Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 3, 2007 12:31 PM

Cake recipe with baking soda

I recently made a chocolate cake by the Cake Bible with Rose Levy Barabaum. This recipe's levening agent was just eggs and baking soda, no baking powder.

I know I followed the directions correctly, I am not a amature baker. The result was less than desireable in my opinion. Fresh out of the oven the cake was okay, but as soon as it cooled the next day, it was so dense and on the dry side.

Then I sort of recalled in the past when I baked with only baking soda, I got simliar results, flatter than baking powder cakes.

Is it something I'm doing? Or is that just the MO of a baking soda levened cake?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Don't know about that particular cake, but baking soda is used when you have acid present, like buttermilk. Dense and dry is not inevitable with baking soda.

    1. Which recipe? I have that cookbook and am wondering if I've made it. I've not had any disappointments from her recipes, but perhaps I haven't made the one you mention.

      1. Baking powder is baking soda plus a dry acid. Like pitu said, you use baking soda alone when there is another acid already present in the recipe. Like chocolate.

        Chocolate is naturally acidic, so you often see chocolate cakes use only baking soda.

        Dutch or dutched chocolate has alkali added to reduce the natural acid and gove it a more neutral pH.

        Any chance you used dutch-processed chocolate?

        1 Reply
        1. re: C. Hamster

          No, I used regular grocery bought chocolate, Nestle. I believe they are way too cheap to be dutch-processed :)

        2. The only chocolate cakes I've made with baking soda normally have vinegar, sour milk or buttermilk in them. Doublecheck the date on your baking soda too - it does get less effective in time.

          What type of flour are you using? The times I've had dry cakes has been when I've used a bit too much, and/or was short on the liquid ingredient, or overbaked them. Have you tested your oven temperature recently?

          It could just be the recipe - maybe they erred on an ingredient. My go-to chocolate cake recipe takes buttermilk, baking soda, oil, eggs, flour, cocoa, salt and water - and it is uniformly springy and moist (no matter if Dutch-processed cocoa was used). Just find another recipe and ditch this one - not all recipes work. In the meantime, whipped cream, ice cream and/or berries will make the cake more palatable!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Seldomsated

            This recipe had no other sour component, just chocolate. I used cake flour, shifted and then measured.

            The cake I made (picture in the original post) turned out okay since I covered it with ganach and strawberry filling. But to me, I felt it was lacking. I shall not be using that recipe again.

          2. There's an egg-less Crazy Cake that has been around for years. It uses baking soda and vinegar for the levening. The step that stands out is how the liquid ingredients are added 'Make 3 depressions in the dry ingredients. Pour the oil into one, the vinegar into one and the vanilla extract into one.'