With this homemade baking powder recipe you will never again reach for that can of baking powder only to find that it expired years ago. Now, expired baking powder doesn’t go bad, per se – but it loses its potency, meaning that it loses its rising oomph, the ability to help lift your baked goods to lofty heights. Like, biscuits.
(That’s vegan Just Egg on that biscuit, which is from our Best Ever Vegan Gluten-Free Biscuit Recipe.)
Now, this recipe contains both baking soda and cream of tartar, making it double ingredient, but not double acting. What is the difference? Just what is it that makes double-acting baking powder, well, double-acting, as compared to single acting baking powder?
We’re not food scientists, but according to Bakerpedia, “Double-acting baking powder has two types of acids, which react at different times during baking. The reaction adds volume to baked goods that don’t have acid in them, such as cookies or cakes. Baking powder is a leavening agent that contains a combination of alkali, acid and a moisture absorber. Double-acting baking powder contains two types of acids. The first acid reacts by creating gases when mixed with the liquid in the recipe. The second type reacts by creating gases when the batter is exposed to oven heat.”
Bakerpedia goes on to explain that “To clarify, double-acting baking powder is “regular” baking powder. Single-acting baking powder exists, but when a recipe calls for baking powder it means double-acting. And even if a recipe does call for single-acting, you can substitute double-acting without worrying about it changing the recipe. Single-acting baking powder is mainly used by manufacturers and usually not available for retail use.”
Nearly all baking powders (commercial and otherwise) have sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as one of the ingredients; commercial baking powders use either monocalcium phosphate or cream of tartar (which is what we use for this recipe). In the past some manufacturers instead used aluminum salts (not necessarily ideal), and also albumen (not vegan).
The basic difference is that non-double-acting baking powder doesn’t create a second ‘lift’ with heat (once it goes into the oven or onto the stove), whereas true double-acting baking powder does provide that second lift, when the acid reacts with heat. For this reason, it’s important to get your recipe into the oven or onto the stove as soon as you can after your homemade baking powder is activated.
So, for our baking powder recipe we will use baking soda and cream of tartar. We also will use cornstarch (non-GMO, of course). Why cornstarch? Explains Bakerpedia, “baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate as the base, cream of tartar as the acid, and cornstarch. Because the base and acid react immediately upon the addition of water, cornstarch is added to absorb the moisture and prevent premature activity.”
We predict that once you realize how easy it is to make your own baking powder on demand, you will probably want to buy your cream of tartar in a slightly larger quantity than offered at the supermarket in those dinky one-ounce containers from McCormick. We love this 2lb container of Earthborn Elements cream of tartar; it’s pure, non-GMO, and a good price for the amount. (It’s the tub of cream of tartar in the picture.)
Here’s the recipe!
Homemade Baking Powder Recipe – Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Aluminum-Free
To make 4 teaspoons of baking powder, combine:
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Cornstarch
Mix well with a whisk (or, if you don’t have a whisk, with a fork) until fully blended.
We make a larger batch, and store it in a repurposed Clabber Girl baking powder tin. :~)
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