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Baking Soda vs Baking Powder, what’s the difference – Jughandle’s Fat Farm

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder, what’s the difference?  When should we use one over the other?  Are there any other uses for either, than baking or cooking?

If you are a serious cook, you should be able to rattle off the answers to those questions instantly.

Baking is more of a science than an art.  Chemistry and exact proportions are very important to achieving a quality finished product consistently.

Dough Rising

The holes are formed by the expansion of CO2 as the dough rises and sets.

Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate, sodium bicarb, bicarb soda, bicarbonate, and bicarb are all names for the same thing – NaHCO

It is a salt made up of sodium and bicarbonate molecules.  For a more in-depth explanation and chemistry, go to Wikipedia.  Sodium Bi-carbonate is used for many things but since our many focus is cooking, let us look at that first.

the leavening difference

without and with

Cooking

In cooking Sodium bi-carbonate is called Baking Soda.  By providing CO2, its primary use is as a leavening agent in batters and dough such as pancakes and breads, but is also used to crisp up the batter in fried foods.  Baking soda is very alkaline and in too large a quantity can leave sodium carbonate, which has a bitter or soapy taste.

What you need to remember is that Baking Soda releases CO2, carbon dioxide gas, that causes the batter or dough to rise by expanding within the lattice like structure of protein, known as gluten, in the dough.  The gluten traps the CO2 gas as it forms to make the bread or batter rise. 

Ok, now dig deeper and recall a little high school chemistry.  Baking Soda, aka: Sodium Bi-carbonate, is a base.  A base will decompose in the presence of of heat, starting at 180 deg F, but give up only half of its its CO2 leaving, proportionately, more of its bitter, soapy flavor, relative to the gas, in the final product.

You may also recall that a base and an acid have a strong chemical reaction.  In the case of Baking Soda, if you also use an acid such as a phosphate, cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, cocoa vinegar or even a sourdough batter, you can create a reaction that will release much more of its CO2. Remember that unlike batter or dough that has no acid, which will only rise when CO2 is released at 180 deg when baking.  When your acid and baking soda are mixed the reaction will start immediately and you will need to hurry and start the cooking.

Additionally

You might find useful the fact that when adding baking soda to your coating for fried foods, your crust will be more crispy.  The reason for the crispiness is that the emerging CO2 leaves passages for steam to escape from the food not only keeping the breading from being soggy but also preventing the crust from being blown off during cooking.

Baking Powder

Let us now consider, baking powder.  Not the stuff with a thousand uses that you put open in the refrig, but the powder in a round can that that said
“Double Acting” on it.

Baking powder generally contains around 30% sodium bicarbonate combined with calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminium phosphate  or cream of tartar, which are activated by adding water, not needing acid.  Having both the Baking Soda and other additives make it “double acting”.

While baking soda is alkaline; the acid used in baking powder helps to avoid the metallic, bitter, soapy taste when the chemical change during baking creates sodium carbonate.

Tipsbulletin.com

Tips bulletin is a very informative site that gives tips on all sorts of different topics.  The following are excerpts from their 50+ Amazing Uses of Baking Soda

1. Clean Your Bathtub

Bathtub Cleaner Recipe

  • Baking soda (1/2 Cup)
  • Coarse salt (1 Tbsp)
  • Dish soap (1 Tbsp)
A safe and effective way to wash your bathtub, sink, and surrounding tile is by sprinkling a light layer of baking soda on a clean, damp sponge and scrubbing the tub as usual. Thoroughly rinse the bathtub and wipe it dry with a clean towel.

Baking soda also works well to clean fiberglass and glossy tiles. For extra cleaning power, you can make a paste with the baking soda for a deep-down clean.

9. Clean Furniture

Baking soda is an excellent product if you need to clean or remove marks from painted furniture or walls. Apply baking soda to a clean damp rag or sponge and lightly rub the area that you need to clean.

Baking soda works especially well to clean patio furniture. Using a clean, dry cloth, remove the residue from the furniture or wall. This method will even work for removing crayon marks from your walls and furniture.

