When you are baking, you will see recipes that call for baking power, baking soda, or both. But, are they interchangeable? What is their job in the recipe?
Is baking powder the same as baking soda?
Baking powder and baking soda are both leavens, however they have a different chemical reaction. You may only need one, or both, depending on the recipe. Each one can affect the overall flavor, browning, and “fluffiness” of a recipe.
When a recipe calls for baking soda it will also call for some type of acidic ingredient like buttermilk, brown
sugar, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, cream of tartar, molasses, applesauce, or honey. You can also use a dry acid such as natural cocoa powder.
You need this additional ingredient in the recipe to react with the baking soda, which in turn creates carbon dioxide and allows your baked good to rise. This is called a leavening agent.
Baking soda is 3-4 times stronger than baking powder. Do not over use this ingredient. Too much baking soda means there will be leftover baking soda in the recipe. This will create a metallic taste in the baked good. Rule of thumb: 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour in a recipe is usually sufficient.
Baking powder contains baking soda. Baking powder is made of a mixture of baking soda, cream of tartar, and on occasion cornstarch. The most common baking powder sold is called double acting baking powder.
The first leavening occurs when baking powder gets wet, for example when you combine the
dry and wet ingredients in the recipe. The second leavening occurs when the baking powder is heated in the oven.
Single acting baking powder will only react to heat, as in the oven. You can substitute that in a recipe, but you may not get the same “rise” as a result. Rule of thumb: Use 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour in a recipe.
What about using both in the recipe? Is it really necessary?
Recipes that call for both baking powder and baking soda contain some sort of acid (yogurt, brown sugar, etc), however the carbon dioxide created from the acid and baking soda is not enough to leaven the volume of batter in the recipe.
That’s why baking powder is used as well– to add necessary lift. This is important when you need more leavening than you have acid available in the recipe. This keeps it balanced.
Baking powder and baking soda can both settle down in their containers over time. It’s recommended to shake it up or give it a stir, then use a measuring spoon, to lightly scoop it out of the container. Use a knife (or the container if it has a leveler) to level it off.
For best results in your recipe, you’ll want to test them for freshness periodically.
How Long Does Baking Powder Last Once Opened?
Generally speaking, baking powder is thought to be good for 6 months after opening, 2 years on the pantry shelf. It’s best stored in a cool, dry place. While it is safe to use after that time, you may not get the rise you need in your recipe.
To test baking powder:
- pour 3 Tablespoons of warm water into a small bowl.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Give it a light stir.
- The mixture should moderately fizz if the powder is fresh.
If there is no reaction, toss the baking powder and buy a fresh package.
How Long Does Baking Soda Last Once Opened?
Once a box of baking powder has been opened, it is usually good to use for 6 months. It can keep on your pantry shelf for up to 2 years, however. You may want to store it in a different container than the box, such as an airtight mason jar, to keep moisture out of it.
To test baking soda:
- pour 3 Tablespoons of white distilled vinegar into a small bowl.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Give it a light stir.
- The mixture should rapidly bubble if the soda is fresh.
If there is no reaction, throw out the baking soda and buy a fresh package.
Do you store up baking powder and baking soda for your recipes?