What Is the Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder?

If you're baking something, there's a good chance you'll see baking soda or baking powder in your recipe's list of ingredients. Have you ever wondered how these substances work with heat to transform your dough or batter into risen baked goods? Below, we explain what the difference between baking soda and baking powder is, how each ingredient works, and whether or not you can substitute one for the other.

Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: What Is the Difference?

The difference between baking powder and baking soda is how many ingredients each contains. Baking soda is made of only one ingredient called sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder, on the other hand, is comprised of more than one ingredient. Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it has an additional acidic ingredient. Often, this acid is cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate.

How Do Baking Soda and Baking Powder Work?

As chemical leavening agents, both of these substances help your baked goods to rise without yeast. Their leavening processes are not quite the same, however. Keep reading to see how baking soda and baking powder work, and why one may be more suitable for your recipe than the other.

How Baking Soda Works

how does baking soda work

When mixed with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, buttermilk, yogurt, or even honey, baking soda undergoes a chemical reaction. This reaction occurs only when moisture is present and produces carbon dioxide gas, which looks like little air bubbles in your batter.

It is best to bake your batter or dough as soon as possible once you have added baking soda to it. Otherwise, your baked goods may not get enough rise because too much carbon dioxide could escape before baking.

How Baking Powder Works

Baking powder already contains an acidic ingredient, so it activates once it is mixed with liquid. Similarly to baking soda, the activation process of baking powder produces carbon dioxide gas that helps your baked goods rise.

Some baking powder is double-acting, which means that it is activated a second time with the addition of heat. Because of this second activation, you don’t need to rush to get your batter or dough in the oven when you’re using double-acting baking powder.

Can You Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda?

Yes, you can substitute baking powder for baking soda. However, baking powder is comprised of about 1/3 baking soda and 2/3 an acidic ingredient, so using the same amount of baking powder that your recipe calls for will not be as effective.

When you’re in a pinch, remember this rule for conversion from baking soda to baking powder: for every 1 teaspoon of baking soda, substitute 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

Can You Substitute Baking Soda for Baking Powder?

Yes, you can substitute baking soda for baking powder. When doing so, though, you must ensure that you have enough of an acidic ingredient to activate the baking soda adequately. Because baking soda is roughly 3 times more powerful than baking powder, you’ll need much less than the recipe calls for.

To substitute baking powder for baking soda, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every tablespoon of baking powder, and add 2 teaspoons of vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar, or another acidic ingredient to your batter or dough. Your substitute for baking powder will not be double-acting, so you should get your batter or dough in the oven as soon as possible after you combine it with wet ingredients.

How to Tell If Your Baking Soda or Baking Powder Is Still Good

how to tell if your baking soda is still good

Most packages of baking soda or baking powder have an expiration date of 18 months, but environmental factors can cause these ingredients to lose their potency faster. If you’ve had your baking soda or powder for over 6 months, you can check that it is still functional by mixing it with water.

To test baking soda, mix 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar. It should bubble immediately if your baking soda is useable.

To test baking powder, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/2 cup of hot water. If it bubbles, your baking powder is still effective.

How to Store Baking Soda and Baking Powder

These ingredients can lose their potency faster if they are stored in warm or humid environments. Always make sure that your baking soda and baking powder packaging is tightly sealed, and that their storage place is not too warm. For example, your baking soda or powder should not be stored in a cabinet adjacent to your oven. It’s best to keep these ingredients away from heat sources.

Many people say that baking is a science, and how baking soda and baking powder work as chemical leavening agents is an excellent example of science at work in your kitchen. Recipes use these ingredients to give your baked goods the perfect texture brought on by chemical reactions and carbon dioxide gas. As a result, precision is key when working with baking soda and baking powder. Next time you use one of these ingredients, remember our storage tips and directions for how to make sure that your baking soda or baking powder is still working.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips | By Christine Potts

Getting to Know WebstaurantStore's 2017 Winter Scholarship Winner

WebstaurantStore’s Culinary and Hospitality Scholarship provides a grant to talented, motivated individuals pursuing education in the culinary arts or hospitality fields. The most recent winner of our $1,500 grant, Nina DeBoer, impressed us with her passion for excellence and adventurous spirit. Now, Nina brings insight into her experiences with entrepreneurship, her commitment to education, and finding the perfect sweet spot.

