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If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering whether you can use baking soda in lieu of baking powder, you aren’t the only one! Many people have asked themselves this question, and it’s a good one! Can you use them in baking at different times? Do they provide the same outcome? Aren’t they the same thing? All of these questions are moments from being answered, so sit tight!
Table of Contents
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate, an alkaline compound that’s often used in baking to help batters and doughs rise when baked. It’s also known as bicarbonate of soda, sodium hydrogen carbonate, or sodium acid carbonate.
In its pure form – which you can find in most grocery stores – baking soda consists of two parts: a base and a salt. When these two substances are combined with water, they react together in an exothermic process, producing heat. Therefore producing carbon dioxide gas which gives baked goods their lift and texture!
What is Baking Powder?
Baking powder is a combination of acids and alkaline compounds. The most common ingredients used as an acid in baking powder are cream of tartar or sodium aluminium sulphate along with sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder releases carbon dioxide when liquid is added to it. This gas is instantly emitted producing air bubbles, which then cause the doughs and batter to rise when baking. Heat will also help the baking powder react and produce more carbon dioxide gas so that your cakes and bread rise beautifully and then quickly sets from the heat in the oven.
Baking Soda vs Baking Powder?
Both baking soda and baking powder are leaveners used in baking. They are both alkaline, so they react with the acids in your ingredients to give your baked goods the perfect lift and airiness they require. Though their use produces similar outcomes, they happen to be chemically different.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a leavening agent. It reacts with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or sour milk to cause a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide gas. When this chemical reaction happens in your oven it causes bubbles on the surface of whatever you’re baking. This causes your muffin tops (for instance) to rise, making them light and fluffy.
Baking Powder is a mix of baking soda and a dry acid – sometimes cornstarch – that has been manufactured into one product, meaning that it doesn’t require another acidic ingredient in order to leaven the baking product.
What Happens if I Use Baking Soda Instead of Baking Powder?
Baking soda is much more powerful than baking powder, so substituting it for the latter will result in an excessively leavened product.
If you use baking soda instead of baking powder for banana bread, for example. Your banana bread will turn out dense and flat. This is because the acidity in the recipe helps to activate the leavening action of the powder, which results in fluffier cakes. With that in mind, if you’ve got a recipe that calls for acidic ingredients like buttermilk or lemon juice and no baking powder, it might be better to use some baking soda instead.
Do Baking Powder and Baking Soda Expire?
Baking powder and baking soda don’t actually expire, but they do lose their leavening abilities over time. Like most packaged products, they react to heat, better known as sunlight. So if they have been exposed to humidity and drastic weather change they will lose their potency. To test if your baking powder has expired, mix one teaspoon of it into 1/3 cup of hot water. If there are lots of bubbles then it’s good to use.
Equally, try testing your baking soda to see if it is suitable to use; place 1/4 teaspoon in a small bowl, then add a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar (about 2 tablespoons). If the mixture bubbles then it is still good to use!
When to Use Baking Powder?
Baking powder is an essential ingredient in many baked goods, especially those that do not contain acidic ingredients. That means you will find baking powder in lots of cookie dough recipes and cake batter recipes. It’s also the main reason why pancakes and waffles rise so well: they have baking soda mixed with a specified liquid or melted butter to give them a brilliant lift. You can try using baking soda in these recipes instead but it won’t make as much of a difference because there isn’t any acidity to react with.
When to Use Baking Soda?
Baking soda is best used in baking when you want to add a little extra lift to your batter. It’s particularly effective at giving pancakes, waffles, and other soft batters a light and fluffy texture. In these cases, it’s what gives those foods that desirable rise.
Bread dough, on the other hand, requires no leavening agent since it has plenty of natural yeast in it already. If you’re making bread by hand or using a stand mixer (either way), refrain from adding baking soda ingredients because they will react with the natural chemistry of your dough.
Baking Powder Substitutes
Baking powder is a common ingredient used in baking that adds volume, lightens texture, and also helps to keep food fresh. However, it may not always be readily available. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative ingredients to use instead:
- Plain Yoghurt
- Cream of Tartar
- Sour Milk
- Lemon Juice
- Club Soda
- Self-Raising Flour
Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that is often compared to plain yoghurt due to its tangy flavour. It contains lactic acid, which gives the milk its sour taste and helps increase its shelf life. Because of this, combining buttermilk with baking soda can produce the same leavening effect as baking powder.
