This here is a picture of me with my dad. I was frustrated about a cake that didn't turn out and he was trying to be helpful. Only he wasn't very helpful that particular day. Mum and I had practiced a lot when we were coming up with our carrot cake recipe last year. You know the recipe, right?
It's the one from my story that...
I better not say it just in case you didn't get that far in the book, yet. Well, as you can see in the picture above, things didn't always go so well in the beginning. When I was learning how to bake I made a lot of mistakes.
Anyway, last time we've learned a thing or two about what makes a cake get all bubbly and rise. Believe me, if you don't do it right all you will get is a hard, chewy, flat, pancake-looking cake that even your dog won't want to eat! Well, luckily I haven't made a cake like that in ages because I learned a little acid versus alkaline science. So today we are going to take some time to look at what works GREAT for getting that nice fluffy cake without any eggs in the batter to stay together and not crumble all over the place.
This is a tricky thing to do, but it is possible!
Psst!Did you know that vinegar usually comes from corn and wheat? That's why we like to use Apple Cider Vinegar in our club! So, to refresh your memories, what do you need to do to get a chemical reaction in your batter and make bubbles?
You need to add an acid to a base.
Now where have we heard about this before? Mmm.... At our last Cooking Club Meeting, of course!
That's right! We took baking soda, which is alkaline (another fancy word for base) and we added it to a bunch of different acids-- yogurt, juice, and vinegar!
So today we are going to use the best bubble making acid we tested, Vinegar, for our cake recipe.
In today's meeting we are going to use a cupcake making machine called "Babycakes." But you can make a regular sheet cake out of this batter too, when you are at home if you'd like.
Well, making bubbles is only part of the recipe for cake.
Now there is one very important ingredient in wheat that makes an eggless cake stay together. Do you know that that ingredient is called?
It's called gluten.
If you aren't allergic to gluten or wheat, then you can use regular flour for this cake recipe when you make it at home. But if you are allergic, then you need to add another very special ingredient that will help hold your cake together. Many gluten-free flour companies use either guar gum (say: goo-ar gum) or xanthan gum (say: zan-than) to do the trick. Both of these help to hold the cake together so it doesn't crumble and fall apart when you try to eat it. Without this binder, you will get a crumbly mess all over the table.
Psst Viscosity is a way to measure how well an ingredient resists flow. We are going to learn about this in our Sous Club experiment next! Well, it is a great thickener and it comes from the seed of a bean plant.
It looks like a white powder and you can buy it just about anywhere.
A regular cake recipe usually only needs about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of it to do the trick, so less is best. If you add too much you will wreck your cake! A lot of companies use it in ice creams and meats, in paper products, and to thicken yogurts. It is cheaper than cornstarch because it is 8 times stronger! This means that it is used in a lot of foods and goods for people without allergies too.
This stuff does a lot of things! And here's a baking tip for you: if you add too much vinegar then your guar gum will lose it's viscosity, which means it won't thicken your cake very well.
But more about that later today during our really cool experiment....
Psst!Did you know that the safe amount of xanthan gum in a person's diet is only 15 mg a day? That's a little less than 2 Tablespoons!It is the same bacteria that grows on broccoli (you can see all the black spots it makes) but xanthan gum is made in a laboratory with scientists. And, the xanthan gum you buy in the store is a white powder just like the guar gum. Because xanthan gum is a germ (remember Lesson 1?) Food scientists will usually feed it a diet of corn sugar, soy, or wheat to make it grow.
There are many people with allergies to corn, soy, and wheat who feel sick when they eat xanthan gum.
There are also others that can eat it without any problems even though they are allergic to corn, wheat, or soy.
If you have a severe corn, wheat, or soy allergy, and you get headaches, diarrhea, or have other problems after eating allergy-safe foods that have xanthan gum on the label, you may want to try avoiding it for a while, after all, it is a GERM!
Did you know that there are a group of scientists in Iran that recently proved you can safely make xanthan gum from sugar beets?
But in the United States the xanthan gum in food products are not derived from sugar beets yet because it is still not FDA approved. Your mom might find it in her make-up, but not in your gluten-free bread!
It is a government organization called the Food and Drug Administration. Their job is to make sure our food, drugs, and food additives are safe for American citizens to eat. So if you have allergies to wheat, corn, and/or soy keep checking and definitely keep calling the manufacturers of allergy foods you like to make sure you stay healthy!
So, boys and girls-- which ingredient should we use in recipe today? Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum?