Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents, which means they help baked goods rise and become light and fluffy. However, they work in slightly different ways and are used in different types of recipes.
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a pure leavening agent. It needs an acid to activate and start producing carbon dioxide, which causes the rising action. Common acids used in baking include buttermilk, lemon juice, and vinegar. Baking soda is often used in recipes that already contain an acid, such as gingerbread, chocolate cakes, and some pancake recipes.
Baking powder, on the other hand, is a combination of baking soda and an acid. The acid and the base in the powder react together when they come into contact with moisture, producing carbon dioxide and creating the rising action. Baking powder is often used in recipes that do not contain an acid, such as biscuits, pancakes, and some cakes.
When using baking soda, it's important to keep in mind that it's four times as powerful as baking powder. Therefore, you will need to use less of it in a recipe. Generally, you'll use about ¼ teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of flour in a recipe.
When using baking powder, you'll usually use about 1 teaspoon for every cup of flour. Some recipes may call for more or less, so it's important to check the recipe and adjust accordingly.
In summary, baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents, but they work in different ways. Baking soda needs an acid to activate and is usually used in recipes that already contain an acid, while baking powder is a combination of baking soda and an acid and is usually used in recipes that do not contain an acid. Keep in mind the ratio of leavening agents to flour in the recipe, and you'll be able to achieve the perfect rise and texture in your baked goods.