Why do some recipes call for baking soda and some call for baking powder? What are the differences between these two white, odorless powders both used for baking?
Baking soda is also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. When used in cooking, baking soda is always mixed with some sort of acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or cream of tartar. That is because, when mixed with an acid, this alkali powder creates bubbles that cause baked goods, like cakes, to rise. If baking soda is used without an acid, it imparts an unpleasant flavour.
Bicarbonate of Soda
Baking powder is baking soda that already includes the acidic agent (cream of tartar). It also includes a drying agent, usually cornstarch.
How do you know which one to use in a recipe?
This will depend on the other ingredients in the recipe. Baking soda will often be used when there is another acidic ingredient that counters the bitter taste, such as buttermilk.
Because baking powder is already neutral, it does not have much of an effect on taste. Recipes that use baking powder will often use other neutral ingredients, such as milk.
Can you substitute one for the other?
You can substitute baking powder for baking soda. However you will need to adjust the quantities because you’ll need more baking powder, and this could affect the final taste.
You can’t substitute baking soda for baking powder. Although, you can make your own by mixing 1 part baking soda to 2 parts cream of tartar and, voila!
A general rule of thumb is that you use baking powder when wishing to achieve a delicate, light product like cakes and light cookies, and baking soda is fab when wishing to achieve a good rise like bread or drop scones.
Baking powder replaces eggs to gift rise to baked goods. Royal Baking Powder 1920’s
In the ‘old days’ when people used to boil their veggies, instead of gently steaming or blanching and then refreshing like we know to do today, they added a tsp of bicarb to keep their veggies green! Clever Cheats!