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Cream of Tartar Question

  • k

I'm hoping you baking hounds can help. I have a recipe for an apple cake that calls for 200g sugar, 2 eggs, 350g flour, 1.5 t of baking soda, .5 t cream of tartar, 450g apples, and .5 t salt. That's not all the ingredients, but you get the idea...

So I can't find cream of tartar. Do you know exactly what it's for? Is there some adjustment/substitution I could make?

I'd be grateful for your insight!

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  1. cream of tartar is used in baking to stabalize egg whites so they don't deflate as easily. I found this on http://www.ochef.com/933.htm

    "If you are beating eggs whites and don't have cream of tartar, you can substitute white vinegar (in the same ratio as cream of tartar, generally 1/8 teaspoon per egg white). It is a little more problematic to find a substitute for cream of tartar in baking projects. White vinegar or lemon juice, in the ratio of 3 times the amount of cream of tartar called for, will provide the right amount of acid for most recipes. But that amount of liquid may cause other problems in the recipe, and bakers have found that cakes made with vinegar or lemon juice have a coarser grain and are more prone to shrinking than those made with cream of tartar. "

    1. Previously I ran into the same situation although I was doing a meringue. If you're whipping eggs whites and don't have cream of tartar, you can substitute white vinegar (in the same ratio as cream of tartar, generally 1/8 teaspoon per egg white). I found that online somewhere and wrote it down so that's as good as I can do.

      1 Reply
      1. Cream of Tatar is tartaric acid. I'm surprised you can't find it in the spice rack at your supermarket.
        I notice you have listed it immediately after baking soda, so it may be intended to react with the soda to leaven the dish, rather than to help whip egg whites into a foam.
        Is it being added to the egg whites, or added to the dry ingredients along with the soda? If the latter, you could sub a bit of baking powder.

        1. If you're not whipping egg whites for this recipe, the baking soda and cream of tartar may act as leavening in your cake. Homemade baking powder recipes call for baking soda, cream of tartar and a little cornstarch.

          1 Reply
          1. re: raj1

            Yup, exactly. I'd probably sub some baking powder, and reduce the soda proportionately.

          2. I doubt that you're whipping egg whites in an apple cake. Liek others have said, baking soda needs to react to an acid in order to leaven the cake If you leave out the cream of tartar the cake will not rise and will be very heavy and dense and probably not very good.

            You need to either add an acid or use baking powder, which is baking soda with a dry acid added.

            1. Thanks for the responses. The recipe does not call for whipped egg whites--sorry, I should have specified that. I thought that cream of tartar would be easy to find in my supermarket, but so far I've had no luck (I'm in the UK if that has anything to do with it). I'll check one other shop today, and if that doesn't pan out I'll go with the baking powder option.

              1. Being in the UK shouldn't have anything to do with it - my tub is a supercooks product found with baking powder/ground arrowroot/bicarb in the baking section of my Sainsburys. But then my Sainsburys is enormous...

                4 Replies
                1. re: ali patts

                  Yeah, I just have one of those little local Sainsburys. Getting out of town to a larger one is a bit of a trek without a car!

                  1. re: Kagey

                    Sounds like you're based in town. Have you tried Selfridges food hall? They sometimes have slightly more obscure foodstuffs. Failing that I'm off to my Sainsbury's on Saturday, where are you based!?! You could always try a good cake shop in case they'll give/sell you some, I go to a nice bakery for my fresh yeast. Or maybe a Holland and Barrett - they might have some - it's the sort of thing that stands a chance. If you let me know whereabouts in town you are I will put on my thinking cap in case there is somewhere else I can suggest!

                    1. re: ali patts

                      Ha! No, unfortunately, I'm in Surrey...But it's ok; I've got tomorrow afternoon off, and it's not too far on the train to a Waitrose. That should take care of it!

                  2. re: ali patts

                    Cool. The home-brew baking powder 'recipes' I found online are:
                    2 parts cream of tartar
                    1 part baking soda
                    1 part corn starch (optional)

                    So for 0.5 tsp cream of tartar, you'd use 1.0 tsp baking powder and reduce the soda by 0.25 tsp. Should work out just fine. Let us know.

                  3. Baking soda / bicarbonate of soda is an alakali which releases the gas which raises your doughs when it reacts with an acid. Baking _powder_ contains both ingredients, but for keeping in damp circs. and various other particular reasons a number of cooks/recipes use bcarb. and cream of tartar/tartatic acid as separate ingredients.

                    In principle it is available at Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose ... but availability might depend on the particular store. Ocade will deliver it if you want to make a statement having a big truck pull up at your door to delver one £1.40 item!