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    baking powder

    Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods. It is used instead of yeast for end-products where fermentation flavors would be undesirable or where the batter lacks the elastic structure to hold gas bubbles for more than a few minutes. Generally one teaspoon (5 ml) of baking powder is used to raise a mixture of one cup (200-250 ml) of flour, one cup of liquid and one egg. However, if the mixture is acidic, baking powder's additional acids will remain unconsumed in the chemical reaction and often lend an unpleasant taste to food. High acidity can be caused by ingredients like buttermilk, lemon, yogurt, citrus or honey.

    Baking powder is generally just baking soda mixed with an acid, and a number of kitchen acids may be mixed with baking soda to simulate commercial blends of baking powder. Vinegar (dilute acetic acid), especially white vinegar, is also a common acidifier in baking; for example, many heirloom chocolate cake recipes call for a tablespoon or two of vinegar.

    Moisture and heat can cause baking powder to lose its effectiveness over time, and commercial varieties have a somewhat arbitrary expiration date printed on the container. Regardless of the expiration date, the effectiveness can be tested by placing a teaspoon of the powder into a small container of hot water. If it fizzes energetically, it is still active and usable. To deodorize your sink and tub drains, and keep lingering odors from resurfacing, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain while running warm tap water–it will neutralize both acid and basic odors for a fresh drain. (This a good way to dispose of baking soda that is being retired from your refrigerator.)