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Baking Powder

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Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Baking Powder


Yes, that's right... baking powder. I'll bet you've never given it much thought before. I know I hadn't. I mean, I know there are basically two kinds---aluminum-based (I call that "regular") and aluminum-free, right? I assumed all aluminum-based baking powders were pretty much the same, and all non-aluminum powders the same. But it turns out that I was wrong on both counts. My recent foray into biscuit-making and quest for cloud-like loftiness, inspired me to do a little informal research into the science of chemical leavening.


It all started with the Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits I baked one night to go with a big pot of homemade vegetable beef stew. I was still on the hunt for a biscuit recipe that I could be happy with, so I turned to the mini library of Cooks Illustrated hard-bound annuals housed in my living room bookcase. CI has several biscuit recipes to choose from, but since I had never laminated them before, I thought the flaky type might be worth a shot.


The only real decision to make was which baking powder to use. Being an avid baker, I keep a selection in my pantry---aluminum-based for when a strong rise really counts, and aluminum-free for when the taste would otherwise overpower. I decided on Clabber Girl, because I can't really remember what's in the glass jar. I think it is Bakewell Cream Baking Powder, which would have been a good choice, except that has a relatively short shelf life and its age is questionable. Rumford is my favorite for cakes, but not much else. So, Clabber Girl it was.


I was both thrilled and impressed with the recipe, for its high rise and many layers. But I was disappointed in the flavor, which closely resembled "biscuits-in-a-can." In other words, a very strong baking powder taste, owing of course, to the full tablespoon of baking powder called for in the recipe. I thought, no problem, I'll just use half Clabber Girl and half Rumford next time. I do that for some things, to get the best of both. But the rise was only mediocre by comparison. Rumford is aluminum-free and gives me great results in butter cakes, but it seems to fizzle too soon in some of my quickbreads, and wears itself out in the mixing bowl---especially when buttermilk is in the mix.


Left: Clabber Girl
Right: Rumford-Clabber Girl combo



At this point, I started wondering about (Original) Bakewell Cream, which is billed in The Baker's Catalog as the "secret ingredient" for biscuits. I checked around a bit on the Internet, and it does indeed receive very high marks by the New England biscuit makers in its limited distribution area. If this is really THE biscuit leavener, then really... don't I need to try it? So, I bit the bullet and placed an order.


While waiting for the Bakewell Cream to arrive, I turned my attention to Calumet. This is the one I grew up with. Once widely available, it is getting harder and harder to find around here. I searched four stores before finally scoring myself some. It gave my biscuits better flavor than the Clabber Girl, but the rise was not much better than the half-and-half Clabber Girl-Rumford combination. Perhaps that's a clue as to its formulation.


But the exciting thing was, that while on my mission to find Calumet, I stumbled upon a new baking powder. Well, it's new around here anyway, and I had never seen or heard of it before (plus, it says "New!" right on the label). I'm talking about Argo Baking Powder; have you seen it? Yep, it's the same people who make the cornstarch. What's so exciting about this baking powder, is that it has the same active ingredient as the Bakewell Cream, and unlike Rumford, it is a true double-acting, aluminum-free baking powder.


What does that mean? What makes all these baking powders different, you're wondering? Well, the basic equation is the same for all: baking soda + acid = lift. In the presence of moisture, baking soda reacts chemically with the acid, and CO2 bubbles released in the process make a batter or dough rise. Baking soda is the constant, but there are an array of acids to choose from, which can be sorted into two distinct categories---fast-acting, and slow-acting.


Fast-acting are acids that work at room temperature. They react in the mixing bowl when dry and liquid ingredients are combined, to give "bench rise." A good example is cream of tartar, which was used in the first commercial baking powders, and is still used in homemade preparations. The fast-acting acid ingredient preferred in commercial baking powders today is monocalcium phosphate (MCP).


Slow-acting acids don't react right away. They require heat to get going, and don't start reacting until the batter or dough reaches at least 120 degrees F. This is called "oven rise." Slow-acting acids include: sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS), sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP) and sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP).


