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Oct 19, 2012 08:42 AM

Baking soda or powder??

I'm trying to recreate an old family recipe for fruitcake........The cake contains 1/2 molasses, 2 cups of raw sugar & fruits etc. I know that it needs either baking soda or powder but I have no idea which to use & how much?? Any suggestions??

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  1. Try both and see which tastes better? :)

    But if not, it is probably safe to use baking powder, which is just baking soda plus an acid reactant.

    The usual substitution is to use somewhat more powder (2 to 3 times as much) than soda.

    1 Reply
    1. re: obstructionist

      I'd like to try the recipe & taste but it makes 4 loaves at a time. :)

    2. Try separating the dry ingredients into four parts and adding different mixtures to each. That being said I don't think a bit of sods affects the taste THAT much.

      If the batter has some sort of acid in it than use soda or a mixture, if it doesn't than use double acting powder; most recipes I follow use a bit of both.

      Fruit cakes are heavy and generally don't need that much anyways. I've looked at a couple and most use about 1/2tsp of powder or 1/4 tsp of soda per cup of flour.

      2 Replies
      1. re: silverd4

        A rule of thumb, for self-rising flour, cakes and quickbreads is 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour. But that's something where you expect more rise than in a fruitcake.

        While baking soda reacts with acid, such as the molasses, baking powder can also be used. Besides the leavening effect, baking soda does affect the pH, and via that the browning. Baking soda makes the batter more alkaline (less acid), and promotes browning. But with the fruit, sugar and molasses, browning probably isn't much of an issue.

        Fruitcakes were being made long before the invention of baking powder (or the industrial production of baking soda). So earlier ones could well have been denser than modern ones, unless they used suet to create some porosity (as in Christmas puddings).

        1. re: silverd4

          Even if the batter is acidic, it doesn't need to have baking soda. The converse is true, if there's baking soda, there needs to be an acid.

          As to how much, the amount of flour, as paulj pointed out, is more important than fruit. And, how much baking powder is used depends on how dense you want it. Some fruit cakes, like Caribbean ones, don't have any, others minimal. Some are more like quick breads and have both baking soda and baking powder.

        2. Alton Brown's excellent recipe uses some of each.