Baking Soda vs Baking Powder


What Is the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?





Both baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents (that means that when they are combined with acid and liquid, they produce carbon dioxide air bubbles). Because of that property, they are usually added to baked products in order to cause them to become porous and “to rise”, when baked. This process finally makes the finished product softer and lighter.

Baking soda is not the same as the baking powder.

The main differences between baking soda and baking powder are listed here:


Baking Soda …


Baking Soda
  1. Basics: Baking soda is a pure chemical substance (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3). Because of that, you need to “manually” add some acidic ingredient (cream of tartar, buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, honey, cocoa, or vinegar) and some liquid to trigger the leavening effect (the rising).
  2. Taste: Salty, soapy, alkaline.
  3. Leavening: Leavening is triggered immediately upon mixing the ingredients (baking soda+acid+liquid).


… vs Baking Powder


Baking Powder
  1. Basics: Baking powder is a ready combination of nearly all the needed stuff which trigger leavening: baking soda + acidic ingredient (usually tartaric acid) + drying agent (usually starch). You only need to add liquid to start the leavening.
  2. Taste: Neutral.
  3. Leavening: Leavening effect is triggered based on the type of baking powder:
    a) single-acting baking powder: leavening effect is triggered immediately after mixing the baking powder with water. Products need to be baked immediately after mixing, in order to avoid losing the air bubbles.
    b) double-acting baking powder: leavening effect is devided into two phases: in the first phase some gas is produced at room temperature when mixing baking powder with dough, but the majority of the gas is produced in the second phase – in the high temperature environment (in the oven). In this case, products do not have to be baked immediately after mixing the ingredients.


How to use baking soda instead of baking powder


If for some reason you can’t, or won’t, use baking powder in your recipes, you can easily make your own baking powder by following these instructions:

Ingredients: baking soda, cream of tartar.
  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar.
  2. Mix together.
  3. This mix is equal to 3 teaspoons of baking powder (1 teaspoon of baking soda + 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar = 3 teaspoon of baking powder).

If your recipe already has some acidic ingredients (like cream of tartar, sour milk, etc.), then you can use *only* baking soda as a substitute for baking powder – but in this case, use about 1/3 of the requested amount of baking powder.

TIP: When using acidic ingredients for triggering the leavening effect (like cream of tartar), some recommend adding a little cornstarch in the mix to slow down the chemical process.


Combining baking soda and baking powder

When you combine both baking powder and baking soda, the baking powder does most of the leavening, while the baking soda does some leavening and neutralizes the acids in the baked product.



Which one do you use for leavening – baking soda or baking powder?


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