Introduction: Make Baking Powder

Picture of Make Baking Powder

That mysterious little ingredient hiding in your pantry, taken out occasionally to help the other, more important, ingredients make a cake. What are you, oh baking powder? You mysterious white powder in a strange container! What are you capable of doing? Why do trustworthy recipes call out for you by name? I mean sure, no one really knows what baking soda is either, but at least it has a bulging arm emblem that immediately recalls strength, and assumingly, a purpose of some sort. But baking powder? No such rapport.

Maybe you already knew that both baking soda and baking powder are used as "levelers" in baked goods which help the dough rise and create a fluffy-ish texture. This is caused by a chemical reaction achieved when moisture is added to the baking powder releasing carbon dioxide, which gets trapped inside tiny air pockets in the dough. (Think sponge cake)

But did you know that you could MAKE baking powder? YUP! And here's another little secret: its made out of baking soda!

Whoa, sit back down. I know its shocking, but just click on, and you'll see the lies unfurl. Baking powder, you have some explaining to do!

Step 1: The Ingredients

Picture of The Ingredients

Two, sometimes three, ingredients are used to make Baking Powder:

1 part Baking Soda
2 parts Cream of Tartar
(optional) 1 part Corn Starch

Mix it all together in a lie of webs or bowl, if you prefer. Shake it up to make sure it all gets mixed

Step 2: Bake Some Cookies

Picture of Bake Some Cookies

The bitter taste of truth may not sit well in your mouth, so bake a batch of cookies with your new surplus of baking powder.

Step 3: Storage

Picture of Storage

Here's another secret: baking powder, whether home-brewed or store bought (hmph. <--contains aluminum, btw. Ever bitten into a tin-tasting muffin? The aluminum additive is where that tin flavor comes from!) can go "bad."

You'll add weeks to the life of your baking powder if you store it, tightly covered, in a cool place. Some experts say its best to store it in the fridge, whereas others say dry pantry is the best bet.

Step 4: Testing

Picture of Testing

You can test to see if you're baking powder is still potent and fresh by pouring 1/3 cup of boiling water on 1/2 cup of baking powder. It should bubble like crazy if it still has its groove. If the water doesn't move, your baking powder isn't...well, capable of doing the things you previously never knew it could.



ScottS28 (author)2015-06-26

Baking powder is designed to bubble when combined with certain fluids. A double action baking powder consists of a low-temperature acid salt and a high-temperature acid salt. A common low-temperature acid salt is cream of tartar. Almost all high-temperature acid salts are aluminum based, such as SODIUM ALUMINUM SULFATE (which does not, in fact, impart a tin taste). A double-action baking powder, as opposed to a single-action baking powder, will foam up twice. The first time it foams up is when introduced to certain fluids and the second time is when those fluids are heated. Unless you're a very fast baker, your initial foam from this single-action baking powder will die down and your results will be dense.

JeremyA2 (author)ScottS282016-08-28

Do you happen to know the ratio of baking soda to cream of tartar to alum needed to make "double acting"? I have all three ingredients in my cupboard but I can't find the ratio anywhere.

Wai Linn Naing (author)2015-06-15

I want to make double action baking powder.How can I do that ?

bakefreek (author)2015-03-31

I may just be twelve but I can bake a mean cake and my mom ran out of baking powder so I came here for help and my cakes are better than ever

bakefreek (author)2015-03-31

Housedog (author)2014-01-23

I was wondering about this 2 days ago after watching a show on the collapse of society. I wondered where I would find things like this after there are no more grocery stores!

The obvious next question is: What about baking soda? Where does it come from?

Btw, thanks!

chaydgb (author)Housedog2014-01-26

You may find it labeled as Bicarbonate of Soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate.

wesouthwardjr32 (author)chaydgb2014-01-26

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate can be found in nature because in its natural form, baking soda is known as nahcolite, which is part of the natural mineral natron. However it can be made chemically by heating calcium carbonate
so it releases CO2....the CO2 vapors are bubbled through an aqueous
solution (meaning dissolved in water) of ammonia and sodium chloride
(table salt..dissolved in water)....Sodium bicarbonate will precipitate
(come out of solution). However I don't recommend doing this at home seeing as how you need to know the proper proportions, temperature, and have the proper apperatus to perform this process.

Housedog (author)wesouthwardjr322014-01-26

Thank you. Maybe I should have asked a different way...

If society collapses, and as is predicted, grocery stores are cleaned out in the first week, where could i find and gather some baking soda?

I have to assume that should society collapse, I won't have access to a lab.

$#%! (author)Housedog2014-01-27

The powder in regular fire extinguishers is Sodium bicarbonate.

MyMenagerie (author)$#%!2014-01-28

YUCK! No desire to eat it from there!

shensher (author)Housedog2014-01-27

I think your only good option for leavening would be sourdough culture. Yeast too maybe, but I'm not sure how easy it is to safely produce a clean yeast culture.