17. Natural Fruit and Vegetable Scrub

Even if you buy organic produce, it is important to make sure to wash your fruits and veggies before consuming them. Not only can this get rid of any pesticides that may have seen use during the growing of the produce, but it can remove bacteria from your food.

Baking Soda Uses: Keeps Produce Fresh

You can make a natural produce cleaner by adding one teaspoon of baking powder to one tablespoon water. The paste is an excellent way to get rid of unwanted bacteria and pesticides from your produce.

23. Extinguish Grease Fires

If you encounter a minor grease fire in your kitchen, you can use baking soda to put it out quickly. Pouring baking soda on the fire will instantly stifle the flames. When the baking soda is heated, it discharges carbon dioxide and produces water.

The carbon dioxide doesn’t support combustion like oxygen. It smothers the fire, allowing the water that has formed to cool the fire to below the temperature needed for ignition.

31. Deodorize Recycling Bin

You can make sure your recycling bin doesn’t smell by adding baking soda to the top of the container every time you add to the container.

You can also clean the recycle bin with baking soda after it is empty. Place some baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe down the inside of the recycle bin, followed by a thorough rinse with warm water.

And many others – Check it out – Jughandle

25th Anniversary Party Cake
This is a cake we made for a 25th anniversary party. It is a yellow cake with white butter cream icing, covered in white and silver fondant with a royal icing bow on top and gum paste bows and ribbons on the bottom. Designed to serve 150 people. This actually was a very successful cake with few problems because yellow cake is naturally dense and it could easily hold the weight of the small cake on top. The only caution here is about the royal icing bow on top.
protect-the-bow

Gum paste bow with temporary supports

This type of bow is very fragile and should be supported with tissue when transporting. Make sure you have a bag of royal icing to re-attach any broken loops that occurred along the way. The dragees (small silver dots on the fondant) are great to cover any minor problems with the fondant.

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Finished Product

Finished Cake

Cake Recipes – when to make it yourself, when to buy it made, and when to use a box mix
Types of Cake – yellow, chocolate, white, red velvet, cheese cake, carrot cake
Structure – supports, framework, columns, wire, wood, plastic, steel
Types of frosting– fondant, butter-cream, royal, gum paste, cream cheese, glaze, poured fondant
Decorations– pre-made, gum paste, fondant, royal icing, piped butter-cream
Fondant– white, chocolate, marshmallow, poured
Butter-cream Recipes and Problems – cooked, with eggs, with out eggs, no cook
To Freeze or not to Freeze – fresh or frozen
When to refrigerate
When to deliver the cake
How to deliver the cake
How NOT to transport the cake
What to do on site at the event and what not to do
How to fix disasters – and you will have disasters
Why you can’t prevent disasters 
I know there will be more, but that is a good start.

Cake, fondant, weddings, special events

I am frustrated in my efforts to create the perfect cake.  Yes, I know, perfection is a lofty goal, but the finished product can be a hell of a lot better than most we amateurs – and even professionals, turn out.  I call myself an amateur, because that is exactly what I am.  My wife and I made (I use the past tense because we have retired from the stress of the cake making business) cakes for special events that our friends and family have, and we didn’t make money in the process.  We watched every “cake challenge”, “Ace of Cakes” and any other show that broadcasts cake making events and contests.  REAL secrets of how to bake, decorate and deliver a cake to an event are never full explained. I intend to revel those secrets, eventually, in this blog.
Your Cake – And Eat it Too!

Trials and tales of an amateur cake “Expert”.  Things you can’t learn about making cakes from watching TV or reading books

This will be a series of posts all relating to making CAKE

Scratch or Box?

