This pantry staple is a key ingredient to getting the fluffy, airy, and crumbly results needed in exceptional baked goods. But, what is baking powder? How does it work? We’ll discuss that, and much more, in this article. So, let’s raise it up for baking powder.
What is Baking Powder
Baking powder is a combination of two elements, sodium bicarbonate and acid. The acid, typically being cream of tartar, a powdery substance that can easily blend with sodium bicarbonate. This combination is known as a chemical leavener and is primarily used in baked goods that are either unyeasted or in need of an extra boost in the leavening department; think muffins, cakes, and breads. When combined with moisture and heat, baking powder causes a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction releases airy carbon molecules that create steam and pressure. It’s because of this steamy pressure that dough and batter rise.
Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda
Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, is one of the primary ingredients in baking powder. Anyone who recalls their grade school days and the volcanic combination of baking soda and vinegar, know that an acid is needed to activate baking soda’s bubbly properties. So, baked goods that use acid in the recipe (vinegar, citrus juice, or buttermilk) may only require baking soda to accomplish leavening. Baking powder only requires moisture to activate. Depending on the recipe, both baking soda and baking powder may need to be used to achieve the desired lift.
Baking Powder in Action
We have several recipes that highlight the chemical leavening magic that is baking powder. Click the links below to explore more.