Housedog (author)shensher2014-01-27

Actually its pretty easy! Several years ago I captured wild yeast for a sourdough starter. I'm pretty sure I learned that here, as usual!

It's seems unlikely that you will just happen to catch something good, and not something horrible, but that was my result. Life, and our world is mysterious!

wesouthwardjr32 (author)Housedog2014-01-27

Actually it's depending upon your area. Every where will have it's own unique form of bacteria that go with the wild yeast called lacto bacillus. For instance lacto bacillus san francisco is only found in the San Fransisco bay area. That's why that sour dough has a unique taste all it's own. If your expecting the sour dough starter you make any where else to taste like that well then you will be severely disappointed.

chaydgb (author)Housedog2014-01-26

Not sure, although the alternative would be to use yeast as a producer of CO2 if you needed it for baking (plus it can also be used for brewing beer). Probably easier to isolate and culture yeast than to make Bicarb. (The Egyptians did it thousands of years ago, so I've read)

wesouthwardjr32 (author)2014-01-27

Quite easy actually as long as you use a sanitized container all you need to do is a i part flour to a 2 parts water. Then all you have to do is keep feeding it flour and water once to twice a day for about 4-6 days and that's about it. Keep it in a warm place as long as you feed it. Once you have a good colony going put it in the fridge for future use. Just remember if your going to make bread that you pull it out either the night before (if your making it in the morning) or in the morning (if your making it for supper) and feed it some more water and flour. That's it (you will need to use about 3-4 times the amount of sourdough starter compared to packaged yeast keep the fact there is water in the starter when making the bread) It's not to hard or lab intensive you just can't forget to feed it during the start and after wards before each use.

Raycaster (author)2014-01-27

Small pedantic correction... It's a levener. Levelers are the little feet under your washer so that you can level it.

You'll also find these directions on the inside cover of just about any cookbook (or where ever they have the substitutions section). The cornstarch is just to act as an anti-caking additive. If you're not storing the baking powder, the corn starch is really not necessary. As far as substitution goes, it is 1 to 1 with no corn starch. With the corn starch I'd add ⅓ of a teaspoon for every teaspoon (do the math).

Baking powder is an acid-base mixture in dry form. When water is added you get CO₂, a salt (not necessarily NaCl), and water. As such, your baking powder can lose its effectiveness over time as it reacts with moisture in the air. So if you do not bake more than one a year, you might just make up what you need when you need it.

Rumsford Baking Powder is aluminum free so you won't get that aluminum taste. It also never cakes like other baking powder (the real reason I buy it).

Schober (author)2014-01-27

It's always fun coming across an instructable with character, some of these things can read like a technical manual. While that's not always a bad thing we need 'iblers like you to bring some color to the site every now and again.

I always knew baking powder was an acid/base mixture thus why it reacts in water but I'd never have guessed it was that simple. Cool 'ible.

klincecum (author)2014-01-27

Leaveners ... :)

roof rack (author)2014-01-26

I've found that a ratio of 4 parts baking soda to 5 parts cream-of-tarter is more suitable for baking. I've also found that this leavener works best when all ingredients are cooled below room temperature. Since cold fats such as butter do not "cream" nicely with sugar I use the store bought double-acting variety when preparing doughs which require this step.

dropkick (author)2014-01-26

I don't know when I'll ever do this, but it's a very neat thing to know.

Thank you!

nd'souza (author)2014-01-26

Economically, how does it all add up? Is it cheaper to buy baking powder or to make it at home?

tankaer (author)2014-01-26

Good instructible. I almost always prefer to DIY it but if you are worried about aluminum (you shouldn't be) there is none in your recipe and there are double acting aluminum free baking powders available at the grocery store. I think we use Arrow brand.

snoopindaweb (author)2014-01-26

Greetings All, I was raised "pun" and still use the 20 Mule team product.

anjin12 (author)2014-01-26

I'm sure you meant 1/2 tsp of power for testing ... not a 1/2 cup ... you might run out quickly (grin).

lassensurf (author)2014-01-26

It's pronounced "levioSAH, not leviOsah" -Hermione Granger

BARKing (author)2014-01-22

Any idea how cream of tartar is made? I know it is made from wine diamonds (acid crystals left behind in the wine making process) but not the process.

nerd1701 (author)BARKing2014-01-23

Potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar) crystallizes in wine casks during the fermentation of grape juice, and can precipitate out of wine in bottles. it is then basically collected and purified to remove debris from yeast and the such. They then package it in small convenient jars where you can then use it for all the awesomeness in the kitchen

wesouthwardjr32 (author)nerd17012014-01-26

it's not a bitartrate its potassium hydrogen trartarte.

they are different names for the same chemical formula/compound

BARKing (author)nerd17012014-01-23

I have lots of wine diamonds ( Potassium bitartrate ) but I am not sure how they go about processing it, There is a huge variety in crystal formations and colours.

wesouthwardjr32 (author)BARKing2014-01-26

It's simply crushed into a really fine powder. That is all.

nerd1701 (author)BARKing2014-01-25

all i could find on the internet was this...

