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DIY Leavening Power - Recipes!

 
author & steward
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Since we've been discussing How To Bake Without Baking Powder this week, I thought it might be fun to start a thread where we can share recipes and experiments. (For a discussion of kitchen chemistry basics, check out this thread.)

I'll start. This was a successful muffin experiment using baking soda and strong coffee as the leavener.



"Coffee Cakes"

1/2 C sugar
1/4 C softened butter
1 egg
1 and 3/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 C strong, *regular coffee

Cream sugar and butter, add egg and mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, alternating with coffee. Stir enough to moisten all ingredients. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 12 minutes at 425°F (220°C).

*Regular coffee is more acidic than decaf, so it will work better with baking soda as a leavener.
 
Leigh Tate
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Gingerbread

This recipe uses baking soda and molasses for leavening power.

I used blackstrap molasses in this one. Very tasty, especially topped with whipped goat cream!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses (black treacle)
1 & 1/2 cups flour (I usually do a 50/50 unbleached white to whole wheat)
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup boiling water

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses, beat thoroughly. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with boiling water. Bake in greased, floured 8"x8" baking pan at 350° F for 35 - 45 minutes.
 
Leigh Tate
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Buttermilk Doughnuts

The leavening power in this recipe is baking soda and *cultured buttermilk. You can substitute 2 tbsp yogurt or kefir mixed into 3/4 cup sweet milk for the buttermilk.

These are coated with powdered sugar, but can be served plain, frosted, or coated with cinnamon sugar.

3 to 3.5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
2 tbsp. oil or melted fat
3/4 cup *cultured buttermilk
fat or oil (your choice) for frying, enough to fill cast iron kettle at least 2 inches

Heat fat or oil to 375°F (190C°) in a dutch oven. While it's heating, combine half the flour with the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Roll out to 3/8 inch thick and cut with a doughnut cutter. Check the oil temperature by frying a doughnut hole first. It should fry in 2 to 3 minutes. Brown on each side and gently remove. Drain on brown paper. Eat fresh, and coat the remaining doughnuts in powdered sugar.

*There are two kinds of buttermilk, fresh and cultured. Cultured is that tangy stuff we buy from the store. Fresh is what we get when we churn cream and make butter. Fresh buttermilk is sweet, not tangy, and so won't work as well as a leavener.

My grandmother taught me how to make doughnuts. She taught me that the best doughnuts are made from a soft dough, just stiff enough to roll out and cut. She taught me that lard made the best flavored doughnuts and that oil temperature is important; if the temperature is too low, the doughnuts will absorb more fat. Also, she taught me that to keep doughnuts soft, put a piece of bread in their storage container. The bread gets hard, but the doughnuts stay soft (works for cookies too). I eventually inherited her tin doughnut cutter (handed down from my great-grandmother).
 
Leigh Tate
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Wacky Cake

This is a well-known recipe invented during the Great Depression, when dairy products were scarce. The leavening agents are baking soda, *cocoa powder, and vinegar.

1 1⁄2 C all-purpose flour
1 C sugar
1⁄4 C *cocoa powder
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp vinegar
1⁄3 C melted shortening or vegetable oil
1 C cold water

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour an 8x8-inch baking pan. Measure dry ingredients into the baking pan, mix well. Make three holes in the flour mixture. Pour the vinegar into the first hole; the vanilla into the second hole, and the melted shortening or oil into the third. Pour water over all and mix thoroughly with a fork. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. May be served warm or cooled to frost.

*For leavening power, the cocoa powder needs to be natural, i.e. not Dutch cocoa. Dutch cocoa has been treated with an alkali, so that it dissolves nicely in milk. Natural cocoa is untreated and naturally acidic, so it works best as a leavener with baking soda (but doesn't dissolve well in chocolate milk or hot chocolate).
 