A baking powder is said to be single-acting if it contains only one acid. If the acid is fast-acting, then the baker will need to get the batter mixed and into the oven very quickly---before it loses its bubbles or it won't bake as high. A double-acting baking powder includes both fast- and slow-acting acids. These are designed to create carbon dioxide gas more slowly, and over a longer period of time. Some bench rise during mixing is advantageous in creating bubble structure, for things like butter cakes, pancakes and waffles. However, a strong oven rise appears to be more important for things like biscuits and cornbread.


Here is a breakdown of the baking powders I tested, and a couple others that aren't available to me locally:


If you've stuck with me this far, you probably want to know how the Bakewell Cream measured up against Argo and the rest of the powders. I have to say that Bakewell Cream's lift rivaled that of Clabber Girl, but the flavor was a whole lot better. You have to combine Bakewell Cream---which is just an acid---with your own baking soda, to create the baking powder effect. Some may find the extra measuring a nuisance, but the advantage is that, unmixed, it keeps indefinitely. Baking powders, on the other hand, have a limited shelf life of about a year.


The Argo biscuits baked up just as light as the Bakewell Cream, so I almost had to declare this one a tie. But Argo eked out the win based on flavor (and the fact that I don't have to mail-order it---not that I wouldn't for something that is truly better). The flavor thing was such a close call, though. I really thought they would taste the same, and had I not had the opportunity to have them side-by-side, I wouldn't have noticed the very slight difference. That's how close it was. So for the lightest, best-tasting biscuits, I would say, opt for something with sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) in the ingredient list. If there is a secret ingredient, that would be it.   -Debra Wink


Left: Argo biscuits, baking
Right: Bakewell Cream biscuits, cooling


Comments

crunchy's picture
crunchy

Thank you for this post, Debra. I learned something new tonight.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks, Debbie, for posting this great reference for TFL.


--Pamela

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

It's good to know.  Unfortauntely we don't have Argo or Bakewell where we live.  We have Clabber Girl and Calumet.  Next time when I use baking powder I will pay closer attention to how the volume and taste turn out.  Great blog!


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Since it's a new product, it may just not have made it into your area yet :-) Check the bigger, national chain stores. Or, look for Bob's Red Mill at your nearest health food store (or wherever BRM products are sold). BRM lists the same ingredients as Argo.


Of the two you have available, the Clabber Girl gave me the strongest rise, but Calumet had a better flavor. And the rise was decent, just not quite as high. This has been an interesting exercise :-)

Love2Bake4U's picture
Love2Bake4U

Debra,


I am new to the Fresh Loaf and just read your post about Baking Powders from back in 2009.  If you are still interested in the topic, I had a couple of questions.  I was wondering about your Argo & Bakewell Cream comparision.  Those 2 products are not interchangeable are they? I have this recipe for biscuits from King Arthur flour:



  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Perfect Pastry Blend

  • 4 teaspoons Bakewell Cream*

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter

  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk


  • If you substitute the Argo for the BC, then would you leave out the baking soda that is called for?  Or am I not understanding the chemistry correctly?


    We don't have either available here locally, so I can't check ingredients, but it looks like you also said that Bob's Red Mill would be interchangeable with Argo, correct?


    thanks!

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Yes, I think you've got the gist of it. The way you use Bakewell Cream is to combine 2 parts with 1 part baking soda, and sub for an equal volume of baking powder. So the 4 teaspoons Bakewell Cream + 2 teaspoons baking soda in the above recipe, together are the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of baking powder (2 tablespoons). Omit the soda, since it's in the baking powder.


    Bob's Red Mill will probably perform just as well as Argo. I haven't tried that one personally, but Charbano did and gave it a great review (down-thread toward the end). Let me know how they turn out.


    Happy Baking to you,
    -dw

    The Yakima Kid's picture
    The Yakima Kid

    Food shopping is an adventure for our household since my husband is allergic to maize. No cornstarch, high fructose corn syrup, or modified food starch allowed.

    The non-GMO movement has been a godsend for us as we can now find regular catsup and sauces without corn starch or syrup after an absence of several years. For many years I did most of my shopping for condiments and baking/breading mixes at Pesach even though we aren't Jewish.

    I've found a very few baking powders that don't contain cornstarch; and all are single acting.

    Gefen and Lieber Kosher for Passover, Bakewell Cream starch free baking powder (regular Bakewell Cream is also available starch free for combining with soda or other alkaline ingredients), and Hain Featherlight are the only ones I've found without corn starch.