Cream of Tartar is the byproduct of the wine industry. When tartaric acid is partially neutralized with potassiumhydroxide, potassium bitartrate salt or Cream of Tartar is formed.

Potassium bitartrate crystallizes on the walls of the wine barrels. The crude form also known as beeswing are scrapped off from the walls of the barrels. The scrapped wet tartrate is then dried open and later allowed to be baked in a hot blazing furnace at very high temperatures(800-900 degree Celsius) . After the completion of heating process, the hardened sediments are then dissolved in very hot water or an industrial solvent and crystallized out to purify the tartaric acid it is then ground to obtain a white powder. One portion of the powder is mixed with sulphuric acid whereas the other half is mixed with carbonate soda. Both the mixtures are blended together and this process produces the colorless powder of Cream of Tartar. Carbon block is used to remove odor of wine from the Cream of Tartar.

looks pretty hard to do at home:(

wesouthwardjr32 (author)BARKing2014-01-26

I am sorry to tell you but it is cream of tartar, more technically known as potassium hydrogen tartrate,
is a fine white powder with many culinary applications. It is a
byproduct of the winemaking process as the powder forms inside wine
barrels during fermentation. It comes from tartaric acid,
a naturally occurring substance in grapes and some other tart fruits
that in the principle acid in wine making. It helps to help control the
pH of fermenting grape juice (wine) and that also acts as a preservative
for the wine.

DeeRilee (author)2014-01-23

Does the aluminum come from the cream of tartar, or from the baking soda? And what role does the aluminum play in baking?

OMG, I detest that metallic taste! =P

HomeCSP (author)DeeRilee2014-01-26

Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, aka Alum, is the normal dreaded source of Aluminum in baking soda. It provides a high temp acid reaction for "double" acting baking powder. The Cream of Tartar reacts at low temp with moisture. It is very hard to find commercial baked goods w/o Aluminum in their baking powder.

DeeRilee (author)HomeCSP2014-01-26

I prefer Bakewell Cream over baking powder, never noticed that metallic taste when using it. Just looked at the can I had in the cupboard, and there is no alum listed in the ingredients, but it does list 'acid sodium pyrophosphate'.

Also, I looked at a box of baking soda, and alum (or sodium aluminum sulfate) wasn't listed on it.

ardrhi (author)2014-01-26

The word is LEAVENERS, not LEVELERS. As in "unleavened bread", which is what matzohs are.

pecunium (author)2014-01-26

This is a "single acting" baking powder. The reason is it doesn't have the sodium aluminum sulfate (ie. alum), which releases it's acidic aspects to the base (baking soda) only when heated. If you don't have a secondary, heat generated, acid/base reaction you have to get your baked goods into the (preheated) oven much more quickly, since they have to set before the reaction stops/the gas leaves the food matrix.

It's not, "aluminum" in the sense of being the metallic form, and more than table salt is sodium (i.e. it won't burst into flame when you get it wet).

To store your baking powder (no matter single, or double, acting) the important thing is to keep it from getting damp, as that will cause some of the acid/base reaction to take place. Which means the fridges isn't a great place for it, as the temperature shifts (esp. in a humid area) will encourage degradation of the reactive properties.

P. Lipka (author)2014-01-26

My Late grandma taught me how to make cake flour as well. Combo of using corn starch, baking flour and a bit of elbow grease for sifting them back and forth a few times together. Works well and I never fun out of cake flour!

wesouthwardjr32 (author)2014-01-26

[IMPORTANT READ THIS COMMENT] First off this is going to be a little nit picky just a warning. First off it's Leaven-er not Leveler. Second on the topic of Aluminum oxide it's used to help provide a second burst of CO2. Yes Aluminum Oxide can make certain baked goods come out with a bitter taste. There are Backing Powders that aren't made with aluminum oxide. Finally aluminum oxide can't go bad it's a reaction with some of the ingredients that give it that bitter/metallic taste. What can go bad however is the rest of the Baking powder if it's not sealed and stored properly because moister can get to it and start setting it off a little at a time. Stored properly (and I have seen it) baking powder can last almost forever. Hell we have a can of the stuff from 1998 that's still good.

rayj0007 (author)2014-01-26

I think it is "leaveners" not "levelers". They leaven baked goods. Thought you might want to know.

zygomatic (author)2014-01-26

Cool past, is this double-acting baking powder?

dvoorheis (author)2014-01-26

Question about measuring, If a recipe calls for a tsp. of baking soda, is this a 1 for 1 replacement? or is there an adjustment necessary? How would adding the extra part of cornstarch affect this?

doodlecraft (author)2014-01-23

Wow, I love you for this! Thanks!

amalkhan (author)doodlecraft2014-01-23

Im feeling the love! =)

porcupinemamma (author)2014-01-23

I love that you shared your brilliance with us. I thought how cool it would be to have you demonstrate your wizardness at the local high school cooking class. You are always welcome in Penetanguishene Ontario Canada!!

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