If you've ever attempted a new recipe, you might have experienced the hassle of finding out—all too late—that you're missing one of the main ingredients. Some things are easier to replace than others like margarine for butter, milk for cream and so on. And then, there's sparkling water, which is a bit tricky to substitute as we can't just magically wish for bubbles to appear in a regular glass of water, no matter how hard we try.
If you've found yourself in this situation, don't panic; we've got the steps needed to substitute sparkling water in baking recipes as well as a little fresher course on the science behind how sparkling water helps in baking.
What does sparkling water add to recipes?
Sparkling water is one of a kind as it lightens doughs and give batters more lift, but not for the reasons you might think. Carbon dioxide in sparkling water does two things: it creates bubbles and lowers the pH to around 4, making it slightly acidic.
The bubbles in sparkling water start to dissipate when exposed to oxygen and disappear when mixed with flour, but water's pH stays the same. This extra acid slows the yeast's leavening action because the pH doesn't suddenly increase when flour is added, which softens the dough's "yeasty" taste. Acidulating bottled water with lemon juice is the simplest way to recreate the effects of sparkling water in baking. Here's how.
Measure an amount of bottled water equal to the amount of sparkling water called for in the recipe. Most bread recipes call for about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sparkling water.
Mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in 1 cup of bottled water for every cup of sparkling water called for in the recipe.
Add the acidulated water when you would add the sparkling water in the recipe. Mix the dough and finish the recipe as usual.
You're all done. Now comes the waiting time to see what will come of your hard work and smart substituting.
Use 1 cup of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to substitute for the sparkling water in tempura batter.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.