Question: Baking newbie - Why does it take so long for my stuff to bake?

December 2, 2010
Also my stuff doesnt seem to rise - Its all cooked and crunchy but it feels heavy and dense . Do you need to use baking powder AND yeast?



Cynthia Corpuz's picture

It really depends on the recipe and what you are trying to make. Baked goods like muffins, biscuits or scones do rise when they are cooked but typically have a denser quality than a yeast bread. Also baking soda and baking powder need an acid to activate the levening process, like buttermilk, and usually should be cooked right away once mixed. For yeast breads you have to knead the dough and let it rise in a warm, dark place.

As for the cooking time, you might want to check your oven. If you are cooking at an altitude you may need to adjust your measurements and cooking time and temp.

Chris Paulk's picture

Gypsy, looking at your recipe- something seems a little off. First off, an inch thick for crackers- is way too much. I would not go more than 1/4 inch at most- and I usually prefer 1/8 inch.. You usually want crackers crisp- not dense. I would almost roll them out and cut them- then place them on a baking sheet. It also seems like that is a lot of baking time and olive oil.
If you can find a copy of Charlie Trotter's "Raw" cookbook- he has some incredible raw cracker recipes. If you don't care if the crackers are "raw", then try this basic olive oil cracker recipe- and add the aromatics you like. I found this recipe online and use it -adding herbs, spices ect.

1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together the flours and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.

When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.

While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Insert a pizza stone if you have one.

When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, shape into a flat strip of dough - Set dough on a floured (or cornmeal dusted) baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings, and slide into the oven (onto the pizza stone). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. If you don't have a pizza stone, bake crackers a few at a time on baking sheets. Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating - you will get more crackery snap.

Chris Paulk's picture

Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they're added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat!

Baking Powder

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but the majority of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven.

Some recipes call for baking soda, while others call for baking powder. Which ingredient is used depends on the other ingredients in the recipe. The ultimate goal is to produce a tasty product with a pleasing texture. Baking soda is basic and will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk. You'll find baking soda in cookie recipes. Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has an overall neutral effect in terms of taste. Recipes that call for baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits.

You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you'll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but you can't use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder. Baking soda by itself lacks the acidity to make a cake rise. However, you can make your own baking powder if you have baking soda and cream of tartar. Simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.