How Baking Powder Works:
Baking Powder is a leavening agent that consists of a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber (like cornstarch). It has the action of yeast but it acts much more quickly. It's used in batters where there is no acid present. such as many baked goods: cookies, cakes, pastries, pies, quick bread, etc.
It makes these types of food products voluminous by allowing gas formation when an acid comes into contact with it and/or when it's heated. Baking powder acts immediately upon addition of water, therefore a filler (usually cornstarch) is added to absorb the moisture and prevent premature activity.
Types of Baking Powder:
Double-Acting Baking Powders vs. Single-Acting Baking Powders
Most baking powders are double-acting, which means they the baking powder reacts twice; contain one acid that dissolves when it comes in contact with water and another acid that does not dissolve until it reaches a higher temperature in a hot oven. This type of double action ensures that the finished product is light and fluffy. Single-acting baking powders are mainly used by manufacturers and are usually not available for retail sale.
Food Chemistry Rule in Using Baking Powder
When creating a recipes, the food chemistry rule is 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder per 1 cup flour. If too much baking powder is used in your recipe, this produces big bubbles that run into each other, rise to the surface and pop. There goes the leavening, and the result is that the muffins, cakes or quick breads become heavy or sunken.
Following are the most common brands of baking powder found in your local grocery stores:
Available in the United States. Owned by Kraft Foods.
Calumet Baking Powder is gluten-free and certified Kosher by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Clabber Girl Baking Powder is gluten-free and certified Kosher by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Available in New England and the northeastern United States. Owned by Clabber Girl Corporation.
Davis Baking Powder is gluten-free and certified Kosher by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Magic Baking Powder is manufactured by Kraft foods Canada and sold only in Canada.
Magic Baking Powder is certified Kosher by the Kashruth Council of Canada.
When buying and stocking up on baking powder, try to find the most current date available by looking for a manufacturing or expiration date on the product. Keep in mind when it was manufactured and how long it has been sitting on the store's shelf, because time weakens its potency. Just because you bought it last week, it doesn't mean it was made last week and is as fresh as possible. Once a can is opened, fresh baking powder should be good for 3 to 6 months.
How To Store Baking Powder:
Baking powder should be stored at room temperature in a dry place. A cabinet or pantry away from the sink or heat source (such as the stove, direct sunlight), is a perfect place. Do not store baking powder in the refrigerator as it may shorten the shelf life due to condensation that occurs on the can.
How To Test Baking Powder:
First stir the contents of the can to see if there are any lumps. Lumps are an indication that the baking powder has picked up moisture, and has started a reaction in the can.
Check the code dates on the bottom of the can to make sure it is still in code. Baking powder has a usual useful life of 24 months from the date of manufacture.
Stir 1 teaspoon baking powder into 1/3 cup of hot water. If it bubbles gently, it is fine to use.
If you have a can of baking powder that has been sitting in your cupboard for a year or more - toss it out!
How To Make Baking Powder:
If you have run out of baking powder you may be able to make a substitution by using the following:
For one teaspoon baking powder = mix 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
If you are not using immediately, add 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch to absorb any moisture in the air and to prevent a premature chemical reaction between the acid and alkali.NOTE: Remember that a recipe for baked goods is like a formula. The ingredients work together to create an acceptable finished product. Substitutions don't always work as well as the original ingredients called for in the recipe. Any substitutions that you make come with the risk that the recipe will not turn out as intended.