Know the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder
Baking can be a little confusing sometimes. With all the flours, fats, sugars, chemicals, and precision involved in the baking process, the whole thing can go over most novices' heads.
One of the things that we've found a lot of budding bakers get perplexed by is baking powder and baking soda. Both are featured in many cake, biscuit and even bread recipes, but not a lot of people totally understand how they work.
Baking powder and baking soda are essentially leaveners, that crucial baking ingredient that gives cake lift and airiness. Older recipes for cake, mostly rooted in 17th-century Europe, actually use yeast as a leavener, while a few, newer methods used aerated eggs to give their cakes a bit of fluff.
With the introduction of bicarbonate of soda or baking soda in the 19th century, baking light and airy cakes, biscuits and bread suddenly became much easier for home bakers everywhere.
The main difference between baking powder and baking soda is that baking soda actually requires acid for it to be activated, while baking powder does not. The reason for this is that baking powder is actually a mix of sodium bicarbonate or, simply baking soda mixed with a simple acid such as cream of tartar.
Most modern baking recipes only really use baking powder (most often classified as double acting, because the powder immediately activates when it is added to a wet mix and activates a second time when introduced to heat), though baking soda is still used to give classic recipes that include acidic ingredients such as buttermilk, sour cream and cocoa powder, a little bit of natural lift.
You cannot easily exchange baking powder for baking soda and vice versa. However, you can use a mix of baking soda and cream of tartar (most often a 3:1 ratio) to make your own baking powder in a pinch.
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