baking-powder

Making Baking Powder

That mysterious little ingredient hiding in your pantry, taken out occasionally to help the other, more important, ingredients make a cake. What are you, oh baking powder? You mysterious white powder in a strange container! What are you capable of doing? Why do trustworthy recipes call out for you by name? I mean sure, no one really knows what baking soda is either, but at least it has a bulging arm emblem that immediately recalls strength, and assumingly, a purpose of some sort. But baking powder? No such rapport. 

Maybe you already knew that both baking soda and baking powder are used as “levelers” in baked goods which help the dough rise and create a fluffy-ish texture. This is caused by a chemical reaction achieved when moisture is added to the baking powder releasing carbon dioxide, which gets trapped inside tiny air pockets in the dough. (Think sponge cake)

But did you know that you could MAKE baking powder? YUP! And here’s another little secret: its made out of baking soda!

Whoa, sit back down. I know its shocking, but just click on, and you’ll see the lies unfurl. Baking powder, you have some explaining to do!

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Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

I’ve never understood why anyone would buy brownies from a mix or refrigerated biscuits in a roll. Neither is difficult to make from scratch, and the difference is like comparing a homegrown tomato to one you would find at the grocery store in the wintertime. These biscuits are buttery and flaky and have a crispy exterior. Served piping hot from the oven with jam or honey and a little more butter, they’re pretty much out of this world.

This recipe is slightly modified from the one in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, given to me at a wedding shower years ago. The page is stained and the holes have pulled away from the loose-leaf binding; obviously it’s been well-used and loved.

Baking powder biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut in pieces
  • ¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon cup cold milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter till like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the flour mixtures and add milk all at once and stir quickly with a fork until dough follows fork around the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Gather dough together and knead several times, folding it on top of itself.

Roll or pat dough to ½-inch thick. Using 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut dough straight down, without twisting. Gather remaining scraps, roll out again, and cut a few more biscuits. Repeat if necessary. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top. 

NOTE:  If your dough is too dry after stirring, add an additional teaspoon of milk to the bottom of bowl and stir again to pull in the straggler crumbs.

Quarkaufläufe with Blackberry Sauce

(Blintze Souffle)

I mentioned that I had been busy preparing to host a party and that I have weddings on the brain, and they have actually been entwined trains of thought. Two of my dear friends got engaged before the holidays and I offered to host an engagement party at my apartment with the help of some of our other friends. Wedding talk was the topic between all us girl friends as we were planning, and also something I was telling all my other friends about when I was telling them what I have been up to.

It was really fun planning a party to celebrate their love and happiness, and work I was happy to do, though being in charge of most of the food meant my kitchen was too full all week to do much cooking for myself. We had about 45 people over, so I had Fresh Direct deliver all my groceries. I quadrupled the blintze souffle below (I posted the regular quantity recipe) and the baked french toast, so my delivery included six dozen eggs, three tubs of sour cream, four tubs of cottage cheese, and six bottles of seltzer water, among other ingredients. There was no way I was going to lug it all up to my third floor apartment.

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