Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Revisiting the Sweet Martabak: the science of bubbles / honeycomb, a work in progress

I'm still not satisfied with my Martabak recipe. There are still many things bugging me with this dessert.

1. I got my bubbles (pinholes) using baking powder, but
a) why are so many recipes using only baking soda?
b) my bubbles (recipe using baking powder at 3x the amount of baking soda) seem rather big (pinholes) compared to those authentic martabaks

- Baking soda: apparently it can also produce bubbles (CO2) in absence of any acids, if heated to at least above 160F (NaHCO3 + heat → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2) This is at least the science between the honeycomb candy, where the soda is added to a heated sugar & water mixture. Maybe this is the science behind the martabak recipes using baking soda. Now if this is the case, somehow I have to heat up the batter fast enough to activate the soda before the batter coagulates.
- Baking powder: I suppose this is a more full proof way of obtaining the bubbles, but how do I adjust the measurements? An aside, I noticed a lot of the Vietnamese pandan honeycomb cake recipes call for single acting baking powder, and many mistakenly think that that is equiv to baking soda + cream of tartar (fast acting acid, which activates immediately upon contact with moisture, and therefore must go to oven immediately, else you loose your bubbles).. Asian/European single acting powder like Alsa actually uses slow acting acid (Sodium acid pyrophosphate), which actually activate mostly when heated. Therefore if substituting with homemade single acting powder (baking soda +cream of tartar) you need to mix this last, right before putting batter into oven.

2. My martabak seems too soft, texture is not as springy/chewy as the authentics.
- Does the water ratio matter? ie. less means more chewy
- Does the amount of egg matter? ie. less more chewy? or more more chewy?
- Would adding tapioca flour help?
- Need to note the tradeoff with having a chewy cold martabak that doesn't soften when reheated

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