by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
|Richer Tasting Cakes
To make any box cake taste like it was from a bakery, follow directions, but do the following: add 1 more egg (or 2 for an even richer taste), replace oil with melted butter and double the amount, and replace water with an equal amount of milk.
Flaky Pie Crusts
The secret to a flaky pie crust is to add the water a little at a time. Add about 1 tbsp at first, and then 1 tablespoon at a time.
Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and Self-Rising Flour Explained
Flour is a basic ingredient in baking. But flour alone does not make the food rise. That requires a leavening agent—most commonly yeast or baking soda. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient, the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to expand or rise. This is the leavening process.
If the recipe includes an acidic ingredient—buttermilk, lemon juice, for example—then baking soda can be used on its own. If there are no acidic ingredients, then one must be supplied or the food will come out flat. That's where baking powder comes in. Baking powder combines baking soda with an acidic agent such as cream of tartar, a drying agent such as a starch, and some salt. Its mixed with the flour in your recipe, but the problem can be one of unevenness. If the baking powder is not mixed throughly, then one part of the baked good may rise and another may not.
To take out the guesswork, along came self-rising flour. Invented in England in the 1800s as a way for sailors to create better baked goods while on board, it's kind of a cheat product, but ensures perfect baked goods every time. In 1849, it was patented in the United States, which eventually led to the creation of mass-market baking mixes like Jiffy, Bisquick, and those Betty Crocker cake mixes that we all know and love.
But self-rising flour is not the be all, end all. Don't substitute self-rising flour in your recipes without paying close attention to the rest of the recipe. As a general rule, you probably don't want to use self-rising flour if there is another leavening agent called for the in the recipe, such as yeast or baking soda.
If you spill cooking oil on the floor, immediately pour salt over the spill. In a matter of minutes, you'll be able to sweep away the salt and oil with no stain. Works well for eggs too.
For normal cleanup, mix 1 tbsp borax, 1 tbsp baking soda, and 1/2 gal warm water together for a nice kitchen cleanser.
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