[Sca-cooks] chemical leavening
t.d.decker at att.net
Thu Feb 26 05:48:24 PST 2009
> That was more or less my understanding, too. We seem to be sorta
> dancing around in circles and never actually getting to the point of
> proving the point one way or the other, but because we keep talking about
I did a little digging in the collection and turned up a rather gaudy
reprint of what is supposed to be an American cookbook from 1787. I haven't
chased down the manuscript history, so I'll accept the 1787 date with
caveats. It mentions soda in a bread recipe, which may or may not be a
leaven. It also mentions a new product, saleratus. Saleratus is sodium or
potassium bicarbonate used as a leaven.
>> Root suggests that actual hart's horn was used as a leaven in the 16th
>> Century and was replaced by ammonium carbonate. I'm not sure how to
>> produce an edible leavening gas from bone, so this statement is
>> questionable, until proven or disproven.
> OK, but if we're looking at the alkaloid properties of bone, why use
> horn? Does processed horn include the bone, or just the proteinaceous
> outer layer? -- I thought the latter. If the natural descendant of the
> process is ammonium carbonate, you'd need that nitrogen atom, right, and
> if it's coming from an animal, doesn't that suggest protein, collagen,
> keratin, that sort of thing?
> How do you get CO2 or another leavening gas directly from protein? I
> think the answer is you don't, that you have to turn it into ash and
> distill from that an ammonia salt.
The critical component of the ammonium carbonate is the CO3 molecule which
releases CO2 when broken down with a weak acid.
I did a quick search for the chemical composition of antler and came up with
this: http://www.deertracking.com/library/aug2002_antlers3.html . From
what I see there would be nothing that would react in the appropriate manner
in unmodified antler. Your suggestion about burning the bone makes a great
deal of sense. Burning the bone and leaching the ashes should produce a
form of potash, of which potassium hydroxide would be the most reactive
>> The Oxford Companion to Food, under baking powder. give a 1790 date for
>> the use of pearl ash as a leavening agent prior to the creation of
>> baking powder. No reference to hartshorn.
> I seem to recall the BASF essay pointing out that potash, pearl ash, and
> finally soda ash, were used early on (and 1790 sounds about right) in
> conjunction with sourdough, to increase aeration.
>> It is worth noting neither source provides a primary source for the
> Jeez, it's a couple of authenticity cops we are, aren't we? But for those
> who become exasperated when others natter on on listservs about primary
> sources, well, this is why ;-).
Authenticity cops, nah. Accuracy cops, maybe.
More information about the Sca-cooks