No, baking powder is not a natural ingredient. Baking powder is a combination of three ingredients: baking soda, cream of tartar, and an inert starch. Baking soda is a chemical leavening agent made from sodium bicarbonate and an acid (such as cream of tartar). Cream of tartar is an acidic powder that is a by-product of winemaking. And the inert starch is used as a drying agent to keep the baking powder from clumping. The combination of these three ingredients creates a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas, which is what causes baked goods to rise.
Where does baking powder come from naturally?
Baking powder is a combination of an acid and an alkaline compound that, when combined with liquid, creates carbon dioxide bubbles, causing dough and batter to rise. This leavening agent does not occur naturally and is instead a manufactured product.
The acid and alkaline components of baking powder are typically either cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate), monocalcium phosphate, sodium pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate, or a combination of these. Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is a natural byproduct of the winemaking process, where grapes are crushed and fermented. The acidic tartaric acid is stabilized with potassium, resulting in cream of tartar.
Monocalcium phosphate is made from the reaction of calcium carbonate (limestone) and phosphoric acid, which is also a byproduct of the winemaking process.
Sodium pyrophosphate is a combination of sodium and phosphoric acid, which can be derived from natural sources such as minerals or from industrial syntheses.
Sodium aluminum sulfate is a manufactured chemical which is synthesized by combining aluminum sulfate and sodium carbonate.
In some baking powders, the acid and alkaline components are already combined, while other baking powders require the user to add a liquid, such as water or milk, to activate the leavening process.
Can you make your own baking powder?
Yes, you can make your own baking powder. To do so, you’ll need two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda and a small amount of cornstarch. Mix the ingredients together until they are completely combined, then store it in an airtight container. This homemade baking powder should be used within a few months for the best results. When you are ready to use it, use half a teaspoon of baking powder for each cup of flour used in a recipe.
Can I use cornstarch instead of baking powder?
Yes, you can use cornstarch instead of baking powder, but it won’t work in the same way. Baking powder is a chemical leavening agent that is made up of baking soda, an acid, and a moisture absorber that activates the reaction. This reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide, which cause baked goods to rise and become light and fluffy. Cornstarch, on the other hand, is a starch made from ground corn. It does not have leavening properties and does not cause baked goods to rise, but it can be used as a thickening agent for sauces and gravies. You can use cornstarch in place of baking powder in recipes, but you will need to add an additional leavening agent, such as baking soda or beaten egg whites, to get the desired results.
“Why can’t you replace baking soda and baking powder?”
Baking soda and baking powder are two very different leavening agents. Baking soda is a pure alkaline salt, also known as sodium bicarbonate. This leavening agent is activated when it is mixed with an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, brown sugar, yogurt, buttermilk, or honey. Baking soda will react with these acidic ingredients and produce carbon dioxide gas bubbles, which makes cakes, muffins, and other baked goods rise.
Baking powder, on the other hand, is a combination of baking soda, an acidic ingredient such as cream of tartar, and a moisture absorber such as cornstarch. Baking powder is designed to work with moisture in the recipe, so as the baked goods are heated, the baking powder will react and create carbon dioxide gas bubbles. This reaction can’t be replicated with baking soda alone.
Baking soda and baking powder both have their own unique roles in baking, and cannot be interchanged. Baking soda does not have the same reaction to moisture as baking powder does and cannot replace the latter. Furthermore, baking soda is about three to four times stronger than baking powder, so using baking powder in place of baking soda would result in a very bitter taste.
I’m Brooke, and I love being vegan. I know all there is to know about the vegan lifestyle, and I love sharing that knowledge with others.
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