Anyone who has baked something and mistaken baking powder for baking soda knows that the two aren’t the same. What they might not know is what the difference really is and that they can make their own baking powder easily.
Both baking soda or sodium bicarbonate and baking powder are leavening agents. They cause baked food to rise or puff up. However, the rising action is much more pronounced with baking powder than with baking soda. If a cake recipe calls for baking soda and baking powder is used instead, for instance, the result can be a cake that overflows the pan that it was made in.
Here is the thing, though. Baking soda is a fairly strong alkaline base. It is a leavening agent when it is combined with something that is acidic because the result is carbon dioxide, which makes the food puff up.
Baking powder actually contains baking soda. However, it also contains an acid, usually cream of tartar. Commercially, baking powder additionally contains corn starch, though the corn starch doesn’t actually change the rising action, it primarily affects the taste. For baking powder to become activated, it simply needs moisture.
This means that it is simple to make your own baking powder. Just mix together two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda. If you want a baking powder that is like what you’d buy at the store, also add one part corn starch. For example, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of corn starch, thoroughly mixed together, yields 4 teaspoons of baking powder that can be used in any recipe that calls for baking powder.
Knowing this can be very useful if you run out of baking powder and are making a recipe that calls for it. Making your own can also be substantially cheaper than store-bought, yet it is incredibly easy and fast to make. It is so easy, in fact, that it shouldn’t even be difficult to memorize the recipe and you can make exactly the amount you need without much effort.
Did you know the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
I sometimes make my own baking powder already