I tried making Malva pudding today using this recipe and the results were decidedly off. I don't know if it was too acidy or basey but definitely didn't taste right. The recipy calls for 2tsp bicarb and 1tbsp vinegar. I did think it was quite a bit of vinegar at the time but trusted the recipe. I assumed the bicarb/vinegar would neutralize eachother and act as a rising agent.

Is this a usual amount of bicarb/vinegar to use in a recipe of this size? Or did I do something else wrong?

Full disclosure: I didn't have jam so that was excluded but followed the recipe faithfully otherwise, fresh ingredients and all. Could the exclusion of the jam have made a diff? I didn't think it would?


It could have been the jam! Apricot jam has a pH of 3.8ish which is what makes it preserve so well I believe. So it's possible that the jam was also supposed to neutralize the bicarb.

Edit 2:

I asked about the acid base ratio at chemistry here and almost certainly too much bicarb!

  • 1
    Do you feel like you've answered your question in your edits? Might be worth cutting out your edits and putting them into an answer :)
    – Doug
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 21:29

3 Answers 3


In any recipe where a chemical reaction is required, in this case the reaction of bicarbonate and vinegar as a raising agent, it is important to add all ingredients. In any chemical reaction the wrong ingredient or the lack of one can make all the difference. The vinegar may have reacted with most of the bicarbonate but the apricot jam would have been used as a sufficient means to add both flavour and stabilise the rest of the bicarbonate.


I don't know about the proper ratio. But traditional recipes are not always the best. Food technology has progressed in the last centuries, and so have our standards for food taste.

Simply put, many of the salts of sodium bicarbonate don't have a very pleasant taste. Many are on the metallic side, and if you somewhat misjudge the ratio, you can have a food which is either too basic (which may be your case; it will taste a bit like soap) or too acidic (this may be unpleasant depending on the acid).

My advice is to use baking powder for leavening, and use it in the amount needed, not "a bit more in case it doesn't work well", because this can produce an off taste. 5 g should be OK for your 175 g of flour. Save the soda for foods which require it for other purposes. You can also continue using it in recipes you trust, of course - because you've made them and know it doesn't produce an off taste in them.

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    You say that as if no one ever uses baking soda any more for baking... which just isn't true. Many of my favorite recipes call for amounts of both soda and powder. Plus, they react very differently. I don't remember which is which but one reacts bigger and sooner and one reacts more subtly and later. They each have purpose and seems silly to tell someone to stop using baking soda when every recipe for this pudding uses it.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 7:47
  • @Catija if this is how my post sounds, I have formulated it badly. Baking soda can certainly be still used, it's just less forgiving. When you have a good, balanced recipe with baking soda, it's OK. When you have a recipe which produces an off taste, it's easier to switch to baking powder than to try to find a good ratio yourself, especially if the acid used is vinegar - other acids such as buttermilk have a more pleasant aftertaste.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 9:50

In high altitudes, reduce the amount of baking powder and baking soda by a quarter. Your baking will turn out perfectly. I do it religiously now and my cakes rise to a level top.

  • My statement above also pertains to Malva pudding.
    – user85071
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 21:52
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    Interesting point, but: 1. Where does the OP say that they are at high altitudes? 2. Wouldn't this be a gradient anyway? Say, if you are at 1000 m, you still need more leavening than at 2000 m? Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 7:48

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