Nina’s Background

Nina grew up surrounded by small businesses. Her parents and brother all owned their own businesses and naturally passed the entrepreneurial spirit along to Nina. As a home-schooled student, Nina was taught an important message from her family at an early age. “The rule of thumb has always been that if you want something, then you’re going to have to work for it. So even from a young age, I knew the value of money, and how it really didn’t grow on trees,” said Nina. Her love of all things sweet began when she was around 10 years old and hasn’t stopped since. With her interests blossoming into passion, Nina knew she would need money for culinary school in order to achieve her goal of becoming a professional baker.

Life as a Young Entrepreneur

Nina at Culinary School

As a preteen, Nina began attending classes and worked tirelessly to perfect her craft. “I would make birthday cakes for cousins or cupcakes for friends from church, but I knew that if someday I really wanted to go to culinary school, I would have to come up with a way to pay for tuition.” And with that desire to fund her future academics, Nina took the initiative to create her own business at the age of 12. Nina’s Belicious Bakery, LLC was officially established on January 12, 2012.

By the age of 13, Nina was putting in the hard work needed to run a successful business including filing taxes, purchasing from wholesalers, and working directly with customers. Nina ran her business for five years but is currently putting it on hold to fulfill her initial goal of getting an education. “Culinary school was the dream I was working toward, a little backwards from the people who are in school and dream of opening their own place, as I had my own place and was dreaming of school,” she said.

Her loyal customers have been told the business is on hold, and Nina plans to open it back up after graduation. As for her future goal, Nina sees herself adding a floral element to her favorite sweet treats. “My favorite cakes to make are wedding cakes with fresh flowers, so one day I would love to partner up with a florist and own my own wedding cake boutique.”

Achieving Success in the State of Indiana

No matter the age, owning an in-home certified bakery in the state of Indiana is no easy task. In fact, Nina is the only person to do so at this time. From filling out endless forms to installing an eight-foot, three-basin sink, Nina and her family worked together to get their home kitchen ready for inspection. Even when others doubted the young girl’s abilities, Nina persevered to achieve her goal. She became ServSafe certified, completed all the necessary paperwork, and cleaned every inch of her kitchen until it was spotless. “The inspector completed her review, and after two years of hard work and determination, my dream had become a reality. Then, at the age of 14, I was officially the owner of the only in-home certified bakery in the state of Indiana.”

Tips for Culinary Students

Nina Joliet College

Nina isn’t one to shy away from a challenge, and she encourages others to do the same. “My suggestions for people who are also interested in culinary would be just go for it. Don’t be afraid to try,” she said. Another important lesson she has learned over the years is to be ready to put in the work. “Be prepared to work hard, learn a lot, and throw any idea of a diet out the window,” she said.

Beyond her studies, Nina also recommends getting involved with volunteer opportunities, especially those interested in the hospitality industry. She believes this is an important part of her education because it builds character and shows others that she cares. As a bonus, Nina said she’s had classmates volunteer for opportunities which resulted in run-ins with famous chefs and even a job offer.

If you’re considering majoring in the culinary arts or hospitality fields, then you could be our next scholarship winner. Check out our scholarship page to see how to apply and to read Nina’s winning essay for some inspiration. Whether you plan to use the $1,500 grant to purchase books or you put it towards your class tuition, we’re happy to help the next generation of chefs, restaurant managers, hotel operators, and other industry professionals.

Posted in: Interviews | Bakeries | By Rachel Jenkins

How to Host a Pub Crawl

Although it began as a 24-hour break from Lenten dietary restrictions, Americans are responsible for turning St. Patrick's Day into a drinking holiday. If you're planning to hold a St. Patrick's Day celebration at your pub this March 17th, hosting a local bar crawl can be a great way to increase business. Establishments located in downtown areas of cities are ideal candidates for bar crawls, as potential patrons will be traveling on foot and stopping at pubs as they pass them. Keep reading to find out how to plan a bar crawl, including ideas for bar crawl games, themes, and other helpful advice to make your St. Paddy's Day a success.

How Do Pub Crawls Work?

Before we dig into the details, let's explore exactly what a pub crawl is and how they work. In its simplest form, a pub crawl is exactly what it sounds like: drinking at several different bars in one night. They usually take place in cities and are traveled by foot, but if the establishments are too spread out, taxis or public buses may be involved.

While bar crawls are often unofficial events that can be organized and enjoyed by small groups of friends, there are certain occasions where local pubs will organize a route and help their patrons fill their evening with food and drink at several different locations. St. Patrick's Day is the perfect opportunity for businesses to collaborate and figure out a path for people to follow, so they can hit several stops along the way.

Partner Up with Other Local Bars

Your job is to make your bar stand out from the crowd, but the best way to ensure plenty of business on St. Patrick's is to partner with the competition. You can’t have a bar crawl without other bars, so give your neighbors a call and see if they’d like to collaborate for a night of St. Paddy's Day drinking that customers won’t be able to stop talking about. The benefit of partnering up is that patrons will spend time in each of your bars, rather than giving their business to only one bar for the night.

Make Your Bar Crawl Official

When you’ve figured out who you’ll be partnering with, publicize your pub crawl. Consider registering your crawl with an official pub crawl website so that customers can find your event and buy tickets online. Build hype by creating an event and promoting it on Facebook. Discuss a set price for the evening, which will include discounts on drinks in each participating bar as well as any fun freebies you wish to give out at the start of the crawl. Depending on what you want to offer, a price between $15 and $30 is standard.

Work Out the Details of Your Crawl

Ensure that your patrons have all of the information they need to get the most out of your bar crawl by providing them with a map of the participating bars. Be sure to mark bus stops and schedules on the map as well as the phone numbers of local cab services. Customers want to have a carefree night of partying, and part of that is knowing that they have a safe ride home. At the starting line, give crawlers green wristbands (after checking their IDs), so that bartenders immediately know who is participating in the event. Then, send them on their way!

Play Up the St. Paddy's Day Theme

When your pub crawl is official, it’s time to start to plan the festivities. Perhaps you’ll want to create a special T-shirt to hand out to participants, or have them dress in their best leprechaun costume. At the starting point, have crawlers enter their name in a raffle for a gift card giveaway that gives the lucky winners an excuse to come back to participating bars. Consider playing authentic Irish music or even hiring a band for some live traditional music. And, of course, you can stock up on green tableware, like beverage napkins and plastic cups to create a cohesive visual theme.

Keep Your Bar Crawl Fun

Coordinate with your partners and make sure there’s something exciting at every stop in the crawl. Try hosting St. Patrick’s Day themed games with prizes, such as green beads or free beer, or build excitement with something unique like offering St. Paddy's themed face painting to keep customers from getting bored at your stop. They’ll enjoy their time in your establishment, and their excitement will build as they wonder what will be going on at the next bar.

Here are a few examples of fun bar crawl games you can offer your patrons:

  • A scavenger hunt that spans the bar crawl route
  • Shuffleboard, darts, and pool tournaments
  • Trivia

Organize Games

Aside from all your typical game room activities, organizing drinking games can be a fun way to get your patrons to interact with each other. Some popular ones include beer pong, flip cup, or even "drunk jenga." If you have an outdoor space, consider setting up some lawn games, like horseshoes or bocci. These activities can encourage people to spend more time at your bar and buy more drinks.

Serve Guests Their Favorite Drinks

Beer, cider, and cocktails are essential to a successful St. Patrick's Day bar crawl. In addition to Irish beer standards, we've come up with a list of craft beers and creative cocktails to consider serving on March 17th:

Classic Irish Beers and Ciders:

  • Guinness Draught (4.2%)
  • Smithwick's Premium Irish Ale (4.5%)
  • Murphy's Irish Red (5%)
  • Harp Lager (5%)
  • Magner's Irish Cider (4.5%)

Irish-Inspired Craft Beers:

  • Flying Dog Brewery's Lucky S.O.B. Irish Red (5.5%)
  • Victory Brewing Company's Donnybrook Stout (3.7%)
  • Harpoon Brewery's Celtic Ale (5.4%)
  • Goose Island Beer Company's Bourbon County Brand Stout (13.8%)
  • Thomas Creek Brewery's River Falls Red Ale (5.65%)

St. Paddy's Day Themed Cocktails:

  • Irish Car Bomb (shots of Bailey's and Jameson dropped into a glass of Guinness)
  • Irish Coffee (coffee with Jameson and Irish cream)
  • Irish Flag (creme de menthe, Licor 43, and Irish cream)
  • Grasshopper (creme de menthe and creme de cacao)
  • Irish Julep (bourbon, creme de menthe, half and half, and mint)

Prepare Delicious St. Paddy's Day Foods

While green beer and St. Paddy's themed cocktails are the focus of the day, crawlers need to keep food in their systems. Your customers will thank you for keeping their stomachs full as they continue their crawl. Here are a few ideas for appetizers, entrees, and desserts you can serve at your business:

St. Paddy's Day Appetizers:

  • Corned beef dip
  • Mini shepherd's pies
  • Irish brown bread
  • Potato soup

St. Paddy's Day Entrees:

  • Bangers and mash
  • Shepherd's pie
  • Corned beef and cabbage
  • Irish stew
  • Fish and Chips

St. Paddy's Day Desserts:

  • Irish cream chocolate mousse cake
  • Irish coffee
  • Brioche bread and butter pudding
  • Irish shortbread

Although healthy competition among local bars is necessary, try working together this St. Patrick’s Day to have a profitable evening for every pub in the community. With drink discounts, fun games and raffles, and delicious Irish fare, crawlers won’t soon forget this St. Paddy's Day.

