The Basics of Baking Powder

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Baking Powder is a key ingredient for almost all baking recipes – it is the element that causes the dough to rise, the cake to be light and fluffy and the cookies to thicken. Most people buy baking power commercially, but if you’re ever in a pinch and have run out of your powder, its handy to know that baking powder is simply baking soda with a dry acid added so that it is activated when it becomes moist and/or heated. For many years cream of tartar was the acidic ingredient, but nowadays commercial baking powder is packaged with citric acid powder or sodium aluminum phosphate.

Recipes for Baking Powder:

(Makes 1 teaspoon)

1) 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 3/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2) 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 cup sour milk

3) 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice.

The right ratio to 1 cup of flour is:

1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon salt

Homemade baking powder should not be stored , it should be used right away. Moisture absorbed from the air can cause a leavening of its powers; commercial brands include additives which prevent this, but homemade mixtures would likely diminish within days.

Its a good idea to test the effectiveness of your baking powder , or any commercial product that has been sitting around for a while, to make sure it will work in your cake. To do this, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup of hot water. If it bubbles actively, then it is still fresh enough to use.

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