With the long cold days of winter before us, one way of passing
the time is to do some baking. Through the years of my training
as a Chef, I have seen many different recipes calling for
baking soda, baking powder and yeast all for the purpose of
Often recipes call for "Double-action" baking powder. What
is Double-action baking powder and how is it different than
regular baking powder? Baking powder is only one way of leavening
baked goods. Other agents used are baking soda and yeast.
Baking soda acts as a leavening agent when mixed with an acid
such as sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk or citrus juice.
Baking soda is mainly used in cakes that contain cocoa powder
There are three basic types of baking powder. Double-action,
which releases 1/3 of the carbon dioxide when it becomes wet
and at room temperature and the rest during baking when exposed
to the oven's heat. Tartrate baking powder reacts quicker,
as soon as the liquid is added. Phosphate baking powder is
slower and only heat releases its gases. The phosphate baking
powder is very hard to find and usually not an item most stores
stock on their shelf because of the popularity of the double-action
powder. Baking powder is perishable and should be kept in
a cool and dry cabinet in an airtight container.
Yeast is a tiny living single-cell organism that thrives on
sweetness, warmth, and moisture. Yeast releases gases that
makes bread dough rise, lightening the bread. Yeast not only
makes dough rise, it also works on the gluten in the flour
to give it flavor and texture. The process of converting the
sugar in the food that feeds the yeast is commonly called
fermentation. This process converts the sugar into alcohol
and carbon dioxide. This process is not only used in the making
of bread, it is the very process used by winemakers and brew
masters in the making of wine and beer. The key to using yeast
is temperature control. Compressed, fresh yeast should be
dissolved in 100 degrees F to 105 degrees F in milk or water.
Dry yeast should be dissolved in 110 degrees F to 115 degrees
F milk or water. When using the newer types of instant yeasts,
follow closely the manufacture's directions.
Commercially available yeasts and baking powders were not
so readily available during the 19th Century. Most bakers
used a "yeast starter" for the leavener used in bread making.
These starters were a simple mixture of flour, water, sugar
and airborne yeast. The batter was set aside in a warm location
and allowed to ferment creating a natural leavening batter.
Today we receive "starters" from our friends and often Holiday
season is usually the time we share these starters with friends,
hence the term "friendship bread" was born. A simple sweet
bread made from a homemade starter shared with a friend. Here
is an easy recipe to make your own simple starter and the
recipe for the wonderful bread we call "friendship bread"
Starting A Starter
2 C flour, all purpose
1 tsp salt
1 envelop dry yeast
2 C water, very warm from tap, not hot
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in
the water and mix until very smooth like a batter. Cover with
a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm draft free area
of the kitchen for 2 to 3 days. Stir twice daily during souring
process. Store in a plastic food bag; burp as needed to remove
gases. Starter may be used with almost cake recipes that call
for a starter.
Friendship Starter Bread
Begin with a bread starter and follow the daily instructions:
Day 1 receive starter bag
Day 2 massage starter bag
Day 3 massage starter bag
Day 4 massage starter bag
Day 5 add 1 Cup of each: sugar, flour, milk
"Do not refrigerate"
Day 6, 7, 8 and 9-massage starter bag
Day 10 add 1 cup each: sugar, "self rising" flour,
Remove 3 separate cups of batter and place each one in a large
food bag; give to 3 friends.
You will now have one remaining starter. Add to this the following:
2C self-rising flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 small boxes of vanilla pudding
½ C milk
Stir well by hand. Add the following: 1 C chopped pecans,
1 C golden raisins, 1 C dried cherries or cranberries. Preheat
oven to 350 degrees. Bake in a well-greased pan. Dust pan
with sugar and cinnamon before pouring batter into pan. Bake
45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10
minutes. Turn upside down and remove from pan onto cooling
rack and cool.
Written By: John E. Clark CEC- Chef Johnny to his friends