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Matthew.Taylor

Baker’s Ammonia

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Ok been reading up about this stuff, and I have a small bottle, but I have yet to use it. I was thinking of replacing the baking powder in my chocolate chip cookies with this, but I also recall reading once that it was unwise to use this outside of recipes that actually call for it.

 

What do you think?

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Seems you can just use it simply substituting baking powder ...

 

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Posted (edited)

Baker's ammonia is an interesting ingredient. It's not so much that it's unwise to use it in recipes that don't call for it as to restrict its use to thin and dryer scenarios. A dry cookie, a cracker, etc. The reason for this is that ammonium carbonate (baking ammonia) will be converted to ammonia (a gas) in the heat of the oven. Ammonia is hydrophilic, and using it in a thick moist item like a cake can mean that traces of it are left behind. It won't poison you but it'll make your food taste bitter and gross. Thin, dry items can let the ammonia be baked off.

 

The worst thing that can happen is that you toss a few cookies away. I say you should try it and let us know how it goes and what you think. :)


Edited by jimb0 (log)
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21 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

What are the advantages?

 

This is the correct question

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1 hour ago, paulraphael said:

What are the advantages?

 

It's hard to say in individual recipes without running side-by-side tests. But CI suggests that ammonium bicarbonate will create crispier/crunchier and lighter products than the equivalent modern baking soda. This is likely due to the fact that modern baking powders work on a strictly chemical basis: they react with water and create gas. Baker's ammonia works that way, too, but it also works physically: the crystals decompose in the oven, leaving tiny gaps for moisture to more easily escape through.

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Bakers Ammonia was a staple ingredient in Springerle cookies once, and helped give them there crispness. I’m trying to think of a recipe I could use it with to test it, and right now my mind keeps running back to shortbread.

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18 minutes ago, Matthew.Taylor said:

Bakers Ammonia was a staple ingredient in Springerle cookies once, and helped give them there crispness. I’m trying to think of a recipe I could use it with to test it, and right now my mind keeps running back to shortbread.

 

Personally I don't use leavening in my shortbread. But honestly, any crispy cookie recipe that takes some kind of leavening would be ideal. I have some ammonium bicarb in my cupboards; maybe I'll do a side-by-side this week.

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I think there are other threads here on baker's ammonia, particularly in threads that mention the Vanilla Dreams cookie from King Arthur Flour. I am a big fan of this ingredient. The advantage is in texture. There's nothing that compares to the crisp texture of a cookie baked with baker's ammonia. (At least nothing I've ever come across, and I've eaten many cookies in my lifetime.) Although I have to say Tate's chocolate chip cookies do come close. (But no cigar.) A while ago I tried to bake ch. chip cookies with baker's ammonia. I used the standard Toll House cookie recipe but substituted 3/4 tsp BA instead of the 1 tsp baking soda called for in the recipe. The texture was spot on, exactly what I wanted. But the cookies had an aftertaste. The issue is moisture. BA must completely bake out (the kitchen will smell slightly of ammonia while the cookies bake). In products like cookies, crackers, etc. that will happen. BA really can't be used in cakes because you want to retain moisture in cakes, so the BA will not bake out. I think with the ch. chip cookies, the chocolate chips themselves were the culprit. They must have absorbed some of the BA and retained it. I have meant to give it another go using 1/2 tsp of BA this time. Also, some recipes say to dissolve the BA in liquid (in this case, I guess you could dissolve it in the vanilla) before adding it to the batter. I did not do that, I just added it to the dry ingredients. So my next go will be less BA, add it to the liquid, and I might try mini chocolate chips rather than regular sized. I don't know if this will make any difference, it just might be that you can't use BA if there are any add-ins to your cookies. I don't know that I would add it to short bread since, as mentioned above, they usually don't have leavening to begin with. If you try it, please report back. Also, you might want to take a look through this blog: https://londoneats.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/the-twelve-days-of-christmas-3/ He uses BA in quite a few recipes.

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As far as I know almost all German spiced cookies recipes use Hirschhornsalz, which is another name for it.

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I bought my bottle for recipes in Magnus Nilsson's The Nordic Baking Book.  One Swedish cookie recipe I'd like to try is Dreams (p323) but I have not done so yet.  Nilsson asserts the "nightclub urinal touch" will dissipate as the cookies are cooling down.

 

He mixes the "piss salt" with the flour and combines with the creamed butter and sugar.

 

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A long time ago I remember seeing recipes that included ammonium carbonate, I never gave any thought to looking up what it was. This is the definition I found useful, its from the appendix in Bo Fribergs "The Professional Pastry Chef"

 

Ammonium carbonate—Ammonium carbonate (or bicarbonate)
was once known by the name hartshorn because it
was originally produced from harts’ horns and hooves (a
hart is a male deer). Today’s commercial product is a chemical,
specifically the ammonium salt of carbonic acid.
Ammonium carbonate is used mainly in cookies and short
dough to produce a longer-lasting crisp texture; it can also
be used in pâte à choux to give it an extra puff. Ammonium
carbonate can be used as a substitute for baking soda and
baking powder, but only in cookies or doughs with very little
moisture or in pastries that are baked at a high temperature.
Unlike baking soda and baking powder, ammonium
carbonate must be dissolved in water before it is added to a
dry product. Ammonium carbonate reacts to heat, producing
water, ammonia, and dioxide gas. It has a very strong
odor that completely disappears above 140°F (60°C). It must
always be stored in an airtight container or it will quickly
evaporate. Ammonium carbonate can be difficult to find
from bakery suppliers, but can be ordered from a chemist or
local laboratory.

 

On another note, I was amused by @JoNorvelleWalker comment on 'piss salt.' That immediately reminded me of the double salt licorice candies I got on amazon a few months ago, thats exactly how I would describe the flavor. In those candies, the competent that give them that particular flavor is ammonium chloride, just found that interesting.

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52 minutes ago, minas6907 said:

On another note, I was amused by @JoNorvelleWalker comment on 'piss salt.' That immediately reminded me of the double salt licorice candies I got on amazon a few months ago, thats exactly how I would describe the flavor. In those candies, the competent that give them that particular flavor is ammonium chloride, just found that interesting.

 

Please, thank Magnus Nilsson.  I was merely the messenger.  But note, Nilsson adds his hartshorn dry.

 

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Ok i’m Gonna try a side by side comparison this weekend. Either sugar or butter cookies. I’ll post whatever I find.

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12 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

I bought my bottle for recipes in Magnus Nilsson's The Nordic Baking Book.  One Swedish cookie recipe I'd like to try is Dreams (p323) but I have not done so yet.  Nilsson asserts the "nightclub urinal touch" will dissipate as the cookies are cooling down.

 

He mixes the "piss salt" with the flour and combines with the creamed butter and sugar.

 

 

I made "Dreams" the other day, as a Swede, you do it from time to time. And yeah, it smells really weird.

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