The Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda (And Why It's So Important)
There's nothing sadder than working all day on a beautiful baking masterpiece, only to realize you accidentally mixed up your baking powders and sodas. UGH. It definitely does make a difference which one you use. So grab a pencil and take notes. This is important stuff.
The best way to remember what use baking soda provides: Soda=Bubbles. Susan Reid of Sift magazine describes baking soda as a base mineral that produces carbon dioxide when mixed with acid. These bubbles can help dough rise and will lead to darker, crispier baked goods, according to Reid. In other words, it is a ~leavening agent.~
These bubbles make it a pretty excellent cleaning tool as well. It can be used to remove marks and shine sinks. Some people pop it in the fridge or sprinkle it on carpet to deodorize bad smells.
Best part is? As long as it's kept cool and dry, baking soda stays good pretty much forever.
So, baking soda requires an acid to become active and bubbly.
Baking powder is used in recipes that don't have an acidic component to them (thus rendering baking soda useless...so no bubbles). Baking powder combines baking soda, an acid, and usually something like corn starch, to keep the baking soda + acid from reacting until you're ready to use it. Once you add liquid, the baking soda and acid combine and BOOM! Bubbles.
Got everything? Any questions? Okay, moving on.
So...Can They Be Substituted For One Another?
Substituting baking SODA for baking POWDER
No problem, but you'll need to substitute an acidic component as well, to achieve the leavening action. Baking soda has 4 times the power of baking powder, so 1/4 teaspoon of soda = 1 teaspoon of powder.
According to Bon Appetit, for 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, you'll need 1 cup of buttermilk or yogurt or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. They also suggest making your own baking powder by sifting 1/4 cup cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons baking soda through a fine strainer 3 times into a small bowl, storing in an airtight container at room temperature.
Substituting baking POWDER for baking SODA
Ehhhh...this one is tricky because baking powder is a mixture of many ingredients, one of which is baking soda...so it's hard to get just straight soda. Overall, if you're out of baking soda, you're out of luck.
- Baking Soda=bubbles that allow your baked goods to rise
- Soda requires acid to activate
- Baking POWder has the POWer--it has everything you need (soda + acid), just add liquid
- You can use baking soda in the place of baking powder, just also add the required acid
- Baking soda is 4 times as strong as baking powder, so proceed with caution and check your ratios when substituting!
- It is not recommended that you substitute baking powder in the place of baking soda.
Good. Glad we got that sorted out.
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