Baking Soda/Powder Modifications
Posted: 17 May 2014 02:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
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OK food science types, I am in the process of using up some buttermilk and I decided to try a Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake—the recipe is published online:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/double-chocolate-bundt-cake-with-ganache-glaze

I think the baking soda is ridiculously high and plan to modify for it.  Some reviewers indicated an off taste (likely due to the excess baking soda), but otherwise texture is good.  The only acidic ingredients I determine are:

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup buttermilk
For reference, the recipe uses 2 cups of flour.

1/2 cup buttermilk requires 1/4 tsp., so at a minimum 1/2 tsp. of baking soda is required.  I made a cup of coffee (ok 242g of coffee), added baking soda by 1/8 tsp. and observed the reaction and tasted the coffee.  The first 1/4 tsp. of baking soda reacted and I didn’t observe the baking soda flavour.  After adding 3/8 tsp. of baking soda, the reaction seemed less but the taste did not taste like baking soda to me.  With a full 1/2 tsp. the coffee tasted like baking soda.  So, for the way I made my coffee, I’m guessing about 3/8 tsp. - 1/2 tsp. of baking soda are required to neutralize the coffee.  I’m doubtful the extra fraction of a tsp will be noticeable in the cake—and may be neutralized by the small amount of chocolate. 

Anyway, I’m thinking 1 tsp should more than cover the baking soda…much, much less than the 1 Tbsp. indicated by the recipe.  If I use 1 tsp. of baking soda in the recipe, is there any reason to substitute baking powder for the missing 2 tsp. of baking soda?  If there is nothing left for the baking soda it to react with, I can’t see how it contributes to the leavening in the original recipe.  Does this check out or have I missed something?   

Assuming my estimations of the coffee/baking soda neutralization are reasonable, and since I enjoy the tang of buttermilk,  I would also consider using 1/2 tsp. baking soda and replacing the other 1/2 tsp. with 2 tsp. baking powder—or even use 1/4 tsp. baking soda with 3 T of baking powder.  Thoughts?

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Posted: 17 May 2014 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sherrie - 17 May 2014 02:08 AM

OK food science types, I am in the process of using up some buttermilk and I decided to try a Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake—the recipe is published online:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/double-chocolate-bundt-cake-with-ganache-glaze

I think the baking soda is ridiculously high and plan to modify for it.  Some reviewers indicated an off taste (likely due to the excess baking soda), but otherwise texture is good.  The only acidic ingredients I determine are:

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup buttermilk
For reference, the recipe uses 2 cups of flour.

1/2 cup buttermilk requires 1/4 tsp., so at a minimum 1/2 tsp. of baking soda is required.  I made a cup of coffee (ok 242g of coffee), added baking soda by 1/8 tsp. and observed the reaction and tasted the coffee.  The first 1/4 tsp. of baking soda reacted and I didn’t observe the baking soda flavour.  After adding 3/8 tsp. of baking soda, the reaction seemed less but the taste did not taste like baking soda to me.  With a full 1/2 tsp. the coffee tasted like baking soda.  So, for the way I made my coffee, I’m guessing about 3/8 tsp. - 1/2 tsp. of baking soda are required to neutralize the coffee.  I’m doubtful the extra fraction of a tsp will be noticeable in the cake—and may be neutralized by the small amount of chocolate. 

Anyway, I’m thinking 1 tsp should more than cover the baking soda…much, much less than the 1 Tbsp. indicated by the recipe.  If I use 1 tsp. of baking soda in the recipe, is there any reason to substitute baking powder for the missing 2 tsp. of baking soda?  If there is nothing left for the baking soda it to react with, I can’t see how it contributes to the leavening in the original recipe.  Does this check out or have I missed something?   

Assuming my estimations of the coffee/baking soda neutralization are reasonable, and since I enjoy the tang of buttermilk,  I would also consider using 1/2 tsp. baking soda and replacing the other 1/2 tsp. with 2 tsp. baking powder—or even use 1/4 tsp. baking soda with 3 T of baking powder.  Thoughts?


SHERRIE:
Good morning. You are on the right track. Baking soda way to excessive. The author of this recipe is employing the soda to leaven the cake structure. That is the job of baking powder.