Leigh Tate
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Besides experimenting with substitutes for cream of tartar, I've also experimented with substitutes for baking soda. One series of experiments was with hardwood ash. Most of the test biscuits were made with a solution of ash and water, but one was with dry sifted wood ash, so it was definitely the easiest. These actually turned out quite well! Based on color, texture, and flavor, you'd never guess dry wood ashes were used in the dough.

Survival Biscuits



Leavening agents: hardwood ash and vinegar

The proportions here are for drop biscuits. For a rolled and cut biscuit, decrease milk to 1/2 cup.

2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp dry sifted hardwood ash
1/2 C lard
2/3 C milk or enough for proper consistency
2 tsp vinegar

Mix flour, salt and ash. Cut in lard, then stir in the milk and vinegar. Mix with a fork. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
 
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I made a version of Leigh's recipe from here: https://www.5acresandadream.com/2016/02/savory-cheese-biscuits.html

First off, some things people might not know about "Whole Wheat Flour" - at least here in Canada. Whole wheat flour bought from the store, does not include the wheat germ. This is because the fat in wheat germ goes rancid much faster than the rest of the flour. I store wheat germ in the freezer for this reason.
However, wheat germ has a lot of nutrition - things like magnesium,  phosphorus and Vitamins, which we miss out on if we don't add it back in.
https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168892/nutrients

To add some of these nutrients back into flour, I take my measuring cup, put 2 Tbsp or more of wheat germ into the cup, then top the rest of the cup up with flour, using the "spoon" method and then levelling it off. Since my Nurse Practitioner wants me eating more Oat Bran as well, to make Leigh's recipe, I added about 1/4 cup of oat bran, and about 2 Tablespoons of wheat germ then I topped up the cup with flour. I can approximate this, because I do it so often and the exact amount isn't critical so long as the overall "1 cup" is accurate and you don't go totally overboard like substituting a whole cup of wheat germ for the the cup of flour.

So here's what I did:

Ingredients
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup filled with 1/4 cup of oat bran, 2 Tbsp  wheat germ, then topped up with whole wheat flour
1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  mustard seeds
1/4 tsp whole black pepper

1/2 cup rendered duck fat

1 cup milk (for drop biscuits - for rolled & cut biscuits use 2/3 C milk)
1 tbsp dill pickle juice
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Method
Grind the pepper and mustard in my little spice grinder.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Cut the duck fat into the dry ingredients - I use a pastry blender, but there are other ways.
Measure the milk and add the pickle juice to it, then pour it onto the dry ingredients, stirring as you pour.
Fold in the cheese.
Drop it onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 425°F (218°C) for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. The wonderful smell told me they were done!
 
Leigh Tate
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One of the books mentioned in the resources thread is Dr. Chase's Receipt Book and Household Physician. This is a recipe from that book, and is an example from the Basic Kitchen Chemistry thread of using a tangy fruit juice as a replacement for cream of tartar.

Cider Cake

Leavening agents: baking soda and apple cider

1 1⁄2 C sugar
3⁄4 C butter, room temperature
1 1⁄3 C sweet apple cider, room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each cinnamon and cloves
4 1⁄2 C flour

Cream together the sugar and butter. Add the cider, and beat until it’s all the same consistency. Add the soda and spices, followed by the flour. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 35 to 40 minutes.
 
Leigh Tate
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There is a thread about using eggs form leavening, which is a really good question. Mostly, this recipe thread has recipes for chemical (acid + alkali) leavening, so here's one that uses eggs.

This particular recipe interested me because my grandmother used to buy lady fingers to make a favorite family dessert called "Ice Box Cake." Over the years lady fingers have become more difficult to find, so the dessert has been just a mouth-watering memory. I found this recipe from the 1887 edition of The White House Cookbook, and have to say it makes excellent lady fingers.

