I love cooking. It relaxes me. But sometimes, cooking can be stressful. That happens when you need to cook something but you don’t have all the right ingredients. For example, you need to cook pancakes, but you don’t have baking soda you can use for the dough. Houston, we have a problem. Right? Wrong!
When this situation happened to me, I of course dialed the only number I knew for the solution. My mother. I am sure most of us call their mothers when they have a cooking problem. Be that as it may, my mother gave me the solution I needed. There are two baking soda substitutes, and one of them is baking powder. I will get to the second later on.
What is baking soda?
In the world of chemistry, baking soda is known as sodium bicarbonate. In the world of home and kitchen, baking soda is a staple in almost every pastry recipe, every dough recipe, in home remedies, and in cleansing recipes. Baking soda is used in recipes with acidic liquids since it is an alkaline ingredient. In the kitchen, chefs combine baking soda with sour cream, vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, citrus fruits, and so much more. The combination of acidic and alkaline ingredients triggers the chemical reaction you want, and as a result, your dough rises.
Back to my pancakes: baking soda makes them light and fluffy. But baking powder can do the same. So, from now on, if you don’t have baking soda, use baking powder as a baking soda substitute.
Difference between baking soda and baking powder
Baking soda and baking powder are essentially the same thing. Baking powder contains baking soda with some salt. Baking soda, for example, is a pure leavening agent. In order to get the chemical reaction, you need to mix it with moisture and an acidic ingredient. Because of that, baking soda is used in recipes that already contain an acidic ingredient, which is often honey, lemon juice, chocolate, or buttermilk.
Baking powder, on the other hand, comes pre-mixed with the acidic ingredient. Because of that, when you cook with baking powder, all you have to add is the moisture. You don’t need to add lemon juice, buttermilk, or any other acidic ingredient. In most cases, cream of tartar is the acidic ingredient in baking powder. You need to know this if you are allergic to it, for example. If you want, you can even prepare your own baking powder. To do this, you need to mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda. Baking powder has a neutral taste and is best when used with other neutral ingredients.
How much baking powder do you need?
If you want to completely move on to baking powder instead of baking soda, there are few things you need to know. Let’s break them down.
- For every teaspoon of baking soda in the recipe, you need 3 teaspoons of baking powder. When you use baking powder, you don’t have to add an acid like lemon juice, vinegar, or even buttermilk to the recipe.
- Baking powder is best for pancakes, cakes, biscuits, and cookies.
- You can find baking powder in any grocery store.
- When you use baking powder instead of baking soda, there is no need to add salt to the recipe. Baking powder contains salt in addition to baking soda. So, if your recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt, ditch the salt when adding baking powder.
Potassium bicarbonate as a baking soda substitute
Another great substitute for baking soda is potassium bicarbonate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies potassium bicarbonate as a safe, colorless, slightly basic, odorless, and salty substance. When you use potassium bicarbonate, these are the general rules you need to follow.
- For one teaspoon of baking soda, use 1 teaspoon of potassium bicarbonate and 1/3 teaspoon of salt.
- Potassium bicarbonate is great when you need to restrict salt in your diet. If you want to take things to the next level, you can completely ditch the salt and use a 1:1 ratio of baking soda and potassium bicarbonate.
- The downside is that potassium bicarbonate is not good for all recipes. The best way to use potassium bicarbonate is for cookies.
- Another downside is that not all grocery stores have potassium bicarbonate. Try the local drug store to find some.
Bonus cooking tips
Last, but not least, I want to give you some cooking tips you can use for other baking soda substitutes. Sometimes, you just don’t have baking soda, baking powder, or even potassium bicarbonate. And you just can’t go out and buy some. In that case, you need to get creative. If you are making pancakes, like I was doing, there are few tricks that come in handy.
- Whisk the eggs vigorously before adding to the flour. The more you whisk, and the more vigorous you are at it, the more air bubbles you will create. And if you manage to increase the amount of air bubbles, your pancakes will be fluffier.
- Another trick for fluffier pancakes is to use self-rising flour instead of plain white flour. The self-rising flour can trigger the rising and expanding of the dough’s chemical reaction more easily.
- If you want to add carbonation, add a teaspoon of beer to the batter. Carbon dioxide might be harmful to breathing, but that carbon dioxide is what makes baked goods rise.