Is baking powder and baking soda the same thing? How many of us have tried substituting one of these ingredients for the other and did not achieve the kind of cake texture we were hoping for? Read on to find out about the difference between baking soda and baking powder and also in which recipes to use them in!
Both baking soda and baking powder are used as a leavening agent that causes cakes to rise due to the carbon dioxide produced when they are added into the cake batter. Although both these ingredients have the same function, they are used in different conditions.
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate and when combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient, a chemical reaction occurs forming carbon dioxide air bubbles which expand when heated in the oven. As this reaction is immediate, recipes that use baking soda should be baked immediately to prevent the cake from turning out flat.
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, an acidifying agent (cream of tartar) and a drying agent (starch). There are two types of baking powder: single-acting and double-acting. Single-acting baking powder is activated by moisture and, like baking soda, should be baked immediately upon addition to the batter. Double-acting baking powder reacts in two phases and can stand a while before baking. Carbon dioxide is released in slight amounts at room temperature and most of the carbon dioxide is released when baked in the oven.
So now the question in your mind is: when to use baking powder and when to use baking soda.
Well, this depends on what other ingredients are used to make the cake batter as we all want to get a delicious cake with a pleasing texture. Baking soda is basic in nature hence it as a bitter taste unless an acidic ingredient like buttermilk is added. Baking powder contains both an acid and a base hence it has an overall neutral effect that would not greatly affect the overall taste. Usually when baking powder is used, other neutral ingredients like milk would also be present.
When using these baking leaveners, be careful not to use self-raising flour as the batter could overflow the cupcake tin!