If cooking or baking is still very new to you, its fine. It’s never too late to start learning. Aside from recipes and equipment, one thing you should learn about when you’re a new baker is what ingredients to use for which baked goods. One very common ingredient that is present in almost every recipe is baking powder, something that you as a new baker will immediately encounter and have the need to stock up on in your kitchen.
First things first, you should know what baking powder is so you will have an idea where you can use it and which recipes will probably require you to have it. This cooking ingredient is a blend of acid such as sodium aluminum sulfate, calcium acid phosphate, or cream of tartar. It also contains alkali that is also commonly known as baking soda.
Baking powder helps our baked goodies to expand or have form. How does it happen? When you add water into the baking powder, a chemical reaction takes place. Carbon dioxide is produced and creates air pockets inside the dough of your food. While the food is being heated inside the oven, additional carbon monoxide is produced which mixes with the carbon dioxide and creates steam. The gases inside expands because of the pressure which results to expanding the food itself.
There are three kinds of baking powder: Double-acting, Tartrate, and Phosphate. Each one of these has its own characteristics. But the most commonly used kind is the double-acting. You can find this baking powder in almost every grocery store, while the other two kinds may not be available in most local stores.Sometimes, people get confused with the difference between baking powder and baking soda. It’s vital for us to know that baking soda is a base and it’s an alkaline. Whenever you mix it with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice, it will create bubbles. Meanwhile, baking powder is a combination of baking soda, and dry acids like cream of tartar and sometimes with cornstarch as well. Unlike baking soda, full chemical reaction doesn’t occur instantly for baking powder. It only starts when the powder gets wet and then reacts, even more, when heated.
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Test Your Baking Powder
If you have some leftover baking powder right now in your kitchen, it is a must to know if it’s still good before actually using it for your recipes. A simple way to do this is to conduct a simple water test. You don’t want end up wasting your time, effort, and food when you use a bad baking powder.The first thing to do is to pour ½ teaspoon of baking powder in a cup and then add 1/3 cup of hot water. Observe the mixture. If you see the mixture intensely bubbling up, then that means your baking powder is still good to use. However, if it doesn’t, throw it away to avoid using it again by mistake.
Make Your Own Baking Powder Substitute
Making your own baking powder substitute is really easy. You can do this if you don’t want to make a trip to the groceries just to get one, or if you’re just feeling adventurous and want to experiment every once in a while.
All you have to do is to mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda with ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar. This will give you 1 teaspoon of baking powder. However, if you’re planning on storing your DIY baking powder, then you’ll have to mix ¼ teaspoon of cornstarch to the same ratio. The cornstarch absorbs any excess moisture that the container might have and therefore prevents any chemical reaction while the powder is in storage.
Aside from using baking soda and cream of tartar, there are other substitutes for baking powder, and here’s some of them.
1. Cream of Tartar
As mentioned earlier, cream of tartar is one of the most common substitutes for baking powder. For the uninitiated, this is one of the results of the process of fermentation of wine from grapes. Its scientific name is “tartaric acid”, thus it was called “cream of tartar”.
Contrary to how it is called, this cooking ingredient is not in cream form. Instead, it’s in powder form. You can find cream of tartar in the spice aisle of the grocery store. It is commonly used when cooking meringue pies because it makes the whipping process faster. The perfect foams are created because the cream of tartar stabilizes the air bubbles of the egg whites that are needed to have that soft texture of meringues.
If you are planning on storing cream of tartar or if you have some left over from your previous baking session, you can test its freshness by checking its appearance and smell. It should be powdery, it should still have its white color, and it should still have an acidic smell.Another way of testing the potency of your cream of tartar is to stir a half teaspoon of it in a ½ cup of warm water and then add a pinch of baking soda. If the mixture forms a really nice foam, then it means that you can still use it as a baking powder substitute.
2. Plain Yogurt
Yogurt is formed when fresh milk mixes with good bacteria and thickens. As a result, the almost addicting sour taste of yogurt is formed. This ingredient also contains lactic acid because of the fermentation process that takes place while it is stored.
If you are planning on using this alternative for your baking powder, keep in mind to use plain yogurt and not flavored ones. While it might sound fun to use flavored yogurt, the pH level needed for this product to work as a baking powder alternative might not be enough compared to using the unflavored ones. Better be safe than sorry!