    I order the Bakewell Cream products from New England Cupboard online. I can find Kosher for Passover Gefen at a couple of Bay Area groceries that supply kosher foods, and I can order Lieber's from Aviglatt.com or AllFreshKosher.com. Hain can be found at some, but not all, health food stores.

    The Science Company sells 1/2 pound of food grade ammonium carbonate for $9.95, which is a lot cheaper than Amazon, King Arthur, or Kitchen Krafts.

    Baker's ammonia - once called hartshorn- has a couple of drawbacks. It can react with simple sugars during baking,  and then these compounds can react with asparagine (found in whole grains and nuts) to form a carcinogen. It also smells when in use. The original name came from the original process to obtain it which involved red deer antlers, and later the hooves of domestic ruminants.

    Another early baking powder is a native plant found in parts of North America, known as "Quail Bush." I have used it experimentally, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're curious (or have been married to an ethnobotanist.)

    Hardwood ashes soaked for bicarbonate were once combined with soured milk as a leaven as well.

    The Yakima Kid's picture
    The Yakima Kid

    1 part baking soda to 2 parts Cream of Tartar.

    Alum used to be used to make homemade baking powder, but it contains aluminum. It was also used to whiten baked goods.

    foolishpoolish's picture
    foolishpoolish

    Wow thanks for this. I never knew I knew so little about baking powder! 


    Just one thing regarding the buttermilk biscuits you were making. Would the acid in the buttermilk not affect the baking powder? I've found this to be an issue when making biscuits in the past with the only solution being one of working quickly and lightly to get the biscuits into the oven ASAP. When using buttermilk in something like banana bread, I understand you can add a touch of baking soda to get some extra lift but I guess that would also compromise flavour?


    Thanks again for the post!


    FP


     

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    "Would the acid in the buttermilk not affect the baking powder?"


    Yes, absolutely :-)  Even though they are separate from the baking powder, acidic ingredients in a recipe do react with the soda portion. In the recipe that I used (posted here), an extra 1/2 tsp of baking soda is added to counteract the buttermilk, so that there is enough bicarbonate left to react in the oven. Buttermilk is definitely a fast-acting acid. Other acidic ingredients include natural cocoa powder and melted chocolate, honey, molasses, brown sugar, fruit juices, and other fermented dairy, such as yogurt and sour cream.


    Best,
    -dw

    SylviaH's picture
    SylviaH

    Debbie, thank you for the wonderful and imformative write-up.  I recently ordered some of KA Bakewell ... I have been using the aluminum free baking powder and a baking soda from the health food store..I like the aluminum free for health reasons.  It's nice to know all the extra information you have included about flavor.


    Sylvia

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Sylvia, I started using Rumford after reading about it in The Cake Bible. I found the improvement in flavor to be huge, but while searching CI for info on baking powder, I was surprised to read that some of the tasters couldn't detect much difference between the powders tested (however, Bakewell Cream was never tested). I've seen it suggested somewhere, that maybe this is a genetic trait, but I don't think I buy that. Contrary to what some sources say about aluminum-based powders tasting "metallic," I don't find the flavor metallic at all, but it has a flavor that I think of as "baking powder taste." Maybe it's what others would call "chemical." Rumford and BC don't have that.


    What really disappointed me in this was that CI dismissed Bakewell Cream from testing with some off-hand remark about how unappetizing sodium acid pyrophosphate sounds---as if sodium aluminum sulfate sounds any more tasty? They really dropped the ball on that one.

    charbono's picture
    charbono

    Hain baking powder is both aluminum and sodium-free.  It seems to give a good rise.  However, in recipes that call for a lot of baking powder, it gives a bitter taste.  Would like to hear others' experience.


     

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    I had to look it up to find the sodium-free substitute they are using for the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Hain Featherweight Baking Powder relies on potassium bicarbonate for the bicarb portion, and monocalcium phosphate for the acid (just like Rumford). So, the only difference, really, is potassium in place of sodium.


    I think salt substitutes are generally potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride, are they not? I know they taste a little bitter to me, so I think it might be safe to say the potassium is your culprit.

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Charbono, here's a sodium-free baking powder, that uses calcium- and magnesium carbonate, instead of potassium or sodium. It might have a better taste. Don't know.


