The Ups and Downs of Baking Powder
This week Barb Holland asks me for tips on baking:
“Can one use double acting baking powder instead of regular baking powder, only using less”?
Baking powder is made of one part sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda) and two parts of a baking acid (usually cream of tartar) as well as a bit of starch to keep it from caking. It is the reaction between the soda and the acid that creates the power of the leavener, like when you add vinegar to baking soda – the whole thing bubbles up. Likewise in baking, the soda needs to be activated.
Single-acting baking powders are activated by moisture, when you combine the wet and dry ingredients they start to activate immediately and so your product has to be baked right after mixing. Double-acting powders are activated by liquid and heat so it reacts twice, once when you add it to a liquid and again when it it hits the heat of the oven.
Almost all of the baking powders available for home use are double acting. In most modern recipes when baking powder is called for, it is the double acting variety that is required. It’s hard to identify when a recipe might have called for single acting baking powder because it would just be listed as baking powder. You may have an older recipe that calls for baking powder and it may be single acting that was intended, but it is fine to use the double acting instead in equal quantities, don’t change the amount.
Thanks for your question Barb.