Baking powder v. soda in cake recipe
Posted: 11 October 2012 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I inadvertently substituted baking POWDER for soda in a chocolate cake recipe that calls for non-dutched cocoa, all purpose flour (mine happens to be bleached) and sour cream.  I didn?t realize this until after the cakes were baked and wrapped for later assembly (the cake layers looked pretty normal at the time). However, in the process of transferring the cooled cakes to wrap, I detected the flavor of the crumb to be a little off and the layers seemed uncharacteristically heavy and/or dry.  When I later realized my mistake, I began to wonder if this was a fatal flaw. I decided not to risk it and made another batch. The new cakes already look more like I remember them (they appear a darker chocolate and more moist.)

My decision to re-bake came after reading that baking powder is essentially baking soda with a moisture-absorbing agent. This made me worry that my cake would certainly be dry.

Can you help me understand this better?

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Posted: 11 October 2012 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Crown Hill bakery - 11 October 2012 04:56 AM

My decision to re-bake came after reading that baking powder is essentially baking soda with a moisture-absorbing agent. This made me worry that my cake would certainly be dry.


This isn’t the case at all.  While it’s true that baking powder does contain a moisture absorbing agent, that isn’t the important difference.  Baking SODA is a base, an alkaline substance that is the opposite of an acid.  It normally needs an acid to chemically react with, such as vinegar, creme of tartar, buttermilk, sour cream, brown sugar, etc.

Baking POWDER is a mixture of baking SODA and an acid that will, when wet, react chemically together to generate carbon dioxide.  You use this when the recipe does not include an acid for the baking soda to react with.  The moisture absorbing component is merely to help keep the powder from getting damp.

It wouldn’t surprise me that your cake was dense when using baking POWDER, rather than the SODA called for; baking POWDER is only 1/4 as powerful as the equivalent baking SODA.  I wouldn’t expect it to affect dryness, however, other than the fact that your cake wouldn’t have browned as easily with the POWDER and you’d have had to leave it in the oven longer if you were gauging the doneness via the color.

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