Using yogurt as a baking powder substitute is quite easy and simple. You just have to mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl along with 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and then add ½ cup of yogurt into the mixture.
Remember to reduce the amount of your wet ingredients to compensate for adding 120 ml or ½ cup of yogurt. Once you start combining all of the ingredients in a bowl, there will be an immediate reaction between the baking soda and the dairy products which is similar to the effects that baking powder will give you.Storing your extra yogurt is pretty simple. Just remember to use a clean spoon when scooping so it won’t get contaminated. It’s also a must to consume your yogurt within 3 days of opening it and to keep it refrigerated. If you’re keeping it in a container, seal it tightly so you can protect it from strong food odors. While it is recommended to refrigerate your yogurt, freezing it is not because this will affect the flavor and texture of the product.
Buttermilk is another dairy product that you can use as a substitute when you don’t have a baking powder at hand. It is basically cultured milk that goes through a pasteurization process with good lactic acid bacteria, which makes it a good acidic alternative for baking powder.
While traditionally made buttermilk is non-fat, the ones that you can buy in stores are now skimmed or full-fat versions. You will see their corresponding calorie count, but most buttermilks that you’ll find might be low-fat.
It’s possible to make homemade buttermilk but store-bought is more recommended especially if you are going to use it for baking purposes. This is because those that are readily available in store shelves tend to be tangier, thicker, and more acidic. This kind will work best with your baking soda.
The good thing about buttermilk is that when stored properly, it can still be used up to 2 days after its freshness date. You can also freeze it to keep its shelf-life longer and just thaw it whenever you need it. There are also lots of other ways to use this ingredient so it won’t be wasted even if you can’t use it all for your baking.Using buttermilk as a baking powder substitute is easy. Just follow the steps that we used for yogurt substitution as well as the measurements, and you’re done!
4. Lemon Juice
Lemons are one of the best alternatives that you can use. Why?
This ingredient is very easy to find. You might even have a stock of lemons in your own fridge right now. When you go inside a grocery store, you know immediately where to find those fresh lemons. It’s a very common fruit that everyone knows where and how to find.
But what makes lemons greater is because it contains a very high amount of citric acid. If you haven’t tried using lemon, then you should know that it is very acidic that some people even use it to lighten their dark spots or even to remove some stains in their clothes.
The high acid amount of lemons makes it a great fit for baking soda to produce the reaction needed for baking. However, since lemon has a very strong taste, it would be a great idea to only use it for recipes that do not demand a generous amount of baking powder. You don’t want your baked goods to have that strong sour taste, don’t you?To substitute your baking powder with lemon, mix ½ teaspoon of lemon juice with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. This ratio will give you an equivalent of 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
5. Sour milk
Sour milk is milk that underwent fermentation. It might be a surprise to other people to discover that you can actually use spoilt milk to create baked goodies. But using sour milk will actually give you a lot of benefits.
One of these benefits is the amino acids that sour milk contains which is absorbed by our bloodstream really well. Another one is the presence of living lactic acid bacteria which reduces the possibility of allergic reactions compared to other products like fresh milk.
Just like the previous alternatives mentioned, sour milk also contains the acidity level that is needed to substitute baking powder. When mixed with baking soda, this will give you the rising effect that you would want for your baked goods.
Sour milk is also a great alternative because it doesn’t require you to go out and look for it in store. If you think you have some spoilt milk in your kitchen, you can use it for this purpose. Just remember to follow the same steps and ratios for yogurt and buttermilk substitutes.
Another substitute for baking powder is molasses. This is a natural sweetener that is created after sugar cane juice is boiled, the sugar crystals are removed, and the thick, brown colored syrup is left.
Molasses is used in a number of baking recipes and for sweetening such as cakes, breads, and cookies. It contains various vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, manganese, and copper. However, it also contains a lot of calories because it is basically, sugar.
Unlike the previous examples, you might notice that molasses doesn’t seem to have enough acid content. This is because; the acid needed for the baking powder substitute is only formed when you mix it with baking soda. The chemical reaction that it forms with baking soda will still give you the desired baking powder effect.
To make 1 teaspoon of baking powder substitute, just combine ¼ cup of molasses with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. Since molasses is in liquid form, don’t forget to reduce the amount your other liquid ingredients. It would also be a great idea to reduce your sweetener because molasses is already high in sugar.
Who said you can’t use this everyday ingredient for your baking needs? Vinegar is a kitchen staple which makes it another great option for substituting baking powder. Whether you’re new to baking or not, vinegar is a basic ingredient that everyone has.
