What better way to learn about science than with COOKIES?! Today we are going to learn about the difference between baking soda and baking powder.
People often get confused about the difference between these two baking ingredients, and it’s no wonder! They look identical, and they serve the same purpose in baking. They are both used as leavening agents in cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. That means that they help baked goods rise and get that nice, fluffy texture. Even though they have the same purpose, they cannot be swapped seamlessly. Why not?
Well, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), as you may know, is a base. When combined with acidic ingredients, such as lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, sour cream, etc., it reacts to create carbon dioxide gas.
Baking POWDER is like baking soda PLUS. It contains sodium bicarbonate, but it also has a dry acid already included, such as Cream of Tartar. This means that it can be used in recipes that don’t contain any acidic ingredients at all, but it will still react to create carbon dioxide once any liquid is added.
Let’s test this out!
Here’s a photo of both dry baking soda and dry baking powder.
require more than recipes calling for baking soda. A good rule of thumb is ¼ teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder.
Remember though, you can’t easily swap these two leavening agents. You may be able to use baking powder in replacement for baking soda without disaster, but you will have to increase the amount, as stated above. The opposite is not true. If a recipe calls for baking powder, but you use baking soda instead, disaster (okay, maybe just flat cookies) may ensue. If there are no acids present in your recipe, the baking soda itself may not be enough to react.
The last big difference between baking soda and baking powder is the reaction time. Because baking soda reacts quickly, you need to work with haste! If you don’t get your batter in the oven soon enough, the reaction will be over, and your baked goods may be flat. Baking powder, however, often has a dual reaction. First, it reacts when a liquid is added. That liquid allows the baking soda and dry acid to combine and produce carbon dioxide gas. The second part of the reaction occurs when the batter is heated. Therefore, you don’t have to work quite as quickly. You actually can even let your batter sit in the fridge and not be ruined. By doing so, your cookies may be flatter than those baked right away, but they will not be as flat as they would had you used baking soda.
Enough talk, let’s get baking!
You’re going to make a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for baking powder. We will also make the same recipe with baking soda to see how swapping those ingredients make a difference in our outcome.
YOU WILL NEED:
* 2 large mixing bowls
* 2 small mixing bowls
* Hand mixer
* Measuring cups
* Measuring spoons
* Parchment paper or non-stick spray
Each batch of cookies (you will be making two) will call for the following amounts:
* 1 ¼ Cup Flour
* ½ Teaspoon Salt
* ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder (1/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda for the 2nd batch)
* ½ Cup Brown Sugar
* ¼ Cup White Sugar
* ½ Teaspoon Vanilla
* ½ Cup Butter
* 1 Egg
Here’s what to do!
1. You’ll get your baking powder batch ready first! Start by combining the dry ingredients: Flour, salt, and baking powder.
3. Add the brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla. Start mixing!
5. Slowly sift in the dry ingredients until your dough is well blended.
7. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
8. Spoon the dough onto a greased cookie sheet.
10. Remove and see your results!
11. Now TASTE your results! Notice the differences in texture, appearance, etc. (The baking powder batch is on the left, the baking soda batch is on the right)
Now, if you want to take it a step further… find a recipe that calls for baking powder that includes NO acidic ingredients. Go through the two-batch process to see how much of a difference baking powder makes vs. baking soda.
NOTE: Eggs are also an aid in leavening. Try using a recipe that does not have eggs to see the most drastic results.
Happy baking and taste testing!