Having recently prepared a recipe reliant on air to cook (a.k.a. a recipe that needs a leavener), today Travis played around with two different kinds of leaveners to see which worked its magic faster.
In one empty water bottle, combine 1 cup warm water, 1 packet active yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Put on the lid and shake, then remove the lid and place an uninflated balloon over the opening. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a second empty water bottle with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup white vinegar. Working quickly, add 1/4 cup baking soda. Add a balloon as fast as you can over the top of the bottle; it will immediately inflate with air.
This was fantastic fun for Travis, since the second bottle will be exploding a volcano of vinegar as you attach the balloon.
The results were immediately obvious; baking soda acts much faster than yeast. In fact, our yeast balloon took longer than the 20 minutes we had set on the timer, but after about an hour the balloon was beginning to inflate.
I explained to Travis that this was part of the difference between a slow (yeast) bread and a quick bread (like banana bread), which comes together must faster. Now he understood why!
Stayed tuned for more elemental food science soon!