Baking soda and baking powder are both well known household names. They are used in a large number of recipes, especially those requiring baking, for the purpose of fermentation. This is because both of them are leavening agents. Though they are widely used by women at home, most of them do not know that the two are considerably different from each other. There are a number of differences due to which their use is restricted to certain different dishes. However, majority of the housewives use both of them without realizing this fact and substitute one for another. As a result, many a times, they do not achieve the desired results while preparing a specific dish.
Baking soda can be described as pure sodium bicarbonate. When you mix the particular leavening agent with moisture and an acidic ingredient, such as yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk or honey, a chemical reaction takes place. This reaction leads to the production of bubbles of carbon dioxide. When baking soda is used in food items that require baking, it causes them to rise, inside the oven. Since this particular chemical reaction starts as soon as the ingredients are mixed, the mixture needs to be baked almost immediately, otherwise the dish will fail to rise and fall flat inside the oven.
Baking powder also contains sodium bicarbonate, but not in its pure form. Rather, it also comprises of an acidifying agent (cream of tartar) and a drying agent (usually starch). It is available in two forms - single-acting baking powder and double-acting baking powder. The former is instantly activated by moisture, while the latter reacts in two phases. Thus, the dishes containing single-acting baking powder have to be baked immediately, while the ones having double-acting baking powder can stand for sometime. In the latter, some gas is released at room temperature and the rest comes after the temperature rises, in the oven.
Determination Of Recipes
There is a difference between the recipes that require that use of baking soda and the ones that need baking soda to be put in, which basically depends on the other ingredients used therein. Baking soda contains pure sodium bicarbonate and unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk, it will give a bitter taste to the recipe. Thus, it will best be used in recipes that have an acidic ingredient as well, like cookie recipes. On the other hand, baking powder has a neutral taste and is often used in conjunction with other neutral-tasting ingredients, like milk. It is popularly used in cake recipes.
Substitution in Recipes
One of the basic differences between baking soda and baking powder arises from their substitution ability, with respect to each other. You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda, though you will need to put in much more baking powder than the latter and there might a subtle difference in the taste as well. However, you cannot simply use baking soda in recipes that require baking powder. This is because baking soda, in itself, does not have the ability to make a recipe rise; rather needs an acidic counterpart for the purpose. However, you can surely make baking powder by adding cream of tartar to baking soda.
The difference between baking soda and baking powder is:
- Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, while baking powder is sodium bicarbonate plus acids salts.
- Baking soda is suitable for items that do not require long baking time, while baking powder works perfectly for those items which need long baking time.
- Baking soda has a bitter taste that is quite hard to mask, while baking powder has an almost neutral taste.
- Baking powder can be used in place of baking soda, but baking soda cannot substitute baking powder (unless it is mixed with cream of tartar).