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What is the difference between bicarb soda and baking powder?


Posted anonymously, 15th December 2014


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  • There are differences in the chemical reactions: Bicarbonate of soda is a pure leavening agent and must be mixed with moisture and an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, chocolate or honey, to work. Baking powder is ready to go with its own acidic ingredient, usually cream of tartar.


  • You can use bicarb soda as a cleaning agent , but you can only bake with baking powder. Use what the recipes tell you as it may affect rising .


  • Some new info here I didn’t know. I’ve always had the impression bicarbonate soda was stronger/makes things rise more than baking powder. And you can use bicarbonate for cleaning too.


  • Thanks for the recipe mom109463, it’s handy to have if u run out and I’d forgotten it


  • In fruit cakes Carb Soda makes the colour darker. On a few occasions My Mum made some with and some without. The difference was quite obvious. All other ingredients were exactly the same.


  • Bicarb soda and baking soda are the same thing. Bicarb soda and baking powder are completely different. Bicarb soda is an alkaline. It reacts with acids in the food to create carbon dioxide which in turn lightens the product and helps it to rise. In red velvet cake it reacts with the cocoa and adds to the redness you get from the food colouring. You tend to see it as an ingredient in cakes that contain yoghurt, buttermilk, cocoa or cream of tartar as they are all acidic.
    Baking powder is a mixture of an alkaline and an acid. It has an initial reaction when it becomes wet and so if you make a cake mix and leave it sitting in the fridge for a few hours you’ll find it’s lighter and when you take it out. The second reaction occurs when it heats up. So if you cook the cake after it’s been in the fridge overnight it will still rise because one of the two potential reactions is taking place, but it will not rise as much as a cake that is cooked immediately because in that instance, both reactions are taking place and so it benefits from two rising agents.


  • Baking powder is a mix of bicarb soda and flour


  • bicarb can be added dry into mixtures
    baking powder will be added to wet ingredients to activate it i.e i use it when making stick date pudding


  • In Australia, bicarb soda, baking powder are actually the same thing, they are leavening agents, so make ingredients rise, Bicarbonate of soda needs to be mixed with moisture and an acidic ingredient for the necessary chemical reaction to make it rise, such as lemon juice, chocolate, buttermilk or honey. Baking powder often comes pre-mixed with the acidic ingredient for you – so all you need to do is add the moisture. To make your own baking powder, mix two parts cream of tartar with one part bicarbonate of soda. I usually use whatever the recipe asks for as I do not like to mess with something that someone else has already worked out. If you are using a recipe from UK or USA then you would probably use plain flour and need to add baking powder, as is Aust we tend to use Self raising flour which already has the raising ingredients in it. hope this helps


  • Bicarbonate of soda needs to be mixed with moisture and an acidic ingredient for the necessary chemical reaction to make it rise such as lemon juice or honey.
    Baking powder comes pre mixed with acidic ingredients for you so all you need to do is add the moisture.


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