Lady Fingers

9 tbsp fine white sugar
9 eggs
9 tbsp sifted flour

Put sugar into a bowl and put the bowl into hot water to heat the sugar; when the sugar is thoroughly heated, break eggs into the bowl and beat them quickly until they become a little warm and rather thick; then take the bowl from the water and continue beating until it is nearly or quite cold; now stir in lightly sifted flour; then with a paper funnel, or something of the kind, lay this mixture out upon papers, in biscuits three inches long and half an inch thick, in the form of fingers; sift sugar over the biscuits and bake them upon tins to a light brown; when they are done and cold, remove them from the papers, by wetting them on the back; dry them and they are ready for use. They are often used in making Charlotte Russe, but I'll give you my family recipe for Ice Box Cake instead.

Ice Box Cake

1½ dozen lady fingers
5 bars *German sweet chocolate
2 tbsp boiling water
4 eggs, separated

In the top of a double boiler dissolve chocolate in the 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Add the unbeaten yolks of eggs one by one, beating all the time. Then add whites beaten stiff. Line a small bread tin with parchment paper. Put in a layer of lady fingers, then a layer of chocolate mixture, and so on until the pan is filled. Let stand overnight in refrigerator. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

*I can't find German sweet chocolate anymore, so I substitute with bittersweet or dark chocolate bars.
 
Jay Angler
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Jay's Cake

3/4 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs - ideally 2 duck and the rest chicken

1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup oat bran (or sub more whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla or lemon juice depending on how you want to serve it - a little lemon zest is better if you go the lemon juice route

1. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl, adding eggs 1 at a time to try and get everything as light and fluffy as possible.
2. Add flours, salt and flavouring. Beat until smooth.
3. Turn into two greased and floured bread pans, unless using silicon pans in which case use nothing.
4. Bake in a 325F oven for about an hour until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Let stand in pan for 10 min before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes:
A) the original recipe called for a "bundt pan" - bundt pans dislike me almost as much as cell phones - bread pans are much more user-friendly, but if you insist on trying, go for it!
B) two cups of fresh or frozen cranberries folded in at the end are both yummy and beautiful, but chocolate chips didn't work. Sometime I should try blueberries.
C) The lemon version is lovely served with home-grown raspberries (fresh or frozen).
D) I suppose I should admit that the original recipe also called for an icing sugar glaze on top, but since I don't tolerate much sugar, I've never even considered trying such a thing. I'd rather serve it with fruit to add a little extra sweetness.
 
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A question for the OP: in several posts, you mention seeking alternatives for cream of tarter.  Why?  What is wrong in your opinion with cream of tartar?  To my knowledge, it is not prohibitively expensive, it is shelf stable, and it is safe.  The only constituents are potassium, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
 
Leigh Tate
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Matthew Nistico wrote:A question for the OP: in several posts, you mention seeking alternatives for cream of tarter.  Why?  What is wrong in your opinion with cream of tartar?


Matthew, there's absolutely nothing wrong with cream of tartar. My goal was to explore and experiment with common kitchen acids; things that have multiple uses and that folks always have on hand, like vinegar or lemon juice, even yogurt or coffee. (There's a long list of possibilities in the Basic Kitchen Chemistry thread.) The beauty of this is that I can use whatever I have available and get the same leavening power as baking powder.
 
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Matthew said, "you mention seeking alternatives for cream of tarter.  Why?



I like Leigh's reasons for looking at other acids.

My reason would be that cream of tarter is expensive.  Where I live it is sold in a tiny container and is the most expensive item in the spice department.
 
Leigh Tate
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Ya'll, take a look at this thread -> Basic Kitchen Chemistry for more about how it works. This recipe thread is meant for recipes using the technique, but the Basic Kitchen Chemistry thread explains the science behind it. You'll also find a directions for making homemade baking powder, plus a list of simple alternatives to add to baking soda.
 
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Regarding Cream of Tartar, I went to a restaurant supply store and bought 29 oz for a little over $15.00.  1.50z costs over $5 at our small town grocery.  By my calculations I saved around $80.  Of course, I had to wait until we made one our trips to the big city.
 
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