[Sca-cooks] chemical leavening

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Wed Feb 25 15:47:23 PST 2009

On Feb 25, 2009, at 6:30 PM, Terry Decker wrote:

> As I recall, ammonium carbonate as a leaven definitely turns up in  
> the 18th Century along with a number of other chemical leavens.   
> There are some 16th and 17th Century German references to hartshorn,  
> some of which are definitely deer antler and some which might be  
> either.

The BASF site gives a date of something like 1823 for heavy  
experimentation into chemical leavening; it could have taken place  
earlier, or it could be someone interpreting "some time around 1800",  
or some similar phrase, somewhat loosely.

What has me a little concerned is that although I keep seeing  
references to chemical leavening in 17th century Germany and  
Scandinavia, it's like I'm seeing references to the references, "we  
all know that" such-and-such is the case, etc. We do know that  
chemical leavenings appear in recipes for some baked goods that are  
very old indeed, but it's not always clear that the recipes are all  
that old. While I'd love to be more edumacated on this subject, at the  
moment it does seem conceivable that we might be looking at a slightly  
more benign version of the Big Lie political tactic, an untruth which,  
if repeated often enough, becomes widely accepted as the truth.

Can anybody cite some specific, clear, primary or near-primary source  
reference to hartshorn as a leavening? It would presumably have to be  
the ammonia salt, and not simply the ground-up horn, which, as I  
recall, does appear in jelly/leach recipes as a gelling agent, like  
pig's feet, cow hooves, isinglass, etc.

The fact that we've been talking about this here on SCA-Cooks for a  
billion years (give or take) doesn't count as a primary source ;-).


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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