Today let’s talk about the differences between two kitchen staples: baking powder and baking soda. While they have similar names and can be found in the same aisle, they have two totally different purposes.
To begin, let’s look at the definitions for each.
Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent; a mixture of a carbonate or bicarbonate and a weak acid, and is used for increasing the volume and lightening the texture of baked goods.
Baking soda is also a leavening agent. It reacts with acidic components in batters, releasing carbon dioxide, which causes expansion of the batter and forms the characteristic texture of pancakes, cakes, quick breads, and other baked goodss.
The main difference between the two is the chemical structure of the substances. Baking soda is a base, and when an acid is added to it you will get a reaction (think 7th grade volcano projects). Baking powder is a mixture of both baking soda and a dry acid (think cream of tartar).
If you find yourself in the middle of a recipe and missing ingredients here are some helpful tips:
1. You can substitute baking soda for baking powder by increasing the amount of acidic ingredients in the recipe.
2. You can make baking powder by mixing one part baking soda to two parts of cream of tartar.
While they are both leavening agents, you should always trust your recipe and follow the instructions. While the two are similar, they are not interchangeable. If the recipe calls for baking powder or baking soda, it is best to use what is listed. Remember, baking is chemistry. The recipe requires the ingredients to react in a certain way to produce the final product.
I hope this helps shed some light on these two ingredients. Until next time, happy baking!