Food - Drink
Before Baking Powder, There Were Antlers
By ELIAS NASH
Have you ever been offered a plate of cookies and gleefully accepted, only to sink your teeth into a dense, tough hockey puck? It's crucial to include baking powder in your recipe since it will create air pockets in your baked goods; however, prior to the invention of baking powder, they had to become inventive.
Although it wasn't truly created until the 1830s, baking powder is made by combining baking soda with a dry acid, so when the two are hydrated together, they produce gas. Until that point, baking recipes called for the use of hartshorn, a ‌powerful powder made from heated and pulverized stag or deer antlers.
The powder from these antlers was hydrated and heated to release carbon dioxide and ammonium gas to accomplish the rising effect that bakers desire, which worked out fine except from ammonium's really awful smell. Eventually, hartshorn was replaced with a synthetic substitute called ammonium bicarbonate, also known as ammonium carbonate.