Food Photography by Penelope Beveridge
Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are the same in Australia. Baking powder is not the same as bicarbonate of soda although powders are leavening agents. When included in a cake mixes and batter then beaten, the leavening agent causes air bubbles to expand when cooked will ‘rise’. Bicarbonate of soda is a pure leavening agent that needs moisture and an acidic ingredient for the chemical reaction to take place to make food rise. Bicarbonate is often used in recipes where there is already an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice, chocolate, buttermilk or honey.
Baking powder contains bicarbonate of soda plus the acidic ingredient called cream of tartar. It has a neutral taste compared to bicarbonate of soda which has a tangy taste. Baking powder is often used in recipes that have other neutral tasting ingredients, such as milk.
Bicarbonate of soda makes a very specific texture not achievable with baking powder. It is very important to sift bicarbonate of soda well as it gets lumpy and to use very exact measures.