Friday, October 24, 2014

The Age Old Question: Baking Powder Vs. Baking Soda-Which One and Why?

baking soda, baking powder, infographic

Life Beyond Silicon wrote:Hi H! Technical question: how come some of your recent cookies don't have baking powder or baking soda? These are ingredients I almost always find in cookies. Cookies don't really "rise", but what do these ingredients do? Or, written another way, what would happen if I made this recipe and added one or the other one in?

Baking Soda: Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  It is a base.  When added together with an acid, it creates a reaction and the byproduct is carbon dioxide.  Maybe you remember from when you were a kid and mixed baking soda and vinegar together to make volcanos.  Same idea.  Consequently, you want to add baking soda to baked goods where there in another acidic ingredient.  Buttermilk, lemon juice, and some cocoa powders are all examples of acidic ingredients.

One of the reasons that baking soda is regularly used in cookies is that it makes your baked goods spread so you get a flatter, crispier cookie.

Baking Powder: Sodium bicarbonate plus cream of tarter.  What is cream of tarter you ask?  It is potassium bitartrate and is an acidic byproduct of winemaking.  It is added to the sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) in order to activate it.  That way you do not have to have any acidic ingredients in the recipe, you can use regular milk and flour, etc.  Baking powder makes your baked goods puff up, which is once of the reasons it is used in many cake recipes. 

Can you swap one for the other?  Not really.  Even though baking powder is comprised to baking soda, you would have to add in a lot more baking powder to get the same effect.  I mixed the two up when baking stout cake once and had a big flat mess on my hands.

The other part of the question was why have some of my cookie recipes not called for either one?  Well, in the case of the caramel apple cookies-butter makes the cookies spread quite a bit already and the eggs in the batter provide enough puff.  Also any of the cake mix cookies will already have one or the other in the mix so no additional is needed.

Personally, I have always wondered why some recipes, like butternut squash bread, required both.  Looks like the answer to that is you may may have a bit of acid in the recipe but not enough to make the product raise on just baking soda alone.  So you use baking soda to neutralize the acid and baking powder to puff up the baked good.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder by Brian Geiger
Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder by Kimberly Holland
Baking 101: The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder by Joy The Baker

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wicked Easy Garlic Toast

Ok, this is too too easy.  However, there is nothing like garlic bread to jazz up your weeknight dinner.  Simply take some bread, any bread will do, and toast it.  Then rub the warm toast with a peeled raw clove of garlic and then slather with salted butter.  Perfect weeknight garlic toast.  Basically zero effort.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Funday

Happy Sunday!  What are you all up to today?  Dave and I are headed downtown to try and find a place to live.  Hopefully we'll find something good.

My poor pony has managed to get himself an eye infection, so I have been lucky enough to get to go medicate him every night.  There is nothing like a horse barn on a crisp fall evening.  Everything is quiet, with just the sounds of all the horses munching their hay.

Here are some interesting things I read this week:

Apple Fritter Monkey Bread-need I say more?

The cutest pretzel broomsticks!

It's time to put our money where our mouth is.

And in case you missed it, here's what was here earlier this week:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mini Cupcakes

Delicious Sticky Buns

Don't forget, there is still time to enter my giveaway!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Friday Giveaway!

We decided to sell our house and move into the city.  We are looking for a change of pace and quite a change it will be.  Consequently, I am going from a giant kitchen to probably a very tiny kitchen.

We got an offer a couple weeks ago that we accepted so it's go time in terms of packing up and cleaning out.  Which means good things for you.  I was cleaning out my cupboards and stumbled across 3 cake items still in the wrapper.  If I haven't used them in the last few years, I'm probably not going to use them.  But I thought, maybe, one of you guys could use them.

First item: some cute Valentine's cupcake picks

Next item: a cardboard circus themed cake stand with cake server.  I originally bought it for my nephew's first birthday but ended up making too big of a cake to be supported on the stand.

Finally: set of Wilton pillow pans.  I had lofty dreams of making Cinderella pillow cakes.  But, I never did.  Maybe one of you can now fulfill your own dreams of pillowy cakes.

This giveaway is going to run until next Friday.  One winner and open to U.S. Residents only.   Have a great weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Mini Cupcakes

Yesterday, I committed two cardinal food  sins:

1. I went to the grocery store hungry.  I ran in for some milk and somehow ended up driving home with a big bag of Reese's cups

2. I used canned frosting for these cupcakes.  I KNOW!  But honestly, I was lazy and it was in my cupboard and sometimes, it's important to make life easier on yourself.

Forgive me?  You will once you realize how over the top delicious and incredibly easy these cupcakes are to make.  I got the cupcakes in the oven last night while I was waiting for the pasta water to boil.  Yeah.  Easy like that.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Mini Cupcakes

makes about 20 mini cupcakes


  • 1 box Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix (this can sometimes be hard to find in the store.  You are more than welcome to use whatever yellow cake mix, just follow the directions on the back of the box)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 20 Reeses miniatures
Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake wrappers.  If you don't have mini cupcake wrappers-get some.  The Reese's are going to melt and then stick to the bottom of your pan an pull apart your cupcakes if you don't have cupcake wrappers.  You can buy them here and have them shipped right to your house.  Unwrap Reese's miniatures and place one into the bottom of each cupcake wrapper.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, water, and egg.  Scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoons cake batter overtop of the Reese's cup in the bottom of the mini cupcake tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely and then frost.  Maybe try not to eat them all while they're cooling but be sure to sample at least one while they are warm.  They are pretty incredible even at this point.


  • 1 can chocolate frosting
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
Stir together chocolate frosting and peanut butter.  The good news is the peanut butter thickens up the canned frosting making it easier to pipe.  Fill your piping bag.  I used a Wilton 4B tip.  (Pro tip: don't use a basic round tip with chocolate frosting or you run the risk of your frosting looking like poo).  Pipe swirls, stars, or whatever onto your cuppies.  Garnish with sprinkles, if you so desire.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Delicious Pecan Sticky Buns

pecan, cinnamon rolls, pecan rolls,

Let's see, what is the best way to make cinnamon rolls a little more unhealthy?  I know, add in more butter, more brown sugar, and some pecan.  But whoa baby, those things really snazz them up.  

So when you get a few extra minute, do yourself a favor and whip these babies up.  Then, sit down, take a load off, maybe make yourself some tea, and enjoy.

Pecan Sticky Buns

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk, scalded and then cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2-4 cups all purpose flour
  • sugar and cinnamon to add to the inside of the dough
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Microwave 1/2 cup butter and milk.  Add water and eggs to the mixture and stir.  Feel the bowl, if it is only lukewarm, add the yeast.  Mix in the sugar, salt and flours, taking care to use the flour sparingly.  Knead for a few minutes and allow to rise until doubled.

Once the first proof is over, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll dough out into a rectangle.  Melt 1/4 cup butter.  Brush melted butter onto the dough.  Sprinkle the buttered dough generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  I use a mixture that is a little heavier on the sugar than cinnamon, but my husband prefers it opposite.  Roll the dough up and slice into rolls of desired thickness.  Honestly, these rolls are best a bit on the thin side.  I have tried making them fat, but the ratio of dough to filling was not as tasty.

Line a 9 x 13 inch with parchment paper.  Melt final 1/2 cup butter and pour into bottom of pan.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the melted butter.  Sprinkle the pecans over top of the sugar.  Place the rolls on top of the sugar/butter mixture.  Cover and allow to raise for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake the rolls for 30 minutes or so until the rolls are baked through.  On a rimmed cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil, flip the buns over.  Now the gooey mixture is on top.  Enjoy!  They are especially good warm.

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