Both baking soda and baking powder are two commonly confused household ingredients because of their similar names and appearance. They can even be used both in the same recipe, but it is always good to know their individual uses as despite being the similar, they’re chemically different.
Here are the key differences between baking soda and baking powder.
Baking soda or also known as sodium bicarbonate is a base mineral which produces carbon dioxide when combined with an acidic mixture. In other words, when a recipe needs baking soda, it actually needs some type of acid such as brown sugar, molasses, yogurt, lemon juice, tartar cream or buttermilk, so that the mixture can react together with this acidic ingredient.
It is worth noting that baking soda is stronger than baking powder, but too much baking soda doesn’t necessarily react with any acid in the recipe, and this will cause the unnecessary baking soda to be a leftover in the recipe. Adding too much baking soda can even result in the recipe having a metallic taste.
In order to know how much baking soda is enough for a recipe, you must know the “rule of the thumb”.
The “Thumb Rule” says that around ¼ teaspoon of baking soda should be used per 1 cup of flour in a recipe.
Baking powder is a mixture of some type of acid such as cornstarch or tartar cream, with baking soda. When preparing a certain recipe, the first leavening of baking powder occurs when it gets wet, and the second leavening occurs when you heat up the baking soda. This means that it already contains an acid.
Just like baking soda, you must also know the “thumb rule” of using baking powder.
The “Thumb Rule” says that you should use 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour in a recipe.
Some Recipes Require both Baking Powder and Baking Soda
There are specific recipes and dishes out there which require using both of these ingredients. These types of recipes usually have some sort of acid and the carbon dioxide created from the baking soda and acid isn’t enough to leaven the volume, so baking powder is added as well.
They Have an Expiration Date
It is highly important that you always use baking powder and soda that are fresh. Never use these ingredients if you’re older than 3 months.
If you’re unsure whether or not the ingredient has passed its expiration date, test the baking powder by pouring 3 tablespoons of warm water into a small spoon and add ½ teaspoon of baking powder and stir it. If there is a reaction – the ingredient is fresh.
If you want to test whether or not the baking soda is fresh, pour 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar in a small bowl and add ½ teaspoon of baking soda and mix it well. If the mixture starts bubbling rapidly, it is a sign of a fresh baking soda.
Additional Tip: If you still have problems telling the difference just remember these two simple things:
- Baking Soda – simple ingredient
- Baking Powder – “poof” in the oven