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The Ultimate Guide to Baking Powder- Types, Uses, and Substitutes

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Explore the comprehensive guide on baking powder, covering types, uses, and substitutes.

The Ultimate Guide to Baking Powder- Types, Uses, and Substitutes

Baking powder is an overlooked but crucial ingredient in the world of cooking. It can breathe life into dishes, turning them from dense and flat creations into light and fluffy delights. Its impact on the structure, texture and even taste of baked goods cannot be underestimated. Whether you are making pancakes or indulging in cakes, baking powder is the magical ingredient that makes it all possible.

The Crucial Role of Baking Powder

In the art of baking, baking powder plays a role as a leavening agent. This means, it causes dough or batter to expand by releasing gas, leading to increased volume and a lighter texture. Baking powder consists of both an acid (sodium bicarbonate or baking soda) and a base along with a filler like cornstarch to absorb moisture.

Different Types of Baking Powder

  • Single-Acting Baking Powder: This type reacts and produces gas bubbles when it comes in contact with moisture. It acts quickly and requires baking after mixing to prevent the gas from escaping.
  • Double-Acting Baking Powder: More commonly used and versatile, this type reacts twice during the baking process. Once, when mixed with wet ingredients and again when heated. This allows bakers to have flexibility in terms of preparation time and ensures a consistent rise in their baked goods.

Uses of Baking Powder

Baking powder is mainly used in baking recipes that do not contain acidic ingredients, such as cookies, cakes, pancakes, and biscuits. It plays a role in creating the airy texture found in muffins and scones. Additionally, it can be used to tenderize meats and has cleaning properties due to its nature.

Substitutes for Baking Powder

  • Baking Soda and Acid: Combine baking soda with an acid like cream tartar or lemon juice using a 2:1 ratio.
  • Buttermilk with Baking Soda: Replace the liquid component in your recipe with buttermilk. Pair it with baking soda.
  • Yogurt with Baking Soda: Like buttermilk, yogurt can serve as a substitute for baking powder.
  • Self-Rising Flour: This type of flour already contains baking powder and salt making it a convenient alternative.

Recipes Using Baking Powder

Recipe 1: Classic Fluffy Pancakes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter


  • In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients.
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and butter.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just blended.
  • Heat a griddle. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto it. Flip the pancakes once bubbles start to form.


Recipe 2: Cheddar Cheese Biscuits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  • Stir in the milk and cheddar cheese until a dough forms.
  • Drop a few Spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet and bake at 425°F for around 15 minutes.

Recipe 3: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour with baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, sugar, and lemon zest.
  • Cream the butter and sugar. Then add in eggs and milk.
  • Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ones until they are just combined. Then pour the mixture into a loaf pan. Bake it at 350°F for 60 minutes.


Recipe 4: Chocolate cake


  • 1 and 3/4 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk


  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together then add in the eggs.
  • Gradually, add in the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mixture.
  • Grease a pan and pour in the batter. Bake it at 350°F for 35 minutes.

Recipe 5: Cornbread


  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • A quarter cup of sugar
  • A quarter cup melted butter
  • An egg
  • One cup milk


  • In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
  • In another bowl, mix melted butter, egg, and milk.
  • Gently stir in the wet ingredients into the dry ones until they are just combined.
  • Grease a pan and pour in the batter and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.


Here are some tips to make your baking powder recipes even better:

  • Keep it Fresh: Make sure your baking powder is fresh to ensure the best rise.
  • Avoid Overmixing: Mixing too much can deflate the bubbles created by baking powder resulting in denser baked goods.
  • Oven Temperature Matters: Preheat your oven to ensure consistent and accurate baking.
  • Ingredient Temperature: Using room temperature ingredients often yields the best results in baking.
  • Measure with Precision: Accurate measurements are crucial when working with baking powder.

In conclusion, baking powder plays a crucial role in achieving the rise and texture in various recipes. By understanding its types, uses and substitutes, you can enhance your baking skills and explore new culinary horizons. With these tips and recipes at your disposal, get ready for a culinary journey filled with delicious outcomes. Whether you are an aspiring baker or an experienced one, let the wonders of baking powder inspire you to create, experiment and savor the fruits of your labor. Happy baking!