Recently I took the quiz Which Food Network Personality Are You? on Facebook and I could not wait to find out which personality I was. Turns out: I’m Alton Brown. I was so excited when I got the results! Mostly because it reminded me of what a geek I used to be. How my inner geek drew me to baking.
In high school I loved chemistry. Well, before they introduced math into the mix. I loved seeing what would happen if you did this or that or whatever. My Dad’s a chemical engineer and I really started considering going in that direction when I was in high school. And then they introduced moles (the math kind, not the cute and fuzzy kind) and it was over. I went from being an A student to almost flunking.
Recently when I tried making Anna Olson’s White Chocolate Banana Bread and it did not rise I started to wonder, are my baking powder and sodas still active? The kitchen geek is me squealed: Test Kitchen Time!
I went to Joy of Baking‘s web site to find out how to test both baking soda and powder since both were used in the banana bread recipe. I started with my baking powder. I got half a cup of hot water and then added 1 tsp of baking powder and they said it should bubble and it did, tiny little bubbles but they were there!
Anyone who has taken a science class will know what happens to the combination of vinegar and baking soda but it is a classic, oh so much fun. Mix 1/4 tsp of baking soda with 2 tsp of vinegar and it should bubble immediately:
Boy did it ever! Very cool but I am still left with the question, what happened to my banana bread? What did I do wrong?
Then it hit me. It has to be a numbers issue. I am so bad with numbers. I thought of the directions and remembered that the pan was supposed to be a 6″ loaf pan. I opened up my cupboard, took out the loaf pan and pulled my measuring stick out of my utensils drawer and sure enough, mine was much bigger! Almost 9″ so that makes sense, the batter was so spread! If I had used a 6″ pan the height would have been there because the batter would have sat higher in it!
I do not know if this scientific realization would make Alton proud or embarrassed of me as a foodie but now I know for sure that my baking powder and soda are working and next time, I will measure my pans!
Do not think for one second I do not screw things up in the kitchen on a regular basis. For every “perfect” recipe outcome there are a couple of disasters. I will share those stories with you soon but for now I will move on to my next food project, hoping for a success and trying not to dwell on my mistakes.
And for the record, I love my inner geek. She is very happy to have played in her test kitchen this morning.