Baking Soda Science Question

Baking By bonniebakes Updated 16 Sep 2010 , 2:28am by chikadodle

bonniebakes Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 2:10pm
post #1 of 20

Hi,

I know a little about baking science and I'm always trying to learn more about it. I have a question about baking soda vs. baking powder and I thought someone here on CC could answer it for me.

If I understand correctly, baking soda should be use when there is acid (like buttermilk or cocoa) in a recipe, and baking powder when there isn't acid, because of the reactions between the two substances and other acids in the recipe. Right?

so...I was looking at several chocolate chip cookie recipes (including toll house) and the recipes called for baking soda. Why would that be? What is the acidic ingredient (flour, eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, chocolate chips) that would require baking soda instead of baking powder as a leavener? Why don't those recipes use baking powder?

thanks in advance!

~Bonnie

19 replies
MessMaker Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 2:17pm
post #2 of 20

I dont know any baking science, but I do know that The last 2 batches of NFSC I made were different, because 1 i used baking soda and the other I used baking powder.

The difference- the one with soda was alot softer cookie than the one with powder.

Which was a good thing since they were for my Auntie who has no teeth. icon_smile.gif

bakingpw Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 6:30pm
post #3 of 20

Well, you are totally right about the need to use some baking soda when an acid is present in your recipe, whether it is buttermilk or vinegar, etc. BUT, for your cookie question, the reason you would use baking soda is that the cookie will not rise - baking powder has a double reaction: first when it is mixed, second when it is heated. Baking soda has a single reaction and allows those specific cookies not to rise.

MessMaker Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 6:49pm
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakingpw

the reason you would use baking soda is that the cookie will not rise - baking powder has a double reaction: first when it is mixed, second when it is heated. Baking soda has a single reaction and allows those specific cookies not to rise.




I learn something new every day thumbs_up.gif

saffronica Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 7:00pm
post #5 of 20

I'm still new at this baking science thing, too, so take this with a grain of salt. But a professional baker once told me that baking soda makes things spread and baking powder makes things rise.

I remember it by thinking of a spilled can of soda spreading all over my counter....

bonniebakes Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 7:37pm
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bakingpw

Well, you are totally right about the need to use some baking soda when an acid is present in your recipe, whether it is buttermilk or vinegar, etc. BUT, for your cookie question, the reason you would use baking soda is that the cookie will not rise - baking powder has a double reaction: first when it is mixed, second when it is heated. Baking soda has a single reaction and allows those specific cookies not to rise.




I'm confused... these are regular chocolate chip cookie recipes, not a cut-out cookie recipe. The recipes calls for baking soda only, and they rise and spread...

bakingpw Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 8:24pm
post #7 of 20

Sorry to be confusing - Both are chemicals which cause rising. Both contain sodium bicarbonate but baking powder also has cream of tartar in it. Since cookies bake for just minutes, baking soda is often called for in the recipe. Baking Powder rises twice: once when batch is mixed with liquid and second with the heat of the oven and is used for longer baked items/

BTW - Some things "rise" without the use of either: take for example cream puffs. Cream puffs use the moisture of the egg combined with the heat of the oven to cause the "puff'.

LindaF144a Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 12:50pm
post #8 of 20

Bakingpw is right about soda vs powder. But the main reason why you will see soda usedin cookies and other things like chocolate cakes is because it will also make them darker, thus more pleasing to the eye.

And if you think about it, chocolate chip cookies do not rise. You dish them out by tablespoonfuls. They then melt and spread. The rise you see is where they set before they totally spread. Soda will help them rise, don't get me wrong on that. But cookies "rise" in a different way than cakes.

And it is true that you get a different product when you use soda only, or powder only, or both. If you ever get the time, it is fun to experiment and try. You still get edible results, most of the time icon_wink.gif , so nothing really goes to waste. Just don't take it personally when it fails, like I do. icon_biggrin.gif

bonniebakes Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 4:17pm
post #9 of 20

thanks everyone!!

Just to be sure I understand... the chocolate chip cookie recipes use BS instead of BP, even though the ingredients aren't' acidic, so that there is only one "rise" reaction?

LindaF144a Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 7:29pm
post #10 of 20

There is only one rise action because thatmis technically what BS does.

If you want to read more on how BS and BP work in cookies, I can suggest Cookwise by Shirley Corriher. She has a section on what happens to cookies when you change the leavening. Basically a thin cookie is using BS and a puffy and in between is when you use BP in varying amounts.

bonniebakes Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 7:59pm
post #11 of 20

thanks!!

linstead Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 8:20pm
post #12 of 20

[quote="Which was a good thing since they were for my Auntie who has no teeth. icon_smile.gif[/quote]

icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

bakingpw Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 9:09pm
post #13 of 20

Since you are interested in baking science, you should read Harold McGee. McGee is a food scientist. I think one of his books was On Food and Cooking (required reading in Culinary school). Also, a while back, I ran into a blog he does. You could google that.

bonniebakes Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 11:18pm
post #14 of 20

Thanks for that name and information... I wasn't aware of him, but I have seen Shirley Corriher's book.

LindaF144a Posted 15 Sep 2010 , 1:44am
post #15 of 20

Thank you from me also.

SparkleKat Posted 15 Sep 2010 , 2:08am
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MessMaker

I dont know any baking science, but I do know that The last 2 batches of NFSC I made were different, because 1 i used baking soda and the other I used baking powder.

The difference- the one with soda was alot softer cookie than the one with powder.

Which was a good thing since they were for my Auntie who has no teeth. icon_smile.gif




Note to self...Don't eat or drink while reading the forum. You just made my night! LOL

chikadodle Posted 15 Sep 2010 , 2:58am
post #17 of 20

Brown sugar is the acid in that recipe. Brown sugar contains molasses which is naturally acidic. That is my memory from culinary school, but I'm sure Harold McGee can give you a much more comprehensive explanation.

bonniebakes Posted 15 Sep 2010 , 12:28pm
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by chikadodle

Brown sugar is the acid in that recipe. Brown sugar contains molasses which is naturally acidic. That is my memory from culinary school, but I'm sure Harold McGee can give you a much more comprehensive explanation.




Thank you for that information. I sort of wondered if it was the brown sugar, but I know very little about chemistry and wasn't sure that was acidic. Thanks!

LindaF144a Posted 15 Sep 2010 , 1:56pm
post #19 of 20

Duh, I forgot about the molasses in brown sugar. It is this and because BS will darken it.

Thank you chikadodle.

chikadodle Posted 16 Sep 2010 , 2:28am
post #20 of 20

You're welcome!

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