What Is the Difference Between Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Powder?

Posted by World of Spice 02/02/2023

seasoning suppliers online - jar with a screw top lid of sodium bicarbonate

Many people think that these products are the same. They’re similar, but there is a difference between bicarbonate of soda and baking powder! With winter ramping up, baked goods and comfort food are a priority around this time of year! Both bicarbonate of soda and baking powder can enhance different winter delicacies, you just have to know the benefits of each. Here, World of Spice discuss.

Bicarbonate of Soda Vs. Baking Powder

No, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder aren’t the same. They are both raising agents, but their compounds are different. Bicarbonate of soda consists of salt composed of a sodium cation and a bicarbonate anion. Bicarbonate of soda gives off carbon dioxide, which expands in a mixture. Once cooked, the carbon dioxide is replaced by air, which results in fluffy or light bakes goods. Adding too much bicarbonate of soda can actually cause a cake to peak and collapse. It also has a strong and bitter flavour when used in excess.

Baking powder is a mix of bicarbonate of soda, a weak acid, cream of tartar, plus a filler like cornflour which aids in absorbing moisture. It’s activated when mixed with liquid, producing carbon dioxide and forming bubbles that cause expansion. When cooking with baking powder, it’s important to get the mixture into the oven swiftly after the wet ingredients have been added to the dry ingredients. Baking powder is better used for recipes that contain little or no acidic ingredients.

Can I use Baking Powder Instead of Bicarbonate of Soda?

Yes, you can, as they are both raising agents. However, because there is a difference between bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, you can’t just use one as you would the other. As a general rule, you should use 3 times the amount of baking powder that you would bicarbonate of soda. Both compounds taste bitter, but by utilising 3 times more baking powder, it’s important to note that you could get an enhanced bitter taste. Additionally, if you’re cooking a batter of any kind, it could encourage a quicker rise and potentially fall.

You can also substitute the other way around, just remember that bicarbonate of soda is three times as powerful as baking powder. So, for 3 teaspoons of baking powder, you only need 1 teaspoon of baking soda as a substitute. You will also need a teaspoon of acid (vinegar for savoury or lemon juice for sweet) for every 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.

What Is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is the American term for bicarbonate of soda. They are exactly the same chemical compound. It’s not a mix of bicarbonate of soda and baking powder! As an aside, sodium bicarbonate is also the same as bicarbonate of soda.

 Why Do You Use Both in Baking?

If you’re baking, you may find that you have to use both baking powder and bicarbonate of soda within your recipe. But if they’re so similar, why use both? Well, it comes down to the acidity levels. Bicarbonate of soda needs acid to activate and produce the carbon dioxide which leavens the batter. Baking powder is added at the same time to ensure that there is enough acid to neutralise the bicarbonate of soda.

 How Bicarbonate of Soda and Baking Powder Can Improve Cooking

 Pairs well with herbs and spices – Any herbs and spices can be used alongside bicarbonate of soda or baking powder. Cinnamon and nutmeg are firm favourites in baked goods, adding a sweetness that successfully counterbalances the tanginess of these chemical compounds.

Light and fluffy bakes – As mentioned previously, these chemical compounds will ensure your baked goods rise sufficiently, are cooked all the way through and are fluffy and moreish!

Faster browning – Bicarb can drastically cut down your cooking time! Popping a tiny sprinkling in with onions, garlic, or other roasting vegetables will ensure they brown quicker and are satisfyingly crispy.

Balances acidity – Acidity in foods tend to vary. This is certainly the case for produce like tinned tomatoes or tomato puree. A sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda can neutralise excess acidity without impacting their texture or overall flavour.

Softens pulses – If you want softer beans to add to soup, pies or even to blend for hummus, bicarbonate of soda is a great solution. This is because it raises the pH of the cooking liquid, which helps the pulses to break down and tenderise more easily.

Get in Touch

At World of Spice, we understand the difference between bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and how they can help to create authentic and traditional tasting baked goods and cuisines. Whether you’re after savoury or sweet flavours, our bespoke spice suppliers are known for their purity and potency in produce, full of delicious flavour to give your dishes the edge. Our service is cost-effective and reliable; we go above and beyond for each of our customers to ensure that you get the produce you need for business.

From tailored blends to a choice of packaging, complete with custom labelling, our comprehensive service can help you achieve your culinary goals. For more information about our services and what we can offer you, please contact us at orders@worldofspice.co.uk, or feel free to call our team on 01277 633303. We look forward to hearing from you.

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