When I was in the kindergarten my favourite poem was ‘pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man, bake me a cake as fast as you can.’ Perhaps this was precursor to my choosing this profession when I grew up.
Among the numerous other dishes that I enjoy cooking, I find baking a cake extremely therapeutic. But one should be aware of what it takes to bake a perfect cake…a cake that is so light and spongy.
There is nothing as satisfying as to see the cake rise beautifully. Cakes are indeed a delight to make and a great scientific mixture of the heavy flour and fat with the light eggs and baking powder. You just cannot think of a spongy cake without baking powder.
What is baking powder
Baking powder is an essential ingredient in a baker’s kitchen but at the same time it is very important to check it for its prowess before you use it in any recipe. Just take a large pinch and sprinkle on a little water in a cup. If there is effervescence and a hiss sound then it means you can use it!
There is another leavening that can be used to make a cake rise and that is baking soda. Baking powder has a longer shelf life than baking soda. Both need to be stored in air tight dry containers. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it also includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch).
Is baking powder better than baking soda
Both these substances are leavening agents yet there is a difference. They are used under different conditions. So when you bake a cake with eggs your recipe would probably call for only baking powder. If your cake is being made without eggs you would probably need both baking powder and baking soda. When you use baking soda, you also need to use an acidifying agent for it to work. Often yogurt or lemon juice is used to activate it.
For example in nankhatais, dhoklas and muthias baking soda is better. And as baking soda starts to react immediately upon mixing the ingredients, you need to cook immediately or else your nankhatai or dhokla may fall flat!
If baking powder is not added , then what
What will happen if you forget to add baking powder to your cake recipe? You will know the difference once the solid baked good comes out of the oven almost as hard as a rock. But do not worry you don’t need to throw it in the waste bin. You can cool the cake, then grate it to get crumbs and toss it in a wok with some nuts and raisins. Call it Cake Halwa and convert a catastrophe into a creative dish.
Here is a word of caution. If you add more than what the recipe says, it will bake well and rise so much that the top of the cake will be ruptured. If the tin is not big enough to take the rising, it will come up and then deflate like a punctured balloon.
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Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.