You Need to Know This: The Main Difference between Baking Powder and Baking Soda Explained
Often times, people confuse baking powder and baking soda as a consequence of their similar names and appearance. Although they’re often combined in recipes because of their leavening properties, they have their own, different uses. They have different chemical structure as well. Let’s take a look at a detailed explanation of baking soda and baking powder to understand the main differences between them:
Known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a base mineral, which, when mixed with something acidic, produces carbon dioxide. So, when baking soda is put in a recipe, it’s because it requires some kind of acid. When adding it to a recipe, you also need to add something acidic like lemon juice, molasses, cream of tartar, buttermilk, yogurt, and brown sugar in order for them to react.
And, baking soda is stronger than baking powder. But, too much baking soda doesn’t mean more puffiness and, when it fails to react with the acids from the recipe, there will be leftover baking soda. When it fails to be neutralized with acid, the recipe will have a metallic taste due to the presence of baking soda.
Rule of thumb: use ¼ tsp of baking soda per a cup of flour in a recipe.
This is a mixture of baking soda and other acids like cream of tartar and cornstarch. In recipes, the first leavening happens after baking powder becomes wet and the second when baking powder is heated. So, it already has acid.
Rule of thumb: use 1 tsp of baking powder per a cup of flour in recipes.
Some recipes require both substances
Some recipes have some kind of acid and the carbon dioxide created from the acid and baking soda is not enough to puff up the dough. Therefore, baking powder is needed for balance.
Always use fresh baking powder and soda and replace them every 3 months. You can always test their effectiveness before using them. Hence, in order to test baking powder, put 3 tbsp of warm water in a small bowl and add half a tsp of baking powder and mix the content. If there is some reaction, then the baking soda is fresh.
To check the effectiveness of baking soda, put 3 tbsp of white distilled vinegar in a bowl and add half a tsp of baking soda and stir the content. If it bubbles, the baking powder is fresh.
Additional tip to remember the difference between these two ingredients:
Baking soda-single ingredient
Baking powder-poof in the oven