Baking powder is a common kitchen staple, but it has a limited shelf life. How To Bake Without Baking Powder will teach you how to create your own leavening power with common food items you already have on hand. Discusses the science of baking powder, plus a variety of common kitchen substitutes for its two primary ingredients: cream of tartar and baking soda. Includes how to make sour milk, buttermilk, and sourdough starter, plus the author's hardwood ash baking experiments. The recipes and science behind them will be of interest to homesteaders, preppers, permaculturists, do-it-yourselfers, homeschoolers, living historians, and historical reenactors. Contains 20 baking powder alternatives, 12 reference charts, and 54 modern and historical recipes.
This book can help the home cook become a better baker by understanding the different processes that happen to rise baked goods. I’ve been baking from scratch all my life and there’s stuff here that I didn’t know! If you’ve ever wondered how to test out a batch of baking powder (whether home made of store bought), there’s information here about how to do that, along with instructions for making your own, as well as a helpful table about how to combine different acids such as vinegar, lemon juice, molasses, yoghurt, and cocoa powder with baking soda instead of the cream of tartar used in baking powder.
Leigh has been very thorough, and I’ve never been disappointed by anything in “The Little Series of Homestead How-Tos”, as she just seems to cover everything on the topics! While some people could write about using sour milk in baking, Leigh actually shows you how to make it, along with how to make a quick version if you don’t have access to raw milk.
There’s also three different methods for making your own cultured buttermilk from scratch, and if you’ve ever wondered how to use raw/natural cacao in a recipe instead of dutch processed (or the other way around), there’s a substitution table for that.
Making your own sourdough starter is covered, along with how to combine it with baking soda to quickly rise baked goods instead of baking powder.
The information about how to use crushed eggshells and wood ash instead of baking soda is very helpful and will appeal to preppers and anyone else interested in learning how to bake without any store-bought ingredients. I liked the historic information about ‘hartshorn’ too.
Leigh has done a huge amount of historical research to find what was used in the past and put it all in the one place. Along with the eggshells, wood ash, and hartshorn, there is also information about barm, emptings, carbonate of soda, and corn cob soda from history.
For anyone wanting to use egg whites to lighten baked goods , there’s plenty of information about the best ways to do this, along with many helpful tips for baking in general.
To take this new knowledge into the kitchen, this book contains over 50 recipes to try out all the different leaveners, from several kinds of American biscuits, through to cornbread, soda bread, fritters, cakes, brownies, gingerbread, cookies, crackers, muffins, pancakes and cream puffs. Reading through the recipes makes me hungry, and eager to bake with these historical leaveners!
I’d recommended this for anyone interested in baking, historical cooking, or food science.
I give the Savory Cheese Biscuits recipe linked above 9 out of 10 acorns.
Leigh got me with "1/2 cup rendered chicken fat". I don't need to tell permies bakers how often I sit there looking at a new recipe thinking, "no, I don't want to use that unknown mixed fat/oil product in this lovely recipe. I want to use the fat from my own chickens and ducks. However, it softens much faster than lard or shortening, so I always worry a little bit, then I go ahead and use it anyway. Now I had official permission from the author!
I also liked that Leigh replied in the comments that if you didn't have dill pickle juice, you could use alternatives. This was good because I'm really not keen on dill flavor and instead used juice from my homemade Zucchini Onion Pickles - it worked great.
Because I was dropping them, I used the larger amount of milk, but flours differ between the Eastern USA and the Left Coast of Canada, so next time I'll try the lower amount. They worked, and everyone is eating them and I doubt they'll still be around after 24 hours. I also consulted with Leigh (permies is great for that!) and I used 1 cup unbleached flour then filled the second cup with a bit of wheat germ, some oat bran, and topped up the cup with whole wheat flour. I'm sensitive to simple carbohydrates, so the wheat germ and whole wheat flour, coupled with a healthy fat and whole milk, make a go-to snack that doesn't leave my blood sugar crashing.
So where did Leigh loose 1 acorn? I'm a wee bit fussy about recipes. I *much* prefer the ingredients be listed in the order they need to be added to the recipe. The Mustard and Pepper where sitting at the bottom instead of being before or after the salt where I would have been sure I'd remember them. Both of those ingredients, I always grind fresh, so I actually got them ground and organized at the beginning, so they didn't end up lost in the shuffle.
We have a tried and true Biscuit recipe that we use all the time. Despite that, everyone's liked and enjoyed this new recipe, and it's both nice to have something a little different, and even nicer to have something that doesn't demand large quantities of Baking Powder. Well done, Leigh!