Sodium bicarbonate, also known as Baking soda, is one of the most popular ingredients in pastries and baked goodies.
The leavening agent is mainly used to give dough and batter volume while baking, which applies to many types of cake, including carrot cake. But can you make a carrot cake without baking soda?
Whether it causes you digestive issues or you can’t put your hands on some at the last minute, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about baking soda substitution in carrot cakes.
Before diving into the juicy details of the substitutes, you should first have a brief understanding of the role of baking soda in carrot cakes.
Baking soda is a leavening agent, meaning that it helps cakes rise and increase in volume. The chemical composition of baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.
This one is a simple alkaline compound that reacts with the acids in the batter and other ingredients to produce carbon dioxide gas.
These gas bubbles are then trapped inside the batter, causing it to expand and increase in volume.
As a result, it yields a fluffy and light carrot cake. While this is the primary role of baking soda, it’s not the only way it contributes to the cake.
The alkalinity of the compound also encourages the activation of the Maillard reaction, which is the process responsible for giving food this unique golden brown crust with caramelized flavor.
The short answer to this question is yes. You can technically make a carrot cake without baking soda.
However, making one without baking soda will yield a dense cake because it won’t have enough leavening agents to rise.
Keeping in mind that carrot cake has a slightly thick batter (compared to other types of cake), this might make the effect even more pronounced.
For that reason, unless you really have no other options, I highly recommend that you use baking soda while making carrot cakes.
While baking soda itself isn’t crucial for carrot cakes, its leavening effect is quite necessary for the cake’s consistency and fluffiness.
Luckily, there are various substituents that can give your cake this effect, and you can choose between them depending on your personal preferences. Let’s check them out:
Baking powder is, by far, the absolute best substitute for baking soda in carrot cakes because they share a lot of similarities. In fact, some people might think they’re the same thing, but they’re different.
Baking powder is a mixture of carbonate/bicarbonate salts with a weak acid that also gives an excellent leavening effect without changing the flavor of the cake.
While substituting baking soda with baking powder, you should replace every teaspoon of baking soda with 3 teaspoons of baking powder.
Keep in mind that baking powder may contain some baking soda, so it’s not the ideal alternative if baking soda causes you digestive issues.
Both buttermilk and yogurt have a slight acidity produced by the fermentation of milk.
This alteration in the batter’s pH helps in producing gas bubbles with the batter, causing a leavening effect, especially when combined with a squeeze of lemon.
Yogurt will also contribute to the cake’s texture, giving you a fluffier and richer flavor.
Club soda is a form of carbonated water that contains a variety of ingredients, including baking soda. Simply add 1/4 cup of club soda for every teaspoon of baking soda added.
Cream of tartar is a common ingredient in various desserts, including meringues. To use cream of tartar in a carrot cake recipe, you will need to add about 1/2 teaspoon for every 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda that the recipe calls for.
Since carrot cake is on the denser side of cakes, you can replace the type of flour used in the cake with self-rising flour, which typically contains baking soda among other leavening ingredients.
Substitute your flour with a 1:1 ratio, and you can add an extra teaspoon to replace the baking soda in the recipe.
There you have it! A brief guide that shows you how to substitute baking soda in carrot cakes. As you can see, the process is simple, and there are various alternatives that you can use as a leavening agent while baking carrot cake.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.