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Where can I buy Baker's Ammonia?

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  • smari Oct 28, 2006 02:58 PM
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I'm hoping to make Icelandic donuts today but they require Baker's Ammonia. Whole Foods doesn't carry and neither does Roche in Lexington.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

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  1. I went on a hunt for this last year when I wanted to make a cookie that required it and I searched high and low and I finally ended up ordering it from Baker's Catalogue in Vermont. www.kingarthur.com

    1. You can also try asking a local baker. You only need a small amount so shouldn't be a big issue.

      1. They sell it at Sophia's Pantry in Belmont/ Watertown andprobably at most Greek stores since it is used in making Greek Koulouria (cookies).

        1. Yes, Sophia's did have it.

          Sophia's Greek Pantry
          265 Belmont St, Belmont

          Thanks everyone for your replies.

          1. will someone plse educate me about what this is and why it is used? are there no substitutes?thank you!

            4 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef

              It's ammonium carbonate, also known as smelling salts: the strong ammonia smell helps revive you from a faint. You should keep a little vial on the end table next to your fainting couch.

              It also works as a leavener, and is mainly used by Scandanavian bakers where most of us would use baking powder (I use Karlin's Finest, a mix of cornstarch, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, and calcium phosphate).

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                mc slim, thanks for the explana but i don't understand WHY and in what -you use it- what does it do for you that bak powd does not?thanks for education.

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  (Pardon me if you consider any of this rudimentary, but since you asked...)

                  Hartshorn works like any other artificial leavener: the baker relies on a chemical reaction (mixing an acid and a base to produce CO-2) rather than a biological process (feeding a yeast some sugar so it excretes CO-2). Either way, your dough gets gassy and puffy instead of staying flat and dense.

                  The only reason to choose this particular leavener over others is tradition: that's just what one properly uses in old-school Icelandic donuts, or Pfeffernuesse, or Mormor Ulla's sugar cookies. You should probably ask an experienced, professional baker like Pastrytroll, but I'll guess you could safely substitute baking powder for ammonium carbonate in any recipe that calls for it (though in what proportions, I have no idea.)

                  Maybe that's the reason to use it: you have an ancestral recipe, and it's hard to come up with a modern equivalent that produces results like Grandma's. Baking seems a lot more exacting and unforgiving than other kinds of cooking: I can improvise and substitute in my sautee pan without adverse consequences, but nominal variations in proportions and temperatures really screws up my baking (and often does: I'm pretty bad at it.)

                  I guess the good news is the stuff is made in a lab nowadays instead of in the barn from dirt and decomposed sheep urine. Then again, I've never been a fan of lutefisk or surströmming. I may have some Swedish ancestry, but I still think it's possible to go too far in the name of tradition.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    The late Richard Sax has a recipe in Classic Home Desserts for quaresimale (uber-crunchy cinnamon-hazelnut biscotti) that calls for ammonium carbonate. He calls it "an old-time leavener that makes cookies incredibly crisp." I have no idea how much of that is legend and how much is fact, but that's the claim. I think it's also used in quite a few commercially-baked goods, especially Scandinavian ones. Not sure if they're incredibly crisp or not, though.

            2. Also, the smell disappears as you bake! :)

              1. FINAL ANSWER!!!
                I am a baker by trade, and I use a lot of Swedish recipes since that's were I was born. The cheapest baker's ammonia can be found calling Sweet Celebrations, formerly Maids of Scandinavia. Check out their web site, www.sweetc.com before calling to order. You'll get their catalog with your order; they have lots of baking related things that you may not find in your area unless you have a restaurant supply store near by. As far as substitutions go: use the same amount of baking powder as indicated for the baker's ammonia. Most commonly this product is used in small products; i.e. cookies that are baked until dry, or in doughs with very little moisture, or pastries that are baked at a high temperature (such as puff pastry). Because of the strong smell (that evaporates during baking) these are the only types of baked goods where the ammonia gas can be completely eliminated. Baker's ammonia gives a long lasting crispness to cookies that I haven't found using baking powder. Yes, perhaps it is an emotional thing, being Swedish I grew up with this, and I wouldn't make Swedish dreams with baking powder!! I've yet to make Icelandic donuts with B.A.! Now, I think I'll track down a recipe for that, to test this out...
                Good luck with your donuts! Mariette

                3 Replies
                1. re: mariette

                  Baked goods made with ammonium carbonate (Baker's Ammonia) always come out crisper. I've shown this many times in school demos. One saltine maker puts ammonium carbonate in the recipe. His crackers are incredibly light and are very light in quality.

                  1. re: mariette

                    The link to the web site for Maids of Scandinavia/Sweet Celebrations, is now closed. It shows that this company closed in 2008 and is no longer doing business. I checked and www.KingArthurFlour.com also sells baker's ammonium. I need some for an Italian cookie that is from a converted ancient recipe (or so they say). They said without ammonium carbonate the cookies would not be as airy and crisp. This was a translated Italian recipe.

                    1. re: yoyomi

                      If you are looking for baker's ammonium locally, you can buy it from the greek grocery stores in Watertown. I can't recall which store which store I have bought it from, but it was probably either Arax or Sevan.