Updated May 31, 2018.
Finding a pre-packaged gluten-free baking powder that meets our family’s allergy restrictions in the area where we live has been . . .
. . . well, let’s just say it is non-existent.
We enjoy the convenience of purchased baking powder from our local grocery store and having it ready to use in our cupboard at home, but most commercial baking powders contain one or more of the following in their ingredients: gluten, corn and aluminum.
Sure, I could order a baking powder online and have it shipped to our remote address. However, the cost of this specialty item, and the shipping charges, are prohibitive, not to mention inconvenient.
In a few minutes, a bulk batch can be mixed up, put in a recycled jam jar with an air-tight lid and set inside the cupboard for the next baking venture.
The other alternative is to use Homemade Gluten-free Baking Powder as an equal-measure substitute for store bought. When I mix up a gluten-free recipe that requires baking powder, I convert the measure using the following ration: 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 part baking soda and 1 part potato starch (all ingredients are certified gluten-free).
In my experience, Homemade Gluten-free Baking Powder leavens better than store bought, producing superior baked goods with improved texture.
Moreover, because it doesn’t contain sodium aluminum sulfate, there is no lingering metallic-alkaline aftertaste.
A little food science background information is needed to answer this question.
“Leavening” means to lift, lift up, to rise or to expand. The word is usually associated with dough and batters that are baked or fried, but the science of the “leavening” is also used to fly colorful hot air balloons at festivals and special occasions.
No matter what leavening is used, air pockets or bubbles of air are created inside the dough or batter. When the air is heated, such as in a hot oven, it expands causing the “leavening” action in baked foods.
Baking powder is just one kind of leavening. Yeasts, baking soda and whipping, are other kinds of “leavening”.
Yeasts leaven by fermentation, creating gaseous bubbles that expand dough and batters.
Whipping forces air into a dough or batter, which get trapped inside the mixture. . . imagine millions of tiny bubbles. Common foods using this “leavening” method are angel food cakes, pound cakes, meringues, and soufflés.
This chemical reaction happens when an alkaline powder, such as baking soda, and an acid powder, such as cream of tartar and/or sodium aluminum sulfate, are activated by moist ingredients containing water molecules.
Remember those good ‘ole school days when your science teacher mixed sodium bicarbonate and vinegar to demonstrate what a “chemical reaction” was?
What a foamy mess!
That’s the kind of bubbly chemical reaction I’m talking about happening with baking powders.
There are two kinds of baking powders, single acting and double acting.
The difference between these two is simple.
Single acting baking powders contain one powdered acid ingredient, usually a tartaric acid, such as cream of tartar.
Double acting baking powders contain two powdered acid ingredients, usually monocalcium phosphate, also known as calcium acid phosphate, and sodium aluminum sulfate or sodium aluminum phosphate.
Double acting baking powders create more stable “foam” than single acting baking powders. This is because one acid ingredient produces an immediate chemical reaction under cool conditions and the other acid ingredient begins its chemical reaction when heat is introduced. Dough and batters made with double acting baking powders can sit on the counter for a time before baking without sacrificing “leavening” action.
My Homemade Gluten-free Baking Powder recipe is a “single acting” baking powder. The “foam” is a little less stable, so you need to change your cooking habits a little bit.
The oven needs to be preheated to the temperature designated on the recipe and your baking pan or sheet must be at the ready.
Because once you combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, the chemical reaction happens immediately!
Mix quickly, put the dough or batter into the prepared pan or on the cooking sheet, and then get it into the oven as fast as you can to get the most “rise”.
Remember the “whipping” method of leavening? The “foam” created is the least stable of all. The same get-it-in-the-oven-quick technique is used to protect the “foam” made by the whipping action.
Though single in action, using Homemade Gluten-free Baking Powder in all your recipes still makes terrific baked goods of all kinds.
In all your recipes calling for store bought baking powder, substitute my Homemade Gluten-free Baking Powder.
You’ll be pleased with the allergy-free results!