Hello Cookie Addicts! Holiday Baking is in full swing... so we thought we'd take a moment to provide a little insight into the age old question: Baking Soda or Baking Powder?
A lot of bakers, novice and experienced, can get confused with which ingredient to use and when. If you've ever done a Science experiment in school creating a volcano, then remembering the difference becomes a lot easier. An A+ Volcano = Baking Soda. A Volcano dud = Baking Powder.
Both Baking Soda and Baking Powder are used for leavening, but they are different. Baking Soda will require an acid and a liquid to become activated and help baked goods rise. The volcano exploded because you most likely added a vinegar (a liquid and an acid) to it. If your baked good calls for buttermilk, vinegar, yogurt, brown sugar, cocoa, or other acidic elements then Baking Soda will react and cause a rise in your baked good.
Baking Powder already has the acid needed for the rise reaction within it's mixture. Liquid and heat are the only missing ingredients. A lot of recipes will call for a Double Acting Baking Powder that will react with the liquid when the powder is added and will react again when it is heated.
Although some recipes use both, it is never wise to add both just for the sake of doing so. It's also unwise to simply use one instead of the other as a replacement if you don't have what the recipe calls for.
Baking Soda is a lot stronger than Baking Powder and will not work correctly unless you have an acid in your recipe. Baking Powder is much weaker than Baking Soda because it isn't as pure and usually takes up to three times as much to have the same reaction power as Baking Soda. If your recipe is unbalanced, over
using Baking Powder will give your baked good a bitter, chemical flavor.
In conclusion, here are two things that might help keep it straight.
First: Baking Powder has powder in the name so let the word Powder cause you to think of Flower: Cakes, brownies, cupcakes; really puffy things. These usually work best with Baking Powder because most of them have no acid in the ingredient list. (We know there are some exceptions but this is just a rule of thumb)
Second: Baking Soda should make you think of Soda- with bubbles and fizz. The recipe has acid in it and simply needs the bubbles and fizz- like a volcano (not literally but go with us here). Cookies using lemon, fruit juices, cocoa, or brown sugar all contain acid. In these cases, Baking Soda will be the best bet because it reacts with the acid and gives the rise.
Hope this helped! Good luck to all you Cookie Addicts with your Holiday baking. And don’t forget... Fridays are for Cookies!