Sunday, 28 May 2017

08:26 – It was 59.1F (15C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, bright and breezy. We had another half inch (1.27 cm) of rain overnight, with loud thunder. As usual, Colin was terrified, and tried to climb on top of Barbara and me in bed. No joke, given that he’s a 70-pound dog.

Barbara just left for her week-long trip down to the Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC for a crafts class. She returns next Saturday afternoon. Colin and I plan to have WW&P the whole time she’s gone, except that we haven’t located any WW yet.

Email overnight from Jen. They’re running a prepping exercise over the holiday weekend. She and her sister-in-law were baking yesterday when they started talking about baking powder: how much they have, how much they’ll need, and how long it keeps.

Among them, they have half a dozen medium cans of Rumford double-acting baking powder and two 60-ounce jars of Argo. That’s enough to do a lot of baking, since you normally use the stuff a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time. As to shelf life, baking powder is pretty stable as long as you keep it completely dry and at room temperature.

Baking powder comes in two forms. Both release carbon dioxide gas as bubbles that act as leavening. Double-acting, which almost all baking powder sold for home use is, releases some of its gas when it’s exposed to moisture and the rest of its gas when it’s exposed to high temperatures in the oven. Single-acting releases all of its gas when it’s exposed to moisture, and is used primarily by commercial bakers and cooks.

All baking powder is primarily sodium bicarbonate, baking soda. The difference between the two types is what type and how much of a dry acid powder is included. Single-acting includes sufficient water-activated dry acid, typically citric acid, to react completely with the baking soda present. Double-acting contains insufficient acid to completely react with the baking soda immediately, or a type of acid, such as sodium pyrophosphate, that requires heat to free all of its acidity.

You never actually NEED single-acting baking powder. You can substitute plain baking soda and some form or acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice or sour cream or powdered citric acid, in sufficient quantity to produce as much gas as necessary. You just need to make sure the oven is pre-heated and get the batter into a pan and into the oven before the gas bubbles can dissipate.

You never actually NEED double-acting baking powder, either. The main reason it exists is to make things easier for home bakers who might forget to preheat the oven. But again, you can easily make a  substitute for it simply by using excess baking soda. The insufficient acid present in your substitute causes it to emit gas bubbles when water is added to the dry ingredient mix; the excess baking soda releases additional gas during baking.

Jen already has several of those 12/13-pound bags of baking soda in her LTS pantry. They’re stable essentially forever at room temperature. I recommended that she also stock several gallons of distilled white vinegar so that she can make her own substitute. Assuming she also stocks lots of yeast, which she does, she’ll never be short of what she needs to bake whatever she wants to.