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Aug 3, 2006 10:37 PM

cake-baking question from a novice

I have two nearly identical recipes for a tomato spice cake, one inherited from my mother and the other taken from the newspaper. All igredients (flour,spices, shortening, sugar, etc.) are basically the same EXCEPT for the baking powder and the baking soda. My mother's receipe (very, very old) calls for 2 ts of baking powder and 1/2 ts of baking soda. The other has double these amounts -- 4 ts of BP and 1 ts of BS.

My question, not being much of a baker, is how will the difference in these two ingredients change the consistancy of the cake? Heavier? Lighter? Not much of a difference?

Help from you bakers will be sincerely appreciated. TIA

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  1. I don't know too much about baking, but the newspaper recipe will result in a lighter cake.

    1. Baking powder and baking soda are leavenings that will make bake goods rise. I would use your mother's recipe. I think 4 tsp of baking powder and 2 tsp of baking soda are way too much for a cake. The cake might fall and collapse when it comes out of the oven. Of course it depends on how much of the other ingredients are in the recipe. Besides the leavening aspect, too much baking powder and soda can result in a puckery taste.

      1. Damn! King Arthur's website used to have an excellent analysis of flour/acid/baking powder/baking soda ratios but it's gone (or at least I can't find it).

        Call them at 800-827-6836 and one of their bakers will go through the two recipes and tell you how to get optimal results with modern available products. They're WONDERFUL! They cheerfully and knowledgeably help whether you're buying one of their excellent and hard to find products or not.

        1. Be sure to factor in your altitude if you are not at sea level, too. You need less leavening at higher altitudes, and some other adjustments are hepful too. The Joy of Cooking has information about this. But even at sea level the larger quantities sound excessive for a recipe that I'm assuming makes two 9" cake layers.

          1. See my post, Cake Disaster: recovery and analysis


            I learned that too much baking powder is a terrible thing.

            My Mom's recipe, also old, calls for 3 teaspoons Baking powder in 3 cups of flour. It makes a nice long as you don't accidentally use self-rising flour (which already has baking powder in it).