    Click here: Ener-G Food Baking powder


    I got the link from Kit Chen's blog:


    Click here: Baking powder | Bowl of Plenty

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Thanks to you too, Pamela and Crunchy!

    Marni's picture
    Marni

    More great info here on TFL.  I'm definitely going to look for the Argo BP now.  I also notice the taste difference, but haven't had all this info to help me correct it.  Thanks so much.


    Marni

    ques2008's picture
    ques2008

    appreciate the enlightening info!

    cbtj19's picture
    cbtj19

    Fantastic analysis, Debra!  The info was clear, concise, & perfectly presented.  You're even better than Alton Brown.  To be honest, I find your "experiment" here much better executed than many of the kitchen tests that CI performed.  They always try to sound so scientific and accurate, but I find a lot of their comparison tests not very impressive.


    I suppose all baking soda should be the same...they are, after all, just sodium bicarbonate.  But based on your experience, is there a particular brand you prefer (to go with BWC)?  Thanks!


    -CB

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    CB, I usually reach for Arm & Hammer, just because that's the name I'm familiar with. But, I always squeeze and shake the box to make sure it doesn't feel or sound lumpy. To me, that's a sign it was probably sitting too long in a humid environment. If so, I would move on over to the Bob's Red Mill, because it always comes in an air-tight sealed pouch. Plus you can see through the plastic if it is free-flowing or lumpy. I suppose, now that I write this, I should always reach for Bob's :-)


    I'm not sure that I'm better than AB, but I do like to collect and organize information in the way that makes sense and is most useful to me and how my thought process works. The acids and how they work, are what we need to know in order to troubleshoot problems we might otherwise attribute to measuring, mixing, or to a faulty recipe. It seems clear to me that the type and timing of the leavening can be just as important as the type of flour you choose.


    If you find you get good oven rise, but the crumb is too coarse (large or uneven holes), then maybe you need more leavening action during mixing (assuming your technique is good). But, if you're getting a fine and even enough crumb, that's baking up squat and dense, then maybe you need a powder that provides more lift in the oven.


    If your recipe requires some sort of handling after combining wet and dry ingredients (like laminating, rolling and cutting these biscuits) which delays getting it into the oven immediately, then a single-acting powder like Rumford, or homemade with cream of tarter, may not be the best choice. (Pamela, this tip is especially for you.) You'll need something that can provide a stronger rise in the oven.


    So, next time you go out to buy a can of baking powder, be sure to turn it around and check what's in it. Understanding how it works, will help you to make the wisest choice :-)

    jeromethegiraffe's picture
    jeromethegiraffe

    Thanks for the great research and for the photos of your biscuits and baking powders. Very methodical and well done.


    I am new here. Was there a similar test done between different yeasts?


     


    P.S.


    I've use Magic brand baking soda (which was made by Nabisco, but now Kraft foods) with good results for almost everything it was used in. It contains: corn starch, monocalcium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate. So, it would be in the same category as the Rumford brand in that it is a double-action MCP fast-acting baking powder (without aluminum).


    It is widely available in Canada.


    http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/BakingPowder.htm


    http://www.kraftcanada.com/EN/PRODUCTS/M-O/MagicBakingPowder.aspx


     


    Thanks again.

    charbono's picture
    charbono
    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Good to know:



    "Calcium and aluminum-containing leavening acids allow good gluten development for volume and texture, while sulfates and phosphates interfere with gluten development and reduce gas retention."



    Not sure exactly when gluten develpment in chemically leavened things will be an issue, but knowing this should help me look for and consider it. The problem is, where do you put aluminum phosphate and aluminum sulfate?


    Does anyone know of a SALP baking powder available to home bakers? I may add Magic and Hain to my chart. Any others that I should add?

    cbtj19's picture
    cbtj19

    I only know that Pillsbury's self-rising flour has SALP in it.  But regardless of how the aluminum helps gluten development, I think you might want to avoid it in general since aluminum is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.  If calcium has the same/similar effect on gluten, I'd say go for that instead.

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    "aluminum is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia."


