Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda

24 Mar 2016

You can be forgiven for once thinking that Baking Soda and Baking Powder were the same thing. If you were ever tempted to substitute one for the other, do not be fooled, here are the differences to help you become a better baker.


Baking Soda (also known as Bicarbonate of Soda)
Baking Soda is an alkali agent that helps to raise your sponge. It needs something both liquid and acidic to kick start the process. Interestingly enough, Baking Soda is also an ingredient found within Baking "Powder" and once in the oven it can speed up the browning process, causing your cakes go golden-brown on top. Be careful when measuring Baking Soda, as it can leave a tangy aftertaste if used too much.

Baking powder
Baking Powder has become ever-more popular and is an ingredient called upon in many recipes nowadays. It actually contains a certain amount of Baking “Soda”, but unlike Baking Soda is does not need an acidic added to it and can rely on moisture alone to get it working. It is commonly used in cake making and has a neutral taste to it.

What they DO have in common is that both are leavening agents and once combined with wet ingredients, it is important to get cake mixtures into the oven as soon as possible. It is worth noting, Baking Soda is 4x stronger than Baking Powder, so where one recipe may call for 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder, the other recipe may need just ¼ teaspoon of the Soda stuff. Some recipes may even ask for both, to produce a more perfecting balance, like my Peanut Butter Cookies and White Chocolate Lime Cookies.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

2 Mar 2016

Macadamia Nut Cookies

When I was a child, I liked to eat a lot of biscuits and cookies. A lot. It tended to be the most accessible sweet thing in the house. Our biscuit tin was always in the same place in my house and was pretty easy to get to. 

I distinctively remember once my Mum had bought a packet of McVitie's Chocolate Digestives. I must have been quite idle at home that day and somehow managed to eat through the whole packet with nothing left but the crumbs. I knew when my Mum returned to see its empty packet in the bin, I would get into so much trouble, so I decided to hide the evidence: Mum remember the time you doubted if you had or hadn’t bought that packet of Digestives from the supermarket? Well you did. How could it have disappeared without a trace? Well Mum, that was me! I ate the whole lot and then craftily hid the wrapper until it was safe to throw away in an outside public bin

White Chocolate Macadamia cookies assorted

There, that’s one less confession off my shoulder.

Nowadays, I like to think I can consume a sensible amount of two or three biscuits at a time. Not the whole packet. One exception being these White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies or these.

For cookie eating instructions, click here . 

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker, for UK measurements; Makes about 12.

110 g/4oz butter, softened
200 g/7oz soft light or dark brown sugar
2 tbs milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
200 g/7oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
100 g/4oz chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
150 g/5oz white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 175°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together until just combined.
Stir in the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mix well. Fold in the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips.

Scoop one-tablespoon-sized balls onto the lined baking trays, leaving enough space between them to spread out. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are golden. The cookies will be very soft and will harden as they cool.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on baking trays.
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