Food Science - Effects of Baking Powder on Cupcakes

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Food Science - Effects of Baking Powder on Cupcakes

Postby AVERYK » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:54 am

I have completed the experiment portion of my 6th grade science fair project. I am determining the effects of baking powder on the height of cup cakes. I did 12 cupcakes at a time with four different variables. The recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of baking powder so I did none, 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, and 1 tsp. My results are not what I expected. The average height of the no baking soda cupcakes and the average height of the 1/4 tsp cupcakes were virtually the same. The 1/2 tsp cupcakes were notably taller. But, the 1 tsp cupcakes were virtually the same as the 1/2 tsp cupcakes. I understand the to much baking soda can cause the cake to fall, but these results are not what I expected. Is the correct amount of baking powder so specific that it will rise only to a certain height? Does anyone have any input on the results.

Thank You.
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Re: Food Science - Effects of Baking Powder on Cupcakes

Postby kerriackerly » Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:46 pm


This sounds like a great project, and as a baker I totally see the appeal! It is a great choice, your audience will be able to relate well to the project and the results are yummy!

It could just be that the cake could not be any higher than you saw at the 1/2 tsp. concentration of baking powder. Baking soda is one of the things that I thought of, but you seem to have already covered that one! Another important thing to consider is whether you used self-rising flour or not. If you are using self-rising flour, it could have an impact on what you're seeing. The temperature of the batter when you put it into the oven will also have an impact on how the cake rises, so making sure that all of the batters are the same temperature going into the oven is important as well. The 'lightness' of the cake batter also will impact how much they rise as they're baking. Lots of variables to think about when you're baking!

Please let me know if you have any more questions!

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Re: Food Science - Effects of Baking Powder on Cupcakes

Postby heatherL » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:25 am

Hi AveryK,

Kerri has given you some excellent feedback! There are many variables to consider when baking.

When it comes to interpreting your results, I think you have very clear and interesting results. It may well be true that too much baking powder can cause the cupcakes to fall, but it could be that there is a range of amounts that allows the cupcakes to rise to a good height. It looks like 1/4 tsp is not enough (since those cupcakes look like the ones with no baking powder), and that 1/2 tsp and 1 tsp both work well. Maybe 1 tsp is still an acceptable amount to allow the cupcakes to rise, and 2 tsp could be too much.

As Kerri mentioned, self-rising flour may have an effect here. Also, did you taste your cupcakes? Maybe 1 tsp of baking powder is good for the height of the cupcakes but not for the taste. Or it could be that 1 tsp is a perfectly fine amount of baking powder, but since 1/2 tsp works just as well, the recipe allows you to save your baking powder for another batch.

I hope this helps. Please post again (in this same thread) if you have more questions.

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