We have all been there before! We decide to make some oatmeal cookies?so we pull out the rolled oats, needed eggs, the sugar and the flour. Then it is time to bring out the baking soda or baking powder?? Which one should it be? Many of us do not know the difference between the two. Are they the same, can they be used to replace one another if we only have one of them available. More importantly, what is the vital difference between baking soda and baking powder? Let me help you answer this question.
Baking soda is the sodium bicarbonate that reacts with the acid in the recipe, such as lemon juice and buttermilk. This means that if the batter does not have lemon juice or any other acid, you should use baking powder instead. Baking powder is the same as baking soda but contains a small amount of cornstarch and acid salt. The acid is added because it is a vital element in the leavening process and cornstarch is added so it absorbs the moisture (and prevents the leavening process from happening until liquid is added to the batter).
So…is it baking soda or baking powder? After reading the above, I hope it it makes it pretty clear that they aren’t interchangeable. You can use baking soda instead of baking powder if you add cream of tartar and cornstarch. Therefore, it is better to spend a few dollars to have both ready in your shelf so you can use the one you need depending on what recipe you decide to bake for that day!
[Photo courtesy of sxu.hu]