What Does Baking Powder Do?

We use them quite a lot and most of us have a tub lurking in the back of the cupboard somewhere but did you ever actually wonder what bicarbonate of soda, baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar actually were and why we need to add them to our baking?  Then wonder no more with our straightforward guide.

Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda
First thing to get out of the way is that Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Soda are the same thing!  Different countries around the world tend to use one or the other but if you ever have a recipe that calls for baking soda and you only have bicarbonate of soda then you’ll be fine.  But why do we need to add them to our (most often) sponge recipes?  Well, it is a leavening agent which basically means that when it is mixed with acidic moisture it starts to make a chemical reaction and form bubbles of carbon dioxide.  These little bubbles of air help to raise the cake up making it lighter and less dense.  The most common type of acidic liquid that recipes use is lemon juice or vinegar and sometimes even tap water which tends to be ever so slightly acidic.

Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is actually a by product of the winemaking process!  It’s an acidic chemical in powder form that on its own is most commonly used when mixing egg whites to make meringues as it can help to increase the volume of the mixture making them lighter.

Baking Powder
Baking powder is a mixture of bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda if you prefer!) and cream of tartar.  As we saw earlier, with baking soda you need to combine it with an acidic liquid to get it working but with baking powder, the acidity comes from the cream of tartar so all you need is any moisture such as milk, water or eggs.  Again it is a leavening agent so it also creates little bubbles of carbon dioxide which helps cakes rise and stay lovely and light.


Top Tip 1: Did you know that self raising flour is just plain flour with added baking powder?  If a recipe calls for self raising flour but you only have plain, just add ½ a tea spoon of baking powder for every 100g flour and you’re good to go!

Top Tip 2: We all have the old tubs hanging around the back of our cupboards but don’t be tempted to use them if they’re out of date – they lose their effectiveness and so you’ll probably end up with a flat dense sponge!

Wanted - Kitchen Monsters Video Stars

Kitchen Monsters HQ is based just outside Edinburgh in the lovely County of East Lothian.  We recently met with a bunch of Media students from nearby Queen Margaret University about working with them on a course project.  They are looking to do a practical film project using Kitchen Monsters as a case study.

They have decided to produce a very short film about the Kitchen Monsters and have asked if there are any local kids that would be happy to join in and be the star of the show.  They are looking for a parent and child (around 4-8 years old – both parent and child would be involved with filming!) who are available on either the afternoon of the 25th or 27th March for a couple of hours filming (at a location around Edinburgh to be specified).

Because it’s a student project there’s no fee involved but we will provide a £25 amazon voucher for anyone that can help us out. Interested or know someone that might be?  Email

Aug '12 Challenge

One of the best things about a sandwich is the huge variety of ways you can make one!

There are four key elements to making a delicious sandwich and this month’s challenge is to try and invent the tastiest sandwich ever.  The first decision you need to make is what type of bread to use (a big enough decision itself!). Here are some ideas for you to try:

- white bread
- wholemeal bread
- granary bread
- gluten free bread
- pitta bread
- baguette
- tortilla wrap
- morning roll
- burger bap

See how many options there are already?!?

Next you need to spread something on it to make the sandwich nice and moist. How about butter, margarine, mayonnaise or maybe even some tomato ketchup?

Provided you’re not a vegetarian, you probably want to add some meat to your perfect sandwich so why not take some inspiration from these:

- chicken
- ham
- tuna
- beef
- turkey
- cheese or egg (okay so these aren’t exactly meat but still, nice fillings!)

Finally you want to add some salad for a nice crunch. How about:

- lettuce
- tomato
- rocket
- watercress
- cucumber

The possibility and combinations are almost endless! Let us know how you get on creating your perfect sandwich and tell us how you make yours!

photo credit: Sakurako Kitsa via photo pin cc

Wanted: Kitchen Monsters on Film

Please note that all 10 places have now been filled!

As you may have heard, we’re just about to launch a series of cooking with your kids emails. We’re nearly finished but to make them extra special we want to include some real life Kitchen Monsters!

We’re looking for 10 Kitchen Monsters of primary school age (12 years or under) to record a kitchen tip for us on video that we can include in our email series.

Here’s how it works:

  • Email to sign-up
  • We post you out a Kitchen Monsters branded apron to wear (and then keep!)
  • We email over the script (less than 30 seconds worth)
  • You record the clip (wearing the apron – mobile phone video clips are fine) and email it over to us
  • You’re famous as we use it in our email series

At this time we only have space for 10 kids to sign-up so will be accepting interest on a first come first serve basis – we will try and accommodate entries from anywhere in the world but the tips need to be read out in English sorry!

Any questions feel free to post a question on

Jul '12 Challenge

Homemade Lemonade Recipe

Summer is a time of school holidays and sunshine (unless you live near us when it’s school holidays and rain!).  But just in case the sun decides to get its hat on, this month we’re going to be running a lemonade stall – a great way for the kids to get in the kitchen and stretch their entrepreneurial streak too.

