Chemical Leavening

Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About
Chemical agents, such as baking soda and baking powder, cause a chemical reaction that produces gases during baking that will cause a dough to rise. Baking soda and baking powder both produce carbon dioxide, but they cannot be used interchangeably, as soda is four times stronger than powder and requires an acidic batter in which to work its magic. Used to make quick breads, muffins, biscuits, crackers, cakes, and cookies, chemical agents produce carbon dioxide when they react with added acids, liquids, and heat. This reaction gives the baked product a light, airy, tightly grained network. When using chemical leaveners, great care must be taken not to overdevelop the gluten in a mixture. Overworking will not only affect the ability of the dough to rise, but will also toughen the finished product and result in uneven or flat tops and tunnels in quick breads or muffins.