Why is Baking Powder Added in the Cake Recipe?
Amidst the current lockdown situation, it is no surprise that almost all of us have turned out to become a home baker or a chef! Even if you had been baking at home for a while, then this is the time to devote more time towards this passion. But it could turn out that you are short of a few ingredients. Also, certain people may dislike the usage of the so-called profound chemicals like baking powder and baking soda in edible items like cakes!
So, here we present to you, some amazing alternatives to baking powder and baking soda while baking a cake. We have also tried to include some easy cake recipes to try out without using baking powder!
However, the doubt still persists. Why exactly do we use baking powder to make cakes? Will cakes turn out to be the same, if made without baking powder? Let us take a closer look at the answers here. Basically, there are two main reasons why baking powder is used in cake recipes:
Cake batter is ideally prepared by mixing both wet as well as dry ingredients. In essence, it is required that the ingredients (especially the baking powder) are blended well to achieve a creamy texture. As a result, you will notice that air bubbles are infused into the batter. This is actually caused by the carbon dioxide produced as a result of the chemical reaction by mixing the ingredients. When exposed to heat, the batter releases the carbon dioxide trapped inside the air bubbles, causing the batter to rise and helps to cook the cake to perfection. Nevertheless, it is advised to avoid large air pockets or holes in the cake. To ensure uniformity in texture throughout the cake, you have to make sure to gently whisk or “fold in” the batter well.
To Add Tenderness
Another reason for adding baking powder to the cake batter is to achieve the much-needed tenderness in the baked cakes. In the absence of baking powder, cakes turn out to be dense and crumbly; and lack tenderness or fluffiness. It is needed that you add the right amount of baking powder to the cake as the quantity of the ingredient totally affects the tenderness of the cake.
Too much baking powder, will cause the batter to rise rapidly and then, collapse all of a sudden. The cake tends to lose the tenderness and will have a coarse fragile crumb with a fallen centre. Well, if you don’t add enough of the baking powder in the batter, the cake will have a poor volume and will result in a compact crumb.
Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Have you been hearing too much about baking powder and baking soda? But can’t seem to make out the actual difference between the two? Here are some pointers for you to compare and contrast between both these ingredients.
As a rule of thumb, it is to be understood that both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents. They are added to the recipe to help the batter to rise, and cook the cake to perfection. Apart from the fact that both of them look alike and sound similar, there is a major factor that differentiates both the compounds. The addition of an acidifying agent!
Baking soda, otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate is a white crystalline powder that is alkaline (or basic). Baking soda turns active only when combined with an acidic ingredient and a liquid. This is why, recipes having only baking soda, call for an acidic ingredient like lemon or buttermilk. When activated, the baking soda releases carbon dioxide, which allows the cake to rise and become fluffy.
Baking powder, on the other hand, is a complete leavening agent, meaning it contains both the base as well as the acid-like sodium aluminum sulphate, calcium acid phosphate, or cream of tartar, needed for the product to rise. The base is ideally sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda itself! Thus, baking powder is quite similar to baking soda in action, only that there is no need for an external acid, as the acidifying agent is already present in the original composition.
Also, it is worth noting that there are two types of baking powder available – single and double-acting. Double-acting baking powder is the one that is generally available for household use. Here, the powder creates two separate reactions – one while being added to the batter, and the other while being cooked under heat. It is favourable that the reaction is extended like this, as otherwise, the leavening will happen all at once!
Lastly, Baking soda is a more intense and stronger leavening agent than baking powder. To be exact, 1 teaspoon of baking powder is equal to ¼ teaspoon of baking soda!
Make Cake with These Baking Powder Substitutes
So, here we are at the core of the matter. What to replace the baking powder with while baking a cake! Since, you now understand that baking powder is crucial for the cake batter to rise, how exactly do you justify any other element in its replacement?
First and foremost, it is important to know that the art of baking and cooking also involves a lot of scope for experimentation! So, if you are feeling puzzled about replacing baking powder, then we recommend that you play it cool! There are quite a lot of alternatives to the most common ingredient used in baking, that it will leave you almost amazed that they all work as well as the baking powder itself!
From the large number of additives that work as a substitute for baking powder, we have carefully chosen the ones that are most commonly seen in kitchens or are easy to procure. So, read along as we reveal the most useful baking powder substitutes and easy recipes to bake a cake with these ingredients.