Here is my opinion my friend. Reduce the soda to 1,3/4 tsp & add 2, tsp of baking powder.
I do not remember if in your assessment you took into account the choco & Cocoa but as you know they are acidic as well as buttermilk.

Anyway, do what you think is best for yourself. I just stated to you a little of the baking science world.

Good luck & enjoy the bake…I am sure you will do a good job of it.

  ~FRESHKID.

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Posted: 17 May 2014 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks FRESHKID, for your assessment.  The cocoa called for is Dutched, so I assume that it is neutral.  The chocolate is 2 oz.  so not a huge amount.  I appreciate your comments.

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Posted: 17 May 2014 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Ok.  Cake has been made with the following modifications:
a.  Cocoa bloomed in hot coffee
b.  I used 130 grams cake flour and 162 g unbleached all purpose flour as I didn’t have bleached all purpose flour. 
c.  Baking soda reduced to 1/4 tsp. and 1 T baking powder added (in total I thought 1 tsp. baking soda was needed).

Observations, cake had lots of cracks in the top, finished 10 mins. early (one reviewer noted this as well)—I have my oven/pan combinations sorted out so I don’t think this was the issue.  Batter had a slight tang (which I prefer)—so I don’t think all acid was neutralized—which I figured.  I think I would mix the baking soda with the coffee to eliminate it’s acidity and have more from the buttermilk. 

The cake has not collapsed—so must be ok for leavening.  I haven’t cut a slice yet, but the crumb I tasted was ok—not as chocolatey as I prefer but I think my Callebaut cocoa is partly to blame.  I do not really care for the cocoa but need to use it up.  It reminds me of a chocolate muffin baked in a Bundt Cake—which I half expected—I baked it with the purpose of using buttermilk not making the best Bundt imaginable.  I don’t think the recipe compares to the Cooks Illustrated Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt for flavour, but I will add more comments after tasting.

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Posted: 17 May 2014 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Sherrie - 17 May 2014 10:17 AM

Thanks FRESHKID, for your assessment.  The cocoa called for is Dutched, so I assume that it is neutral.  The chocolate is 2 oz.  so not a huge amount.  I appreciate your comments.


SHERRIE:
  Hello again. I am sorry I did not pick up on the word DUTCH in the cocoa… & I read the recipe twice. Therefore I would have reduced the baking soda down to 1,1/4 tsp.

Sherrie I am certain you understand that when you add baking soda to a liquid ingredient it begins to act accordingly & disapates it’s, value in baking. I would consider placing it in the flour with the other dry ingredients.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend Sherrie.

  ~FRESHKID.

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Posted: 18 May 2014 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Sherrie - 17 May 2014 02:08 AM

added baking soda by 1/8 tsp. and observed the reaction and tasted the coffee.

You are a true scientist, Sherrie, and it warms my heart. grin

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Posted: 18 May 2014 08:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I just want to know what cocoa will you use when your Callebaut is gone. 

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So many recipes - so little time.

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Posted: 20 May 2014 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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CharlesT - 18 May 2014 07:00 PM

You are a true scientist, Sherrie, and it warms my heart. grin

  Thanks, CharlesT!  I am usually in such a rush I don’t always take the time to isolate variables and make necessary adjustments.  This time I did but was up till 1am or so playing in the kitchen. 

I just want to know what cocoa will you use when your Callebaut is gone.

  Well, CRenee, I am not sure what cocoa I will use.  Perhaps I will be able to get my hands on G&B and I may just use Ruddy Red from Bulk Barn—I think I prefer it to this Callebaut so I would happily use Ruddy Red than the Callebaut I have right now. 

So..the cake was ok.  I thought it lacked a deep cocoa flavour—I suspect it was better than if I had not bloomed the cocoa in the coffee.  It was soft, moist, and texturally ok.  I think the coffee flavour was quite pronounced.  I did not find the cake to taste like baking soda, so I must have reduced it appropriately.

