The fact that baking powder and baking powder get easily confused isn’t surprising given their similar appearance and similar names. Additionally, these two components are utilized within the same recipe, making it a bit daunting for people to tell them apart. However, when it comes to how the two are utilized individually, it’s imperative to know the difference, or you may easily end up with a baking disaster.
What’s a baking soda?
Both the baking soda and powder are leaveners used when baking, but these components are chemically different. Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate soda. The easiest way to explain this substance is first to acknowledge that baking soda is an alkaline substance. Remember the experiments you did back when you were a kid, adding vinegar to bicarbonate soda to watch bubbles erupt?
This whole concept was about mixing a base and an acid to get a reaction which in this case were the bubbles.
Therefore, if you happen to encounter a baking recipe which used baking soda, that recipe will likely contain some acidic elements such as lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or buttermilk. When these components (acid and base) come into contact, carbon dioxide bubbles are formed, causing the leavening in dough.
Baking soda creates leavening when heated (try putting boiling water over the baking soda in soda in the sink to unclog the drain. The substance will bubble up), but if not balanced with any acidic ingredient, it may create a metallic taste.
This same reaction is expected when baking cakes, cookies, and bread. When baking soda is a requirement in a recipe, some acid will also be needed. This acid is required to react with the bicarbonate soda so as to create carbon dioxide, allowing the baked substance to rise.
This alkaline substance is strong. In fact, baking soda is approximately three to four times stronger than baking powder. You should also know that more bicarbonate soda in any recipe does not necessarily mean more lift. If not used with an equivalent amount of acid, the recipe will have some left over baking soda. This isn’t good as it creates a soapy, metallic taste in the baked products.
A good rule of thumb: Always ensure to include about a quarter teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of flour in your recipe.
Note – Like mentioned above, baking soda can leaven your baked goods if exposed to heat. Nevertheless, unless the compound is neutralized with acid, the baked products will most likely have some metallic aftertaste.
This compound contains sodium bicarbonate and includes an acidifying agent already, as well as a drying agent, which is usually starch. This implies that everything remains inert in the mixture until some liquid is added, allowing the acid and the soda to combine and produce carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles. This process gives the baking powder its lifting ability in recipes. If this reaction did not take place, you would have biscuits that are not so good looking.
This substance is available as both a single-acting and a double-acting baking powder. The former are activated by moisture and, therefore, you must bake recipes that incorporate this substance immediately after mixing. On the other hand, double-acting powders lead to reactions in two stages and can stand for some time before baking. With the double-acting powder, gas is released when added to the dough at room temperature, but most of the gas is released when the temperature of the dough is increased in the oven. Therefore, you should pay close attention to the label when buying a new box of baking powder.
Since the balance of the acid and the base (soda) has already been calculated, it’s much easier to obtain a final product without an aftertaste when the baking powder is used in the right amounts.
Just like the baking soda, it’s possible for the baking powder to lose its lifting powers if not properly stored. The guidelines on how this product is to be handled and stored are included in the package. However, baking powder should always be stored in a cool, dry place. You need to ensure that the product isn’t exposed to humid conditions during storage as this could allow reactions to occur between the acid and base.
How do you determine recipes?
Some recipes require baking powder while others require baking soda. The type of ingredient used will depend on what other ingredients are available in the recipe. The final goal is to come up with a tasty product with an attractive texture. Unless countered by an acidic substance, baking soda will yield a bitter taste as it is a base compound. Baking soda can be found in cookie recipes.
On the other hand, baking powder contains a base and an acid, and includes an overall neutral effect when it comes to taste. Recipes which require the use of baking powder usually contain other neutral-tasting ingredients like milk. This substance is a common ingredient in biscuits and cakes.
Substituting in Recipes
It is possible to replace baking soda with baking powder but in such a case, you will require more baking powder although the taste of your baked goods may also be affected. On the other hand, it’s not recommended to use baking soda if the recipe requires you to use baking powder. By itself, baking soda does not have the acidity needed to make a cake rise. Nevertheless, you can create baking powder when using baking soda and a tartar cream. Simply mix one part of baking soda with two parts tartar cream.
If there is a recipe requiring the use of baking soda, you may be in a position to substitute with baking powder. Nonetheless, you’ll need up to four times as much baking powder if you are to obtain the same kind of results. Moreover, depending on your recipe, you may end up with a product that is somewhat bitter due to a large amount of baking powder. You can substitute baking powder with the baking soda, but this isn’t recommended as it will likely change the texture and taste of your baked products.
Although both the baking soda and the baking powder are somehow similar in how they function, you need to remember that these two are different. Therefore, if a recipe requires the inclusion of baking powder, it’s better to use it and not the baking soda. Nonetheless, in recipes where you need to use baking soda, it’s possible to substitute it with baking powder as this compound is a milder version of the baking soda and will not cause any harm. On the other hand, you should remember that substituting baking powder with baking soda is not recommended.
All in all, both the baking powder and baking soda have a different impact on the taste and texture of the dish. For that reason, it’s advisable to select the right ingredient depending on how you want the dish to appear and taste. And if you are still finding it difficult to differentiate the two, here is a quick reminder of what you need to remember:
- Baking Powder = Poof in oven
- Baking Soda = Single ingredient