Deciphering the alphabet soup

by Laurie Gorton
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No other category of bakery ingredients requires formulators to track more abbreviations than the leavening acids. Sources for this article mentioned calcium pyrophosphate (CAPP), dicalcium phosphate dehydrate (DCPD), glucono-delta-lactone (GLD), monocalcium phosphate monohydrate (MCP), sodium aluminum phosphate (SALP), sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP) and sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS). There are more: monocalcium phosphate anhydrous (AMCP) and dimagnesium phosphate (DMP), not to mention monopotassium tartrate (cream of tartar) and fumaric acid.

Leavening acids are described by their neutralizing value, speed (slow to fast) and triggering conditions (simple contact in a wet matrix or cued by the heat of baking). The neutralizing value is the parts by weight of sodium bicarbonate (a.k.a. baking soda) from which all available carbon dioxide is released, or neutralized, by 100 parts by weight of the leavening acid. Neutralizing values differ for potassium (higher) and ammonium bicarbonate (lower).

Balance is important. “More carbon dioxide in a system does not mean it will have a greater volume or size,” said Sharon Book, PhD, bakery technologist, ICL Food Specialties. “Optimizing with the complete formulation and preparation methods is important to achieve final product characteristics.”

The amount is critical. “When formulating, the first step with leavening is to pick the amount of baking soda,” she continued. “Then the acid is calculated based on this level. With yellow cakes, there is an optimum level of soda. If there is not enough, the cake is small. If there is too much, the gas appears to destabilize the system and result in a smaller cake. Getting the amount just right provides maximum volume.”

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