    I'm not convinced that is a true statement. Coincidentally, aluminum testing is actually something I did quite a bit of in my last laboratory job, and while I was there, my employer purchased a third analyzer to keep up with the growing workload. A consultant was flown in to help set it up, who had quite a bit of expertise in using the equipment, because he was a physician doing research in this very field. I took advantage during his stay, to pick his brain.


    While Alzheimer's is associated with aluminum plaques on the brain, it was not clear whether the plaques caused the disease, or the disease caused the plaques. Sort of a chicken-egg dilemma. Regardless, no clear connections had been found at that time between dietary intake of aluminum, and serum levels, these plaques or Alzheimer's. It didn't appear to be that simple. That was a while ago, so if you know of reliable studies that have made a connection, I am very interested.


    Reducing the risk of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia seem to rely more on getting enough essential fatty acids (especially the omega 3's), vitamins/antioxidants/phytochemicals from fresh whole foods, and plenty of exercise for both body and mind.

    cbtj19's picture
    cbtj19

    Hi Deb,


    It's true, the causes of Alzheimer's disease and its contributing risk factors are still controversial.  There are a multitude of AD risk factors ranging from lack of cognitive & motor activity to DNA damage.  I did learn in neurobio. that all of the plaques found in AD contain amyloid proteins.  But the aggregated form of amyloid called beta-amyloid is the one found to induce dose-dependent toxicity.  It seems that mice with increased b-amyloid exhibit cognitive deficits, and genetic disorders that results in increase of b-amyloid induce AD or similar brain profile.  Also, it appears that when amyloid beta 42 (Ab42) is produced more than Ab40, symptoms of AD begin to show.  Although b-amyloid correlates with cognitive impairment, I don't doubt that it's just one of many factors contributing to AD.




    I agree that the role of Al in AD is still in question, but although it may not be a direct risk factor (like many pathways in the human body with their seemingly endless series of precursors and components), there are studies that indicate Al has a role in AD however unclear it may still be. 


    These are only a few of the related journal articles I was able to dig out online for free:


    http://www.ebmonline.org/cgi/content/full/223/4/397?maxtoshow=&HITS=&hits=&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=aluminum+alzheimers&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=...


    http://ajp.amjpathol.org/cgi/content/full/155/3/877?maxtoshow=&HITS=&hits=&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=aluminum+alzheimers&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=...


    I wouldn't clear Al from the list of suspects just yet, and who knows, perhaps Al only negatively affects those with already compromised mental health.  Personally, I find no hassle staying away from unnecessary Al intake, just to be on the pecautious side.  But, hey, if you feel strongly otherwise, more power to you.   I love how your post on baking powder turns into an Alzheimer's discussion.  =)


    -Chau

     

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink


    "Personally, I find no hassle staying away from unnecessary Al intake, just to be on the pecautious side.  But, hey, if you feel strongly otherwise, more power to you."



    Hmm, I'm not quite sure how to take that, but I have been pretty clear in that I prefer aluminum-free baking powders.


    Thank you for the links---I'll take a look at the articles.


    Best,
    -dw

    cbtj19's picture
    cbtj19

     


    "Hmm, I'm not quite sure how to take that, but I have been pretty clear in that I prefer aluminum-free baking powders."

    I may have misunderstood. =)  I thought you meant you just didn't like the aftertaste of aluminum-containing baking powders but weren't avoiding it for health reasons since you were looking for brands that contain either aluminum phosphate or aluminum sulfate.  Please pardon me if I may have come off in any way offensive to you.  It was not my intention.

    -Chau


     

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    I was just looking for information to add to my chart, to make it as complete as I can :-)  I'm happy to let others make up their own minds in matters of taste or health.


    I kept reading about SALP, but I hadn't come across it in anything, and so I was wondering if it was even available to home bakers. It is another slow-acting acid. But now, I can understand why bakers in the south swear by self-rising flour for light biscuits---it isn't only about the softer wheat. Thank you for providing that piece of info :-)


    -dw

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Thursday's Dr. Oz Show was pertinent to this discussion, so in case you missed it, you can watch and read about it here:


         Click here: Alzheimer's: Diabetes of the Brain? | The Dr. Oz Show


         Click here: An Alzheimer's Breakthrough, Pt 1. | The Dr. Oz Show


         Click here: An Alzheimer's Breakthrough, Pt 2. | The Dr. Oz Show


         Click here: An Alzheimer's Breakthrough, Pt 3. | The Dr. Oz Show


    Happy Spring!
    dw 

    belle's picture
    belle

    I was not aware of this breakthrough..thanks for posting Deb..no more turkey bacon for me!

    charbono's picture
    charbono

     


    After reviewing Debra's analysis of baking powder, I bought some Bob's Red Mill powder, and our biscuits have now attained perfection.  I also appreciate Debra's voice of reason on aluminum and Alzheimer's disease.