Buttermilk is a dairy product that can be easily used as a substitute for baking powder. Commercial buttermilk is basically cultured milk that is formed with a pasteurization process involving good lactic bacteria, to break down sugar into acid. However, you can prepare buttermilk at home by churning sweet cream into butter. Buttermilk is formed as a byproduct during this process. Full fat buttermilk is the best option when it comes to substituting baking powder, as the low fat and skimmed ones do not give good results.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Try out this delicious chocolate cake made with buttermilk instead of baking powder. It tastes just as good; in fact, even better!
- 1½ cup flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup hot water
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and sift well.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs. Add butter, vanilla and buttermilk. Stir briefly.
- Add this butter mixture to the dry ingredients and fold in well.
- Pour the hot water in small amounts and mix well. The batter will be a little thin.
- Transfer this to a baking tin.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake the cake for 35-40 minutes.
Even though it has a strong and distinctive flavour, vinegar can quite easily be used in baked products. The acidic pH of vinegar makes it the right substitute for baking powder. The leavening properties of vinegar help it to make cakes rise and turn fluffy. There are many variants of vinegar; the most common being white and apple cider vinegar. In the following recipe we are adding apple cider vinegar, but you will be surprised to see how the ingredient doesn’t leave behind any nasty smell or taste in the cake.
Egg Free Vanilla Cake
This egg-less vanilla cake is perfect for vegans looking for a recipe without eggs. Yummy, crumbly vanilla cake that tastes absolutely delicious!
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 cups self-rising flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- In a bowl, beat sugar, vanilla essence and butter until creamy.
- In another bowl, combine milk and vinegar.
- Now combine both these mixtures in a larger bowl, adding flour alternately in small batches.
- Beat well, do not over-mix. Transfer the batter to a baking pan.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for 35-40 minutes.
A staple of most kitchens, lemon juice is easy to find and use in recipes when you don’t have baking powder on hand! The citric acid in lemons is a perfect acid additive for baking recipes. Since it gives a distinctive sour taste, it is recommended to avoid using it in large quantities while baking.
Lemon Cake with No Baking Powder
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 lemon grated zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Beat together with sugar and butter till creamy.
- To this add in the eggs one at a time.
- Add the sifted flour, lemon zest and vanilla to this. Combine well.
- Transfer the cake batter to a baking pan.
- Bake it in a preheated oven at 180°C for 35-40 minutes.
- Drizzle a mixture of lemon juice and sugar over the cake for extra flavor.
This dairy product is formed from the fermentation of milk with bacteria. Lactic acid in yogurt lowers the pH and increases the acidity in the yogurt. It is perfect as a leavening agent in replacement of baking powder. However, be careful about the quantity of wet ingredients when you add yogurt to a recipe; as it increases the liquidity of the recipe anyway.
Easy Yogurt Cake
Here is a yummy and soft yogurt cake that tastes amazingly different. The cake is a little dense but is bursting with flavor and is healthy too!
- 4 egg whites
- 500 gm Greek yogurt
- 50 gm flour
- 100 gm powdered sugar
- Add salt and egg whites to a bowl. Beat well until stiff peaks are formed.
- In another bowl combine the yogurt, flour and powdered sugar. Mix this well, but make sure to not over mix it.
- Now, to this mixture, add in the egg whites in small batches.
- Fold in smoothly and slowly.
- Transfer to a baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 40 minutes.
Usually when we try to make desserts without baking powder, there is always one ingredient that acts as a leavening agent instead of baking powder. And, did you know that this ingredient could be the very common “egg”? Yes, egg white when whipped, traps in a lot of air thus giving the cake volume and fluffiness. However, in order to get the right consistency it's best to use an electric mixer, as mixing with hand may turn out to be cumbersome. Also, when you fold in egg whites into the batter, always make sure to do it very carefully and slowly!
Easy Italian Sponge Cake
This traditional Italian sponge cake is easy to prepare and super delicious to eat! Besides, you need just three basic ingredients to make the cake – eggs, flour and sugar.
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 120 gm sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 120 gm flour
- A pinch of salt
- Separate the egg whites and the yolks.
- Beat the egg whites and sugar with a mixer till fluffy and stiff peaks are formed.
- In another bowl beat the yolks and the vanilla essence.
- Now, to this bowl, mix in the flour and the egg white mixture in small batches.
- Mix and fold in the ingredients very gently.
- Transfer to a baking bowl and bake for 40 minutes at 180°C.
Baking a Cake Without Baking Powder is Easy
By now you would have realized that baking a delicious cake without baking powder is easy if you follow the simple recipes given in this BP Guide. Your family will love you for the surprise that you have in store for them. We hope you would have liked this article. Stay connected with us for more such engaging content.