  1. Create a delicious batch of lemonade (how about trying our recipe here?)
  2. Work out who to sell your lemonade to (what about your neighbors, friends or family?)
  3. Set a price to charge (think about how much all the ingredients cost)
  4. Make your stand or design some posters to advertise your business
  5. Get selling!


Pancake Day Recipes for Kids

Pancake Day (otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday) is one of our favourite days of the year so we thought it was worth a blog post to find out more about this tasty day!

Thin Pancake Recipe for Kids

History of Pancake Day
So why do we have pancake day? Well, it falls every year on the day before Ash Wednesday which is the traditional day that Christians give up luxuries for 40 days in the lead up to Easter Sunday, one of the biggest days in the Christian calendar.  In these olden days, luxuries really meant rich food such as sugar, fat, flour and eggs.  So on Shrove Tuesday you tried to use up all these things to avoid wasting them and what can you make with these ingredients?  You guessed it, pancakes!

When is Pancake Day?
Because Pankcake day is linked to Easter (which changes every year depending on the moon) it also changes every year, so it can sometimes fall as early as the 3rd February or as late as the 9th March each year.  If you want to make sure you don’t miss one then Wikipedia has a list of Pancake Day dates right up to the year 2050!

Thick Pancake Recipe for Kids

What do I need for Pancake Day?It really depends on what recipe you use  (see pancake recipes below) but you generally need flour, milk, eggs and a little butter or oil.  You’ll also need a frying pan to cook your pancakes in.

What Pancake Recipe can I use?

We have a couple of easy pancake recipes that you can use depending on how you like your pancakes.  If you like them thin then you’ll want to try our Flippin’ Marvelous Pancakes but if you like them thick then you’ll love our Chunky American Pancakes.

What toppings should I use on my Pancakes?

We think that pancakes go best with….almost anything! They don’t even need to be sweet, savoury pancakes can also be delicious.  If you’re struggling then how about some of these ideas:

  • Lemon juice and a little sugar
  • Banana and chocolate
  • Ham and cheese
  • Strawberries and cream
  •  Peanut butter and jam
  • Bacon and maple syrup
  • Bolognese
  • Yoghurt and raspberries
So now you’ve learnt all about Pancake Day there’s only one thing left to do, go make some pancakes!  How about you let us know what your favourite pancake toppings are?

Customer Complaint

You can’t always get it right and you’re never going to get everyone to like you all the time but sometimes you just feel hard done by.  And today the Kitchen Monsters are feeling hard done by, as we’ve just received our first bad review of our iPhone App this week from “Loudene” who recommended “Don’t buy it!”. Boo!

Getting criticised is never nice, but at it’s even worse when it’s not accurate!  And as we can’t reply to the complaint on iTunes, we’re using our own blog to reply – even if she’ll probably never even read it.

She criticised it because it only had “5 meal recipes, 5 desert recipes and 5 soup recipes” when actually it’s got 40 recipes in total (which is specifically stated in the App description).  The description (in our opinion) also makes it pretty clear that it’s an App for cooking with kids not recipes for fussy eaters.

At £1.49, it’s a little over 3 pence a recipe.  So sorry “Angry Mum” if we suggest that next time you’re thinking about buying an App: have a read of the description first so you only buy what you think you’re buying.

If you’d like to try it for yourself then you can download it from the Apple App Store but be warned – it’s got 40 recipes to cook with your kids – not recipes for fussy eaters!  But the temperature converter’s not bad!

Make a Pumpkin Lantern for Halloween

Making a pumpkin lantern is great fun but it can be dangerous so you need to ensure an adult helps you with it.

But why do we make pumpkin lanterns?  Traditionally Halloween was celebrated by many as the most magical night of the year.  People used to place a lantern (usually made out of pumpkins or turnips) on their porches or in their windows to welcome home deceased loved ones but also to ward of evil spirits.

So let’s make our own pumpkin lantern.  Now remember, not only are we using sharp knives to cut out the pumpkin but we’ll be using candles so make sure the children only do the parts you are comfortable with them doing and ensure that when the lantern is lit, that it is out of harm’s way and supervised at all times.

1) Get yourself a nice looking pumpkin

2) Carefully cut of the top of the pumpkin
Cut off the top of the pumpkin

3) Scoop out the stringy bits and the seeds
Scoop out the pumpkin seeds

4)  If you’re making pumpkin soup then you can scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin, making sure you don’t pierce the skin
Scoop out the pumpkin flesh

5) You can now start to cut out bits of the pumpkin to make your face – the scarier looking the better!
Pumpkin Face

6) Place a tea-light or small candle inside the pumpkin, light it and place it on your windowsill
Pumkin Lantern

Mars Bar Cake Video Recipe

We’ve launched the first in what will be a series of 90 second video recipes.  The first one we chose to turn into a video?  It was an easy choice to make.  Our easy to follow Mars Bar Cake recipe for kids is one of the most popular recipes on the site.  Check out the video below and let us know what you think of it.

Kitchen Monsters iPhone App

A wee snapshot of our new iPhone App; Kitchen Monsters – Cooking for Kids.  Available now in the iTunes Store.

Cooking for kids

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