What does baking soda do to cookies?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “what does baking soda do to cookies” with an in-depth analysis of the effect of using baking soda in cookie dough. Moreover, we are going to discuss the difference between baking soda and baking powder along with their subsequent uses.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

What does baking soda do to cookies?

Baking soda is a leavening agent and when it is added to the cookie dough, it releases the carbon dioxide that helps in leavening the dough and achieving that fluffy, light texture when the cookie is baked.

It is worth mentioning here that an acidic ingredient like sour cream, buttermilk, lemon juice, etc should be added along with the baking soda in the cookie dough so that the baking soda can react with the acidic ingredient and form carbon dioxide. Thus, if you are simply adding the baking soda without adding any acidic ingredient in the recipe, then your cookies won’t be fluffy and won’t rise as there won’t be any carbon dioxide production which otherwise is responsible for leavening the cookies. 

Thus, as most of the cookie recipes call for some acidic ingredient therefore baking soda can be used in them for leavening purposes. Moreover, the baking soda helps the cookie to spread more during baking. 

You can read if it is baking soda or baking powder that is better for making cookies here.

What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?

Baking soda

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate and is a white crystalline powder that has a wide array of uses ranging from baking and cooking (as a leavening agent) to cleaning and it is also used as an odor absorber and stain remover.

While specifically talking about its use in baking and cooking, when it mixes with any acidic substance, being an alkali, it reacts with the acid and liberates carbon dioxide. This gas is responsible for that risen and fluffy texture of the bread, cookies, etc. that you add baking soda to. Moreover, this is the very reason that many recipes call for adding lemon juice or buttermilk in them.

Baking powder

Now when it comes to baking powder, it is specifically used for baking purposes and is a complete leavening agent. It differs from baking soda due to the extra ingredients that are added in its formulation like starch and cream of tartar. Thus, it has both the acidic (cream of tartar) and basic (baking soda) components present in its formulation and does not require the addition of any extra acidic substance for activation.

Thus what happens is that as soon as the baking powder comes in contact with a liquid the acidic and the basic component of the baking powder reacts with each other and liberates out carbon dioxide that gives a fluffy and light texture to the cookies or muffins in which baking powder was used.

Last but not least the corn starch present in the formulation of the baking powder is neutral in nature and its work is to hinder the acidic and the basic components present in the baking soda to react with each other. 

When to use baking soda or baking powder?

So the recipe which includes some acidic items like buttermilk, tartaric acid, or lemon juice, it is better to use baking soda there as baking soda needs an acidic substance top to react with and form carbon dioxide.

On the other hand, if no acidic item is used in the recipe, it is better to use baking powder in this scenario as it already contains both the acidic and basic components and does not require any additional acidic item for its activation.

How to store cookie dough?

  1. The cookie dough should be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge. The air-tight container will also ensure that air won’t find its way to your cookie dough, thereby preserving its freshness for a long time.
  2. Moreover, the cookie dough should be stored away from strong-smelling food items like garlic, onion, fish, etc.
  3. It is recommended not to store your cookie dough on the door of the refrigerator as there are a lot of temperature fluctuations there.
  4. You should not leave your cookie dough on the kitchen counter for more than 2 hours as there is a high risk of bacterial contamination in the batter that is kept out for more than 2 hours.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “what does baking soda do to cookies” with an in-depth analysis of the effect of using baking soda in cookie dough. Moreover, we discussed the difference between baking soda and baking powder along with their subsequent uses.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/baking-soda-vs-baking-powder

https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/cooking-questions/what-does-baking-soda-do

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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