Baking Powder and Baking Soda are the most frequently used and yet completely confused and misunderstood. This post here will help you understand these two ingredients.
We all have our doubts with these two ingredients, don’t we ?Back then when I had just started baking and was getting to learn more and more about these two basic ingredients, I was always intimidated, because there was so much going around these two… Right..?? Im sure its the same for anyone starting new in baking. Take a recipe.. follow blindly…. !! well thats what I did…(surrender) !! But I certainly believe we need to know why are we using a particular ingredient.
This post is just about that, baking powder and baking soda in detail.
Further into my experiments with bakes I did read a lot about these two white ingredients in books, blog posts.. !! Hence I felt the need for it to be articulated well, so to serve as a reference to any of you reading these at any point of your baking journey.
In this post you will
- understand what is baking powder and baking soda
- How to use both of them
- Testing their freshness
- And why some recipes use both
WHAT IS BAKING POWDER AND BAKING SODA
Baking powder and Baking soda are both leavening agents used in a baking recipe, mostly in cakes, cupcakes, sponges, where there is a need for the batter to rise. It enlarges the bubbles, that are already there in the batter as a result of creaming. Lets Dive Deeper…!!! More in detail below
WHAT IS BAKING SODA
Sodium Bicarbonate or Bicarbonate of soda, when mixed with acid creates carbon dioxide. This makes the bakes to rise.. ! Simple ? It is.
So now, for the baking soda to react it needs an acid ingredient in the recipe like brown sugar, honey, molasses, applesauce, vinegar, buttermilk, yoghurt, lemon juice, pure natural unsweetened cocoa powder.
What does Baking Soda do ?
- Once it is mixed with the acidic ingredient it neutralizes the acid and contributes to the tenderness in the baked good.
- baking soda is 3 to 4 times stronger, so 1/4 tsp to a cup of flour is good enough. Too much of it can leave a soapy metallic taste
- baking soda starts to react when added to the batter with a wet ingredient, and that is why such batters need to be baked immediately.
WHAT IS BAKING POWDER
Baking powder contains a mix of baking soda, cream of tartar(a dry acid) and cornstarch to absorb any moisture. Baking powder are usually 2 types single acting and double acting. But double acting baking powder is the one that is available in the market.
What does Baking Powder do ?
- The baking powder reacts at 2 stages, once while it is mixed with the dry ingrdients and on addition to wet ingredients. one of the acids ( cream of tartar ) acts with the baking soda to form carbon dioxide.
- The second reaction is when the batter is in the oven and is heated the gas expands causing the batter to rise.
- Use 1 tsp to a cup of flour in a recipe.
Why do some recipes use both leavening agents ?
- For some recipes and baked goods, the baking soda when reacted with acid, is not enough to leaven the batter ( considering the batter quantity), in that case baking powder is used gives a nice aerated finished product.
- In some recipes, acids like buttermilk, yoghurt is used to enhance the flavour. If using only baking soda, it neutralizes the acid, and removes the flavour of the acid as well. this is where the baking powder comes into play and the acid in it helps it enhancing the overall taste
Like the recipes that contain buttermilk, vinegar, cocoa powder.
- These two ingredients acts as a colour enhancer, ie browning of the baked goodie. browning happen in an alkaline environment, leaving out baking soda and using only baking powder gives a whitish pale looking baked good. Using both gives a lovely browning colour in the baked goodie. When used with cocoa powder, it gives a reddish brown colour.
Here are some recipes that use both leavening agents
IMPORTANT TIPS TO REMEMBER
Both of these ingredients do expire, I replace them once every 3 months.
Also do check for freshness, if you do not bake regularly. Else replace them
For Baking Soda – Mix 1/4 tsp of with 2tsp of vinegar, it should bubble immediately
For Baking Powder – Mix 1tsp with 1/2 cup of hot water, it should bubble immediately
Else it needs a new replacement.
Clear…? Not yet… !! completely understand it is a dull, colourless topic. Thats it for today… No more science. But getting the basics straight and right is indispensible to master any art (Baking Science). For other structural ingredient in baking, here it is