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Baking Powder

( Originally Published 1926 )

1. Q. What is the Government official definition of baking powder?

A. "Baking powder is the leavening agent produced by the mixing of an acid reacting material and sodium bicarbonate with or without starch or flour. It yields not less than 12 per cent of available carbon dioxide."

2 Q. How many kinds of baking powder are there on the market?

A. Three kinds, commonly known as "cream of tartar" baking powder, "phosphate" baking powder, and "alum" baking powder. In all three sodium bicarbonate is used as a basis, while for an acid they contain cream of tartar, acid phosphate, and sodium alum, respectively. (A Government ruling recognizes also a fourth kind of baking powder, the acid reacting materials of which may be any combination in substantial proportions of cream of tartar, acid phosphate, and sodium alum.)

3 Q. What is sodium bicarbonate, the article used as the basis in the manufacture of all baking powder?

A. Sodium bicarbonate, or bicarbonate of sodium, is the scientific name of the common baking soda, formerly also known as saleratus. It is a by-product in the manufacture of "sal soda," also known as "washing soda." When sodium bicarbonate is combined with acid re-acting materials, such as cream of tartar, acid phosphate, or sodium alum, and moistened, it Produces carbon dioxide, the same gas as s produced by yeast fermentation. (Carbon ( ioxide is the same gas that makes the bubbles in anger ale and other carbonated drinks.) It is this car-bon dioxide, or "carbonic acid gas,' that causes the dough or the batter to "rise."

4 Q. How do the three kinds of baking powder differ in their leavening properties?

A. They do not differ in their leavening properties ; they all do the work—they all for the necessary carbon dioxide that causes the dough and batter to "rise."

5 Q. Are all three kinds of baking powder perfectly safe to use?

A. Yes. If the use of any baking powder on the market was in any way harmful to health, the Government would be quick to stop it ; manufacture. After forming the carbon d oxide, each of the three kinds of baking powder leaves a residue in the food; the residue left from the "cream of tartar" baking powder is rochelle salts; that left from the "phosphate" baking powder is sodium and calcium phosphates; and that left from the "alum" baking powder is glauber's salt. The quantity of residue left in the food in each case, however, is so very small as to be in no way harmful to health.

6 Q. Why is starch or flour added in the manufacture of baking powder?

A. To absorb atmospheric moisture al d thus prevent a loss of gas before the baking owder is used. The starch or flour acts mererLY as a protection in keeping dry the ingredients of the baking powder.

7 Q. Does baking powder lose some of its strength in time?

A. While some manufacturers claim that their baking powders do not deteriorate with age, it is a fact that most baking powders do lose some of their strength in time, especially during periods of the year when there is a great deal of moisture in the air. For this reason, it is best to keep just as fresh a supply of baking powder in the pantry as possible.

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