Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday's Tips, Tricks and Tid-Bits ~ Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

So I've been thinking of just how I'm going to make sure and post a blog entry every day.  Regular posts are something that has become quite a priority now that my brain isn't completely consumed with wedding fluff, but I just needed to figure out how to make it work.

In my ideal world I would cook a scrumptious meal worthy of sharing five nights per week, but I know that inevitably something in life will go awry and that just won't happen.  As a result, I came up with the idea for "Tuesday's Tips, Tricks and Tid-Bits".  Bear with me if you will, as I know the name sounds rather corny.

One of my favorite things about the internet (that relates to cooking) is that any time I have a problem I can go google it and I know that google will faithfully return umpteen results to me, and that in at least one of the results I will find my answer.  Need a substitute for buttermilk?  Google it.  Can't decide whether or not to use cake flour or regular all purpose flour for the red velvet?   Google it.

So on Tuesdays I will now bring you these tips and tid-bits that have always been most helpful to me.

Today's post concerns baking powder and baking soda.  One comes in that little blue can with the Indian on the front and the other comes in the classic Arm and Hammer yellow box and can be used for everything from cleaning stains to brushing your teeth.  They both start with the work "baking" and are both a white, powdery substance.  So what's the difference?

Well, there's a big difference.  But let's start with the similarities.  Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents which cause baked goods to rise.  I'll spare everyone the chemistry behind everything, but both ingredients produce carbon dioxide to achieve this "rising" effect.

Baking soda will produce this effect once combined with an acid.  Case in point, if a recipe calls for baking soda it will most likely call for another acidic ingredient such as buttermilk or vinegar.

Baking powder on the other hand already contains this acid in a powder form.  As a result, you can use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder (provided you add some cream of tartar and cornstarch), but not vice versa.

To use baking soda in place of baking powder, add an equal amount of cornstarch and twice as much cream of tartar.  Use about one fourth of the amount of baking soda as the recipe calls for the baking powder and then add the appropriate proportions of cornstarch and cream of tartar.

For example, if the recipe calls for 1 tsp of baking powder, you'll need 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp cornstarch and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.

For more in depth details about baking soda and baking powder, I would recommend reading this post from Kitchen Savvy.

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