Baking powder vs baking soda

Decorating By cookoo4cakes Updated 8 Nov 2013 , 4:07am by MBalaska

cookoo4cakes Posted 28 Oct 2013 , 3:33am
post #1 of 12


I was hoping someone could explain to me the difference between baking soda and baking powder. I know one is acidic and the other is 4 times more potent.

What I don't understand is when to use which one, how much and why some recipes call for one and some for both!

Thanks so much!!

11 replies
jason_kraft Posted 28 Oct 2013 , 3:40am
post #2 of 12

ABaking powder is just baking soda plus an acidic ingredient to activate the leavening reaction. If your recipe already has enough of an acidic ingredient you can use baking soda, otherwise you'll want to use baking powder.

Recipes that call for both usually have a small amount of acidic ingredients, so you can use some baking soda to react with the existing acid but if more leavening is needed you'd have to add baking powder as well.

More info:

cookoo4cakes Posted 28 Oct 2013 , 3:55am
post #3 of 12

AThanks! I'm making a white cake. It has 2 cups of buttermilk. How much of each would you suggest I use?

Stitches Posted 28 Oct 2013 , 2:47pm
post #4 of 12

You are asking for a scientific answer to a question with unknown variables. "Adjusting" a recipe is part trial and don't seem ready for that level of baking based on your opening question.

cookoo4cakes Posted 29 Oct 2013 , 6:47am
post #5 of 12

AThanks Stitches! I believe a more appropriate response would have been to ask what the other ingredients are and how much. I obviously am not ready. Hence the opening question. Thanks again, Stater of the Obvious! I'm looking for help. Not someone to throw my lack of experience in my face :)

ApplegumPam Posted 29 Oct 2013 , 7:25am
post #6 of 12

I don't believe she threw your lack of experience in your face.

She was merely suggesting that if you don't have a lot of recipe development experience and knowledge (ie the function of ingredients etc) then you would be best advised to follow an already tested recipe.  You say the white cake you are making has buttermilk..... you are obviously following a recipe - what does it have .... baking soda?  if so - use that

Baking soda and baking powder are not interchangeable in recipes

cookoo4cakes Posted 29 Oct 2013 , 8:06am
post #7 of 12

AI'm not following a recipe. I was trying to come up with one, specifically to learn functions of ingredients and how they react with each other. That's why I asked about baking soda/powder. I've seen recipes that have buttermilk that call for baking soda and some with buttermilk that call for powder. I know they're not interchangeable. But I'm not sure when to use which one and how much. Buttermilk would be the only acidic ingredient.

I know my level of baking is close to non existent. I was hoping someone would be able to help me.

Pastrybaglady Posted 29 Oct 2013 , 8:56am
post #8 of 12

If you are just learning how to bake I think most everyone on this site would advise you to follow a basic recipe.  I've never heard of anyone learning how to bake by inventing recipes 8O

cookoo4cakes Posted 29 Oct 2013 , 3:27pm
post #10 of 12

AThank you for your suggestions. I will find a recipe and change it around.

costumeczar Posted 8 Nov 2013 , 12:27am
post #11 of 12


Original message sent by cookoo4cakes

Thank you for your suggestions. I will find a recipe and change it around.

I'd suggest that you get a copy of the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. It has recipes, then an explanation of why the recipe works the way that it does, so you can figure out what to adjust if you need to adjust something. Changing things around in recipes without knowing why you're changing it isn't going to teach you anything and will probably just be confusing.

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