For quite some time now I have been making my own baking powder. I bake a lot and when I started to read labels, I noticed that most baking powders were made from cornstarch! Most cornstarches are made with genetically modified corn and are full of gluten. So I set out to make my own. So just what is baking powder?
Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods such as muffins, pancake, cakes, scones and American-style biscuits. Baking powder works by releasing carbon dioxide gas into a batter or dough through an acid-base reaction, causing bubbles in the wet mixture to expand and thus leavening the mixture. These, in turn, cause baked goods to rise.
Baking powder is perishable. To test a batch, add 1 teaspoon to ½ cup hot water. If it doesn’t bubble, throw it out. I like to make my baking powder as I need it, but you can make a small amount and store it in a cool dry place in an airtight container.
So just how do you use baking powder in a recipe? Typically you would use 1 teaspoon of baking powder for every 1 cup of flour, 1 cup liquid and 1 egg. That being said, coconut flour is the exception to this, as you only use 1/4 cup coconut flour to replace 1 cup of all purpose flour (you can read more about coconut flour in this article). In addition, if the food has high acidity ingredients like yogurt, buttermilk, raw honey, lemon or citrus then you would have to use a combination of baking soda and baking powder.
Now that you understand how baking powder works, you can understand two things you often see in recipes:
- Many recipes instruct you to mix all of the dry ingredients together and then add the liquid. That keeps the baking powder from reacting until the end of the mixing process.
- Many recipes tell you to mix only briefly — just until the ingredients are moistened. That minimizes the escape of the gas from the batter. If you were to stir for a long time, the reaction would end and the stirring would have allowed the bubbles to escape.
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