Baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause dough and  batters to rise when baked. Leavening agents are substances that cause expansion to dough and batters by the release of gases by such mixtures, producing baked products with porous structure.

difference between baking soda and baking powderBaking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient like yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, or honey, the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. Baking soda starts to react and release carbon dioxide gas as soon as it is added to the batter and moistened. Make sure to bake the batter immediately.

There are numerous uses for baking soda. Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life if stored in a sealed container in a cool dry place. Baking soda causes reddening of cocoa powder when baked.

difference between baking powder and baking sodaBaking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, it includes the acidifying agent (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but most of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven. Because of the two stages, baking of the batter can be delayed for about 15-20 minutes without it losing its leavening power. Store in a cool dry place and it should be replaced every 6-12 months.

Few measures to be followed:

  • Follow recipe instructions for quantities.
  • Sift baking powder or baking soda with the other dry ingredients before adding to the batter to ensure uniformity in a recipe.  Otherwise the baked good can have large holes.
  • Too much baking powder can cause the batter to be bitter tasting. It can also cause the batter to rise rapidly and then collapse. (i.e. The air bubbles in the batter grow too large and break causing the batter to fall.)  Cakes will have a coarse, fragile crumb with a fallen center.
  • Too little baking powder results in a tough cake that has poor volume and a compact crumb.
  • Too much baking soda will result in a soapy taste with a coarse, open crumb.

Testing for effectiveness for the leavening agent nearing shelf life:

  • To test baking powder’s effectiveness: mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams)  baking powder with 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water and the mixture should bubble immediately.
  • To test baking soda’s effectiveness: mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.

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