chemistry …

August 5, 2010

It is no surprise that I love to cook, and develop my own recipes.  But, to my surprise, as I was researching a new recipe idea, I realized, I had no idea what the difference was between baking powder, and baking soda.
I figure whomever decided when to use what just knew what they were talking about.  After some research, I found that they are both leavening agents [sodium bicarbonate to be exact], but are to be used for different purposes depending on the recipe and other ingredients you are using.
For instance.  Baking Soda acts as a leavening agent, and works best when mixed with a liquid and an acidic such as buttermilk, lemon juice, yogurt, honey and even chocolate.  When mixed with an acidic, it is then activated and produces carbon dioxide bubbles that expand as it is being baked so your baked goods will rise.
On the other hand, Baking Powder already has a built in acidic agent, called cream of tartar, and often times a drying agent like starch.
Here are a few other tidbits about baking soda and baking powder you may not know …
{Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder}  – A few more facts
-Baking Soda is more bitter than baking powder unless counteracted by the acidity of another ingredient such as buttermilk.
-Baking Powder has a more neutral taste.
-You can make your own baking powder by using – two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda.
-When using baking powder or baking soda in a recipe, it is best to cook the batter right away as the leavening agents have already begun to process once mixed with the wet ingredients.
-Most baking powder now a days is double acting. Meaning it produces gas in two phases. The first is when you mix the wet ingredients with it, and the second is when it is heated and is baking.  Allowing baked goods to rise.
– To find out if your baking powder is still active.  Add 1tsp to 1-3 tbs water.  If it bubbles it is still good.  If not, throw it out and buy a new one.
– Adding too much baking soda can increase browning.
-Baking soda is best to use when making quick breads, like pancakes, since they are cooked immediately after mixing the batter, and have a short cooking time. It is best since the baking soda only reacts the one time when mixing up the ingredients, they can flatten fairly fast.
-Baking Powder is best for the longer cooking baked goods like breads, muffins.  The double acting kind will allow your bread to keep rising at longer cooking times.
So, there you have it!
Now, go bake!

One thought on “chemistry …

  1. Khinna

    I'm a reader of you blog, and I actually was listening to "Science Friday" on NPR, and they were talking about the subject above, and a book called "Cooking for Geeks"… So interesting to know. Thanks for such lovely posts.


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