Let's talk about baking powder and baking soda, two powerful ingredients that we use in most of our baking recipes.
Is there anything more divisive than the great baking soda vs. baking powder debate? On one side, the purists claim that only baking soda can produce a true rise in cakes and cookies. On the other side, the chemical leavening advocates say that baking powder is far superior because it produces a more consistent rise every time.
Whether you're a novice baker or an experienced one, there's always something new to learn in the kitchen. This post will look at the differences between baking soda and baking powder – two of the most common leavening agents. We'll discuss what each does, when to use them and how to make your baked goods come out perfect every time.
So, let's settle this debate once and for all!
Here's the science lesson
- Baking soda and baking powder are rising agents, meaning that they cause baked goods to get fluffy.
- Baking soda is made of sodium bicarbonate, while baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate and an acid such as cream of tartar.
- When you add baking soda to a wet mixture, the sodium bicarbonate reacts with the acids in the batter to produce carbon dioxide gas. This gas expands and causes the baked goods to rise. Remember the volcano science experiment in 4th grade (baking soda + vinegar = explosion.)
- Baking powder also contains starch, which helps to keep the gas bubbles created by the baking soda from dissipating too quickly. As a result, baked goods made with baking powder rise more than those made with baking soda alone.
- If you look closely at both, they are both white powders, but baking powder has a fine soft texture and baking soda has more of a grainy texture.
Baking soda is a leavening agent used in baking to make the dough rise. It is made of sodium bicarbonate, a chemical that reacts with acids to release carbon dioxide gas. This gas creates bubbles in the dough, which causes it to rise.
Using baking soda in cookies helps in the browning process
And, baking soda is a neutralizer, so it can change the flavor profiles and if you use too much it will create a metallic taste.
Baking soda can also be used as a cleaning agent because it reacts with oils and grease to create a bubbly foam that helps remove them from surfaces.
Baking powder is another dry chemical leavening agent that consists of baking soda, an acid (most often the cream of tartar), and cornstarch. It is used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods. When baking powder comes into contact with wet ingredients, it releases carbon dioxide gas. This gas forms tiny bubbles in the batter or dough, which then expand during baking and cause the baked good to rise. Baking powder also helps products to brown and gives them a finer crumb or texture.
The double-acting baking powder contains two leavening agents - one that is activated by moisture and one by heat. The dough or batter will rise when mixed with liquid and then rise again when exposed to heat (such as in the oven). This results in a better overall rise for the final product.
Most baking powders sold in stores are double acting baking powder. So Rumford, Clabber Girl, Davis, Argo, and Bob's Red Mill are all double acting and some of the best baking powder brands.
Should you use both baking soda and baking powder in a recipe?
Yes, even though they are both leaveners that make baked goods rise, many recipes need both in order to neutralize the acid. Just using baking soda can achieve the same rise, but too much baking soda can mean your baked good ends up tasting bad. That's where the baking powder comes in. Add that baking powder to get that extra lift needed for your cake or cookies.
What Are The Similarities Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?
Both of these leveners are white powders and they look almost the same.
When combined with moisture and heat, baking soda and baking powder release carbon dioxide gas, which causes the batter or dough to expand. Both ingredients are alkaline, meaning they have a pH above 7.0. This is what gives them their rising power. They react and produce carbon dioxide gas when they come into contact with an acid, which helps to leaven the batter.
Baking soda and baking powder should be added to the batter in the same way - just before baking. If you add them too early, they will lose their effectiveness.
What happens if you leave these leaveners out of a recipe?
If you leave either one of these baking leaveners out of a recipe, you'll likely end up with a dense, heavy cake or cookie. So if your recipe calls for either baking soda or baking powder, be sure to add it!
Can you use baking soda in place of baking powder?
You can, but it will result in a slightly different texture. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients, such as buttermilk or yogurt, to create carbon dioxide gas and cause the batter to rise. Baking powder, when added to liquid, also forms carbon dioxide gas bubbles and causes the batter to rise. The main difference between baking soda and baking powder is that baking powder has a neutralizing agent (usually cornstarch), which prevents the batter from becoming too acidic.
☑️If you don't have baking powder use this substitution - You can use baking soda but you will need 3 times less than the amount of baking powder the recipe calls for since it is more powerful than the baking powder.
So if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of baking powder, use just 1 teaspoon of baking soda. (There are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon.) Plus, you need to add an acid such as lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk to the recipe to activate the baking soda. For every teaspoon of baking soda add twice that much of the acid. So 1 teaspoon of soda and 2 teaspoons of an acid.
Can you use baking powder in place of baking soda?
Yes, but with a few caveats. Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and an acid. The baking soda in the powder reacts with the acid to release carbon dioxide gas, which causes baked goods to rise. So if you replace the baking soda in a recipe with baking powder, you'll need to use slightly more baking powder than called for because it doesn't contain as much power as baking soda. In addition, the reaction between the baking soda and acid in baking powder is not as potent as that between the baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice. So your baked goods won't rise as much as they'd with baking soda.
☑️If you don't have baking soda use this substitution - If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda you can substitute 3 teaspoons of baking powder. Basically, you want to use three times the amount of baking powder for the soda.
What type of recipes use just baking soda?
Many baking recipes are well suited for baking soda.
For example, baking soda can be used in batters and doughs to help them rise. Additionally, baking soda can neutralize acidic ingredients in a recipe and brighten baked goods. Some of the most popular recipes that include baking soda are pancake batter, muffin batter, cookie dough, cake batter, and bread dough. These are recipes that need an acidic ingredient
These recipes use just baking soda -
- Lemon and sour cream are the acidic ingredients used in this tangy Lemon Bundt Cake.
- For these Chewy Lemon Cookies baking soda is mixed with the acidic lemon juice to create the rising agent.
- This Mandarin Orange Bundt Cake benefits from using just baking soda because of its two acidic ingredients.
What type of recipes use just baking powder?
Think baked goods that get really tall.
Anything that requires a light and airy texture, like angel food cake or souffle, will benefit from the impact of baking powder. Biscuits and scones are other great options - the key is to use cold butter and work it in quickly so that the finished product is nice and flaky. Finally, most quick breads (like banana bread or cornbread) will also turn out nicely with baking powder. These are recipes where an acidic ingredient isn't necessary.
These recipes use just baking powder -
- Blueberry Lemon Scones that bake up golden brown and tender.
- This recipe for Maple Syrup Walnut Muffins uses a tablespoon of baking powder.
- Muffins like baking powder to rise in the muffin cups and these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins bake up nice and tall.
How long do baking soda and baking powder last?
Do they go bad?
Both baking powder and baking soda have a long shelf life. Baking powder typically lasts for about 12 months, while baking soda can last for up to 18 months. They both become ineffective over time, so they won't make your food taste bad or be harmful to eat - they'll just not do anything. However, remember that excess moisture and air can ruin these agents' texture sooner than the expected shelf life.
In conclusion, it is vital to know the difference between baking powder and baking soda when cooking or baking. Baking powder is a leavening agent that contains both an acid and base, while baking soda is just a base. When combined with an acidic ingredient, baking soda will react and produce carbon dioxide gas, which can cause the dough to get fluffier. However, baking soda can leave a bitter taste if not used correctly. Meanwhile, baking powder is self-contained and will not need an acidic ingredient to react. It is also less likely to leave a bitter taste.