Baking powder and baking soda are both rising agents, which is what causes baked goods to rise. These ingredients help baked goods such as bread and cake rise by adding gas bubbles.
Why they may appear to be doing the same job and may appear interchangeable, they are not!
Yes, baking soda and baking powder are both white powders used in baking and have slightly bitter flavors. They do, however, have various chemical compositions and applications.
Table of Contents
- Baking Soda – What is it?
- Baking Powder – What is it?
- In Summary: Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder
Baking Soda – What is it?
Baking soda is a clear white powder that is naturally alkaline or basic. When coupled with an acidic component and a liquid, it becomes activated.
Baking Soda is Sodium Bicarbonate plus an acid (lemon juice or buttermilk) that needs moisture and heat to make carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise.
When to Use Baking Soda
- Most people use baking soda in recipes containing acidic components such as cocoa powder or buttermilk.
When you add baking soda to a mixture, it reacts with the acid, producing carbon dioxide. Baking in a heated oven causes the batter to expand and rise, creating a soft and fluffy finished product.
- Baking soda also aids in the browning of baked goods. As a result, it is commonly used to prepare baked goods such as cookies.
- Sodium bicarbonate is an ingredient in personal care products such as deodorant and toothpaste.
- To treat acid reflux, some people take baking soda mixed with water. It neutralizes stomach acidity in the same way that over-the-counter antacids do since it has an alkaline PH.
Before consuming baking soda, a person should consult their doctor because it can affect or cause a reaction to other medications.
Baking Powder – What is it?
Baking powder, unlike baking soda, is a complete leavening agent, which means it comprises both the base (sodium bicarbonate) and the acid required for the product to rise.
Since it is already mixed with an acid (cream of tartar or cornstarch), it just needs moisture and heat to make carbon dioxide.
When to Use Baking Powder
- Baking powder already has acid in it. Baking powder is used when a recipe does not contain an acidic component.
- In most circumstances, baking powder is labeled as double acting. That is, when mixed with a liquid, it will activate or begin to produce carbon dioxide. It will reactivate when the combination is heated or cooked.
- Baking powder is sometimes added to baking soda in some recipes. When baking soda alone cannot produce enough carbon dioxide to leaven the batter, you can add baking powder to achieve this.
What do I Use to Tenderize Meat, Baking Soda or Baking Powder?
You use baking soda to tenderize meats.
Baking soda is used in stir-frys with meat and poultry. You can tenderize the meat that you bought with baking soda is effective as it penetrates the meat very slowly and softens it. However, this works when the meat is cut into thin slices.
The standard rule is one teaspoon per pound of meat when using baking soda as a tenderizer. Stick to a marinade or a commercial meat tenderizer for individual tender steaks, such as a rib-eye.
When using different types of meat make sure to keep them separate to avoid Salmonella poisoning.
Why Do Some Recipes Contain Both Baking Soda and Baking Powder?
Some recipes, for example, many pancake recipes, call for baking soda and baking powder.
Recipes that require a somewhat acidic taste, such as buttermilk pancakes, frequently ask for baking soda and powder.
Using only baking soda neutralizes the acid (including its flavor) while making C02. Including baking powder can use less baking soda while keeping the recipe’s tart flavor.
How to Check If Your Baking Soda or Baking Powder is Fresh
Both baking soda and baking powder might lose their effectiveness over time. So, here’s how to test for freshness:
- To check the freshness of baking powder, add a teaspoon to a glass of hot water. It’s still active if it bubbles up.
- To evaluate the freshness of baking soda, mix a teaspoon of baking soda with some vinegar. It’s okay if it erupts into a volcano.
In Summary: Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder
As a leavening agent, baking soda or baking powder is used in many baked goods recipes. Some recipes may even combine the two.
While both leavening products look similar, they are not the same.
- Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which requires acid and a liquid to activate and aid in the rise of baked goods.
- Baking powder, on the other hand, contains sodium bicarbonate and an acid. It merely takes a liquid to activate it.
With careful adjustments, it is possible to substitute one for the other.