Baking Powder - Defined with Recipes

Royal Baking Powder Vintage Ad

Royal Baking Powder Vintage Ad © 1921

Baking Powder Is better made than bought; the following receipt is cheap and effective: five pounds of tartaric acid, eight pounds of bi-carbonate of soda, sixteen pounds of potato flour, mixed and rubbed through a fine sieve. By the addition of a quarter of an ounce of turmeric to eight pounds of baking powder you produce EGG POWDER, which saves eggs and gives richness of color.

Miss Princine Pure Phosphate Baking Powder Vintage Ad

Miss Princine Pure Phosphate Baking Powder Vintage Ad © 1920 The Southern Manufacturing Co.

THEN If you have sour milk or buttermilk, which costs nothing. Baking-Powder manufacturers say: “ Do not use Cream Tartar and Soda,” and then expatiate at length on the danger of adulteration, and the liability of housekeepers using these articles in the wrong proportion, even if obtained pure, thereby making cookery heavy or yellow, with an alkaline taste.

Whereas, the fact is that the best Baking Powder is composed of a mixture of these two identical substances (Cream Tartar and Soda), with the addition of starch enough to repel moisture.

Now, Soda or Saleratus is an article which, by the improved modem methods of manufacture, can be made so pure and cheaply that it does not pay to adulterate it. With Cream Tartar it is different.

This acid, when pure, commands so great a price that it becomes a strong temptation to the unscrupulous dealer to adulterate. The price of one pound of good Baking Powder will furnish a large family with Soda enough for some months.

The farmer’s wife has always an acid free to her hands in the shape of sour milk or buttermilk, which can be used both as an acid to neutralize the Soda or Saleratus, also as a means of wetting the dough. Why, then, should she go to the expense of buying Baking Powder or Cream Tartar when she only needs Soda?

THE large increase in the use of Baking Powder off A late years has induced unscrupulous persons to enter into the manufacture of cheap and inferior Baking Powders, producing deleterious effects on the health of families using them.

One eminent chemist, after analyzing nearly fifty different brands, determined tha fifty per cent, were grossly adulterated. The question however, arises, “ What is adulteration in Baking Powder?” as the best goods manufactured must contain about twenty-five per cent, of starch to repel moistures, which, of course, takes one-quarter of the strength the powder away.

Ryzon Baking Powder Vintage Ad

Ryzon Baking Powder Vintage Ad © 1920 General Chemical Co.

The sole value in Baking Powder is the rising property, or carbonic acid gas, which is contained in the Soda or Saleratus alone. It follows that a11 other materials comprised in Baking Powder are adulterations.

The safest and most economical plat, ia to use only Church & Co.’s Arm and Hammers Brand Soda or Saleratus, or, if Baking Powders are preferred, housekeepers can make the best quality at home.

Any good cook, by a few experiments or trials with Sour Milk and Soda, can form recipes of her own, which will be more delicious and tasteful than when made by the use of Baking Powder, and have the additional satisfaction of knowing what materials there are in the cookery, and consequently a knowledge of its absolute healthfulness.

In using Soda or Saleratus in recipes containing molasses, remember always to put the dry Soda in a bowl and pour the syrup on to the Soda. It will dissolve quickly, foam up, and make your cake or pudding a beautiful golden yellow. Hot lard can also be poured on the Soda to dissolve it, but never boiling-hot water in recipes for baking.

Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits © 1917 The Business of Being a Housewife

Baking Powder Biscuit I

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon lard
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk and water in equal parts
1 teaspoon salt 
1 tablespoon butter

Mix dry ingredients, and sift twice. Work in butter and lard with tips of fingers; add gradually the liquid, mixing with knife to a soft dough. It is impossible to determine the exact amount of liquid, owing to differences in flour. Toss on a floured board, pat and roll lightly to one-half inch in thickness. Shape with a biscuit-cutter. Place on buttered pan, and bake in hot oven twelve to fifteen minutes. If baked in too slow an oven, the gas will escape before it has done its work. Many obtain better results by using bread flour.

