The Low Carb Luxury Newsletter: 
Volume III / Number 10: May 24, 2002: Page 7
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      Answering Mail
Baking Soda in Waffles?

Dear Lora,

I've been trying to come up with some favorite waffle recipes like I used to make in my high carb days. After some less than perfect results, I remembered something about baking powder not performing well in waffle makers. Is this true? And if so, why? I want a waffle with substance!


Waffles Dear Margo,

Baking powder is made from two major elements: an acid (such as cream of tartar) and baking soda. A batter made with regular milk, for example, instead of with an acidic ingredient such as yogurt or buttermilk, will not rise without the help of the acid in baking powder.

Baking powder is used in place of baking soda when there is no natural acidity in the batter. When baking soda comes in contact with a moist, acidic environment, carbon dioxide gas is produced, which in turn provides “rise.” This chemical reaction is quite pronounced in a buttermilk batter—buttermilk contains lactic acid, which reacts strongly with the soda, generating a thick, spongy batter in seconds.

The reaction between regular milk and baking powder isn’t as strong, so the batter remains thin. This is partially because most baking powder is "double acting"... that is, it produces a rise once at room temperature, when added to the batter, and once in the oven, when the temperature climbs above 120°F. Baking powder is designed to create gas slowly, so that a cake, for example, will have plenty of time to rise in the oven before the bubbles dissipate and the cake sets.

Most of the rise with baking powder occurs at oven temperature. Since waffles are cooked so quickly, baking powder is not ideally suited to this type of batter; the amount of "room-temperature" acid it can provide is insufficient. With waffles you want a lot of room-temperature reaction, and therefore it's best, when using regular milk (or other more low carb liquids) instead of buttermilk, to make your own recipe for baking powder, using cream of tartar (which works at room temperature) and baking soda.


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