Dear Rose and Fellow Posters:
Hi. I am new to this Web site and stumbled across it a while ago when I was looking up information on baking. Rose is clearly an excellent baker, scientist, teacher, and author, and it is wonderful of her to provide such a great resource for all people to share in the joys of baking.
My question concerns the differences that I seem to be encountering with two brands of baking powder: Clabber Girl and Argo. I have used Clabber Girl for a long time, but I decided to switch to Argo baking powder, since aluminum-free is the way to be, or so I hear, nowadays. Using Argo, however, I noticed that some of the cakes that I bake (I am a completely amateur baker) rise rather quickly in the oven and, regarding cupcakes, they overflow the liners in the pan and stretch across the rim. (I could see them through the oven door’s window and made certain that I did not open the oven door until I reached near the end of the baking process.) I do not think that I had this problem with the same recipes using Clabber Girl and am wondering if I am suddenly doing something wrong and not realizing it or if there is a difference in performance among the various brands of baking powder. (None of the cake recipes I have used are Rose’s; I only have _The Pie and Pastry Bible_ and am thinking that I really need to get her _The Cake Bible_ to improve my skills and to learn more about cake baking.) The reason that I chose Argo is because it is double-acting, has recently appeared on my store shelves in large numbers, and was recommended by food testers on _The Fresh Loaf_ and _The Luke Warm Legumes_ Web sites. (Plus, I am a little slow in the kitchen, so I am afraid that the leavening will fizzle out too quickly with single-acting baking powder.) However, I am not having much luck with the Argo baking powder in cakes that use the “creaming method.”
Though not a scientific test, I decided to see how Clabber Girl and Argo react in hot water. Therefore, I dissolved 1/4 t. of Clabber Girl baking powder in 1/4 cup of hot water and did the same with the Argo baking powder. I noticed that the Clabber Girl released bubbles that generally stayed in the corner of the bowl, plus the water bubbled steadily and continuously for a few minutes (I could hear the bubbling even when it was difficult to see tiny bubbles.). The Argo baking powder, when dissolved in a separate bowl of hot water, bubbled slightly more strongly, and this time, the bubbles spread across the bowl. However, the bubbling was less steady and did not seem to last as long as the bubbling of the water with the Clabber Girl dissolved in it. (After about a minute, the bubbling sound was difficult to hear.) If they are both double-acting, does anybody have any idea why they seem to react differently when dissolved in hot water or why they seem to perform differently in the same cake recipe? (I tried finding information online, and one Web site—_Bowl of Plenty_—stated that a chemical compound in Argo has “variable” reaction times. The compound—Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate—is manufactured “in multiple grades, each with a different reaction rate.” I am not too sure what that means, but could that be the problem?) Should I go back to the Clabber Girl, or does the health risk of ingesting aluminum, plus the metallic taste that it may impart, make the Argo a better choice?
I will have to try Argo in more tried-and-true cake recipes to see if there is really a difference, but for now, I was just wondering if Rose (or anyone else) has used it in cakes or has any suggestions or information to offer. Thank you very much!