 This post is bound to be controversial. Some purist will insist that your cake should be completely scratch made. Sure, that’s a nice thought but unless your cake is a small cake and you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the decoration you will have other priorities than impressing people with your ability to read a recipe. First you have to determine what purpose you are making the cake in the first place. Here is how we do it:
Wedding cake: We feel that a wedding cake should make a statement. The brides statement, what ever that may be. So you need to make a cake that will be nicely designed, impressive to look at and it must taste good too.
Show Cake: A show cake can be anything from a cake you make for a contest to a cake that you know no one will eat much of. Here the priority is what the cake looks like, not what it tastes like. DSC_6465  Brandons logThats it. There are no other choices, so let’s break that down. In order for a cake to be large enough to serve over 150 people it needs to have a structure. That structure can be anything from a wooden form to metal bracing. The simplest structure to hold a multi tiered cake is simple wooden or plastic dowels that are pushed through the cake to support the layer above it. Or you can watch one of the TV shows and see the elaborate frames they use to support their “show” cake. Ahh, now we are getting to the point I want to make. While you are watching those TV shows, notice that the cake they use is extremely dense. When I say dense, I mean that they can stand on the cake. Also notice that these very same cakes are made in a shallow sheet pan and then cut out with a cookie cutter type of device, to the shape needed. The reason the cake is thin is to make it firm and strong. You CAN NOT make a cake that tastes good that way. At least I haven’t figured out how.So ask yourself, how can they stack cake 3 feet tall without the sides sagging or even crumbling and have the cake not taste like cardboard? They CAN’T! Period. So you have to make the choice I posed above. If you would like your cake to look impressive and taste good then you must be very creative in your cake design. Plus, all conditions must be perfect, which they NEVER are. Remember that a good tasting cake is moist, soft and never dry.Our method: We design the cake to any shape and specs that the bride and groom want, but we try to find a way to achieve that look and still deliver a cake that will be completely eaten by their guests. We do it by making box cakes. Yes, box cakes. Go to the store and buy what ever flavor box cake your customer wants and then make it in your kitchen. We have tried lots of different scratch recipes, but none of them taste as good or are as moist as a box cake. We still put the wet ingredients in, so really all you are buying is the flour, baking powder, sugar and coloring. You still add the water or milk, oil or butter and the whole eggs or egg whites. You still mix it, you still pour it in the pan of your choice and you still cook the thing until it is done. Which, by the way, never is what the back of the box says.Tricks of the trade: There are tricks you can use to improve the work-ability of your cake with out hurting the taste. In fact, these tricks often improve the taste.1) Cook in 2″ thick cake pans, greased, floured and the bottom lined with parchment paper, filled 3/4 full of batter, allowing the cake to rise above the pan in order to be leveled. Cook the cake until the side of the cake separates from the pan about an 1/8th of an inch, no mater if you are cooking a 16″ square cake or a 4″ round. If you do that, your center will be done and will be firmer.

2) Always let your cake cool in the pan on a rack until you can easily handle it without gloves. The longer the cake sits out the firmer the crumbs will become. But if you wait too long the cake will stick to the pan and you will have to warm the bottom to get it to release.

3) after turning the cake out on to a elevated drying rack you can let it sit for up to 12 hours. In fact you should let it sit for at least 8 hours. The texture of the cake will improve and you will be able to handle the cake more easily. Chocolate cake is the easiest to work with because it has lots of fat and whole eggs to bind it together. White cake and Red Velvet are the hardest cakes to work with, because they are so soft. We call this stage the staling stage. The cake doesn’t really get stale, but it becomes more of a unit. After the staling stage, place the cake on at least a 1/4′ foam board and level the top with either a knife or a cake saw and then wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Freeze each layer over night or for at least 4 hours. Amazingly, freezing vastly improves the texture of the cake. We then remove the cake from the freezer and bring it to almost room temperature before using a cake saw to cut it in half. Ice with what ever you want between the layers and continue to build the cake.

Our cakes, soft and moist, are almost always eaten completely. The cake in the picture below is one of our wedding cakes. It is 4 – 4″ layers of white cake with white buttercream icing covered in white fondant. We used 48 cake mixes, 72 pounds of confectioners sugar, 2 gals of Crisco, a pint of vanilla and 12 dozen egg whites.  Problematic conditions were overcome. The bride was happy that the cake was almost completely eaten by the more than 300 guests.

Brandon-Sherinda-wedding-cake