The Nov 8, 2008 Splendid Table podcast featuring Shirley Corriher has a wonderful summation of how leavening works in baking.
Chemical leavening in baking (baking soda and baking powder) don’t make the bubbles in your batter: they make them bigger. (Says Corriher. Having played with vinegar and baking soda I disagree… ideas?)
So where do those bubbles come from then? In the baking example mentioned in the podcast- a cookie recipe- the bubbles come from the creaming step. This is when the butter and sugar are combined till light and fluffy. Shirley Corriher recommends that the creaming step take 7 minutes in an upright mixer, longer if using a hand held mixer. (So what about pancake batter? It doesn’t have a creaming step.)
Baking powder contains soda in it and the right amount of acids to utilize all of that soda. With baking soda you have to have something acidic in your batter to react with it, and its an instant action- vs
the baking powder which is double or triple action. So we usually see baking soda in buttermilk recipes as buttermilk is acidic.
- 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour- 1 1/4 tsp maximum
- 1/4 tsp of baking soda per cup of flour
Is too much baking soda or baking powder bad? Theoretically yes.
Too much leavening will over-inflate your bubbles, causing them to break and not lend as much structural support to your batter.
-guess who’ll be readjusting all of her blog’s baking recipes now.
Summarized on the Nov 8, 2008 Splendid Table podcast featuring Shirley Corriher.