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Posted: 22 May 2014 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’m a bit late to this party, but here’s my 2 cents.  There seems to be a trend in chocolate cakes lately to have a lot of baking soda.  This darkens the color of the cake but also can dull the chocolate flavor, or at least necessitate using a lot of cocoa and/or chocolate to make up for the lack of intensity.  Rose’s Deep Chocolate Passion is a cake of this type- dark color, mild chocolate flavor and a relatively large amount of cocoa.  Baking soda can also delay the setting of the cake in the oven, which can allow more volume but that usually comes with a coarse (open) crumb. Acidic cake batters set sooner and produce a finer crumb.  Rose’s DCP only rises near the end of baking. 

The other possibility is that there’s a typo and it’s supposed to be 1 tsp baking soda instead of 1 Tbs.

Hope you had fun in your test kitchen!  smile

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Posted: 23 May 2014 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks for the insight, Julie!  I had to go and pull out my RHC!  I love the DCP cake—but interestingly, I’ve found it rather dull when I’ve used my Callebaut cocoa with it; in comparison, it is divine with G&B’s cocoa.  I never thought too much of the 1 tsp. of baking soda in the DCP—there are no other acidic ingredients but I’ve never found the DCP cake to have a strong baking soda taste.  I know Rose’s recipes are well tested, so I will always try as written, for my first go anyway.  The Bundt I made was contributed to Food and Wine, so I am not sure how extensively it was tested—but now I want to try it as written, just for kicks to see if I notice the soda!  Thanks for shedding some light on these formulations.

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Posted: 24 May 2014 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hi Sherrie,

I printed out this recipe from your post and hope to try it this weekend. I think I’ll also just follow the recipe and see what happens. I’ll look for that particular cocoa and bloom it in the coffee. Sounds like fun to me.

Abbey

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Posted: 26 May 2014 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I think you are right about the amount of soda in this cake.  I did think it was okay with the ganache, which seemed to balance it with some sweetness. The crumbs were a tad bit sour. Maybe less salt would make it better?

I noticed many of the comments were very good and I did enjoy it.

I wondered just how strong to make the coffee and made it quite strong but didn’t notice any coffee flavor. Hmmm.

Only having to use a whisk was nice and quick and the clean up was fine/fun. smile

I’m curious to know if you tried it again and what you think!!

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Posted: 27 May 2014 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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abbey - 26 May 2014 10:28 PM

I think you are right about the amount of soda in this cake.  I did think it was okay with the ganache, which seemed to balance it with some sweetness. The crumbs were a tad bit sour. Maybe less salt would make it better?

I noticed many of the comments were very good and I did enjoy it.

I wondered just how strong to make the coffee and made it quite strong but didn’t notice any coffee flavor. Hmmm.

Only having to use a whisk was nice and quick and the clean up was fine/fun. smile

I’m curious to know if you tried it again and what you think!!


Hi Abbey,

Did you make the cake with the full amount of soda?  If you used the full amount of soda, it could be causing the salty taste.  Sometimes I scale back the salt if I think it is too high for a particular recipe…but I don’t recall if I made any modifications for this one…  A glaze is definitely nice with the cake, I used Rose’s butter glaze when I made my cake.  To do the coffee, I used my aeropress—I didn’t add extra water (it’s sort of like an espresso… so I did have mine pretty strong).  The Callebaut cocoa I’m using is just not as robust in flavour as other brands I’ve used—when I have made the DCP of from RHC and it lacks flavour when I use Callebaut.  I agree that it was nice to not use every implement in the kitchen to make the cake!!  In reality, the cake seems more like a muffin/quick bread than a “real” cake.  But it is quick, not a bad choice if there is no butter around, and also uses buttermilk! 

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Posted: 27 May 2014 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Hi Sherrie,

Yes, I did use the full T. of soda and 3/4 t. salt, but it was a really okay with the glaze/ganache. I used the one included with this recipe.

I used the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bar and a baking cocoa from Natural Grocer’s(alkalized). I looked for the G&B but might have to order it on-line.

I brought it to work today and got some interesting comments. Most were good except one lady said she could taste the coffee and didn’t like it. I could not taste the coffee and out of, probbly 10 or more people, she was the only one that noticed. I think the coffee just enhanced the chocolate flavor. One person said it had a brownie-like texture. I think it should have baked a few minutes more. Some said it was now their favorite cake and that I should make it again. smile

Thanks for inspiring me. It was a beautiful cake and I agree with you about the ingredients. Flour girl would love it!!   
   

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