Saturday, May 8, 2010

8 May 1956 “ The Secrets of Baking Powder and Soda Revealed and Homemade Cake and Brownie Mixes.”

 woman in kitchen bw My increasing obsession with food and it’s origins keeps leading me down various paths of wanting to both find myself closer to food origins and to find ways to make it easier for any of you.
Case in point, there may be some ladies out there that don’t mind making a cake from a mix. It’s easy. You grab it at the store, add some water oil and eggs and bake. However, if you read the ingredients, you can see it is just the dry ingredients of a cake mix, but with lovely added preservatives. Also, more packaging to throw out!
Making a cake from scratch is not hard. Especially when you think of it as a cake mix: You put the dry ingredients together and then the wet and then you add the dry to the wet. When you make a box mix, you just dump it all in and it works. So, I figured, there has to be a way to just make some mix yourself and store it. Then you can also store it in darling containers in your pantry or cupboards. Another excuse to do more “nesting” is always good. I have actually saved a bunch of old coffee cans and then I either paint them or cover them with paper. I even make cute ‘vintage’ labels by using images of old wallpaper etc. But I digress, back to the cake mix.
womanwithtesttube So, in trying to come up with a good easy dry mix that one could store and use when they liked, I began to research more about baking soda and baking powder. Again, the more I look at something the more I want to keep unfolding the layers, like an onion or rose, petal by petal. Here are these two ingredients, Baking Powder and Baking Soda, that I use all the time. What is it? How does it work? I need to know in order to make the cake mix effective.
So, here is probably more info on both soda and powder than you ever wanted to know:
Baking powder consists of baking soda, one or more acid salts (cream of tartar and sodium aluminum sulfate) plus cornstarch to absorb any moisture so a reaction does not take place until a liquid is added to the batter. Most baking powder used today is double-acting which means it reacts to liquid and heat and happens in two stages. The first reaction takes place when you add the baking powder to the batter and it is moistened. One of the acid salts reacts with the baking soda and produces carbon dioxide gas. The second reaction takes place when the batter is placed in the oven. The gas cells expand causing the batter to rise. Because of the two stages, baking of the batter can be delayed for about 15-20 minutes without it losing its leavening power.
Too much baking powder can cause the batter to be bitter tasting. It can also cause the batter to rise rapidly and then collapse. (i.e. The air bubbles in the batter grow too large and break causing the batter to fall.) Cakes will have a coarse, fragile crumb with a fallen center. Too little baking powder results in a tough cake that has poor volume and a compact crumb.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda (alkali) is about four times as strong as baking powder.  It is used in recipes that contain an acidic ingredient (e.g. vinegar, citrus juice, sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, chocolate, cocoa (not Dutch-processed), honey, molasses (also brown sugar), fruits and maple syrup). Baking soda starts to react and release carbon dioxide gas as soon as it is added to the batter and moistened. Make sure to bake the batter immediately.
Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life if stored in a sealed container in a cool dry place. Too much baking soda will result in a soapy taste with a coarse, open crumb. Baking soda causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked, hence the name Devil's Food Cake.
  • The general rule of thumb for amount of baking powder in recipes: 1 to 2 teaspoons (5-10 grams) of baking powder leavens 1 cup (140 grams) of flour.  The amount will depend on the ingredients and how they are mixed.
  • Substitution for 1 teaspoon commercial baking powder: 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 grams) baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch or 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 grams) baking soda plus 1/2 cup (120 ml) of an acidic ingredient (buttermilk, sour milk or yogurt). Since homemade baking powder immediately releases its carbon dioxide gas when it is added and then moistened by the batter, it is important to bake the batter right away
  • To test baking powder's effectiveness: mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams)  baking powder with 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water and the mixture should bubble immediately. Store in a cool dry place and it should be replaced every 6-12 months.
  • To test baking soda's effectiveness: mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.
So, here is a make ahead cake mix. You could mix it up during a few free moments and have it on hand. Then, even when you want to try some of the recipes they have out there for, say, Box cake mix cookies, you could make it with your homemade mix.

6 cups flour
4-1/2 cups sugar
3-3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup powdered milk
1-1/2 cup cocoa
3 tsp salt
Use four cups mix for one cake. To this mix add ½ cup melted butter (or salad oil as most mixes have you use), 1 cup water, 2 beaten eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla.
I also like it like this without the powdered milk (not a huge fan) and then you add the fresh milk at the time. You can also do 1/2 milk 1/2 cream for a richer cake.
6 cups flour
4-1/2 cups sugar
3-3/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 cup cocoa
3 tsp salt
Use four cups mix for one cake. To this mix add ½ cup melted butter, 1 cup milk, 2 beaten eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla.
Here is an easy to make and store (good for 6 months) Brownie mix. Really just a slight variation of cake mix

  • 6 c. all purpose flour

  • 4 tsp. baking powder

  • 8 c. sugar

  • 8 oz. unsweetened cocoa powder

  • To make the brownies:
    1. 1/4 c. melted butter, 2 eggs, beaten well, 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 . chopped nuts (optional)
    2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat ingredients until smooth. If you are using nuts, you can stir them in now.
    3. Pour your brownie batter into your greased pan and pop it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.
    I was going to show some chicken pictures and also talk about meat in conjunction with my continuing study of modern man and his distance from food, but I will do that next. I think if I start posting smaller posts, I will get back to posting more often. So, next time: Chicks and the Chicken Industry and some more on gardening. I need to post and discuss my April Dress Challenge as well. So much to-doing.
    Happy Homemaking.
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