Leaven (lev-en): 1. a substance (as yeast) used to produce fermentation in dough or liquid. Or, a material (as baking powder) used to produce a gas that lightens dough or batter. Something that modifies or lightens. From the Latin, levare, meaning: to rise.
In the kitchen, leavening means one thing: bubbles. Bubbles of gas which add lightness, and when exposed to heat expand and give rise. There are several ways to leaven baked goods, such as yeast, baking soda, baking powder, air (as in creaming together fats or whipping egg whites), and steam (as in puff pastry, where the dough is folded over and over to make thin layers which pull apart from one another when steam is released during baking). Air and steam are present in all baked goods, but often times a recipe needs something more. Here I want to talk about the most common leaveners used in the kitchen: chemical leaveners (baking soda and baking powder) and yeast (active dry yeast and ‘instant’ dry yeast) and what the differences are.
It’s FAK Friday (Feeding my Appetite for Knowledge), and this week I’ve been filling my head with bubbles! No, I haven’t been drinking… much. I’ve been wrapping my brain around how leavening works to produce light and fluffy doughs, chewy and air-pocketty breads, flaky and tender cream puffs, and everything in between. I thought I’d share the basics this week, and answer some of the most common kitchen questions out there: what’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda // what’s the difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast?
|Active Dry Yeast (left) Instant Dry Yeast (right)|