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Baking Powder WarsThe Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking$
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Linda Civitello

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041082

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252041082.001.0001

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The Liberation of Cake

The Liberation of Cake

Chemical Independence, 1796

(p.18) Chapter 2 The Liberation of Cake
Baking Powder Wars

Linda Civitello

University of Illinois Press

This chapter shows how American housewives experimented with chemical leavening shortcuts that democratized breadstuffs from difficult to prepare luxuries to easy everyday foods. The precursor to baking powder was pearlash, first mentioned in 1796, in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, the first cookbook written in the United States. Catharine Beecher and Sarah Josepha Hale also experimented with cream of tartar, baking soda, hartshorn, and ammonia, and used them to create a new American cuisine with new foods like cookies and soft gingerbread, and new events at which they were consumed. However, these revolutionary leaveners also had problems such as adverse interactions with other ingredients and loss of potency.

Keywords:   Simmons, cake, pearlash, cream of tartar, hartshorn, ammonia, chemical leaven, Beecher, Hale, new American cuisine

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