Don’t fall at the first hurdle and be tempted to just throw any old powder into your bakes in the hopes of getting a rise. A source of confusion, even for some of the most accomplished bakers. So which of these powders do I need to use and why?
Both of these products are leavening agents, meaning they release gases (primarily CO2) which in turn causes the cakes and bakes to rise. Both of these products are similar in their chemical make-up, however, bicarbonate of soda usually contains additional acidic compounds.
Here’s a quick breakdown on what you need to know:
- A leavening agent with the inclusion of additional acidic compounds such as cream of tartar
- Great when used in recipes such as muffins, cakes, pancakes, quick bake breads such as banana bread and also in batters.
- Creates a light fluffy texture in baked products
- Adding too much can create a bitter taste in the finished product
- Sieve and mix into dry ingredients well as this can create large air pockets in the finished products if not
- Been sitting in the cupboard a while? Test how fresh the powder is by mixing a small amount with a little water. If it begins to foam, you are good to go as this signals a good amount of CO2 is being created
Bicarbonate of Soda
- A leavening agent with no additional acidic compounds. Requires acidic ingredients to create a rise.
- Use in recipes with acidic ingredients such as lemon, cocoa, chocolate, honey, sour cream, buttermilk and yoghurt
- Also good for ‘all in one’ recipes where all ingredients are quickly mixed together before being baked. This usually minimises the amount of air within the mixture so bicarbonate of soda helps create these air pockets and create a better rise
- Be sure to sieve and mix well into the ingredients as this can create a lumpy texture
- Unsure how fresh your bicarbonate of soda is? Mix with a small amount with some white vinegar. If the mix begins to bubble this means it is fresh and good to go
N.B. Some recipes ask for both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to be included. The baking powder does most of the hard work whilst the bicarbonate of soda is used to neutralise the acids in the recipe, to add tenderness and to aid the leavening of the baked product
Be sure to check out some of our other blogs on here, such as the #BaketoBasics – Easy temperature and measurement conversions