I think every American has it. In Europe (and probably the rest of the world) it’s much harder to get. But slowly more and more people using it there too and learning about this magic powder. I used it in this chewy, Spicy applesauce cake with walnuts.
Baking soda, of course.
It’s not that I hadn’t heard of it before I moved to California, I mean, I had it in my cupboard. But I just didn’t use it a lot, only when a recipe prescribed it.
But then I started to teach baking classes and in some recipes both baking powder and baking soda were used. Why? And what’s the difference? And did anybody ever thought about that’s it kinda weird to put a cleaning agent in your food?
Cause, yeah, read the package. Mine gives me all kinds of tips how to use baking soda for cleaning.
Not my hobby.
It, let me quote: “[brand] easily removes dirt and grime from tiles, tubs, sinks, floors and counters.” You can clean skillets with burnt-on food! And during last week’s cooking class for CACE adult school in Campbell, poster made by the high school Home Economics students told me you can extinguish fires with it!
But no word about using it for cooking. And it’s called baking soda, right?
So I grabbed The Inquisitive Cook book from Anne Gardiner and Sue Wilson with the SF Exploratorium. Great book that shows “how a pinch of curiosity can improve your cooking“. I’m in.
A quick summary:
What is baking soda?
Baking soda is a rising agent that helps cakes rise by making millions of tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Quicker than yeast can do, hence the common American name ‘quick breads’ for all kinds of pastry using baking soda and/or powder. From cupcakes to banana breads.
Baking soda is NaHCO3, or sodium bicarbonate, and it reacts in partnership with an acid. Think yogurt, sour cream, butter milk, but also a splash of lemon juice will work. Or another sour ingredient in your dish.
How to use baking soda?
When you bake quick breads, you mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients and put it in a hot oven. And that’s exactly what baking soda, with help from the acid, needs to do its job. This creates air and steam, and those tiny millions bubbles. Or, a light baked thingy.
But what’s baking powder then?
Let’s use a formula:
baking powder = baking soda + an acid + (usually) corn starch
Since baking powder is a mix of baking soda and that acid, it shelves shorter, as moisture in the air can already start the chemical reactions, making baking powder less useful over time. And that’s why the corn starch chimes in as well; it helps keeping baking soda and the acid apart, not to react before baking! So keep that jar well closed!
I couldn’t help but wonder. Does baking soda also clean up my greasy intestines?
Well, let’s find out and start to bake a soft, but chewy Spice applesauce cake with walnuts.
Spicy applesauce cake with walnuts
The abundance of apples from our tree is still overwhelming, so I made a few batches of apple sauce. At least 1 cup (or 250 grams) found it’s way into this cake. Not sure how I found it, but this cake from Chelsea’s Messy Apron was my inspiration. Easy, fast and you only need two bowls and a big spoon.
1/4 cup | 50 gr coconut oil
1 cup | 250 gr applesauce – preferably home made, unsweetened
1/3 cup | 100 ml thick yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup grounded walnuts
1/2 cup | 100 gr sugar
1 cup | 150 gr whole wheat flour
1/2 cup | 50 gr rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven at 350 F | 180 C. Line a 8×8 inch | 20×20 cm oven dish with parchment paper and grease it with a little bit of the coconut oil.
I just dipped in my brush when the coconut oil was on the stove.
Melt the coconut oil. Just put it in a small pan and turn on the heat to low. Let it stand for a minute or so, and the oil will be completely melted before you know.
No need to have the coconut oil on high heat, it melts already on a hot summer’s day so you don’t need much.
Mix all wet ingredients. I like to whisk the egg first a bit, and then mix in the apple sauce, yogurt and vanilla extract. I add the warm coconut oil in last, not to curdle the egg.
Mix all dry ingredients.
You want the baking soda to react evenly in your cake, and this way it’s easier to mix it evenly into the batter. So here’s the reason for this prescription.
Mix wet and dry ingredients. And pour the thick heavy batter in the oven dish.
Bake the Spicy applesauce cake with walnuts, for about 45 minutes. Or until a wooden skewer comes out dry when you stick it into the cake.
Let cool down in the dish for 10 minutes, then on a rack.