Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Things you learn by disastrous baking.

Actually, to be honest, the title of this blog entry should rather read "Baking disasters that could have been completely avoided by thinking a little before substituting one leavening agent by a different leavening agent".

I was baking scones this weekend and used a powder that was not the usual baking powder but baking soda. What I did not know when I substituted the exact amount of baking soda for the amount of baking powder stated in the recipe: Baking powder is soda mixed together with a diphosphate that, upon contact with moisture and heat, will turn into an acidic substance that in its turn reacts with the soda. According to the order of ingredients on the packets, baking powder contains at least as much phosphate as soda, if not more. (Then, in addition, there is some starch in there serving as a stabiliser and separating agent, which according to the Intarwebz can be up to 30% of the total.)

So the result of my scone baking? Inedible scones (tasting weird and really bitter), a little chemistry lesson delivered by the internet, more knowledge about how kitchen chemistry works, a thorough understanding that:

baking soda != baking powder
and that
dosage of baking soda != dosage of baking powder.

Oh, and the total corroboration that our friends are really, really cool and wonderful. Because, when faced with the inedible scones, they took it very calmly, worked out together with me why this had happened, and then one just went to cuddle the cat while the other one helped me whip up a new batch of scones with less raisins (since there were not so many left) but with normal baking powder this time. Which turned out perfectly nice and very, very edible. (Plus that was the fastest scone-baking action ever - it took about 10 minutes until they were in the oven.)

And in the aftermath... I realised that I had used "baking soda" instead of "baking powder" in the recipes on this blog. Which has now been rectified - they all say "baking powder", as they should. So should you have tried one of the recipes (the lemon things or the nougat spritz things) and they turned out... weird (and possibly not very fluffy and/or less than yummy), the blame is totally on me and I am really sorry. I promise that both baked goods are really very, very edible if produced with baking powder.

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