How Does Baking Powder Work?

How Does Baking Powder Work?

For years and years, we’ve used baking powder but have never quite given it much thought. It’s an essential ingredient for some of our favorite recipes like cookies and cakes, and yet a lot of people confuse it with baking soda. Today, we will answer some questions about baking powder. What is it exactly? How is it different from baking soda? And, more importantly, how does it work?

What Is Baking Powder?

Baking powder is a raising agent that is used commonly used in baking everything from cookies to cakes. The bubbles produced by baking powder give baked goods a lighter texture. Baking powder is a two-in-one chemical leavening that combines a powdered alkali (sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) with a powdered acid (originally, tartaric acid). It also contains a filler ingredient, usually cornstarch. Those ingredients react to water, milk, eggs, or any other water-based liquid ingredient to form bubbles.

There are two types of baking powder: single-acting and double-acting.

  • Single-acting baking powder makes carbon dioxide as soon as you mix it with liquid ingredients. If you use single-acting baking powder, you will need to bake the recipe before the bubbles disappear.
  • Double-acting baking powder produces bubbles twice—when it comes into contact with liquid ingredients and again when you bake the batter in the oven. The second reaction occurs because of calcium acid phosphate. Double-acting baking powder works best for recipes that you may not bake right away.

How Does Baking Powder Work?

Baking powder’s leavening abilities comes from the baking soda in it. To activate baking powder, it simply needs to come into contact with any liquid ingredient. Once activated, the baking powder will create carbon dioxide air bubbles. It also enhances the air bubbles you create when you whisk or cream your ingredients.

Baking Powder Versus Baking Soda

Although baking powder contains baking soda, they are not the same. Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda is a powdered alkali. It does not contain any other ingredients. Thus, to work as a leavening agent, it needs to be mixed with an acidic agent, which is usually cream of tartar or buttermilk.

In contrast, baking powder, as mentioned, already contains cream of tartar, so it does not need liquid acid ingredients to be activated. In a manner of speaking, baking powder is instant baking soda.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how baking powder works and how it differs from baking soda. Next time you bake a cookie, pay attention to what happens as soon as you add baking powder.

Now go bake some memories!!

Very Truly,


Cake Decor Etc