Chemical reactions in baking a cake
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Chemical reactions in baking a cake

When baking a cake it is considered as a chemical change because you can’t get your ingredients back and we know that it is a chemical change because heat energy is involved. When you are mixing your cake, it includes such ingredients as water, oil, and eggs. Simple forms of dissolving and mixing are considered physical changes, but mixing the ingredients of a cake is not a simple mixing process. A chemical change starts to occur when the ingredients are mixed, forming new substances.

Carbon dioxide is one of the major gases that are responsible for leavening in baking. In cakes, it comes from the reaction of sodium bicarbonate under acidic conditions. In bread making (or special yeasted cakes), the yeast organisms expel carbon dioxide as they feed off of sugars. Leavening agents such as baking soda, baking powder, and yeast give cake dough its lightness. Baking soda reacts in the dough with acids to make carbon dioxide, which makes the dough rise. Baking powder, which is baking soda with additional acidic salt, releases carbon dioxide twice during the baking process, once when it hits the water, and again when it reaches a certain temperature in the oven. The heat helps baking powder produce tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide, which make a cake light and fluffy. When yeast, a single-celled fungus that feeds on starch and sugars, is added to the dough, it also releases carbon dioxide bubbles, giving the dough a light, delicate texture.

Baking soda is used in recipes that also include an acidic ingredient, such as cream, buttermilk, or citrus juice. Basically, baking powder is typically used when the recipe doesn’t feature an acidic ingredient, as the powder already includes the acid needed to produce carbon dioxide. Baked good mixtures can vary greatly in their acidity level. To produce a desirable baked good, you need to find the right balance between acid and base. Some recipes may call for both baking soda and baking powder. It is because the recipe contains an acid that needs to be offset by the baking soda but may not be enough to completely leaven the product.

It is possible to interchange baking soda and baking powder in recipes, but it is not as straightforward as simply replacing one for the other. Though substituting baking powder for baking soda is not highly recommended, you may be able to make it work in a pinch. If your recipe needs baking powder and all you have at hand is baking soda, you may be able to substitute, but you need to include additional ingredients. Because baking soda is lacking the acid that baking powder would normally add to the recipe, you have to make sure to add an acidic ingredient, such as cream of tartar, to activate the baking soda. And also, baking soda has much stronger leavening power than baking powder. As a rule of thumb, about 1 teaspoon of baking powder is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.

In substitution with baking powder and baking soda in recipes isn’t as simple as a 1:1 basis, it can work with certain alterations to your recipe. Many baked recipes include baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent. Some may even include both. While both products appear similar, they’re certainly not the same. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which requires acid and a liquid to become activated and help baked rise. And baking powder includes sodium bicarbonate, as well as an acid. It only needs a liquid to become activated. Substituting one for the other is possible with careful adjustments.

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