Baking Soda & Baking Powder
The two are amongst the essential ingredients for making desserts and individual bake dishes. Yet, many people confuse between the two or do not realize the importance of each. One cannot substitute for the other. First, let’s see it technically.
Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate, i.e., bicarbonate of soda that works as an antacid, helping calm the upset stomach. Yet, it should not be used regularly and not in everyday cooking. It is about three times more potent than baking powder. It is used to give an inevitable rise to baked products. Still, it only reacts with an acid such as brown sugar, yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice or honey depending on the recipe. This is why it should be used in appropriate quantity because excess baking soda does not mean more rise and with the lack of proper amount of acid, it can give a soapy, metallic taste to the food products.
Baking powder is a mix of baking soda, cream of tartar and cornstarch and it is used in recipes that do not require additional acidic ingredient as it contains an acidic content (cream of tartar) for neutralizing the soda. Yet, it can be used as a leavening agent as required.
In recipes that require the use of both, the baking soda and the baking powder is because sometimes, the acid in the recipe is less and more leavening might be needed. So they are used in balance to create the perfect rise and taste. Baking soda is equivalent to four times the baking soda, and that amount can give a bitter taste to the food. Substituting one for another can affect the taste and texture, and hence, it should be determined wisely.
One can make the baking powder at home by mixing baking soda, cream of tartar (tartaric acid) and some cornstarch or arrowroot powder (whichever is available) in the ratio 1:2:1.