Many novice bakers wonder whether there is any difference between baking soda and baking powder and feel that they are the same. Most also wonder whether they can substitute one for the other without impacting the way the other ingredients behave in a recipe. But the lesson to learn in this article is that baking soda and baking powder are definitely not the same.

Baking powder and baking soda, share a common word – baking. However, they are chemically two different substances. Both work as leaveners and both are used in baking. But in order to be a good baker, you need to understand the difference between these two substances clearly.

Know What Baking Soda Is

Baking soda is also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. Let’s understand some basic things about baking soda because users are often confused about what it does. Baking soda is essentially a BASE; when added to an acid like vinegar, it bubbles up like an eruption. This reaction produces carbon dioxide.

The same reaction takes place when you use baking soda while preparing cakes, breads, cookies, biscuits, etc. The baking soda (base) reacts with ingredients like brown sugar, molasses, honey, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and vinegar etc when used in baking these various items. It is only when the acid in the recipe reacts with baking soda to produce carbon dioxide that you see the flour mix rising.

If you compare baking soda to baking powder, you will find that the former is about 3-4 times stronger than the latter. But do not be misled in thinking that if you use more baking soda in a recipe, you will get more lift. You need to use just enough to reach a reaction point with the acid in the recipe. The proportion of baking soda and acid has to be balanced to produce just the right amount of rise and taste.

Leftover baking soda in the recipe creates a metallic and soapy taste in your baked items. You do not want your baked goods to leave behind that kind of taste on your palate. Expert bakers recommend that you use around 1/4 tsp. of baking soda for a cup of flour in a recipe. But do not forget to neutralise it with an acid to avoid the lingering metallic taste.

Know What Baking Powder Is

Baking powder is basically a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar (a dry acid) with corn-starch occasionally added to it. The baking powder is usually double-acting; let’s understand this double acting quality is. While mixing the dry and wet ingredients in a recipe, the first leavening, i.e. activation occurs when the baking soda gets wet. That is why batters are prepared just before baking, or else this effect will be lost. The second leavening takes place when baking soda gets heated during baking.

More About The Double Acting Aspect

As we have seen that baking powder already contains an acid to neutralize the baking soda. Therefore it is used in recipes that do not need an additional acidic ingredient (but this is not a universal practice). Sugar cookies are a good example. You can use baking powder as a leavening agent for recipes that require an acidic ingredient. Expert bakers use about 1 tsp. of baking powder for a cup of flour.

Some recipes use both baking soda and baking powder. This combination serves the purpose of providing enough leavening to the volume of batter. The acid contained in these recipes does not produce enough carbon dioxide when mixed with baking soda, and adding baking powder provides the necessary lift. It is this balancing effect that allows the flour to rise sufficiently in a well-baked product.

At Ganache Patisserie, you will find fantastic breads and delicious croissants, layer cakes, cupcakes, pastries, sourdough and other baked goods for everyday consumption as well as for the holidays. We also have a wide variety of cupcakes for you to indulge in. Come; explore our scrumptious world of goodies.

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Ganache Patisserie
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