Stock Up on St. Patrick's Day Bar Supplies

Here are some St. Patrick's Day barware essentials that you'll definitely want to purchase for your restaurant, bar, or nightclub:

Posted in: Holidays | Bars & Breweries | By Jessica Wieser

Easy Ways to Update Your Cocktail Menu

No matter how much time and effort you’ve put into your cocktail menu, some slight and occasional adjustments to your selection can go a long way towards keeping things fresh and exciting for new and returning customers alike. While it’s important to stay true to your core brand, staying aware of changing trends in drink menus can keep your offerings feeling modern.

Culinary Cocktails

Culinary Cocktails

While we might think of most traditional cocktails as featuring sweet flavors, many mixologists are choosing to focus on balancing flavors in their creations in a similar way to what you might find in a plate of food… and sometimes that means taking a savory route! While this isn’t necessarily a new concept (think of a spicy bloody mary and salt-rimmed margarita), bartenders are finding new and creative ways to play with savory flavor. Cocktails featuring vegetable juices, like carrot or beet, not only look great, but they can add unique flavor elements to your menu. You’ll even see cocktails that incorporate ingredients like roasted red peppers or spicy jalapenos.

Ingredient Pairings

Along with the culinary cocktail trend comes an approach where drinks are crafted to complement flavors in foods. It’s a similar idea to a wine pairing, but with the limitless combinations of ingredients that can go into a cocktail, there is limitless potential for cocktail flavor pairings.

Garden to Glass

The focus on high-quality ingredients has been a huge movement in foodservice over the past decade. So it makes sense that cocktails would receive the same treatment. Not only is it cost-effective to grow your own fruits, herbs, and vegetables, but it also gives you more control over the way the produce is handled. By maintaining a small garden plot, either at your restaurant or elsewhere, you can ensure that no harsh pesticides are used. You can even try breeding your plants to yield unique flavor qualities or preserve heirloom integrity. And while it may not be viable to grow enough produce to cover the needs of your entire food menu, the small quantities required for cocktails makes the endeavor a lot more manageable.

Tea Cocktails

Tea Cocktails

From earl gray to chamomile, tea flavors are making their way into today’s cocktails. Hot or cold, tea pairs well with a variety of different liquors, and the subtle flavors won’t overpower the nuances of top shelf selections. As with many cocktail trends, tea is not a new ingredient for mixologists. In fact, most old school party punch recipes include tea as a major component. But while the old classics (like black tea rum punch) can serve as a nod to the past, you may also see more modern interpretations, like iced green tea mojitos or chamomile tequila sours.

Medicinal and Herbal Cocktails

Tinctures, bitters, and other apothecary-inspired ingredients are all making a comeback in today’s cocktails. This is not necessarily anything 'new,' but it is more of a new interpretation of an idea that’s been associated with cocktails for a very long time. In fact, most sources believe that cocktails first got their start as mixtures intended to treat ailments.

Tonic water and bitters are two extremely common cocktail ingredients, and they both found their beginnings in medicine. The juniper flavor of gin likely wound up there because juniper was traditionally used to treat a wide array of health problems. It's the same story with Fernet and Sambuca, which both originated as digestifs and are still believed to play some role in aiding digestion after meals.

While the herbal remedies that find their way into today’s cocktails are more for flavor than anything else, the folkloric quality of the ingredients contributes to the mood of the drink and tone of the overall experience. There’s any number of reasons for the resurgence of interest in medicinal cocktails: the uprising of health drinks (like kombucha or juice mixes), the prominence of culinary cocktails and the call to incorporate unconventional ingredients, or perhaps it’s simply a response to customers’ desire to feel better!

While drinking alcohol isn’t necessarily healthy, indulging in the occasional artisanal cocktail can be good for the soul. A focus on high-quality ingredients, new flavor combinations, and a touch of herbal remedy can set your drink menu apart from the rest. Offering unique cocktails that can’t be found anywhere else can be a big draw for your establishment. So, while you may want to keep some of the old classics, embracing some new approaches to the way you develop your cocktails can provide guests with an exciting experience.

Posted in: Menu Tips | Bars & Breweries | By Jessica Wieser
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