September 19, 2009

Recipe #3 Buttermilk Biscuits

This no frills biscuit recipe takes all of 10 minutes to prepare. For minimal effort you get a brunch-worthy basket of flaky, buttery biscuits perfect for slathering on more butter and blackberry jam.

The recipe calls for flour, salt, butter, buttermilk, and baking soda. I was curious why baking soda and not baking powder was used in this recipe, and in my research, I learned the following:

1. Baking powder and baking soda act as leavening agents to help dough rise
2. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate
3. Fast acting baking soda releases carbon dioxide gas when mixed with a liquid, slow acting baking soda releases carbon dioxide gas when heated, double acting baking soda (the kind most commonly found at the grocery store) reacts once when it's added to the wet ingredients, and again when it's heated
4. Baking soda is used when there is already an acidic ingredient in the recipe; in this case, the acid is buttermilk
5. Baking powder is actually baking soda + an acid salt (like cream of tarter) + cornstarch (to absorb moisture and prevent the first reaction from occurring)

To sum it all up, I could have used baking powder in this recipe, but it would have been redundant to add the acid salt to the already acidic buttermilk batter.

Man, I feel like Alton Brown!

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