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Molasses in Baking

rockycat Jul 20, 2011 01:50 PM

I know that using molasses in baked goods requires the addition of baking soda to the recipe, generally in the ratio of 1/2 tsp. baking soda per 1 c. of molasses. If I am taking out the molasses and substituting another liquid sweetener I know I should remove the baking soda. Do I have to add any additional baking powder to compensate for the loss of the soda? The recipe already has some baking powder but I'm uncertain if I'll need to add more.

  1. chowser Jul 20, 2011 06:35 PM

    As paulj said, it's the reverse--if you have baking soda, you need an acid like molasses but you can use molasses w/out baking soda. If you use other liquid sweeteners, you need to have an acid to react w/ the baking soda; and/or use baking powder. If you post the recipe, it'll be easier to tell you how much.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chowser
      rockycat Jul 21, 2011 06:46 AM

      This is all very helpful knowlege. Chemistry is not my strongest suit.
      I'm working out a recipe now so I don't have anything specific to post. What I'm doing is a rolled spice cookie. I'm pulling out the molasses and substituting with corn syrup because I do not want a typical "gingerbread" flavor and I'm staying with corn syrup so that I don't have to adjust the total amount of liquid. The original recipe that I'm adapting calls for

      3 c. flour
      1 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. baking soda
      assorted spices
      3/4 c. sugar
      1/2 c. butter
      1 c. molasses
      1 egg

      I'm not too sure about the egg, either, but that's another matter.
      A different recipe I was looking at called for corn syrup and baking soda, but no baking powder. I'm finding this all more confusing than it needs to be. Kids, pay attention in science class!

      1. re: rockycat
        paulj Jul 21, 2011 07:53 AM

        When I wrote '1 tsp bp per cup flour', that was with cakes, quickbreads and biscuits in mind. Cookies don't usually use as much baking powder, because we don't expect them to rise much. Aren't there cookie recipes without either baking powder or soda?

        All the liquid sugars may be somewhat acidic.
        I've made Anzac biscuits that only use a table spoon of Golden Syrup (invert sugar). I recall the syrup, butter and hot water mixture foams when mixed.

        The browning effect of baking soda might be more important in a cookie recipe than the leavening effect.

        1. re: paulj
          rockycat Jul 21, 2011 08:28 AM

          Interestingly, the pH of corn syrup is actually slightly lower (more acidic) than the pH of molasses, about 5.2 vs. 5.5. I wouldn't have expected that. I'm thinking at this point, that I may just hold my breath, cross my fingers, and go by trial and error. The worst that can happen is I end up with a few dozen less than stellar cookies.
          Thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

        2. re: rockycat
          chowser Jul 21, 2011 08:32 AM

          I think it would work if you just substituted the corn syrup for molasses since it has baking powder anyway. And, the baking soda is, as paulj said, probably more for coloring (and your cookie will be more like a sugar cookie in color because of the molasses change). Is there a reason you want one w/ corn syrup? If I were making a rolled spice cookie w/out molasses, I'd do something like a sugar cookie and add the spices you want. You can also use brown sugar for molasses. This might be helpful:


      2. paulj Jul 20, 2011 05:12 PM

        Does the molasses require the addition of baking soda? An alternative way to think of it is, the molasses can work with baking soda to produce leavening, but the baking soda is not actually required. Baking soda can serve other functions - neutralizing excessive acidity, or improving the browning (that's second hand knowledge from an ATK episode).

        Anyways a useful rule of thumb is 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour.

        What are you baking? What other sweetener?

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