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Old 02-12-2005, 08:15 AM posted to
Elaine Parrish
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Default Baking soda and baking powder. Some question

On Fri, 2 Dec 2005, Pandora wrote:

Thank you for these informations! But I would have to know also when you use
baking soda and when you use bakeng powder.
Could you make some examples?
Thank you


I found this on the internet. Hope it helps. I live where we buy
"self-rising" flour. It already has the baking powder, etc in it. So I had
to look this up. I'm not much of a baker.

Hey All,

Is this web site *our* Curly Sue???

Elaine, too


Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder


Baking soda and/or baking powder are added to batters for leavening; i.e.,
in order to produce the gas that make cakes, muffins, and quick breads

Baking soda + liquid acid (in the recipe) --- leavening

Single-acting baking powder = baking soda + a dry acid. When the liquid
ingredients are mixed with the dry ingredients you get leavening --OR--
when the product is heated you get leavening.

Double-Acting baking powder = baking soda + 2 dry acids. When the liquid
is added you get leavening --PLUS-- when the product is heated you get

Read the whole thing below in sequence or skip to:
Baking soda
Baking powder
-----Single-acting baking powder
-----Double-acting baking powder

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).

When it is mixed with an acid liquid it releases the gas carbon dioxide
NaHCO3 + H+ ----- Na+ + H20 + CO2
(soda) (acid) (sodium) (water) (gas)

Sure, you've seen this- when you mix baking soda with vinegar or lemon
juice it fizzes. The fizzing is release of the CO2 bubbles. The same thing
happens when you add baking soda to a recipe. If you notice carefully,
recipes that use baking soda for leavening always have an acid somewhere.
It might be obvious, such as vinegar (in muffins? bleah), lemon juice,
sour milk or buttermilk. The acid might be hidden- for example honey and
molasses are acidic. Cream of tartar is a DRY acid that might be called
for in a recipe; it cannot react with the baking soda until liquid is
The problem with baking soda is that it releases the gas all at once! So
if the cake batter sits around for a while before you get it in the oven
or it you beat the batter too much, the leavening will be lost and your
baked goods will be flat. You don't want to add too much, either, because
the taste is rather salty and you'd have to add more acid too. If you
don't have enough acid to react with the baking soda you won't release the
gas, plus your cake or muffins will have a bitter or soapy taste because
of the unreacted bicarbonate.

There are some times, though, when an fast rate of gas release is desired.
In that case, ammonium bicarbonate or ammonium carbonate can be used. This
is advantageous for eclairs, cream puffs, and some cookies, espcially
where a quick spring is needed before the product spreads in the oven. The
reaction with ammonium bicarbonate is:

NH4HCO3 ----- NH3 + H20 + CO2
Here, ammonia (NH3) is produced. This produces a distinctive smell during
baking, which dissipates so is mostly gone from the finished product.
Ammonium bicarbonate or carbonate are rarely used in the home because they
don't store well and lose their action quickly.
Baking powder is a combination of baking soda plus a few other things,
most importantly a dry acid.
When the baking powder is mixed in a batter with the wet ingredients, the
dry acid and the baking soda can then react together and release carbon

There are different types of baking powders.

Single-acting baking powders are characterized by the type of acid they
include. Tartrate baking powders contain both cream of tartar (potassium
acid tartrate) and tartaric acid. These create gas quickly when combined
with baking soda in the presence of liquid, so the batter must be cooked
quickly or it will go flat. Phosphate baking powders contain either
calcium phosphate or disodium pyrophosphate (source of sodium
pyrophosphate). They work a little slower than the tartrate baking
powders, but most of the gas is still created outside of the oven and
therefore can be lost. S.A.S. baking powders have sodium aluminum sulfate
(alum) as the acid. S.A.S. baking powders react slowly at room temperature
and release more of the gas when heated. The phosphate and tartrate baking
powders react rapidly at room temperature to release the leavening gas,
which means that the batter has to be cooked quickly after the liquid
ingredients have been added. On the other hand, the S.A.S. baking powders
are better for products that will sit a while before being cooked. The
problem with S.A.S. powders is that they have a bitter taste. They are
used in combination with other leavening agents so not as much is needed.
S.A.S. is often used in D.A. powders.

Double-acting (D.A.) baking powders are the most common type of baking
powder in US supermarkets. The first "action" refers to the release of gas
when the baking soda in the powder reacts with an acidic liquid. D.A.
baking powders contain a dry acid which does not react with the baking
soda in the powder until water is added; at that point the baking soda
dissolves, the acid dissolves, and the two can now mix and the reaction
shown above occurs.

The second "action" refers to the release of gas when the batter is heated
in the oven or on a griddle. This relies on the presence of the slower
acting acid, S.A.S. which only combines with soda when the temperature

I had some fun testing the gas-forming behavior of these powders with some
simple experiments, which would probably bore most of you so I put it in a
separate link!

When you read the container of powder, cornstarch is listed as the major
ingredient. The cornstarch has three purposes: 1) it helps keep the
product dry and free-flowing, 2) it helps keep the bicarbonate and acid
dry (and therefore separate) so they don't react during storage, and 3) it
helps bulk up the powder for easier measuring and standardization.

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baking powder (single-acting, see above): 2 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp
baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt per cup of flour (source: Joy of Cooking)
baking powder (single-acting): 2 parts Bakewell Cream, 1 part baking soda
baking powder (rising equivalent): for 1 tsp use 1/4 tsp baking soda plus
5/8 tsp cream of tartar (source: Joy of Cooking, other equivalents given)
baking powder (measuring equivalent): for each tsp, 1/2 tsp cream of
tartar, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot. Mix only as
much as you need per recipe since it will lose potency during storage.
(source: Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook)
baking powder (double-acting, SAS, see above): for 1 tsp use 1-1/2 tsp
phosphate or tartrate baking powder (source: Joy of Cooking)
self-rising flour: 1-1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt per cup (source:
Pillsbury flour bag).
Note: Since the substitutions release gas immediately when mixed with the
liquid of the recipe, they are single-acting. If you get it in the oven
ASAP, you shouldn't have much of a problem substituting for D.A. powder.
NOTE: The information about the the ammonia salts and the types of baking
powders was found in "Food Chemistry", L.H. Meyer, Litton Educational
Publishing, Inc., 1960. Reprinted 1975 by AVI Publishing Inc., Westport,
CT. "Joy of Cooking" also has an extensive section on the different types
of baking powders and the advantage of each in baking.
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Updated: January 24, 1998
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