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home > food & wine dictionary > baking powder

Food and Wine Dictionary


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 baking powder 

A LEAVENER containing a combination of baking soda, an acid (such as CREAM OF TARTAR) and a moisture-absorber (such as cornstarch). When mixed with liquid, baking powder releases carbon dioxide gas bubbles that cause a bread or cake to rise. There are three basic kinds of baking powder. The most common is double-acting, which releases some gas when it becomes wet and the rest when exposed to oven heat. Single-acting tartrate and phosphate baking powders (hard to find in most American markets because of the popularity of double-acting baking powder) release their gases as soon as they're moistened. Because it's perishable, baking powder should be kept in a cool, dry place. Always check the date on the bottom of a baking-powder can before purchasing it. To test if a baking powder still packs a punch, combine 1 teaspoon of it with 1/3 cup hot water. If it bubbles enthusiastically, it's fine.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


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