There are different types of vinegar that it can be sometimes confusing which one should be used. The most commonly used type is white vinegar. Other types like Balsamic vinegar might be popular right now. However, it has a very strong flavor that it would be safe to just use it for recipes that really call for it.
The role of vinegar in baking is just like lemon juice. It has an acidity level that will perfectly react with baking soda. This will create the carbon dioxide that will make your cake or cookies rise inside the oven. You can also use this for making meringues that are fluffier.
If you’ve decided that vinegar is the baking powder substitute that you want to use, then mix ½ teaspoon of vinegar with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. This mixture will give you 1 teaspoon of baking powder as well.
8. Whipped Egg Whites
If you don’t have a baking soda at hand, we still have another substitute that will help you bake your food into perfection.
While baking powder makes the perfect air pockets to give your baked goodies rise, some recipes don’t really need it. Sometimes, they just need nicely whipped egg whites.
Tiny air bubbles are formed when egg whites are whipped and this will give the food the volume and lightness that it needs. You can use this for making meringues, pancakes, soufflés, and even certain types of cakes.
The great thing about this substitute is that it’s very easy to do. You just have to beat your eggs lightly until it becomes foamy. Slowly increase your speed until you can see that soft peaks are forming. Carefully fold your ingredients into your egg whites after the whipping process.
9. Self-rising Flour
Another option if you don’t have both baking soda or baking powder at hand is self-rising flour. This is also a common ingredient for those who love to bake. Self-rising flour is a mixture of all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder.
Just like baking powder, self-rising flour will also give your cake or your baked recipe a good form. It can be bought in boxes and is commonly packaged with quick bread, cake, and biscuit mixes.
Newbies will love self-rising flour because compared to the previous examples in this article, it’s very simple to use. You just have to replace the flour in the recipe that you are trying to do and disregard the baking powder or baking soda.
It’s hassle-free, quick to use, and even reduces the amount of ingredients that you would need to use while baking because it’s a kind of flour that also acts as your baking powder.
10. Club soda
Club soda is also called carbonated water. This ingredient is added to carbonated drinks to give its fizzy effect. For those who are wondering if you can drink club soda on its own, the answer is “Yes.” In fact, this kind of drink contains minerals and is better for your body because it is sugar-free.
This carbonated beverage also contains baking soda. This is why it is a good replacement for baking powder and baking soda. However, this substitute is only recommended if you’re making recipes that only require a bit of volume because club soda doesn’t contain a lot of sodium bicarbonate.
It can also be used to replace milk or water in your recipes because it will give the food extra volume.
The Bottom Line
Baking is fun and exciting. It’s an activity that only requires resourcefulness and creativity. Which is why if you don’t have an ingredient like baking powder at hand, there are a lot of ways to substitute it.
It can be difficult to remember all of these alternatives, especially if you’re new to baking and you’re still trying to get the hang of it. But all you have to remember is the principle or the main reason why baking powder is used in your recipe. And that is to create the air pockets that will help your batter rise and form its shape inside the oven.
It’s also important to remember that the acidity level of baking powder is what gives the chemical reaction needed for your recipe. Which is why a lot of the items that belong to this list just like the lemon juice and vinegar are also very acidic.
There are also substitutes that might not contain a lot of acid but will give the baked goods, the fluffiness and volume that it needs.
The modifications needed to make these substitutes work should also be kept in mind. Learning how to follow the ratio and balance your ingredients is an important rule if you want to make delicious baked goodies. If you are not careful with your measurements, you might end up putting too much of the baking powder substitutes and ruining the taste of your food.
You don’t have to be an expert to make these substitutes. Most of them can be found in your kitchen and some of them can be found in the nearest store. While baking powder is a very important component to your recipe, these substitutes will also give you a lot of benefits that plain old baking powder won’t.
One of these benefits is using one ingredient that will replace two or more ingredients, just like when you’re using self-rising flour and molasses. The first one will allow you to replace flour and baking powder at the same time. Meanwhile, molasses will allow you to reduce the measurement of your sweetener and act as a baking powder substitute as well.
Overall, the key to having a successful baking experience is to be creative. Experimenting with various ways of substituting ordinary ingredients will make you a better cook. It might take you a couple of tries before you finally find the right alternative for you, but the process will make you grow as a baker.