can I substitute baking powder for baking soda?
December 5, 2009 3:44 PM   Subscribe

the recipe calls for baking soda. I only have baking powder. can I substitute? If so, whats the conversion math? Thanks for helping!
posted by hollyanderbody to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like you can substitute. Who knew?
posted by Sassyfras at 3:46 PM on December 5, 2009

I've always heard somewhere between a 3 to 1 or a 4 to 1 ratio of powder to soda. The issue then becomes what all of that extra cream of tartar in your baking powder is going to do to your recipe - that, I'm not sure.
posted by SNWidget at 3:49 PM on December 5, 2009

What are you baking? I use 2:1 for biscuits.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:56 PM on December 5, 2009

FWIW, this app seems to think that there's no true substitute. It suggests "experimenting" and using 3/4 teaspoon of ammonium bicarbonate for one teaspoon of baking soda.
posted by Rewind at 4:07 PM on December 5, 2009

My experience has been that while there is some ratio that can be tried, it is not a true arbitrage where one item is exchangeable for the other. Put another way, my cake sucked. If I was in the same situation again, I would curse myself, put my boots on and drive to the sotre even in this snow and get the one for which the recipe called.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you can substitute, than why do some recipes (Moosewood's amazing Ginger-Chocolate Cake for one) have both?
posted by sully75 at 4:12 PM on December 5, 2009

Ok on preview: Because your cake will suck.
posted by sully75 at 4:13 PM on December 5, 2009

I depends on what you're baking. More info on substitutions here.
posted by webhund at 4:14 PM on December 5, 2009

Baking powder is baking soda... plus cornstarch and salt.
posted by rokusan at 4:20 PM on December 5, 2009

No, baking powder is baking soda plus cream of tartar.

It really depends on what you're baking. If it's something with an acid in it like lemon juice or buttermilk to activate the soda AND it's not a recipe that requires precision like a cake, you probably could substitute. If it's cookies or a cake, just go buy some soda.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:26 PM on December 5, 2009

Baking powder is baking soda... plus cornstarch and salt.

Not exactly true. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), which reacts with acids in your ingredients to release carbon dioxide, which leavens your food. Baking powder is baking soda plus an acid salt such as cream of tartar(KC4H5O6) and monocalcium phosphate (Ca(H2PO4)2)--hence, "double acting." This eliminates the need for another source of acid in the recipe.
posted by pullayup at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2009 [8 favorites]

Pullayup has it right. You can substitute, but if there is an acid in the ingredients (lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk) you might want to reduce or eliminate it.
posted by Nothing at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2009

Pullayup just destroyed me with Science! I thought it was just regular salt.
posted by rokusan at 5:10 PM on December 5, 2009

I always learned that you can substitute the other way (ie baking soda for powder) if you add cream of tartar but that you usually cannot successfully substitute the powder for soda because the cream of tartar will screw the recipe up. I learned this from a relative who is a pastry chef so I assume it's true. Baking is more like chemistry than cooking, the relative amounts are very important so I'd not risk it if it's important.
posted by fshgrl at 10:39 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Anecdote: Mr. amusebuche loves to tell the story about the time I made a batch of scones in a new apartment, and substituted soda for powder, since that was all I had on hand. They came out of the oven so beautifully, golden and risen high, with an intoxicating aroma. With mouths watering, we sat down to break into the hot scones with some butter and jam and upon the first bite, we knew that something was horribly wrong. They tasted metallic, to the point of being inedible, and the whole batch went in the bin. I guess you can safely substitute powder for soda, but not the other way around.
posted by amusebuche at 7:37 AM on December 6, 2009

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