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Why Dissolve Bicarbonate Of Soda In Water For The Chocolate Gingerbread?

Asked by MinnieO. Answered on 1st March 2024

Full question

I love the Chocolate Gingerbread recipe and it works beautifully. But, I have a couple of questions. First, what’s the purpose of dissolving the bicarbonate of soda in the water? Also, the recipe specifies caster sugar. As all the sugars are melted together at the start, would using granulated sugar make any difference?

Image of Nigella's Chocolate Gingerbread
Photo by James Merrell
Chocolate Gingerbread
By Nigella
  • 14
  • 2

Our answer

Nigella's Chocolate Gingerbread is a spiced chocolate cake that is topped with a ginger-chocolate glacé icing. The cake is made via the "melt and mix" method, where some ingredients are melted together in a saucepan and then the remaining ingredients are mixed in.

The bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) is dissolved in some warm water before it is added to the melted ingredients. This helps the bicarbonate of soda to dissolve (as it is water soluble rather than fat soluble) and mix more easily with the other ingredients. Also sometimes bicarbonate of soda, if it is stored in a damp place, can be a little lumpy and water will dissolve any lumps. The recipe includes dark muscovado (brown) sugar and a small amount of caster sugar. Caster sugar dissolves much more easily than UK granulated sugar, so it is preferable as you may otherwise be waiting a while for the sugar to dissolve fully. However, if you only have granulated sugar at home then you could use it, but keep the heat very low and stir frequently. If you have US or European granulated sugar then this can be used in this particular recipe instead of caster sugar, as it is finer than UK granulated sugar, though it is not as fine as caster sugar.

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