Why is powdered ammonium carbonate or vol added to choux paste

Powdered ammonium carbonate, or 'vol' as it is commonly known, is entirely different from other baking powders used in baking. When heated the whole of the material turns into three gases - ammonia, carbon dioxide and water vapour - and no residue remains in the product in the form of a salt. Not all the gases escape, with the result that a smell of ammonia remains after the products are withdrawn from the oven. This is because ammonia is extremely soluble in water. No action takes place until the products are heated. Vol should be stored in an airtight container to maximise its subsequent effectiveness.

When added to choux paste in quite small quantities vol helps to improve the volume, especially in the case of cream buns as these are required to be extremely light in character and to have the greatest possible volume. It is not always necessary to add vol to choux paste to obtain good volume if the choux products are correctly made. Neither is it necessary to add vol when making eclair cases as there is a tendency for the paste to 'blow' too much, thus spoiling the shape of the eclairs.

Continue reading here: Why are cream buns baked under covers but eclairs are not

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