You’re making a cake. You’ve weighed all your ingredients. In fact, you might have already got to work creaming your butter and sugar together to save time. Then your recipe asks for a simple teaspoon of baking powder. Then comes the shuffling around of the baking cupboard to find either – “oh, there’s no baking powder left”, or “hey, there’s some, but it is past its expiration date”.
Can I use baking powder that has expired?
For the latter, you will need to apply just the same strategy as if you were following the former scenario. That’s because expired baking powder is no good. It is sensitive to moisture and humidity and is ‘inactive’ when out of date (most baking powder are at their best within 6 months of purchase). As you might expect, inactive baking powder doesn’t do the job properly, and results in flat cakes. Basically, your leavening agent has gone splat.
What can I use if I don’t have baking powder?
The answer is: NOT BAKING SODA. On its own, at least. ‘Baking soda’ is a synonym for bicarbonate of soda, and is an entirely different ingredient entirely (more on this later).
Rather, the best alternative to baking powder is bicarbonate of soda + cream of tartar. As the name does not suggest, cream of tartar is not creamy in form, but powdery, and is used as a leavening agent. For every 1 tsp of baking powder in a recipe, add 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar plus a 1/4 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.
Okay, what if I don’t have cream of tartar?
If you don’t have cream of tartar in the cupboard, consider switching out for lemon juice or white vinegar. The standard replacement measurements are for every 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar, use 1 tsp of lemon juice or white vinegar to replace. Their acid profiles work much the same way when combined with bicarbonate of soda.
Can I replace baking powder with bicarbonate of soda?
As mentioned above, baking powder and bicarb are not the same thing. Baking soda/bicarbonate of soda is sodium bicarbonate and it needs an acid and a liquid to rise (hence the need for cream of tartar or lemon juice). Baking powder, on the other hand, includes bicarbonate of soda in its product, as well as an acid. That’s why, when you replace baking powder, you need bicarb PLUS an acid to make up for the shortfall.