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For Perfect Pancakes, Make Sure You're Not Using Old Baking Soda

fluffy pancake stack with strawberries
fluffy pancake stack with strawberries - Natalya_yudina/Getty Images

Pancakes are one of the most satisfying and delightful foods in our world. Be it a brunch specialty like mixed berry with a honey berry topping, breakfast-for-dinner, or even a midnight snack like cereal pancakes, you can count on a stack to bring a smile. One of the best things about pancakes is their texture -- slightly crisp on the surface thanks to contact with a hot skillet or griddle, giving way to a soft and fluffy interior with air pockets that offer a pillowy bite. And there's one ingredient responsible for this texture.

Baking soda is called upon to do the work of creating carbon dioxide, as it is a base that reacts with acid (typically in the form of buttermilk) to create gas. Gas equals bubbles, and bubbles equal a light and air-finished product. And while this is a reliable formula, you may still encounter the frustrating possibility that your pancakes could fall flat. There are a couple of possible reasons for this, but a big and common culprit can be neutralized very simply by ensuring that you're not using old baking soda.

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

Managing Your Baking Soda

Baking soda and wooden spoon
Baking soda and wooden spoon - Skhoward/Getty Images

Given that this is an ingredient many home cooks keep on hand for many reasons, from cleaning up stains to controlling odors in the refrigerator, it can feel like an afterthought when actually using the stuff to cook. While many people are tuned into the freshness and quality of produce, protein, and other perishable ingredients, it's not uncommon for a box of baking soda to pass its prime without notice.

Fortunately, it's easy enough to ensure you don't encounter an expiration situation that will impact your flapjacks. First, check the expiration date, and once opened, make a note of the date, as you'll want to use it up or replace it within about six to 12 months for peak effectiveness. If you're not sure how long it's been or you're questioning your baking soda's power, you can give it a simple test by adding a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar (an acid) to a small quantity of your soda (the base) and watch for a reaction. Fizzing means you're cleared for takeoff; if it remains flat, your pancakes probably will be, too.

More Pointers For Fluffy Pancakes

fluffy pancakes drizzled with syrup
fluffy pancakes drizzled with syrup - Daydreamsgirl/Getty Images

As simple as pancakes may seem, it can be tricky to get them just right. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that will help ensure that your short stack isn't short-changed. When it comes to the fluff factor, beyond baking soda's freshness, be careful during the mixing process. If you are too aggressive with your batter, you may deflate all that precious air your fresh baking soda helped create.

To unlock new layers of fluffiness, you can also go the extra mile to develop an egg white meringue, which will be folded into your batter for extra air that cooks right in. And while it's tough, exercise restraint when you're waiting for your first bite, be sure you don't flip too soon. Not allowing your hotcakes enough time on the first side may result in a collapse of air bubbles when disrupted, so hold off until your air bubbles hold their own and don't become inundated by the batter. And, once you're certain you've got fresh baking soda, you can experiment with other unexpected ingredients and always count on featherlight and perfect pancakes.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.