RAISING AGENTS fall into three specific categories:
Chemical, Mechanical and Natural
CHEMICAL RAISING AGENTS
The main two Chemical Leaveners used in Baking are:
Baking Powder and Baking Soda.
Baking Powder is a blend of acid (most
commonly calcium acid phosphate,
sodium aluminium sulphate or cream of
tartar) and alkali – (baking soda/sodium
bicarbonate). These create carbon dioxide
bubbles when liquid and heat are added.
Commercial baking powder uses several
compounds which gives it a double action.
It acts when liquid is added and once
again when heat is added after you put
your product in the oven.
You can make up your own baking
powder raising agent - for one teaspoon:
mix 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1/4
teaspoon baking soda. If you decide to mix
up your own BE AWARE! You must put
your product straight into the oven - the
addition of liquid starts the chemical
reaction. If you leave it standing pre-
baking, your 'Home-Made' raising agent
will be ‘spent’ before baking starts. Unlike
commercial baking powder, it only has the
one action – when you add moisture.
Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda), is used when there is already an
acid ingredient in the recipe such as:
Applesauce, buttermilk, brown sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder, cream of tartar,
honey, lemon juice, molasses, vinegar.
When baking soda comes in contact
with an acid and liquid is added,
carbon dioxide (CO2), water and a
neutral salt are produced. Care must be
taken with how much baking soda is
used. If too much - a ‘soapy’ aftertaste
remains and the product bakes darker.
If not enough is used - an acid flavour
Baking soda is much stronger than
baking powder. The general rule is to
use 1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons baking
powder per half cup of flour,
(4ozs/100g). Baking soda should be
added at 1/4 teaspoon per half cup of
How do these chemical leaveners
When carbon dioxide is released by
either baking soda and/or baking
powder, it first dissolves in the liquid.
When this becomes saturated, the
carbon dioxide produced turns into the
air bubbles which expand.
. At higher altitudes less baking
powder/soda is required. Low
pressure has an effect on carbon
dioxide and makes it expand more.
If you do not use less Raising Agent
your baking will end up with a poor
MECHANICAL ACTIONS as Raising
The physical actions of creaming, kneading,
beating, and whisking will incorporate tiny air
bubbles which expand when heat is added.
The addition of flour gives structure for the
air bubbles to work against - you get rise.
This structure is fixed in the oven by heat.
Creaming Method: Fat and sugar are creamed
together until the sugar crystals melt and the
whole mass takes on the consistency of whipped
cream. Use castor sugar which has a small crystal
size. It will combine with the fat far easier than
granulated sugar, which has a larger crystal. The
creaming method incorporates air into the
mixture which is held in place by the semi-solid
fat. These bubbles expand during baking
allowing the batter to rise. Care must be taken
once flour is added. This should be folded in
carefully to avoid development of the gluten
lattice structure. You will get a cake with a better
texture and more rise by using special cake flours
here - they are low in gluten.
Kneading is a process used in bread
making. Yeast liquid is dispersed
into high gluten flour to make a
dough. The mechanical action of
kneading the dough, either by hand
or machine, develops the gluten
strands which form into a lattice
structure. As gentle warmth is
applied, carbon dioxide is released
by the yeast and is trapped in
pockets, These continue to expand
until heat is applied during baking.
Heat kills the yeast off and fixes the
gluten's lattice structure
Beating: Certain procedures in baking
require you to use a ‘beating’ method
– generally where heat is involved. If
you are making Hot Water Crust
Pastry you would bring water and
butter to the simmer stage in a pan.
Flour is added and the ‘batter’ is
beaten until combined. Use as the
pastry for ‘Raised’ Pies. This pastry
has a much stronger structure
allowing pies to be cooked without a
tin. The same principal applies when
making Choux Pastry. Flour is added
to a hot water/butter mixture. Raw
egg is then beaten in.
Whisking: When volume has to be
added then the whisking method is
used. Meringues are made by
whisking egg whites with sugar
until the volume is six to eight
times more than you began with.
Gentle heat applied over several
hours dries out the meringue and
leaves a crisp, sweet confection.
Fatless sponge cakes require whole
egg and sugar to be whisked
together to achieve a high volume.
Cake flour is gently folded in. Air
incorporated into the egg gives
volume and lightness to the cake.