So, to go along with our series of substitutions, this time we are covering baking powder. I don’t use baking powder very often, so sometimes it is expired by the time I am ready to use. Here is some good information if you don’t have any to use.
How to Substitute
It’s a bit tricky. An understanding of what baking soda is and how it works is really needed to substitute. You should also understand that your baking may not taste exactly the same as you expect.
So really what is Baking Powder?
Baking powder is generally speaking a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar (a dry acid), sometimes it also has some cornstarch to prevent clumping. Modern baking powder is usually sold is double acting. As the name suggests this means that the there are two stages of leavening. The first stage occurs when it gets wet – when you combine the dry and wet ingredients. The second stage occurs when the baking powder is heated above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).
Unfortunately, there are no temperature sensitive acid powders available to the home cook. However, Chef Alton Brown recommends the following as an approximate substitute for Double Action Baking Powder.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda plus 1 teaspoon cream of tartar*
(Wait till the end of mixing to add this baking powder and put it in the oven as quickly as possible because it will start to work immediately.)
Homemade baking powder will clump together if it isn’t used right away, but you can stop this by adding 1 teaspoon of corn starch to the baking powder mixture and storing it in an airtight container.
Remember baking powder and baking soda do expire!
If you don’t do a lot of baking you should probably test your baking powder and soda before using them.
Testing Baking Powder
Mix a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of warm water (preferably above 120 degrees Fahrenheit) with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder in a small bowl. Gently stir it. If the baking powder is still good it should moderately fizz if not buy a fresh supply.
Testing Baking Soda
Mix a 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl. Gently stir it. The mixture should rapidly bubble if the baking soda if it still good. (in fact it may start to react before you even stir - remember the volcano experments in grade school?) If it doesn’t bubble up buy a fresh package.
*What if you don’t have cream of tartar?
This is where it gets wonky because you will have to adjust the liquids in your recipe too.
Baking soda is about 4x more ‘powerful’ than baking powder. So to get the same amount of levening you would expect from 1 teaspoon of baking powder you will only need 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. You will also need an acid to start the levening action. For 1/4 tespoon of baking powder you will need 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice or even 1/2 cup of milk (yep its mildly acidic).
Remember you will need to compensate for the additional liquid in your recipe by removing it elsewhere. This is also quite likely to alter the flavor of your baked goods. But if you desperate give it a go.
For other tips visit JaquesKitchen