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Most baking soda on the market is "double-acting" which means that it helps something leaven right when it's mixed with wet ingredients and then again when it's baking. My best guess is that the recipe writer wants to get the first leaven done so whatever you're making doesn't rise too much. Would that make sense for the recipe?
It might. It's a quickbread recipe from my great-great grandmother.
Ah, so it could actually be from the days of single-acting baking soda bring more widely available It might be worth experimenting and not dissolving it to see what happens. Just mix the baking soda with the dry goods as usual and add the water with the liquid ingredients before mixing together. See how it goes!
Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.
For quick bread I never dissolve baking soda but maybe your great great grandmother is on to something. Would be interesting to see if there is an appreciable difference doing it that way.
The only time I dissolve baking soda is for example in a red velvet cake where you dissolve in vinegar. Interesting! Maybe some of our resident baking experts will weigh in also.
Probably chemistry. I am not a scientist, but here is how I would think about it. First, though, note that baking SODA and baking POWDER are two different materials. Baking soda is simply pure sodium bicarbonate; baking powder (as we use today) is sodium bicarbonate plus cream of tartar and some other ingredients. It is the baking powder that is single acting (generates carbon dioxide (CO2) when moisture is added) or double acting (generates CO2 again upon heating). I don't recall seeing recipes that would call for the powder to be dissolved in water ahead of time, as some of the leavening properties would be lost. Baking soda, on the other hand, requires both moisture and an acid to generate CO2. Dissolving the soda ahead of time in water may allow it to disperse more thoroughly throughout the other ingredients and expose it more evenly to whatever acid is present. In some recipes, I suppose, there would be enough liquid added at other stages to disperse it thoroughly even though added dry.
I agree, only baking powder has the ability to act in two stages. If I have to guess on your question, since it is an old time recipe, it is likely that your grandma dissolved it in water first in order to make sure there were no lumps in it. Baking soda is a humectant (absorbs moisture) and sometimes that can interfere with its ability to disperse evenly among the dry ingredients. But if it is kept in a moisture proof container you can also add it to flour directly in baking recipes, just make sure you whisk it in well.
I wondered if it might just be because baking soda at that time was lumpy. I searched the internet and there are a lot of recipes that call for it to be dissolved. I was mistaken about the date of the recipe. It's my great-grandmothers recipe rather than great-great. The next time I make some decent looking loaves (I always make four mini-loaves and over-fill them) I'll post the recipe and pics.
Buttery, crumbly graham cracker streusel included.
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