Every baker needs to know the basic difference between baking powder and baking soda. And trust us when I say this - it’s not a rocket-science but really easy to understand the differences! 

Baking is an art, and it needs to be mastered with some ingredients which need to be used in the right proportions. Well, while baking a particular kind of cake, we would need some ingredients which would remain common to any cake recipe. Two of these ingredients are baking soda and baking powder while both of these ingredients are used as leaveners and to bake a cake (as their name quite suggests). For those who don’t know what role leaveners play in a cake? Then, let me tell you that such ingredients are responsible for the volume of most baked food products. It gives rise to your baked pound of happiness, makes it light and fluffy and thereby makes it relishable. When a leavener is added to a cake dough, it tends to expand the number of air bubbles while it is being mixed, creamed, kneaded or whipped into the batter or dough. Not just while expanding the cake but also it looks after taste, colouring and texture of any baked goods. 

Now the question is – whether baking soda and baking powder are same? Well, the answer would be No! The baking powder for cake and the baking soda in a cake are both chemically different. 

Baking Soda As An Ingredient

Well if you are wondering what is baking soda, then let me tell you it also goes by the following names – bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate. If you remember those good old chemistry laboratory experiment days, then you would actually remember the kind of effect, it has on a cake. When we add a base (baking soda) with an acid (vinegar), we get air bubbles which are a result of carbon dioxide released, basically. The same kind of reaction is experienced when baking soda is added along with any other acidic ingredient like buttermilk, brown sugar, yoghurt, lemon juice, vinegar, cream of tartar, molasses, applesauce, natural cocoa powder and honey. When this reaction takes place properly only then the cake when baked will get a perfectly fluffy volume. This reaction will take place once the baking soda is heated. So, one has to ensure that there needs to be a sufficient amount of baking soda and any other acidic ingredient. Otherwise, the cake might end up having a metallic taste, which will be a baking disaster. 

Fun fact:- Baking soda is said to be stronger by 3-4 times than baking powder. Hence, it is advisable to use around 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of flour. (The same golden rule applies to Bakingo cakes to give all its cakes an unmatched taste, appeal and texture)carbon dioxide release air bubbles

Baking Powder As A Ingredient 

Now, let’s discuss baking powder and its properties in a cake. Baking powder is a mixture of dry acid and baking soda. Dry acid would include components like cream of tartar and also cornstarch. Since the composition of baking powder already contains a sufficient dash of acidic ingredient, it is not needed for us to use an additional acidic ingredient in order get a reaction. Also, one doesn’t have to think of the metallic after taste, unlike while baking with baking soda. 

These days, double-acting baking powder has become every baker’s favourite. If you are wondering what double-acting baking powder is and how does it help in cake baking, then let’s discuss in detail. Once, such kind of baking powder gets wet, some amount of leavening occurs while the rest of the leavening occurs when it is heated. It helps to give all the baked goods a double boost, and the good thing is one doesn’t have to worry about putting the cake dough straight into the oven, thereafter.

Fun Fact: – Using 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour to bake a cake seems like the right proportion. baking soda and baking powder to be used in right proportions

Why Use Baking Soda and Baking Powder Both In A Particular Recipe?

Well if you aren’t new to baking, then you would know that in a few recipes, bakers like to use both of these ingredients. Probably, the reason being – that the bakers need more of acidic components which is not enough while using just baking powder. The BALANCE is what you need to master to bake an edible masterpiece. Another reason for using both ingredients together is to have an appropriate browning and flavour.

Does Expiry Dates Matter When It Comes To These Ingredients?

Well, yes. Absolutely. But it depends on the storage conditions of baking soda and baking powder. If stored sealed in a cool, dry space, baking soda can last for a quite long period of time. But,  same is not the case with baking powder. With an expiry period of 3 months to a year max, the baking powder needs a humid environment to last longer. So, purchasing these two ingredients, as per your baking needs is only advisable. 

So, this was all about the magical ingredients of baking – baking soda and baking powder. Right proportion is the key to witnessing an act of successful baking. Create a CHEMISTRY with your cake by using these two ingredients in the right amount. Remember – The more, the merrier, doesn’t work as a principle when it comes to baking!

Happy baking!