Ingredients Series: Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda

To see any of my previous Ingredients Series posts please see the following links: Flours, Sugars, Butter vs. Margarine. Today we're talking about a common issue in baking - leaveners. Specifically baking powder vs. baking soda. What is baking soda? Baking soda is a chemical compound called sodium bicarbonate. When combined with acid, it creates a chemical reaction that releases bubbles. In baking these bubbles give height and lift to a baked good. The one caveat - as soon as that baking soda touches the acid, it starts releasing those bubbles. So you are often on the clock to get that item in the oven so that the other ingredients, like flour and eggs can set the bubbles in place. If the bubbles release early, before the flour and eggs have time to set, your baked good will not have the height you want! Then what is baking powder? Baking powder is a double action product. It contains both the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and cream of tartar (acid). This means if your recipe doesn't contain acid to activate baking soda, you'll likely use baking powder. However it does more than just use the chemical reaction between these two ingredients, it also reacts to the heat of the oven, giving it more lift. So which do you use? Well, it depends on the recipe. If you're recipe has an acidic ingredient and will go directly in the oven, you'll most likely use baking soda. If you have little to no acidity in your recipe or it will rest a bit before the oven (like many cookie recipes) you'll probably use baking powder. What ingredients are acidic? Buttermilk, molasses (brown sugar), sour cream, chocolate, oranges, lemons, and limes are great examples of common acidic foods. Have more questions about baking powder or baking soda? E-mail them to me at or comment below! #baking #bake #leaveners #bakingpowder #bakingsoda #acid #heat #recipe #bakingingredientblogseries

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