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    I came across Bob's a couple days ago while looking for dried coconut in the health food section of HyVee. (This was where I found the Argo too, but on the baking isle.) I was so tempted to buy it just to see if it performs the same, but made myself hold off since I already have the Argo and Bakewell Cream. I'm so glad that you tried it out. May I ask which powder you used for biscuits before?


    Thanks so much for the field report :-)
    -dw

    Kit Chen's picture
    Kit Chen

    Debra-


    I just came across this post, and I wanted to thank you for the detailed run-down of different baking powders. I had written about baking powder myself (here, if you're curious -- and I just updated it with a link to this post; hope you don't mind), but only through literature research and not experimental data. I also appreciate you pointing out that Rumford is "not really" double-acting, since the discrepancy between its label and formulation confuses a lot of people.

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Kit Chen, welcome to TFL. Thank you for the link. I just skimmed a bit, and plan to spend more time there later. Great information, especially for the chemistry-minded among us :-)

    Edith Pilaf's picture
    Edith Pilaf

    Thank you so much for all your contributions to this forum.  I'm new here, and I've found your posts to be exceptionally informative.  I had posted a question about Rumsford on the Cook's Illustrated forum since CI had an article about the different kinds of baking powder, and the Rumsford label ("double acting") seemed inconsistent with the CI article.  No one on the CI forum seemed to see it, but your article recognizes it.


    A CI recipe for blueberry scones says that the dough can be refrigerated overnight.  The recipe doesn't specify, but I'm assuming that this will only work with the true double-acting baking powders -- the aluminum-based that are heat-activated.  Based on your experience and knowledge, will the Argo also hold up to a night in the fridge and still activate the next day?

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    I hope Xaipete is still around, because she might have a definitive answer for you. She was testing a diferent laminated biscuit recipe back then, that was supposed to be chilled between cutting and baking. She was using Rumford, and getting some sad biscuits that looked about like my Clabber Girl/Rumford combo. I wonder if she ever tried a different baking powder. Pamela, are you out there?


    My guess is that CI develops their recipes with Davis, because they seem to picture that one most often. It isn't available in my part of the country, but is made by Clabber Girl. Maybe they're the same formulation.


    I'd certainly give the Argo a try, and would expect it to hold up as well as Clabber Girl or Davis to a night in the fridge, but I don't have any "data" to back that up. If you do try it, please let us know how it turns out.


    Thanks again,
    -dw


    Click here: Following are the most common brands of baking powder found in your local grocery stores: 
     

    Calumet Baking PowderCalumet Baking Powder is sodium aluminum sulfate - a phosphate powder in which the acid ingredients are sodium aluminum sulfate and calcium phosphate.

    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

    Ingredients: Corn Starch, Bicarbonate of Soda, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Acid Phosphate of Calcium.
     
    Available in the United States. Owned by Clabber Girl Corporation.

    Clabber Girl Baking Powder is gluten-free and certified Kosher by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.


    Rumford Baking Powder

     Ingredients: Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Food-Grade Cornstarch.

    It is an all-phosphate baking powder (containing calcium acid phosphate - no aluminum).

    Available in New England and the northeastern United States. Owned by Clabber Girl Corporation.

    Rumford Baking Powder is gluten-free and certified Kosher by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

     


    Davis Baking Powder

     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

    It is an all-phosphate baking powder (containing calcium acid phosphate - no aluminum).

    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.

     

    Edith Pilaf's picture
    Edith Pilaf

    .. but I'm trained in the Socratic method, which also involves testing and proof.  I haven't seen the Argo, but I will look for it.  Will report back on the refrigerator scone experiment.

    Kit Chen's picture
    Kit Chen

    I've seen Argo at Walmart. Haven't found it in the local supermarkets, though.