To maintain the desired texture and consistency of your final baked product, make sure you decrease the amount of liquid you add to your recipe to compensate for the exact amount of buttermilk added.
Yogurt is the product of the fermentation of milk, and therefore contains lactic acid in its molecular structure. The fermentation process breaks down sugars in the milk and increases the concentration of lactic acid, which means that plain yogurt has an acidic pH. This makes it an effective substitute for baking powder when mixed with baking soda.
Plain yogurt works best over other varieties because it provides just enough acidity needed for leavening without adding any other flavours to your baked good. You can replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a recipe with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, plus half a cup of plain yogurt.
Molasses is a thick, dark syrup made from the syrup that drips from the sugarcane plant or sorghum cane. It’s an ingredient in many recipes including gingerbread cookies and gingerbread cake. Molasses can also be used as a replacement for baking powder because it is acidic enough to cause an acid-base reaction when coupled with baking soda. This chemical reaction will create bubbles in your batter, just like they would if you were using actual baking powder.
Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is a by-product of winemaking. It’s formed when potassium hydrogen tartrate crystals are separated from wine and ground into a fine white powder. The chemical name for cream of tartar is potassium hydrogen tartrate, but you may also see it listed as potassium bitartrate or potassium acid tartrate on food packaging. It’s used in baking to stabilise beaten egg whites, and as a leavening agent in cakes and other baked goods, such as flaky pie crusts. It helps make the batter more acidic which inhibits gluten formation, helping to keep your baked goods tender instead of crumbly.
You can use sour milk to replace baking powder. This is because sour milk has undergone a process known as acidification, which causes a decrease in pH levels. The acidity of sour milk reacts with baking soda to produce the same leavening effect as baking powder. It’s important to note that this method will only work if you’re using fresh, full-fat dairy products: low-fat or skimmed milk will not produce the same result.
Despite its strong and distinctive flavour, vinegar is a common ingredient in many baked dishes. The acidic pH of vinegar is perfect to use as a substitute for baking powder. Vinegar has a leavening effect when paired with baking soda in cakes and cookies. Though any type of vinegar will work, white vinegar has the most neutral taste and won’t alter the colour of your final product. As with any other substitution, you should first try substituting half the amount of baking powder with baking soda and then gradually increase the amount, until you reach your desired level of leavening power without compromising texture or flavour too much.
Lemon contains a high amount of citric acid, which is why it can help provide the acid needed to trigger an acid-base reaction when paired with baking soda in baked goods. However, because it has such a strong flavour, it’s best used in recipes that call for relatively small amounts of baking powder. For instance, adding lemon juice to your brownie recipe without eggs will give them a tangy kick. On the other hand, if that isn’t something worth anticipating, you might want to skip this substitute for something else on the list!
Club soda is a carbonated beverage that contains sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. As such, it can be used in place of baking powder in certain recipes to provide leavening power without altering the flavour profile of your baked goods. However, club soda is not as potent as an actual baking powder (which has more sodium bicarbonate per volume), so it’s best used in recipes requiring only a bit of added volume.
If you’re out of both baking soda and baking powder, self-raising flour might be a good alternative. Self-raising flour is made from a combination of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt, so it contains everything you need to help make baked goods rise. For this reason, it is a common ingredient in packaged cake mixes, biscuits, and quick bread like cornbreads.
Baking Powder, Baking Soda
Typically, baking powder is often used to replace baking soda in baking recipes. Although their chemical makeup is relatively similar, they have different uses and react differently when mixed with other ingredients. If you’re looking for a substitute, try substituting half the amount of baking powder with baking soda in your recipe, or vice versa.
What Happens if I Use Baking Soda Instead of Baking Powder?
If you swap in an equal amount of baking soda for baking powder in your baking recipes, you’ll notice that they won’t have any lift to them. You can make a baking powder substitute by using baking soda.
What can I Use if I Don’t Have Baking Powder?
If you don’t have baking powder then you can use some baking powder substitutes like Plain yoghurt, sour milk, vinegar (apple cider vinegar will also work), lemon juice, and club soda.
How Much Baking Soda do I Substitute for Baking Powder?
If a recipe requires 1 teaspoon of baking soda, you’ll want to substitute with 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking powder.
Can you Convert Baking Soda to Baking Powder?
Baking powder is another leavening agent that can replace baking soda, but its effects aren’t as strong as baking soda. For this reason, use three times the amount of baking powder as you would baking soda in your recipes.