15 January 2009

The difference between baking powder and soda, and how to make the former from the latter

What you need to know and an even more thorough (and a bit technical) explanation here:

Both baking soda and baking powder are leaveners, which means they make cakes and muffins rise. So what's the difference?

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Not only will baking soda fluff up your muffins, it can also put out a grease fire, clean your teeth and deodorize your carpet. When you cook with baking soda, you need to balance it out with an acid like lemon juice or buttermilk. Otherwise, your muffins may have a bitter, soapy flavor.

Baking powder, which usually comes in a can, is a combination of baking soda and a few other ingredients, most notably cream of tartar, a dry acid. Out of baking powder? Make your own by mixing one part baking soda with two parts cream of tartar.

Here in Germany I have been told that one can find cream of tartar, or weinsaure at the Apotheke, although I have not tried it yet. Baking soda and baking powder are best found, here in Berlin, at my local Lebanese market, where I can get it in large packets, as opposed to the 1 T packets sold in the German supermarkets. Warning: baking powder here is not double reactive. For me, that means that the mix should go in the oven as soon as possible after hitting fluid.


Franky said...

2nd try:
My gf is american, too. She also has problems to find stuff she is used to from the US like vanilla extract, tapioka, Toll House morsels, etc. Recently I found this in a grocery store here. It might help you. Have a nice time in Germany. I know my fellow countrymen can be a little grumpy sometimes. Sorry for that.


G in Berlin said...

Hi Franky, Thanks for stopping by. Amusingly enough, the Dr. Oetker empire is based on baking powder, as he invented the German (single reactive) form of it. It is easily found (along with Haus Natron- baking soda) in German markets in 1 T packets. mericans use far more of it, and the single action produces poor results that must be offset by using more, and more quickly, than the double action. I bring it from the States (with molasses and Louisiana hot sauce.)
However, tapioca is easily found here as well, in Asian markets (and I see it at Kaufland too. Toll house is not.But then you can chunk real bittersweet chocolate for cookies if you want.
Vanilla extract is easily made, by putting 8 0r 9 vanilla beans in a jar of vodka. I'll be doing a post on that (with pictures) this week as I just picked up vanilla beans in London.