Raising agents plays a vital role in baking. It’s impossible to find out any recipe without raising agent. We use raising agents in all recipes whether they are with egg or without egg. It helps in increasing the cake size also makes it fluffy. It gives texture to the cake. Each raising agent works differently and has different roles to perform. Their amount varies recipe by recipe. One should be careful while putting raising agents in the cake. If you put more raising agent than required then it may change your cake’s taste. Lot of people ask about what are the different type of raising agents available in the market so I thought to outline them here in this post.
Baking Powder: It’s the most commonly used raising agent. Its gives volume to whatever you are baking and add texture to it. Its perfect to se for cakes, cupcakes, brownies etc. As per Wikipedia, Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent. A mixture of carbonate and acid. So how baking powder works. When we add liquid to our batter, the powder gets activated and starts releasing carbon dioxide gas, which forms bubbles in that mixture. This reaction helps the batter to expand. So it is very important to put the mixture the oven very quickly after you have added liquid in the dry ingredients. Otherwise you may loose all that air added in the mixture. It can be used instead of yeast while making bread. We can even make baking powder at home. As it’s a mixture of baking soda and a dry acid like cream of tartar with some cornstarch so as to keep both dry and separated from each other. We use baking powder to make self-raising flour using all-purpose flour.
Baking Soda: Baking soda and bicarbonate soda both are same. It’s also a raising agent in powder form. Baking soda is alkaline in its basic nature so we needed to add it to something acidic in order to start the chemical reaction. Often we may found some lump into it, in that case sifting it is a good practice. Therefore baking soda is often used in recipes, which contains rather a lot of acid like lemon juice.
Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is also a raising agent as we discussed in above points. It is acidic in nature so we add it to baking soda to make baking powder. It is mostly used in making meringues. When we beat egg whites we use cream of tartar to give it structure and strength. It helps egg whites to take its shape properly and prevent from collapsing. It helps in keeping those stiff peaks. These stiff peaks help in holding the shape while baking meringues in oven.
Air: While baking its important to add air in the batter. Air expands a lot while baking and helps in making out cake light. We can introduce air the batter through a lot of processes. Some of them are sieving the dry ingredients, incorporating fat using butter or ant other type by rubbing, creaming butter and sugar, whisking eggs and sugar etc. While making final batter and we want to keep air intact we use cut and fold technique. This helps in keeping most of the air in the batter and make batter mixing easy and quick. If we not keep air in the batter then our final batter will be tough and flat.