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Subbing Baking Powder for Baking Soda in This Recipe

I want to make some rice/lentil pancakes. The recipe calls for (sorry for the odd cut and paste):

cups white basmati rice or
long-grain white rice, rinsedand drained
cup urad dal (ivory lentils) or red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. salt
'/« cup plain low-fat yogurt
'4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 small red onion, minced (1 cup)
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
cup chopped cilantro
Melted coconut oil or ghee for greasing skillet

I don't bake (EVER) and don't feel like buying baking soda, but I do have some unopened baking powder (God knows why...). The Kraft website says that you can substitute double the amount of baking powder for baking soda, if you replace the acidic ingredient in the recipe with a non-acidic ingredient. What would be the acidic ingredient here?

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  1. The baking powder I have is baking soda plus some other ingredients that make it "double acting" (check the ingredients label on yours). Since there are other ingredients, it's not as concentrated as baking soda alone.

    1. The yogurt is the only acidic ingredient of note. Personally I don't find baking powder or soda make much difference when there's no glutinous dough to hold bubbles, so I don't think it will make much difference what you use or don't use. In fact, this recipe looks more like a very wet pilaf than pancakes (not that there's anything wrong with wet pilaf). Do you blend it up first? Maybe that would make sense, but otherwise you're making fritters.

      So use baking powder. Couldn't hurt.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Zeldog

        The recipe says to grind it up, mix in everything except the peas and onions, and leave it to sit on the counter for six to ten hours.

        1. re: Jetgirly

          Baking soda is quick acting so doesn't have the staying power baking powder does (hence "double acting") so if you were to use baking soda in this case and leave it sit for more than minutes there wouldn't be any oomph left to give the cakes a lift.

      2. Both are leaveners - baking powder is primarly baking soda and cream of tartar - and if you have that familiar yellow and brown canister from Magic, then cornstarch too. If anything I'd think theyd be more crisp... but the resident kitchen chemists could probably explain it better. I'd think in this case you can make the substiution but if you do go buy some arm & hammer there are a multitude of uses for the stuff so it wouldn't be a waste.

        Joy of Baking has a good primer on baking soda vs powder: http://www.joyofbaking.com/bakingsoda...

        HTH :)

        1. What's the date on the baking powder? It does in fact lose its potency after a while.

          1. Good news! I had a flash of genius and work and realized that baking soda is also used for cleaning... and I clean with it all the time! I have boxes of unopened baking soda just waiting to be mixed with vinegar... yay!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jetgirly

              Cool. Just a suggestion, set aside enough of the batter for one or two pancakes before adding the baking soda and see if it makes a difference. I did this for my favorite falafel recipe and it made no difference at all.

              1. re: Jetgirly


                Don't mix your baking soda with vinegar (unless you are making a volcano for a school project). Vinegar, an acid, will neutralize the baking soda which is a base. What makes baking soda an effective cleaner is that it is moderately alkaline (basic). This is especially useful for breaking up greasy/oily residue. Mix some up in plain water and use in a spray bottle for light cleaning. For tougher jobs you can make a thick paste of baking soda, coarse salt and water and use it with a scouring pad.

                1. re: kmcarr

                  The volcanic issue deals with the ratio of vinegar/baking soda. Vegan cakes contain baking soda, baking powder and apple cider vinegar. There have been no volcanic eruptions in my kitchen.

                  1. re: MartyRD

                    The volcano comment was meant to be slightly humorous; I guess I missed the mark. Of course quick breads or other chemically leavened baked goods mix baking soda and an acid together to create carbon dioxide thus raising the batter.

                    I was addressing the use of baking soda as a cleaning agent. You don't want to react the baking soda with an acid if you intend to use it as a cleaning agent.

              2. I know you have your answer already, but yogurt is the acid in this recipe. In baking, soda is used with acid because the baking powder-acid combo creates a bitterness. I don't know if you would have gotten bitterness with a 10 hour sit, though, had you used powder. 8 tsp would have been too much, though, I think.

                1. The recipe actually said to blend just the soaked rice and lentils with salt and water then let sit for up to twelve hours. Good thing I re-read! I used brown basmati instead of white, and red lentils instead of ivory, but it's looking pretty awesome and smells oddly good. In the morning I'll mix in everything else and fry these little guys up! I'm quite excited about this!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Jetgirly

                    It looks like a recipe for idli or perhaps dosa. The modern shortcut is to use chemical leavening (eg baking powder), but the traditional way is to only use a natural ferment with naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria - similar to making sourdough. (Also, for idli, the yogurt is in the recipe to add sourness which you will naturally get when you leave it to ferment for longer.)

                    I've done it both ways - the naturally fermented batter is better - better texture and flavour.

                    1. re: fmed

                      I think they are called oothappam or uthappam... and holy crap they're good! I'm in the middle of making them and decided to cheat and eat one- yummm! Now that I've discovered this recipe, I can see myself making them every weekend and eating them for breakfast throughout the week, only with more veggies! I want spinach and peppers and zucchini in there!

                      (Also, they are detox friendly!)

                      1. re: Jetgirly

                        Ah yes - uttapam (often called hoppers) uses the same base (fermented ground rice/urad batter). It is thicker than dosa and it does often contain yogurt. It too traditionally uses only natural fermentation. This rice/urad batter base is quite good isn't it? (BTW many people take a further shortcut by using urad flour and rice flour instead of grinding from whole bean and grain.)