A pound of sugar and a dash of ammonia

The Co-operative Group archive project is sadly almost at its end.  However, gems are still coming out of the woodwork!  Even if they are a bit puzzling…

CWS Crumpsall factory recipe book: measurement and loose sheets with instruction

Take this recipe book, for instance.  It is for the Crumpsall Biscuit Factory (here and here), beautifully handwritten for most of it, and from about the mid-1920s (although we’re not sure when it was created, it was definitely used at that time).

Most of it is wonderful and charming, as you would expect.  Recipes include phrases like “give it a good beating”, and you can find all of your favourites like Garibali and Shortbread, as well as a few that have either gone out of favour or been cleverly re-branded such as the “Saloon” biscuit.  Anyone have any idea that was?  Would love to know.

BUT THEN: 15lbs of ammonia?  In a biscuit?

I understand that they are industrial measurements as they were being made on an industrial scale, But why ammonia?

Recipes from the 1920s showing ammonia in the mixture, in imperial measurements on an industrial scale. That's going to take a lot of tea get dunk all of those.

Could it have been a rising agent?  But then the recipes also including baking soda or something similar.

Maybe it was used to clean the bugs out of the flour, as food hygiene must have been a bit different back then.  But why change ammonia with acid, as some recipes do.  Are there some bugs that are affected by acid but not ammonia?

I don’t get it!  HELP! Any ideas would be MOST welcome.  Take pity on this poor archivist and tell me why!

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