Did Martha make a Mistake? Question on Leavening in Recipe
Posted: 28 August 2012 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2012-08-28

Hi all,

I’ve been trying to educate myself about the general balance of a good recipe, and I’ve taken a lot of pointers from Rose’s Cake Bible.

One “truth” I came away with is that Baking Soda requires some degree of acidity in the mix for it to activate (and it helps to neutralize it).
Another is that Dutch Process Cocoa has more of a neutral pH, so baking powder would typically be used unless there are other acidic ingredients.
Regular non-alkalized cocoa does have an acidic pH, so you’ll use baking soda or some combination of the two leaveners.

I have this recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cookies book, p. 75

I just cannot figure out what ingredient here is driving the use of Baking Soda instead of Baking Powder.  Anyone know?

Thanks!

Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies

    2 cups all-purpose flour
  3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  1 1/4 cups (2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons) unsalted, butter room temperature
  2 cups sugar, plus more for dipping
  2 large eggs
  2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 August 2012 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2012-08-28

Thank you all so much for the replies!  I find this all very intriguing.

I did look for a correction posting for the recipe, but was unable to locate any.

As CharlesT says, I’m sure simply trying the recipe will tell if things seem off or not. 

BTW ... Julie - according to some factoids I found on Dutch Process pH vs regular, non-alkalized cocoa, there shouldn’t be acidity remaining if the cocoa’s been treated:

For cooks it’s important to know that the alkalizing process, causes the pH of Dutched cocoa to rise from 5.5 (acidic) to 7 (neutral) or 8 (slightly alkaline). Thus, the change in acidity may result in differences in leavening reactions in some recipes for baking when using Dutch processed cocoa.

source: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/icooks/9-2-02.html


Thanks again!  grin

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 August 2012 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2012-08-28

I agree with Julie?s sentiment:  there is often a difference between definitions and reality.

True that.  I’ll keep it in mind.  grin

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 September 2012 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  149
Joined  2011-06-02

Does anybody know how to calculate acidity in a given amount of cocoa? I am trying to understand a recipe that calls for dutch + baking soda + vinegar [instead of buttermilk] and I’m completely flummoxed. It’s the ATK chocolate cupcakes recipe.

edit: Basically, what I’m trying to understand is how to make their old fashioned chocolate layer cake with natural cocoa, by looking at their chocolate cupcake recipe, but it was changed so much it’s hard for me to understand

 Signature 

McBrownie.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 October 2012 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2011-06-04

This is very interesting. I’d like to understand the risks of substitutions in a cake recipe.

I inadvertently substituted baking POWDER for soda in a chocolate cake recipe that calls for non-dutched cocoa, all purpose flour (mine happens to be bleached) and sour cream.  I didn’t realize this until after the cakes were baked and wrapped for later assembly (the cake layers looked pretty normal at the time). However, in the process of transferring the cooled cakes to wrap, I detected the flavor of the crumb to be a little off and the layers seemed uncharacteristically heavy and/or dry.  When I later realized my mistake, I began to wonder if this was a fatal flaw. I decided not to risk it and made another batch. The new cakes already look more like I remember them (they appear a darker chocolate and more moist.)

My decision to re-bake came after reading that baking powder is essentially baking soda with a moisture-absorbing agent. This made me worry that my cake would certainly be dry. 

Can you help me understand this better?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 October 2013 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  149
Joined  2011-06-02

Just wanted to say that I’ve seen the Martha Stewart’s Cakes book, and it’s pretty much just a collection of recipes that are on the site. I don’t think i’ve seen any new recipes, except for a new picture of a not-new cake.
Although I do bake a lot of her/her team’s recipes, I don’t think many, or any of them, are cakes! I mean, some of the are ridiculous. There’s a chocolate cake i saw recently that uses something like 3 sticks of butter for the cake [2 layer 9-inch], AND 3 sticks for the frosting + a pound of chocolate and lots of heavy cream…

Her cookie recipes are pretty reliable. I have seen the same recipe with different quantities of ingreidents which may look like an error, especially when you use the quantities with one recipe, and the instructions from the other [judging by the comments on the site it happens alot!], which obviously would not yield good results. But, thanks to Rose’s recipes I have learned to follow recipes EXACTLY so that’s not a problem.

Edit: Oooh, I’m a senior member now! Not sure how that happened [# of messages?] but congrats to me smile

 Signature 

McBrownie.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 October 2013 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  149
Joined  2011-06-02

Thanks! smile
If you need oil-based cakes, then Nigella Lawson has an olive-oil chocolate cake which many people LOVE.
The original recipe is made with ground almonds so it’s not really a layer cake, but she states it can be made with plain, ap flour. Personally I have made it a bunch of times with flour, and liked it best when I split the entire recipe between 3 6-inch pans.

 Signature 

McBrownie.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 October 2013 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  149
Joined  2011-06-02
Flour Girl - 30 October 2013 04:46 PM
McBrownie - 30 October 2013 04:24 PM

Thanks! smile
If you need oil-based cakes, then Nigella Lawson has an olive-oil chocolate cake which many people LOVE.
The original recipe is made with ground almonds so it’s not really a layer cake, but she states it can be made with plain, ap flour. Personally I have made it a bunch of times with flour, and liked it best when I split the entire recipe between 3 6-inch pans.

It sounds great! Do you know which book that recipe is in? I will definitely try it. 

Thank you grin

Yup- it’s called “Nigellissima”, but you can also find it on her site! here’s the link:
http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/CHOCOLATE-OLIVE-OIL-CAKE-5551

 Signature 

McBrownie.

Profile
 
 
   
  Back to top