Finding an ideal baking powder substitute requires a better understanding of baking powder. This will enable you to pinpoint the most suitable substitutes and alternatives for your recipes. So let’s start!
What is Baking Powder?
Anyone who has experimented with baking will appreciate the benefits of baking powder. It’s the ingredient that encourages your gorgeous cupcakes to rise. Or it’s what makes your cookies nice and fluffy.
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder is baking soda and an acidifying agent. The most common acidifying agent is the cream of tartar.
The combination of baking soda, acid, and heat produces carbon dioxide. These bubbles are what make your food rise.
Different Types of Baking Powder
Baking powder can be single-acting or double-acting. It can also be slow-acting or fast-acting. Here are the major differences between these types of baking powder:
- A single-acting rising agent means it only has either fast-acting characteristics or slow-acting properties;
- Meanwhile, a double-acting agent means it can be used for its fast and slow-acting properties;
- Fast-acting acids in a wet mixture will react at room temperature; and
- On the other hand, slow-acting needs to be heated for a reaction.
There are many alternative ways to get your baked food to rise. Some of them use ingredients that are already in your kitchen. Others might be more difficult to find but are well worth the effort. If you don’t have baking powder at hand or you would like to try alternatives, then here are 12 options you can use as baking powder substitutes:
Baking Powder Substitutes
1. Self-Raising Flour (or Self-Rising Flour)
All-purpose flour is an important ingredient in many recipes. It is made from hard milled wheat and soft wheat. It’s ideal for coating meat or making your sauce thicker. It contains around 10–12% protein.
Self-raising flour and all-purpose flour have no difference in taste. Using one or the other will not affect the flavor.
Self-raising flour is a mixture of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. It contains approximately 8.5% protein. It is the protein that develops gluten. This is the key to many baked foods.
Self-raising flour is perfect for cakes, muffins, and pancakes. It is also commonly used for breading in fried chicken. Sometimes a recipe says plain flour (or all-purpose flour). Don’t worry about using self-raising flour instead. For making sauces, self-raising flour will also make your sauces lighter.
It might be confusing to look at the flour options in a supermarket. There is bread flour, pastry flour, white whole-wheat flour, oat flour, and lots more. It’s only self-raising flour that has added baking powder. Therefore, it’s only self-raising flour that can give you airy cakes and cookies.
You can substitute all-purpose flour for self-raising flour. But you can’t substitute self-raising flour for all-purpose because you will be missing its baking powder component. Without this, your food won’t be light and airy. If your recipe requires all-purpose flour, then you can substitute baking powder and salt with the following ratio:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 ½tsp baking powder + ½tsp salt = 1 cup self-raising flour
Meanwhile, if you want to make a gluten-free cake and you don’t have any baking powder, then you can combine:
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour bread + 1tsp baking powder + 1tsp white vinegar
Self-raising flour is the easiest alternative to baking powder. It’s the type of ingredient that should be in everybody’s kitchen. It’s easy to find in any supermarket. It’s also cheap and has a long shelf life.
Buttermilk is milk that has been left to ferment. Lactic acid is produced, and this causes a reduction in the PH levels of the milk. On the other hand, the protein in the milk causes it to curdle.
So buttermilk used to be made from the liquid leftover from churning butter. But buttermilk is now cultivated to follow safety standards.
You can make your buttermilk by adding 1tsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and waiting for 10 minutes. This is called Acidified buttermilk. You will notice here that again, acid is needed. You can use any type of milk, but whole milk is better for baking.
Homemade buttermilk is better for baking because it is less acidic and tastes better than shop-bought. Here, you can only use baking soda (not baking powder). Baking powder will upset the balance between acid and alkali in normal milk. However, buttermilk and baking soda can replace normal milk in many recipes.
To replace baking powder, you will need to use:
- A ½ cup of buttermilk + 1tsp of baking soda
The chemical reaction will start immediately because of the acid and baking soda. When you use buttermilk as a rising agent, you might need to adjust the number of other liquids in a recipe. A recipe that only calls for baking powder will not have the same consistency if you add buttermilk. Alternatively, you can use powdered buttermilk. You can use:
- 1 cup of water + 4tbs powdered buttermilk + 1tsp baking soda (wet ingredients); or
- 4tsp powdered buttermilk + 1tsp baking soda (dry ingredients)
Buttermilk with baking soda makes delicious pancakes, cakes, and scones, to name a few. It is a great ingredient for soda bread. The thickness of the buttermilk makes for a rich batter. The acidity gives the food a nice tangy taste.
Buttermilk is a healthy alternative to whole milk. It has 99 calories and 2.2 grams of fat per cup. Meanwhile, whole milk has 157 calories and 8.9 grams of fat. Buttermilk also has vitamins, calcium, and potassium.
You can replace buttermilk with plain yogurt. Adding baking soda to yogurt acts as a raising agent. Also if you have leftover buttermilk, then you can safely freeze it to use for your next recipe.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C (or Ascorbic Acid) is the main nutrient in citrus fruits. It’s a powder that is often used as a raising agent in bread. It can raise bread 20% more than without it.
Vitamin C boosts the action of the yeast, which thrives in slightly acidic environments. This also helps to make the dough stronger as it traps more air bubbles.
You don’t need baking powder or baking soda when you have vitamin C. Another benefit of using this baking powder substitute is that it speeds up yeast development, making the bread rise quicker.
And if you kneaded your bread, then there’ll be plenty of air in it. The air (or oxygen) reacts with ascorbic acid, making the bread even lighter.
You don’t need to change any ingredient in your bread recipe. Just add one leveled teaspoon into your ingredients, and the vitamin C will work its magic.
The most common use of this baking powder substitute is for bread-making. Whole grain flours have less gluten than white flours. Less gluten means less strength in the bread, so it’s quite difficult to capture air.
Vitamin C will help elevate wholemeal bread. It can be used in pastry, particularly the fluffier types. Some bakers use it in the batter. If you want to use vitamin C as a replacement for baking powder in cake recipes, then use:
- 2tsp baking soda + ½tsp Vitamin C powder = two ½tsp of baking powder
Substituting baking powder with Vitamin C is ideal for people who are sensitive to corn (the main ingredient in baking powder). It can reduce sensitivity to some foods. One advantage is that Vitamin C will help your immune system far more than baking powder. But be careful! Vitamin C does come with a warning. ¼ of a teaspoon of the powder contains 1000mg of Vitamin C. The recommended daily amount is 50-60mg per day.