda with your flour and other dry ingredients (such as salt, cinnamon, etc. ) before combining it with wet ingredients in your recipe. Otherwise, you might end up with very large holes throughout your baked good. And a nasty bite tasting like you licked the inside of a rusty can.

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