The Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Nothing warms up your home and comforts your soul like a little baking adventure in the kitchen.  By now you should be over your holiday baking comatose and ready to start crankin’ out those cookies.  You gather your ingredients and bake away, only to discover that your cookies are flat!  Don’t worry…you’re not getting rusty.  It’s most likely a chemical problem…and the solution will cost no more than 5 bucks a year.

The secret to a rise in a cake or cookie is the chemical reaction between your baking soda and baking powder.  While they both ultimately do the same thing (they are leavening agents that produce carbon dioxide and cause your baked goods to rise), they are used under different conditions.

If you are using BAKING SODA, keep this in mind.  When baking soda combines with an acidic ingredient, there’s a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide bubbles that expand under oven temperatures, causing your cookies to rise.  This reaction happens immediately upon mixing the ingredients…so bake products using baking soda immediately, or they will fall flat.

While you should keep the same in mind while using BAKING POWDER, you can get double-acting baking powder, which allows some gas to release at room temperature…so they waiting time between batches won’t affect the rise in your goodies.

To insure that you get the best chemical reaction possible in your baking, make sure you replace your baking powder/soda once a year.  I usually buy fresh boxes before my Christmas baking and use until right before the next Christmas.  After about a year, the reaction weakens and, even if you bake immediately, your goodies will still fail to rise because the gasses are not being released.

Also, a quick note about baking soda…baking soda is an odor-eater…so it retains all the odors surrounding it.  Therefore, do not use the baking soda in your fridge for your baked goods, unless you want them tasting and smelling like whatever is in your fridge.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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