The cream of tartar is a natural leavening agent, used in the kitchen and in pastry as a substitute for chemical yeast, especially suitable in case of yeast intolerance, but also for the preparation of vegan and vegetarian desserts. The cream of tartar also makes the preparations softer and lighter, as it inflates leavened products without weighing them down: therefore it is excellent for making biscuits, cakes, croissants but also bread, savory pies and other baked products that have a good leavening. Then let’s discover what cream of tartar is, how to use it and in what doses and where to find it.
What is cream of tartar?
The cream of tartar, whose scientific name is potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogenated, is a potassium salt with tartaric acid that has natural leavening properties. It can be used alone, as a stabilizer, to give consistency and volume to some preparations, such as egg whites or whipped cream, or it can be activated thanks to the baking soda, thus acquiring an exceptional leavening power. Cream of tartar is useful in the preparation of leavening products intended for people with celiac disease and yeast intolerance, it is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans: chemical yeast, in fact, may contain a particular stabilizer, E470a, which could come from pigs or cattle. The fundamental characteristic of cream of tartar is however that of making the desserts rise in a natural way making them soft and light, and moreover it is odorless and tasteless: the leavened products thus maintains their characteristic flavor.
Cream of tartar: doses and how to use it
The cream of tartar is used like the normal yeast in powder: to calculate the doses it will be enough to replace the quantity of yeast for the preparation with half cream of tartar and half sodium bicarbonate. It is the ideal leavening agent for making sweets and doughs, not only for those who are allergic to traditional yeasts, but also in all those preparations that need leavening, while remaining light and digestible. Cream of tartar is widely used for making American desserts that need quick leavening and softness, such as chiffon cake, but also for preparing cookies and brownies.
Where to find cream of tartar
The cream of tartar is widely used abroad and you can buy it either in pharmacies, by weight, or in stores specialized in natural products or decorations and desserts and in large supermarkets: in this case you will find it in sachets that usually already contain the cream of tartar and baking soda, so read the label before use.
How to substitute cream of tartar
Cream of tartar can be replaced by traditional yeast or brewer's yeast but, to obtain the same leavening effect, you should add a natural acidifier such as lemon or vinegar juice, egg whites or sugar. For every millimeter of lemon juice or vinegar, you must add an egg white, better if it is whipped, to give more softness to the preparation. Alternatively, you can replace cream of tartar with a mixture of sparkling water and baking soda: replace the dose of cream of tartar necessary for baking with baking soda, add the sparkling water to make a creamy dough that will make the dough rise.