Baking Soda versus Baking Powder

It took me forever to figure out the difference between baking soda and baking powder – and why on earth I had to stock them both in my kitchen (to be honest – I’m still working on the latter (I’ll post back with more info about that). Anyway, I finally figured out that the key point is that baking soda requires an acidic reaction in order for the leavening to work. I can finally remember this by “ssssoda” and “acccccid” (okay, go with me here – it’s the “s-sound” I’m trying to focus on). :)

Anyway, so here are a few ideas that count as “acid” in baking, so the leavening of baking soda will work:

  • vinegar
  • molasses
  • brown sugar
  • buttermilk
  • yogurt
  • lemon juice

Baking powder is either a double-acting leavener, which works with heat and liquid, or single-acting leavener, which reacts only with liquid. The single-acting baking powder requires you to mix your batter and immediately toss it in the oven, or the leavening power will have come and gone, since it works on contact with liquids. With double-acting baking powder, it reacts on contact with liquids as well as the heat of your oven. With this method, you are able to mix batters and store them in the fridge for a day or two, before using. Personally, I prefer the double-acting powders.

However, those with more sensitive palates may be able to detect an after-taste of aluminum in the double-acting powder. That’s why Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder is fantastic! Double-acting powder with no aluminum (the best of both worlds! Happy baking!

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