Whether you are a professional baker or just a home cook whose favorite pastime is creating delicious baked goodies, one of the ingredients you have probably had to include was baking powder.
Even if you are very familiar with baking powder, do you really know why it is used in most baking recipes?
What Exactly is Baking Powder?
Baking powder is a product that is used to make baked items lighter while helping to expand their size through rising. Baking powder is actually a combination of products that when combined create a chemical reaction to achieve its results.
The leavening attributes are achieved when the bicarbonate or carbonate components join forces with a light acid and are activated by cornstarch.
When you are baking you may have gotten confused with the other product used in recipes, baking soda. Not to worry, baking powder consists of baking soda and the acid in the mixture is either cream of tartar or cornstarch.
What Is Double-Acting Baking Powder?
Most of the baking soda you will find on the shelves today is already listed as double-acting. Simply put, this means that the leavening process first happens when your baking soda becomes wet when joined with the other ingredients in your recipe.
The second action happens when you put your recipe in the oven and the baking powder becomes heated.
Why is Baking Powder Used When Making Biscuits?
Now that the science lesson is over, why is baking powder called for when you make biscuits? This ingredient is what turns your recipe from a flat flour pancake into a light and fluffy biscuit.
A simple but delicious homemade biscuit recipe usually calls for only six ingredients: regular all-purpose flour (bleached or unbleached), sugar, butter, milk, salt, and baking powder.
Experienced bakers have a few tips when making their biscuits and a couple of them are keeping your butter and milk cold and opt for unsalted butter if you have it because you will be adding salt in the recipe.
You will need to add a full tablespoon of baking powder into your dry ingredients. It is also important to not over-work the dough as it will leave you with biscuits that are on the tough side.
Can You Make Biscuits Without Baking Powder?
It happens. You get ready to make your mouth-watering biscuits and you realize you used up all your baking powder and forgot to replace it. Before you put all your other ingredients away, there are substitutions you can use instead of baking powder.
How to Make Biscuits Without Baking Powder
1 – Baking Soda
If you would like to use baking soda to replace baking powder you just need to combine a half teaspoon of lemon juice with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
This is just for one teaspoon of baking powder so adjust the measurements if your recipe calls for more than a teaspoon.
2 – Cream of Tartar
While this is one of the best substitutions for baking powder, do not look for it in cream form. You can find cream of tartar in the spice aisle and it is a powder. It is probably best known for making the best meringue when making a lemon meringue pie.
If you are using cream of tartar to replace baking powder you will need to add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with a 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar to equal one teaspoon of baking powder.
3 – Vinegar
If you have white vinegar on hand and baking soda, you can make your own baking powder substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.
This would replace one teaspoon of baking powder.
4 – Yogurt
Using yogurt to replace baking powder when making biscuits takes only a few short steps. First make sure it is regular plain yogurt, not Greek or flavored.
Put all of your dry ingredients in a bowl separately and include one teaspoon of baking soda. Mix it together then put in 1/2 cup of yogurt.
Cut down on your wet ingredients by 1/2 cup to compensate for the yogurt. Add in the rest of your ingredients and you will see the same reaction that the baking soda creates when it mixes with the dairy items as you get when you use baking powder.
5 – Buttermilk
If you have buttermilk in your fridge you can use it exactly the same way you substitute using yogurt.
6 – Sour Milk
If you don’t have buttermilk you can create your own (you can use this ratio to substitute buttermilk in any recipe). Measure out one cup of milk in a pitcher and add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
Let it sit for five minutes. You will see the change in the consistency of the milk when you stir it.
Use it just like buttermilk or yogurt as a substitution for baking powder.
7 – Molasses
This is another substitution that you will need to combine with baking soda in order to replace baking powder when making biscuits. Combine 1/4 cup of molasses with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to use instead of a teaspoon of baking powder.
Make sure to reduce your liquid ingredients by 1/4 cup and because it is sweet, cut down on the amount of sugar you are using.
8 – Egg Whites
You can easily replace baking powder when making your biscuits by separating your eggs and whipping the egg whites until they form a stiff peak. Gently add in the remaining ingredients and your biscuits will turn out nice and fluffy.
9 – Club soda
Because club soda has baking soda in it, it makes it a great substitute for baking powder. All you have to do is replace the amount of milk your recipe calls for and you will still be able to enjoy light fluffy biscuits.
10 – Self-Rising Flour
If you do a good deal of baking you may already have self-rising flour on hand. Because self-rising flour already has baking powder and salt in it, you can just use this flour in place of all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
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.