Baking Powder Post Contents
- 1. What is Baking Powder?
- 2. Varieties of Baking Powder
- 3. Uses for Baking Powder
- 4. Baking Powder Preparation
- 5. How to Store Baking Powder
- 6. Does Baking Powder Expire?
- 7. Recipes Using Baking Powder
- 8. The Origin of Baking Powder
- 9. The History of Baking Powder
- 10. How is Baking Powder Made?
- 11. Baking Powder Nutrition Notes
- 12. Source Citations
1. What is Baking Powder?
Baking powder is a chemical leavening agent. It is used to add volume and lightness to baked goods like cakes and breads. This create a more airy and tender finished product.
Baking powder is made of:
- an alkaline base like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- an acid like monocalcium phosphate.
- a filler like cornstarch
The alkaline base and acid do not react while dry, but as soon as the baking powder is stirred into a moist dough or batter, the two chemicals begin to combine and react. They release bubbles of carbon dioxide which are trapped in the dough and cause it to expand. This is known as chemical leavening (or rising) of the dough.
Some baking powders (known as “double acting”) include a second acid, which causes a second reaction when exposed to heat in baking process. 
Cornstarch is often added to baking powder as a filler. It helps prevent the chemical reaction from occurring during storage, and keeps the ingredients from clumping. It also adds bulk to the powder, allowing manufacturers to keep their product consistent from batch to batch.
2. Varieties of Baking Powder
Single acting baking powder is made of baking soda, with one acid added. This creates one chemical reaction, rising the dough or batter once when the baking powder is added to moist ingredients.
Double acting baking powder is made of baking soda with two acids added. This creates two reactions: the initial reaction from one acid when the powder is added to moist ingredients, plus a second reaction from the second acid when the dough or batter is exposed to heat (baked or cooked). The result is a finished baked good with more volume and air pockets, because of the second, heat activated rise.
By default, baking powder does not contain gluten. It could be made in a facility that makes other products with gluten, though, and could contain trace amounts of gluten. Baking powder is used in such small amounts, that a tiny bit of trace gluten wouldn’t be a concern for most people.
However, you are really concerned about eliminating all gluten from your diet though, you might want to choose a brand that markets its product as gluten free. Bob’s Red Mills and Clabber Girl are examples of baking powders that market themselves as “Gluten Free”.
Some brands use sodium aluminum phosphate, which contains aluminum, as one of the acids in their powder. Sodium aluminum phosphate is a cheap, stable additive which is activated by exposure to heat.
It does have some downsides though. It’s known to be a neurotoxin , and can leave some recipes with a slightly metallic taste.
You can find brands that advertise as “Aluminum Free”, or check the ingredients carefully to make sure they do not list sodium aluminum phosphate on the label.
3. Uses for Baking Powder
Leavening Baked Goods to Improve Texture
Baking powder is used as a leavening agent in doughs and batters. It creates a baked good that is lighter and airier, with a more desirable finished texture.
When added to a moist batter or dough, the alkaline base (usually baking soda) and the acid (usually monocalcium phosphate) combine to create a chemical reaction. This reaction releases carbon dioxide gas bubbles into the dough or batter, expanding it and causing it to rise without the need for yeast.
Using baking powder is generally quicker than yeast, and more reliable than other leavening methods like steam or acidic buttermilk or lemon juice.
Cleaning with Baking Powder
People often wonder if they can use baking powder in place of baking soda for cleaning.
Baking powder is made of baking soda plus an acid (or two, in the case of double acting baking powder) and a filler like cornstarch. In a pinch, it may work for cleaning. However, baking powder is more expensive than baking soda and contains acid which may damage delicate surfaces.
For household cleaning, it’s best to stick to plain old baking soda.
4. Baking Powder Preparation
Baking powder is sold ready to use. No preparation is required. Simply measure it carefully and add it to your dough or batter according to the recipe you are preparing.
5. How to Store Baking Powder
Baking powder is usually sold in a plastic or metal canister or jar. It can be stored in its original resealable packaging, or any other dry, tightly sealed container.
Small glass canning jars with tight fitting lids are great for storing baking powder.
However it’s stored, don’t let it come in contact with steam, humid air, wet spoons, or any other type of moisture. If it comes in contact with moisture, the baking powder may react while it’s still in storage. If if the chemical reaction has already occurred in storage, it will not happen when you add it to a batter or dough. This means the baking powder would not cause your baked goods to rise at all, making them more dense and heavy than intended
6. Does Baking Powder Expire?
Baking powder has a maximum shelf life of 12 months.
Although it will not necessarily look or smell like it has gone bad, it will lose potency and be less effective at rising baked goods as it gets older.
To test if baking powder is still active, measure 1 teaspoon of powder into 1/3 cup of hot water. The mixture should fizz and bubble furiously. If it doesn’t, it’s no longer active, and you should replace it. 
7. Recipes Using Baking PowderDisplay Recipes:
8. The Origin of Baking Powder
English chemist Alfred Bird is credited with creating the first product resembling baking powder in the late 1840’s. His product was made of baking soda and cream of tartar. Unfortunately, cream of tartar is a byproduct of wine making, and had to be imported from Europe at that time. It’s price and availability were erratic, changing with grape harvests year to year. This made it too expensive and undependable for many American households at that time. 
In the 1850’s, American chemist Professor Eben Horsford and businessman George Wilson established Rumford Chemical Works
9. The History of Baking Powder
In the late 19th century, baking powder companies competed fiercely through colourful advertising, state bribes and even lawsuits. SmithsonianMag.com 
10. How is Baking Powder Made?
Modern baking powders are produced in commercial food production facilities. The raw ingredients (usually baking soda, and corn starch
11. Baking Powder Nutrition Notes
Some brands of baking powder contain aluminum. If this is a concern for you, try to find an aluminum free brand.
In the late 1800’s, companies competed fiercely with advertising, bribes and lawsuits.More History
12. Source Citations
1. Food Storage Frequently Asked Questions, by Alan T. Hagan
USA Emergency Supply, United States, 12/31/1999
Accessed On: 04/29/2020
2. The Great Uprising: How a Powder Revolutionized Baking, by Ben Panko
Smithsonian Magazine, Washington, DC, United States, 06/20/2017
Accessed On: 04/29/2020
3. The difference between baking soda and baking powder, by Matt Shipman
North Carolina State University, North Carolina, United States, 05/22/2014
Accessed On: 04/29/2020
4. Development of Baking Powder, No Author Specified
American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks, United States
Accessed On: 04/30/2020
5. Baking Soda - The Everyday Miracle, No Author Specified
University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States, 02/01/2011
Accessed On: 04/30/2020
6. EWG’S Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives, No Author Specified
Environmental Working Group, Washington, DC, United States, 11/12/2014
Accessed On: 05/11/2020