Has your baking ever come out of the oven a weird greenish purple colour? Or has it ever had a strange metallic taste? Then read on! This super-easy formula for aluminium-free homemade baking powder works just as well as the store-bought version. However, it gives you the peace of mind both when it comes to the appearance and taste of your baking, and to your health.
This post is the first in what will eventually become a compilation of “top secret” (but not really) tips and tricks that will make your life (at least when it comes to cooking and baking) so much easier. All posts in this series can be found here (or under the “How To’s” category in the recipe index).
Let me tell you a little story (or you can just skip to the bottom of the post to read the important bit, the aluminium free homemade baking powder formula – but the middle part is informative, and well… you can amuse yourself with a baking failure story).
It all started with a craving for cupcakes. Not just any old cupcakes, though. Raspberry cupcakes. Specifically, cupcakes with the (strained and deseeded, for nobody likes suspiciously crunchy cupcakes or a chipped tooth) raspberry puree mixed into the batter. Because, honestly, simply mixing the whole raspberries into the cupcakes is so predictable, done-before, and way too likely to succeed. Why not complicate things? Makes it so much more interesting.
So the raspberries were pureed and strained (twice, because in the last stages of the first straining, of course a blob of seeds has to fall into the previously nice and seedless puree), cupcake batter was prepared (by the throw-it-all-together-and-mix method) and the two were combined. There were a few bubbles because the bicarbonate of soda reacted with the slightly acidic raspberries (Magic! Oh, no, wait… Chemistry!), but the batter was a lovely bright pink colour and the taste was a-h-mazing.
“But… wait!” You might exclaim at this point.
“Where are the pictures of these glorious pink fluffy delicious cupcakes?”
There are none. Because what came out of the oven was nowhere near ‘glorious pink fluffy delicious cupcakes’. Instead, it was a weird purple cupcake monster with scary green streaks. I would have taken pictures, but at that point I was a tad busy throwing a temper tantrum and giving up on blogging, baking and myself. At least the taste was OK-ish, but with an odd metallic-y tang.
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Has this ever happened to you? Yes? And you’ve felt like a complete baking failure afterwards, and have sworn to never pick up a whisk or spatula ever again? Well, I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t your baking skills (they are fabulous, I’m sure) that lead to that slight… hiccup… it was *drumroll* the baking powder.
Yes, I’m talking about that innocuous looking white powder (mind away from illegal activities, please) you buy at your local grocery store. More specifically, it’s the ALUMINIUM that’s to blame. Because most baking powder brands contain aluminium, without it being listed in the ingredients list – unless the baking powder is explicitly described as “aluminium free” (and that sort is difficult, if not impossible, to come by, depending on where you live).
And let me tell you, this culprit wasn’t easy to uncover. Google came to rescue, but for whatever reason, the information was difficult to find. The end conclusion was that the acids in the raspberry puree have reacted with the aluminium in the baking powder, resulting both in the
awful lovely colour, and the metallic taste.
Of course, there’s been a huge uproar in the media lately over the potential harmful effects that aluminium has on our health, be it in deodorants, baking powder, or the everyday aluminium foil. There are correlations between the aluminium we come in contact with in our daily lives and a slew of health problems, the most notable one being Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, I won’t preach. Everyone has the right to make up their own minds, and there are few things I dislike more than pushing your own ideas (or ideologies) onto other people. However, I believe in the saying “better safe than sorry”, and making your own ALUMINIUM-FREE homemade baking powder at home is so simple and quick, I cannot think of any reason you wouldn’t want to do so. And, you’ll avoid creating any purple-green cupcake monsters along the way. It’s a win-win situation, really.
The formula is simple:
3 tbsp homemade baking powder = 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda + 2 tbsp cream of tartar
Mix the two ingredients together, and keep the homemade baking powder in a closed container in a cool dry place. In terms of activity, you can use this homemade baking powder in any recipe in the quantity listed in the recipe – it’s just as effective at making your bakes nice and fluffy as the store-bought one. In fact, because it doesn’t have any starch mixed in, it might be even more effective, although the difference is quite tiny.
Use it up within a week (to avoid the powder soaking up too much moisture, which partially deactivates it) – I fully support any decision to treat this tenuous “expiration date” as an excuse to make more yummy treats. Raspberry cupcakes, anyone?
P.S. Further recommended reading:
- This article in Montreal Gazette for a more in-depth look into the history and composition of baking powder,
- David Lebovitz’s Why You Should Use Aluminium-Free Baking Powder,
- The Great Baking Soda Anti-Hoax on Crunchy Betty
This homemade baking powder has been used in all of my recipes to date, and just look how well it worked…
… in the Coconut Orange Mini Cakes…
… and in the Chocolate Pecan Dairy and Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies!