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How much leeway - baking soda for leavening

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  • Enso Dec 31, 2012 04:39 AM
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I made a recipe for almond flour pumpkin and spice muffins/loaf. Contains almond flour, salt, baking soda, spices, roasted pumpkin, eggs, honey.

Turned out nice, but maybe a bit on the dry side.

It contains baking soda, I assume to provide some airiness, or "fluffiness". I want to adjust the recipe by adding more pumpkin, an add'l egg, and maybe some nuts or chocolate chips or something. Oh, and vanilla extract.

Q#1: can I add some coconut cream and get a moister result? If not that, what else?

Q#2: I'm not a big baker and am wondering if there's a rule of thumb on the range of baking soda to other (dry?) ingreds to achieve a good result.

I assume the result of too little baking soda is a flat/heavy product and too much is bad taste--is this correct?

Any of your favorite tips and tricks around this topic appreciated!

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  1. Is baking soda the only leavener or is it powder and soda? The rule of thumb is 1/4 teaspoon of soda per cup of flour, OR 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Baking soda reacts with acid, so frequently a combo of powder and soda is used. Too much baking soda will taste off, and way too much won't bake right.

    If it is dry, less flour or more oil would be a good place to start. The moisture of home-roasted pumpkin will vary, maybe yours was a little drier than the recipe testers. Pumpkin puree for baking is one of those things that I really think is not worth bothering to do at home. Canned pumpkin with no additives is easy and consistent every time.

    Coconut is not a flavor I would immediately think to add to pumpkin honey spice bread.

    1. I regularly bake a pumpkin bread that quite moist. My recipe is an adaptation of one from Joy of Cooking. For 1 loaf the proportions are:

      1 1/2 c of flour (I use half white whole wheat, and split the other half among other 'flours' including ground almonds and oat bran)
      1 c (half a can) of pumpkin puree, or equivalent of mashed cooked squash or sweet potato
      2 eggs
      1/2 c sugar
      molasses to taste
      oil (works ok if omitted)
      1 tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp baking soda (reacts with the acidity in the molasses and pumpkin)
      1/2 - 1 tsp salt
      spices
      raisins and chopped nuts to taste
      about 1/3 c water (or milk), maybe more if the batter seems too dry.

      My experience is that pumpkin puree in this proportion keeps it moist. With this amount of whole grains it is not a 'light' bread. I was trying to duplicate grocery bran muffins that included prune puree.

      Overbaking may also make it dry, though I've had that problem more with an oat ginger bread that does not include the puree.

      I'm not entirely sure what you mean by coconut cream. One thing that comes to mind is the more expensive version of canned coconut milk, one with more of the fat. I haven't used that in baking. Cream of coconut is a sickly sweet item used in pina colada.

      I have used frozen grated coconut in biscuits, where it added a nice touch of moistness.
      http://www.philamfood.com/MASAGANA-FR...

      1. Thanks for the comments.

        There's no baking powder, only b. soda and the other ingreds I listed.

        The "flour" is almond flour. I could use some coconut flour for part or all, and if so, would have to take into account the different properties of it. I don't eat wheat in any form, so traditional recipes don't really match with how almond or coconut flours work with the other ingreds.

        My pumpkin was actually a combo of kuri squash and sweet potatoes. They were baked and so a little on the dry side. I prefer this to canned pumpkin.

        There's already more fat in the flours I'm using so I was hesitating to add more. But that would be preferable to more sugar, which is another moistener, or so I've heard.

        Coconut cream is what the can reads. It's pretty high fat, extremely delicious, and a bit thicker than cow's cream.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Enso

          A basic point is that baking soda provides 'lift' only because it reacts with some acid in the batter, and produces CO2. Baking powder consists of baking soda plus one or more powdered acids, so it does the same once it gets wet. So it doesn't depend on the variable acidity of the other ingredients (the pumpkin).

          But using almond flour as the only 'flour' puts this cake in a different category. It's really a nut cake. The only thing along that line that I've made is a chocolate walnut cake. If my memory is correct, that was on the dry side, even though there was a lot of fat (from the chocolate). Nut flour doesn't provide the structure and binding qualities that wheat flour does.

          I've also made macarons, where the airiness is provided by beaten egg whites.

          Books or posters who specialize in gluten free baking might have more to say on this.

          1. re: Enso

            http://www.fannetasticfood.com/2012/1...
            looks a lot like my pumpkin bread, except is uses all almond.

            1. re: paulj

              Thanks for the link; interesting variation. I've found a few other recipes online. My technique is to compare what I think are key ratios in various ingreds and guesstimate what might get me what I'm looking for. But I'm not much of a baker, so it can be challenging.

              The "crumb" was a bit different from wheat flour baking, but a close enough approximation that it worked for us.

              I wouldn't have guessed that pumpkin/squash are acidic enough to create lift with just baking soda.

              But all the recipes I've found use only b'soda not b'powder.

              Are eggs, honey, and/or almonds on the acidic side, do you know?