baking soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a common base using in baking.


What are bases?

Compounds or substances that when dissolved in water, releases hydroxide ions, or OH- ions into the solution. In other words, a base is a substance that can accept H+ ions a.k.a. protons. Bases are deemed an ‘alkali’ solution. For example, Sodium Hydroxide or NaOH is a base typically utilized in chemical applications is an alkali solution. Bases can be identified by pH meters, titration or via litmus paper. If a suspected basic substance comes into contact with litmus paper, it turns the litmus paper blue. The addition of a basic substance into a primarily acidic substance causes the acidic substance to weaken and vice versa. Bases have a pH greater than 7.

In baking, there are many types of bases utilized. In breads, muffins, pastries, cookies, and many other baked items, bases are balanced with leavening acids to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide gas bubbles causes batter or dough to rise creating a finish product with greater volume as well as a light and airy texture, the extent determined by base action during reaction time and temperature. Bases are utilized in breads, biscuits, cakes, cookies, and pastries. Too much of a leavening agent results in too large of bubbles in the crumb with poor volume and poor flavor while too little of a leavening agent results in a flat, dense, poor flavor, undesirable product.


Bases used in baking dissolve in the liquid components of ingredients in baked goods to create carbon dioxide as previously mentioned to increase volume and influence texture.

Baking Soda: Sodium Bicarbonate. Upon addition of baking soda with an acidic ingredient and a source of moisture, carbon dioxide is produced. Chocolate, buttermilk, yogurt, or honey are possible ingredients that are acidic components to be utilized. During the baking process, high oven temperatures cause expansion of carbon dioxide bubbles resulting in a rise in the baked good. Baking soda reactions begin immediately during mixing. Consequently, recipes including baking soda require immediate baking.

Baking Powder: Baking powder is dry blend of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and leavening acids with an inert starch. It is a chemical leavening agent used in baked goods.