Good To Know: Is Baking Powder Bad For You?
Is baking powder bad for you? It is not really often that we wonder whether or not baking powder is bad for our health. Truth be told, it is one of those things that is primarily out of sight, so it is usually out of mind.
Only when such time comes that you have to do your own cooking and you see it in your list of ingredients that you remember it. News flash – very few recipes are free from baking powder.
Find out if baking powder is bad for you and what you can do about it.
What is a Baking Powder?
Baking powder, with the chemical name sodium bicarbonate is often used for baking pastries and dishes with creamy soups. It is a leavening product which creates the air spaces in your pastries and basically anything that uses flour.
That is correct. Basically anything that uses flour is highly likely to use baking powder. From baked pastries, to cakes and to other desserts, it will be too thick without baking powder to raise it. You notice those little spongy holes in your bread?
Without a baking powder, those little air pockets will not be created. Even your pancakes contain baking powder. Without a baking powder, your pancake will be flat and will look and feel like a pita bread.
Health Risks Associated with Baking Powder
Are there actual risks in using baking powder? Some studies have associated baking powder to Alzheimer’s disease though it is still unfounded for now, and there still isn’t enough evidence up to date that the use of baking contributes to Alzheimer’s.
However, baking powder is often made out of genetically modified organisms (GMO) so while it may not be proven to cause Alzheimer’s, there are a lot of other diseases that may result from using it.
Baking Powder Alternatives
If you have decided not to use baking powder in your own cooking, what you can do is use instant yeast instead.
Instant yeast will give you the same rising effect that you will get from a typical baking powder, except that while baking powder may have either a single or double rising effect, which will work during the mixing process or when it is already being exposed to heat, yeast requires time to take effect.
Depending on whether you are using an instant yeast or not, it can take from anywhere between 30 minutes to four hours to achieve the amount required for the recipe. It is highly recommended to use recipes that are specifically intended for yeast usage rather than baking powder so you will get a more accurate time frame.
Egg White Option:
The most natural way to provide texture and rising effect to your pastries is by using egg whites. It will require a lot of beating which is why most people didn’t like using this method before.
But nowadays, with the help of hand mixers and blenders, you can easily beat egg to airy consistency before adding to your pastry batch. Make sure that your egg whites are almost milky white in color before adding to your batch.
Also make sure that it is mixed in very well to make sure that it is distributed evenly. Using egg whites can make your recipe a lot healthier, but it does not have as much airiness and much texture as when you are using either baking powder or yeast.
Egg whites can affect the overall taste of your recipe and you will really have to be careful with the amount of eggs you use. You definitely do not want it to overwhelm the overall taste of your pastries.
Make your own Baking powder:
If you are having trouble achieving your desired results with either yeast or white eggs, you can also try making your own baking powder. The simple trick you should always remember about baking powder is that it is two parts cream of tartar and one-part baking soda.
Acidic recipes, which basically refers to any recipe that contains any acidic ingredients like citrus and vinegar, will only need a cream of tartar. You can forego the baking soda since the acidic quality of those ingredients will only counteract baking soda.
Storing your baking powder:
Since baking powder contains active ingredients, make sure you keep it away from moisture and light. While the box may indicate and expiration date, it does not usually apply anymore once the box has been opened.
You can just test your baking powder by getting a small amount and dropping some water into it. If it starts to frizz, or you see a bubbling reaction, then you can still use that set of baking powder.
Whether you have decided to buy a market baking powder, make one yourself, or substitute with white eggs or yeast, just know that to date, there are still no proven side effects to using baking powder, with even the association to Alzheimer’s still unfounded.
While they make awesome food, baking powders does not contain anything necessary to us health wise. But then again, they make food so awesome!