What Does Baking Soda Do In Cookies?

What Does Baking Soda Do In Cookies Cover

If you are interested in baking, then you must know how essential baking soda is for baking various things. A lot of ingredients work well in combination with different things so that you get your desired results. 

So, if you are trying to bake something, especially cookies, then you must be wondering what it can do in the cookies and how it can make it better. Baking soda makes everything better, especially when baking something in the oven.

Baking is a science; leaving out even one ingredient can spoil everything. And baking soda is such a versatile ingredient, and is one of the most important ones as it can help your cakes and cookies to rise. 

But let’s see what other magic you can experience with baking soda in your cookies.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

Both the baking soda and powder are leavening agents. This means that they help your baked goods to rise and puff up nice and good. Because honestly, no one likes flat cookies and cakes.

Baking Soda vs Baking Powder

The baking soda and baking powder might seem similar and have similar qualities; however, you can’t use them alternatively. Soda has a more flowy and soft texture, but baking powder has a bit of coarse texture. 

Baking Soda: An essential compound requires an acid to activate its leavening properties. When we combine it with acidic ingredients (like vinegar), it reacts and causes carbon dioxide gas to be released.

This gas creates bubbles in the dough or batter, causing it to rise. If not properly balanced with an acid, baking soda can leave a metallic or soapy taste in the final baked goods.

Baking Powder:  It is a mixture of baking soda, cornstarch, and an acid compound. This combination provides a ready-to-use leavening agent, as the acid and the base are already present in the correct proportions.

Baking powder releases CO2 gas when it comes into contact with liquid and heat. There are two types of baking powders: 

  • Single-acting baking powder releases all the gas when it gets wet, double-acting baking powder releases some gas immediately, and the rest when exposed to heat.
  • This makes double-acting baking powder more versatile, allowing some leavening to occur during the baking process.

What Does Baking Soda Do in Cookies?

You might think that baking soda is some sort of mystery ingredient, that only god knows what it does. 

But, it is one of the most anticipated and needed ingredients of cookie making. It makes your cookies airy and fluffy, which makes you eat them one after another.

Apart from this, baking soda also helps to shape the cookies and bring structure to them so that they don’t crumble at your touch or when you try to bite them.

Top view of some cookies in baking tray

And finally, this mystery ingredient helps to enhance the sweet flavor of the cookies as it has an alkaline and salty taste.

So, don’t avoid using baking soda in your cookies because it can be the missing ingredient that makes your baked cookies irresistible.

Related readings:

Does Baking Powder Help with Spreading the Cookies?

Baking powder can help with spreading cookies. Baking powder has a base, which reacts when mixed with liquid and heat to produce carbon dioxide gas.

This gas creates bubbles in the dough, causing it to rise and expand. When cookies are baked, the carbon dioxide gas expands the dough, leading to the spreading of the cookies.

image of ingredients used in cookies

If you want your cookies to spread more during baking, you can add baking powder to the dough (but not too much, as it will make the cookies salty). The amount of baking powder used can influence how much they spread. 

Add less baking soda if you want your cookies to have a firmer shape with less spreading. Chilling the dough before baking can help reduce spread by solidifying the fats and slowing down the spreading process.

Experimenting with the amount of baking powder and the dough temperature can help you achieve the desired cookie texture and spread.

How to test baking soda for freshness?

You shouldn’t test baking soda directly by eating it because it is alkaline and not flavorful. But here is what you can do:

  • Take a look at the soda and see if it is fresh. The soda should be white in color without any discolored lumps. If you see any yellowish stains, it means the baking soda isn’t fresh.
  • The best way to tell if the baking soda is fresh or not is by doing a reaction test. The soda is supposed to release carbon dioxide when it reacts with acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice. What you can do is that you put half a teaspoon of baking soda on the plate and then drop some lemon juice or vinegar on it; if you hear a loud hiss and see bubbles forming, your soda is fresh. If not, then soda isn’t fresh.
  • Smell it; if your soda is fresh, it will have a neutral but light salty smell. If you smell anything strong, then your soda isn’t fresh.

Baking soda has a long shelf life if you store it properly. However, with time it can lose its potency and become less effective. Try to get new soda every six months and drain your old in the drain.

Is baking soda necessary for cookies? 

If you think that baking soda isn’t an essential ingredient in your cookies, then you have to think again. If you don’t add baking soda to your cookies, they will not rise.

But on top of that, they will also become either sloppy or hard and will not taste even remotely as good as you want them to. 

image of peanut cookies stacked on each other

Without this vital ingredient, your cookies will suffer in texture and taste. They will not be fluffy or airy, and neither will they have the sweet aftertaste that you love about the cookies.

Baking soda is essential for your cookies, just like sugar is important. So, it’s better not to skip it.

Does baking soda make cookies softer or harder?

When it comes to making cookies, baking soda helps them to spread and also allows them to become soft and fluffier. 

With baking soda, you can get evenly baked cookies. We generally use baking soda, where acidic ingredients like vinegar, cream, or citrus elements are added. 

image of perfect evenly baked cookies

If the recipe you are using tells you to add baking soda to your cookies, then it is best if you work quickly and bake the cookies as quickly as possible because otherwise, your cookies will fall flat as the soda reaction will subside. 

Similarly, if you are adding baking soda, try adding a bit of acidic ingredient to make your soda work better. Doing so will make your cookies chewy and soft.

What happens if I use baking powder instead of baking soda in cookies?

Using baking powder instead of soda can impact the final results of your cookies. Baking powder and soda are both leavening agents used to help cookies rise and achieve a desirable texture.

However, they work differently.

  • Rising: Baking powder will provide more leavening power than baking soda alone. This may result in cookies that rise more during baking and have a lighter, more cake-like texture. They may spread more as well.
  • Flavor: baking soda has a light bitter taste that enhances the sweetness of your cookies. Baking powder is usually tasteless, so the cookies may have a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Texture: Baking powder can produce a softer and more tender texture in cookies due to the extra leavening power. The cookies may be less crispy or chewy than when baking soda is used.

What can I replace baking soda with?

If you don’t have baking soda, it isn’t the end of the world because there is always a substitute for ingredients. And even though a replacement doesn’t work as wonderfully as the original ingredient, it is still better than nothing. So substitute for baking soda is:

Baking powder is the best alternative to baking soda. However, you have to use three times the amount compared to baking soda. For example, if you add one pinch of baking soda, add three pinches of baking powder.

Potassium bicarbonate comes next on the list. It works similarly to baking soda. However, it isn’t as readily available in markets as baking soda or powder. If you can find it, then you can use the same amount as baking soda.

Club soda or carbonated drink is also a good option as they are also leavening agents; you can use them in the same quantity as baking soda.

Finally, we have whipped egg whites. Egg whites will help you provide structure to cookies. If you want to add egg white to your cookies, then beat them until soft peaks are formed and then fold them in your dough. Your cookies will surely be soft and fluffy.

Final Verdict: 

Baking soda is a crucial element in a lot of baked goods. And it is also super important for your cookies because it makes them taste better and has a better texture, fluff, and overall consistency; if you follow any cookie recipe that doesn’t tell you to use baking soda, add a pinch or two by yourself.

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