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My white vanilla cake came out really flat despite using baking powder and soda. My mother told me that the milk (a small glass) I added to the batter may have prevented the cake from rising. Is she right?

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No, milk in and of itself does not prevent cakes from rising.

There is noting in milk that changes the action of baking powder or baking soda. Just yesterday, for example, I made chocolate muffins with 1/2 cup of milk, chemically leavened, and they rose beautifully.

There has to be some other factor involved, but you would need to add much more detail to your question in order to have a chance at identifying it.

  • If the milk's going sour its pH can get low enough to set off bicarb prematurely. – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 7 '14 at 15:32
  • That is highly unlikely to be an issue. If its baking powder, it is almost certainly double acting; and it it is just soda, there is acid in the recipe already. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 7 '14 at 15:49
  • That was a very basic white cake recipe (butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla, some milk) to which I added mashed pumpkin. Forgot to mention the pumpkin. All the ingredients were fresh. I put it in the oven for about 35 minutes. – xkcd123 Apr 7 '14 at 16:05
  • Did you tell your Mum about the pumpkin? :-) Anyway, how much mashed pumpkin (by either weight or volume)? (It is probably worth starting a new question, something like "how to get pumpkin cake to rise?") – Darren Cook Apr 9 '14 at 1:26
  • @DarrenCook There is nothing unique in pumpkin that affects rising compared to any other fruit. If a recipe not desigend for fruit was loaded with extra water (canned pumpkin is on the order of 80% water), that would likely be the most significant issue. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 9 '14 at 2:53

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