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Chemistry of baking quick breads

Quickbreads (such as banana bread) get their rise from a chemical reaction. Gas bubbles are released when the acids in the recipe combine with base chemicals.

Baking powder and baking soda supply some of these acids and bases. Other acids in recipes include buttermilk, honey, and molasses.

While you're busy making the actual quickbread, give the kids the above ingredients to play around with, and help them figure out how they all function in the recipe. What happens if you mix baking soda (a base) and water? Nothing - no acid to mix with the base. But if you mix baking soda, baking powder, and water, you get fizz, because the baking powder contains an acid that mixes with the baking soda once it gets wet.

What if you mix honey and baking soda? See if your kids can find other ingredients that contain enough acid to produce a reaction, and let them write down their "recipes." Just make sure they experiment inside a large flat baking pan to contain the mess.




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