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Leavening or raising agents are substances that in a pastry store gases (mostly carbon dioxide ) and loosen it.

Baking turns the gas bubbles in the dough into the pores in the crumb of the pastry. The loosening makes the pastry edible; Unloosened baked goods can hardly be chewed, but only sucked (example: gingerbread in earlier times, before one began to loosen it with deer horn salt ).

In the " dough fermentation " process, gases are generated which, during baking, also expand physically due to the heat. During further baking, the gas is retained in the dough (gas retention capacity of the dough e.g. by glue ) and the dough structure solidifies, which prevents the baked goods from collapsing after baking.

Types of loosening

Biological loosening Chemical loosening Physical relaxation
yeast Baking soda (in baking powder) air
sourdough Deer horn salt Steam
Spontaneous fermentation Potash Alcohol vapor

Biological loosening

For this loosening, yeast mushrooms are used for yeast dough or various lactic acid bacteria and yeasts for sourdough . These organisms metabolize sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The gaseous carbon dioxide loosens the dough. The yeasts are added e.g. B. as baker's yeast or baking ferment (based on honey). Sourdough requires special dough management. With spontaneous fermentation (e.g. graham bread ), the dough gets the necessary cultures from the ambient air.

Chemical loosening

Chemical raising agents are baking powder , deer horn salt (also known as ABC shoot), sodium hydrogen carbonate ( baking soda) and potash . As an organic product, potassium tartrate is approved as a food additive under the name Weinstein . The leavening agents react with water, acid and heat, whereby they develop the necessary carbon dioxide for the loosening.

baking powder

Baking powder is usually a mixture of sodium hydrogen carbonate (common name : bicarbonate of soda) and an acidifier , often disodium dihydrogen diphosphate (E 450a) or monocalcium orthophosphate (E 341a), an acidic salt. So-called natural baking powders contain citric acid (E 330) or tartaric acid (E 334) as acidulants ; also Weinstein (E 336). Phosphate-free baking powders have a more neutral taste, but are usually more expensive.

Deer horn salt

Deer horn salt or ABC shoot contains ammonium bicarbonate (NH 4 HCO 3 ) and is used for flat baked goods (e.g. shortcrust pastry or gingerbread ). Deer horn salt breaks down into ammonia , carbon dioxide and water. One theory for naming the " Americans " says that they got their name from ammonia and were originally called ammonium biscuits.


Potassium carbonate (K 2 CO 3 ) is mainly used in gingerbread and honey cake production. Sometimes a mixture of potassium carbonate and staghorn salt is used.

Physical relaxation

Physical propellants are loosened, for example by means of steam or air. This loosening comes into play with every baking, even if other leavening agents are used. The water contained in every dough partially evaporates during baking, thus expanding and loosening the dough.

Blowing air into a dough or a mass , often egg whites such as B. in biscuit production , is one of the physical leavening agents. In the case of puff pastry , the loosening in the baking process comes about through evaporating water. The fat layers drawn into the dough act as a vapor barrier and the dough sheets are lifted.

The alcohol in ingredients containing alcohol, such as rum, liqueur, etc., evaporates just like water and thus contributes to loosening.

Carbon dioxide can easily be added dissolved in water (e.g. carbonated mineral water). The dissolved gas escapes during baking and loosens the baked goods.

Food additive

In the EU, the following food additives are permitted as raising agents:

In the USA , but not in the EU, azodicarboxamide , for example, is permitted as a leavening agent and dough improver.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Josef Loderbauer: The baker's book in learning fields . Verlag Handwerk und Technik, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-582-40205-9 , p. 226 .
  2. When Subway customers chew on the yoga mat ( memento from February 16, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), , accessed on May 31, 2016