The Ladies' Home Journal "Kitchen Movie:" Making Baking Powder Biscuits

The Ladies' Home Journal "Kitchen Movie:" Making Baking Powder Biscuits © 1916

Baking Powder Biscuit II

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons baking powder 
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix and bake as Baking Powder Biscuit I.

Baking Powder (1901)

Good baking powder is fast supplanting the use of cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda, also cream of tartar substitutes. It consists of an acid and an alkali in such proportions that each will neutralize the other.

If that is not accomplished, on the one hand, there is an over acid taste in the powder, but which does not materially affect the cake or article in which it is used as a lightening agent; on the other hand, if the bicarbonate of soda is not fully neutralized, an unpleasant color and flavor in the goods is the result after baking.

Good baking powder cannot be made, unless the soda and acid are both pure. A formula for baking powder is of little service unless the ingredients are pure, for the reason that you cannot tell when complete neutralization is obtained except by testing with litmus paper; but if the soda and acid are pure, a given quantity of each may be used with uniform and satisfactory results.

Flour, corn starch, farina, i. e., potato flour, etc., is used in the proportion of about one-fourth, and is used principally to keep the atoms of soda and acid from coming in contact-as far as the starch will do that-also to add a dryness to the baking powder, viz., the soda and acid, both with the idea of preventing any premature effervescence or decomposition of the baking powder, from force of dampness.

For this reason it is also imperative that baking powder when made should be kept from atmospheric action as it will attract moisture. Cornstarch, etc., is also used in the proportion stated to reduce the strength of the baking powder, as its action would be too quick.

Manufacturers of cheap baking powders often use more than one-fourth of cornstarch or flour, etc., simply to lessen cost of manufacture.

What is considered a good baking powder would consist of cream of tartar, 2 parts; bicarbonate of soda, 1 part; corn starch, 1 part. That is presuming the soda and-acid are pure. Soon, to be sure, the cream of tartar will fully neutralize the soda. Add about two ounces of tartaric acid to each pound of cream of tartar, sifted well in; then use the amount before stated.

This is a good baking powder but is rather expensive, owing to the cost of the cream of tartar. Some use a phosphatic acid powder of about one-fourth or one-fifth the cost of cream of tartar, but it takes about one hundred pounds of phosphate to neutralize forty-five pounds of bicarbonate of soda.

The acids usually used in baking powder are alum, phosphate, cream of tartar, tartaric and citric acids. Alum is only used in low-grade baking powders. Cream of tartar is used in the best baking powders, and phosphate is being used more and more. and is usually accepted as a good acid.

Tartaric acid is seldom used alone but as stated. often in conjunction with cream of tartar in the proportion of one-eighth or one-fourth, in order to strengthen the cream of tartar.

The same remarks are applicable to citric acid. A quarter of an ounce of good baking powder should suffice for one pound of flour for a medium quality of cake; more for a poorer one, and less for a richer one. Say for a medium rich cake one ounce to four pounds and three quarters of an ounce for a richer one. and so on until you reach a best pound cake, in which no baking powder is required.

The use of baking powder is much simpler, is a saving of time. And much more convenient than cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda; 1 and either one of them, where it can be used, is preferable to ammonia.

I suggest as the best plan to use baking powder, to sift it into the flour.

A prepared or self-rising flour may be made by adding one ounce of baking powder to each four pounds of flour and sifting it well in some would add one ounce of salt to every twelve pounds of flour-this is a matter of taste to be left to the judgment of the workman.

This self-rising flour may be used full strength, or a portion of it added to ordinary flour according to the lightness of the cake to be prepared and the mixture should be sifted together. It is perhaps needless to say that the flour should be as dry as possible before adding the baking powder.

A larger quantity of baking powder may, of course, be used and the self-raising flour may be mixed in varying quantities with ordinary flour, but if all ingredients are pure I advise to use the above-stated proportions.

Self-rising flour may be made in quantity and put in stock, but should be kept in a cool, dry place.

Emil Braun (Translated, Edited, and Published by), C. H. King "Alkalis and Acids used by Bakers: Banking Powder," in The Baker's Book: A Practical Hand Book of the Baking Industry in all Countries, Vol. I, New York: Emil Braun, Bath Beach, 1901, pp. 239-240.

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