A common question when baking is what to use baking soda vs baking powder. To answer this question our expert bakers have given a detailed response to help you on your baking journey.
Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents that help the dough and batter to rise. This gives the admirable light and fluffy texture. However, they are not interchangable and there are some key differences between the two. It is important to understand these key differences in order to determine what to use.
Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, an acid, and a moisture-absorbing ingredient. The acid in baking powder reacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide gas and this causes the dough or batter to rise. So, using this you now know baking power is a pre-mixed leavening agent and so only needs to be combined with a liquid to activate.
Baking soda, on the other hand, is a pure base and needs an acid to react with to produce this carbon dioxide gas. So, baking soda is often used in combination with an acid, such as lemon juice or buttermilk. Baking soda is more potent, so less is needed to achieve the same level of leavening. However, because of this it can have a metallic taste if too much is used.
Another difference is over time baking powder will lose its effectiveness especially when exposed to moisture. Baking soda on the other hand will have an indefinite shelf life, but only if it is kept dry.
So now what will you use? This is where you must look at the recipe in detail. Use baking powder in recipes that do not contain an acid ingredient and baking soda in recipes that contain an acid ingredient. If you do not know if it contains an acid ingredient run an experiment with two recipes. One that contains baking soda and the other baking powder and see what dough rises.
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