Friday, March 31, 2006

Learnin' Things - Important Distinctions 

So, as some of you may have noted, I've taken up learning about baking. It's something to do that isn't playing video games and it seems its actually a practical skill to develop. Tonight, I wanted some cornbread to go with my soup. So I followed the directions on my corn meal canister and popped it in the oven. It came out looking like cornbread. Smelled like cornbread. Must be cornbread. Why does it taste gross then, and faintly like soap? I read over the recipe again. Seem to have done everything right. Sugar, salt, baking powder, milk, egg...wait, wait, wait...did that say baking soda or baking powder? Hmm, powder. Wonder if that's the same as the soda version. I look it up. "Baking soda is four times as powerful as baking powder and though it has the same net effect, it accomplishes it in a slightly different chemical way. If you use baking soda instead of baking powder, use an appropriately reduced amount. Too much baking soda will result in a slightly soapy taste." Damn.

I'll be making some more cornbread tomorrow and will be using appropriately less baking soda. Cornbread will not defeat me.



Baking powder is made up of baking soda, cream of tartar (or some other acidic agent) and cornstarch (which helps to keep the soda dry until you actually add liquid).

If you want to substitute, 1 tsp baking powder = 1/4 tsp soda + 1/4 tsp cornstarch + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.

Or you can just stop at the grocery on the way home and buy some baking powder (Calumet works fine, but I have a preference for the Clabber Girl brand).

And while we're on the subject of substitutions, I also like to use honey instead of sugar in my cornbread. Mmmm....

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 8:06 AM  

Awesome. Thanks, Jane!


By Blogger Ryan, at 11:04 AM  

I usually leave the sugar out when making cornbread, but I reckon that's a regional preference.

By Blogger The Archer of the Forest, at 1:42 AM  

My mother screwed up a corn bread recipe once. Being in polite conversation, I'll just say that it smelled like the after effects of the flu.

It took me a long time to be able to eat corn bread again.

By Blogger Reverend Ref +, at 10:36 AM  

It might be regional, Archer. My grandfather (a Tennessee native) always liked molasses in his, but I never developed a taste for that.

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 7:57 PM  

I also enjoy sorghum (sp?) as a cornbread topping. I like it cause it's not too sweet, but adds a little sweet flavor.


By Blogger Ryan, at 11:45 PM  

I've now written down Jane's conversion for a rainy day. That said, pick up some Clabber Girl: you'll use it regularly.

I learned a conversion when making cheese dumplings yesterday (the idea was to liven up some tomato soup, and it was heavenly). I learned that "cake flour" is not the same as all-purpose flour, but that "in an emergency" you can use 1 C minus 2 Tbs of the latter in place of the former. Thank you, Joy of Cooking.

By Blogger Baruch Grazer, at 6:32 PM  

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