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Difference between baking powder and baking soda:Types of raising agent in baking

Baking powder and baking soda, which one is the most active raising agent?

Different types of raising agents

 Raising agents are added to foods such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, etc to make them rise during production, helps to give them their texture or crust.

There are different types of raising agent and each raising is slightly different and has a specific role.

Lots of people don't know the difference between the types of raising agents, some don't know that baking powder is different from baking soda, some people don't know the most active one between the two.

 The difference between the two will be outlined below and the most active raising agent.

Also, other types of raising agent will be explained below. 


1. BAKING POWDER : This is the most common raising agent used, it gives volume to your baked products,it also adds a light texture-making it perfect  for cakes,cupcakes,cookies, etc. 

How does it work?

It contains both acid and alkali components, when it is mixed with a liquid or cake batter, it releases carbondioxide. This causes small bubbles to form and the cake mixture to rise/expand.
Baking powder rises  better than baking soda because it rises in two ways, First, when it comes in contact with moisture, and secondly, when it comes in contact with heat.
Therefore cakes should be baked immediately after mixing, so as to retain most of the carbondioxide.
Baking powder can also be used instead of yeast in the production of bread.

 If you don't have baking powder at home, you can make yours, all you need to do is to add Cream of tartar and bicarbonate of soda (that's baking soda) together, then your homemade baking powder is ready.

Also, if you dont have self rising flour at home and you have some work to do, you can add baking powder to plain flour to get self raising flour.

Measurements to get self raising flour : To every 1 cup of plain flour, you will add 1-2 teaspoons of baking powder.

2. BAKING SODA ( Bicarbonate of soda)  : This is another type of raising agent, it comes in powdery form. It often become lumpy, so it needs to be  sifted before use.

How does it work?

Bicarbonate of soda is an Alkaline, so it needs to be mixed with something acidic in order for the chemical reaction to take place, so that your baked products will rise. Therefore, bicarbonate of soda is often used in recipes which contain a lot of acid already such as buttermilk, lemon juice and vinegar especially when you are making chocolate cakes and red velvet  cakes.
 However, as mentioned above, you can also mix it with cream of  tartar (an acid based powder) in order to make cakes rise. Another important point is that baking soda always leave an after taste ,therefore it should be measured accurately. Cakes baked with baking soda tends to brown faster both inside and on top.

 3. YEASTS : Yeast is a natural raising agent.

How does it work?

 It converts the fermentable sugars present in the flour/dough into the gas- Carbondioxide. The baking process, stops the action of yeast cells by killing  them, giving the baked product a soft and spongy texture. Yeast  needs sugar to grow and a warm environment. You can mix your dough with warm liquid such as water or milk but don't use hot liquid because it will kill the  yeast.
You can substitute baking powder for yeast, but the taste and  texture will not be the same. 


There are three types of yeasts,they are: Fresh  yeast, Instant  yeast and active dry yeast.

1. Fresh yeast : This works faster and more powerful than active dry yeast and can be mixed directly to your dry ingredients.

2. Instant yeast : This does not require proving, it works  immediately  just like the Fresh yeast.

3. Active dry yeast : This works just like instant yeast but needs to be activated using warm water first. If your finished product has a strong unpleasant alcohol smell or taste a bit soured when done, then the dough was  over fermented. This can happen if you let it rise for too long or stay overnight in the fridge.

4. CREAM OF TARTAR : This is another raising agent used in baking. It is an acidic powder.

How does it work?

It is mainly added to bicarbonate of soda (an alkaline) to make baking powder.

There are several other uses of cream of tartar, these include :
1. It can be added to egg whites when they are being whipped  to help strengthen the structure and prevent it from collapsing. Therefore  it is perfect for making meringues and will enable you to get stiff peaks-which will hold their shape when baked.

2. It can also be added to sugar when it's being boiled  which stops crystals from forming.

5. EGGS : This is one of the basic ingredients used in many baked products.

How does it work?
 For this to perform it's work, it has to be whisked, so as to incorporate a lot of air into the eggs. With the help of the protein components,the cake will rise.
 Whisking the eggs incorporates air, helps to increase  the volume of the cake and other baked products for example 

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