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Ongoing Culinary Science Discovery Thread- "The Gastronomicon"

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#1 Severian



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Posted 04 May 2020 - 07:36 PM

I've recently stumbled upon a new and rewarding method for learning; which is part note taking/compilation of information, and part the eventual sharing of said information in a super streamlined easy to access fashion- But, lest I fall into the trap again of not sharing what I'm learning until it's in it's perfect form, I'm starting this thread here as an ongoing  gastronomicon (after a quick search I am not as clever as I thought, and this term is surely already used).


Place holder for Table of Contents.





On today's lesson, we learn about baking powder, it's function, and it's proper application.


We all know that baking powder is used to make things rise.  But how does it do it?


In a tiny nutshell, it does so by producing carbon dioxide; (just like those bubbles in that soda you shouldn't be drinking)


In a larger nutshell,


Baking powder is a mix of two things; Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking soda) and a dry acid, most commonly sodium aluminum sulfate or cream of tartar. When a liquid is added to a recipe, these ingredients then react, forming the bubbles that helps the bread/cake/soon-to-be-deliciousness rise. 


For those with an understanding of chemistry, or those who enjoy looking at random letters and numbers


The reaction between baking soda (NaHCO3) and cream of tartar KHC4H4O6 is

NaHCO3 + KHC4H4O6 → KNaC4H4O6 + H2O + CO2


The reaction between baking soda and sodium aluminum sulfate (NaAl(SO4)2) is


3 NaHCO3 + NaAl(SO4)2 → Al(OH)3 + 2 Na2SO4 + 3 CO2


So, enough science! get grounded! What does this mean for my chefing?


Well, the reactions mentioned above take place immediately upon contact with a liquid ingredient. Recall how the last baking recipe you made said to mix dry ingredients, mix liquid ingredients and then mix together? Part of this concept is because of this. 


It's important to cook/bake right away, before the bubbles dissappear. It's also important not to stir too much, or you'll break the bubbles.



And, one more thing


There are two different kinds of baking powder- Single and double acting.


Both can be used interchangeably, and the double acting powder is more common; and is useful for recipes that might not be cooked immediately.


The single is what is mentioned in the reaction equations above, forming C02 upon contact with liquid, whereas double acting does the same, but also  produces even MORE co2 bubbles when it is heated, due to it also containing calcium acid phosphate



Now I'm off to try this out with the new 3 inch cake molds and a super fat japanese pancake recipe. (edit for those who've read my other thread mentioning cutting out gluten- this is for science! it doesnt count :)(


PS I'm seriously considering buying a camera just so I can take photos of cooking and mycology adventures  to share with you all.  This luddite doesnt even own a cell phone

Edited by Severian, 04 May 2020 - 07:38 PM.

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