    Darth Lefty's picture
    Darth Lefty

    Nice topic!  Glad it was bumped.  Now...


    A few months ago for my health I went on what I guess you could call a low-sodium binge.  The doctor has now told me not to worry about it so hard, so I stopped avoiding things with baking powder.  But while under the gun, so to speak, I did a little research and discovered there are ammonia-based baking powders, also known as hart's horn.  I got my reprieve before I actually went and bought any.


    Does anyone here have an opinion on them?


    A problem I've found with the sulfate baking powder is that, if you eat too many biscuits, you are liable to regret it later.  In an elevator, next to someone you're trying to impress, probably.

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    As I understand it, baker's ammonia is only appropriate in things that are baked long enough to allow the ammonia (it tastes and smells unpleasant, even while baking) to completely dissipate, so its applications are very limited. It supposedly makes thin cookies and crackers a bit crispier. I tried it once in a crisp cookie recipe, and didn't think it any kind of improvement. Unless you have a specific recipe that calls for it, I wouldn't bother.


    Click here: Baker's Ammonia (Ammonium Carbonate) - 2.7 oz.


    Even in a tightly sealed jar, mine completely disappeared after a year or so in the pantry.   -dw

    Kit Chen's picture
    Kit Chen

    You can buy sulfate-free baking powders without going to ammonium. Popular brands Clabber Girl and Calumet both contain sulfate, but the aluminum-free powders discussed here don't. Most of the aluminum-free brands do contain sodium, but you've indicated that this is no longer a concern.

    camplover's picture
    camplover

    what is the difference between sodium acid pyrophosphate and aluminum? 

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    Aluminum is a chemical element.


    Sodium acid pyrophosphate is a chemical compound that contains no aluminum.

    FlyinAggie's picture
    FlyinAggie

    Bakewell Cream can be ordered for half the price of King Arthur's from www.newenglandcupboard.com.  If I can't find Argo locally I'll order it.  I must say, this is a most enlightening article and as a brand new member I am duly impressed!  Thank you, Debra et al for such an amazing amount of good, useable information!  This was everything a good article should be - informative, interesting, and articulate, with good research to back up the hypothesis.  Applause, applause! 


     

    Debra Wink's picture
    Debra Wink

    and welcome to The Fresh Loaf!

    hanseata's picture
    hanseata

    As a Mainer (though from "away") I like Bakewell Cream, because it was invented here, and is very popular. I mix the amount for a few months and always had great results.


    Right now I'm stuck with all kinds of leftover baking powders from my daughter, Rumford and what not. I never thought there were any differences in taste.


    Thanks for your thorough information, Debra.


    Karin

    belle's picture
    belle

    You can buy Bakewell cream products here for about 1/2 the price of KA:


     


    www.newenglandcupboard.com


    enjoy..


    Linda

    tempe's picture
    tempe

    Wow, this is definitely a very interesting post.  I had no idea there were so many baking powders on the market, I live in Queensland, Australia and we have a choice of two small containers at any of the shops in my area.  White wings and Wards; the latter having two ingredients - rice flour and sodium bicarbonate no aluminium mentioned.  I have only ever had your style of biscuits once when I visited my brother in Calfornia about ten years ago and I really enjoyed them much to my brothers amusement, we have a similar type of thing called scones.  Now they can either come out like little rocks or come out nice and fluffy depending on how the dough is handled, if you press it out with the rolling pin generally you will have pushed out all of the air from the dough, it is best to just pat out the dough and use a glass to cut out the round shapes and they puff up beautifully every time.  Some people even use lemonade in their recipes as the liquid and raising part of the dough.  I don't like the taste that it leaves but many people swear by it.  I use milk or cream. If anyone would like the scone recipe to try for comparison sake or just to try let me know or you could go over to www.notquitenigella.com and search for QVB Scones as that is the recipe I use .  Anyway thanks again Debra for a very informative and enjoyable post. 

    hanseata's picture
    hanseata

    Since you mention lemonade as leavening agent in liquid batters - my family's German pancake recipe requires no baking powder, but, instead, the use of sparkling water. The eggs are divided and the egg whites beaten. That is a totally sufficient way to make the pancakes light without leaving an off-taste.


    Karin

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