These two can easily get mixed up due to their names and the way they look. It’s usually in recipes that we get confused. Sometimes both are involved in the same recipe, but if not, it is wise to learn their separate purpose. So, they are both leaveners but chemically different. Here is the difference between baking soda and baking powder.
This ingredient is also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. The baking soda is a base mineral, which, when combined with something acidic, produces carbon dioxide. Therefore, when a recipe needs baking soda, it actually needs some type of acid. When you use baking soda in a recipe, you also need something acidic, such as brown sugar, lemon juice, molasses, cream of tartar, yogurt, and buttermilk. So, they react together.
Baking soda is stronger than baking powder. However, too much baking soda doesn’t mean more lift and when it doesn’t react with any acid in the recipe there will be leftover baking soda in the recipe. Moreover, when it isn’t neutralized with acid, the recipe will have a metallic taste.
In order to decide the exact measurement of baking soda in a recipe, you should know the rule of thumb.
Good rule of thumb: Use around 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour in a recipe.
Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and other acids, such as cream of tartar, and sometimes cornstarch. When preparing a recipe, the first leavening occurs when baking powder gets wet. While the second leavening occurs when the baking powder is heated. Therefore, it already contains an acid. So, in order to know how much baking powder to use, try the following rule.
Why do some recipes call for both?
There are certain recipes which are prepared by using both these ingredients. These recipes usually have some sort of acid and the carbon dioxide created from the acid and baking soda is not enough to leaven the volume. Therefore, baking powder is used as well. It is simply about balance.
Remember That They Expire
Remember to always use fresh baking powder and soda and to change them at least every 3 months. Moreover, if you are hesitant about the expiry date you can check their effectiveness before using them.
In order to test baking powder, pour 3 tablespoons of warm water into a small bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and stir it. If it gives some reaction, it is a fresh one. On the other hand, in order to test baking soda, pour 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar into a small bowl. Then, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and stir it. If the mixture rapidly bubbles, it indicates that the baking soda is fresh.
One last tip because we know that it is hard to remember the difference between these similar ingredients: Think baking soda = single ingredient. Baking powder = poof in the oven.