If you haven’t bothered to research why certain ingredients are used the way they are used, you might wonder why baking powder is added to so many recipes. That powder doesn’t seem to add any flavor, so what’s the point of adding it?
Experienced bakers will tell you that baking powder plays an important role in many recipes, doing what the flavoring ingredients cannot.
Baking powder has a special job- helping the flour and liquid mixture to raise or get bigger. When you combine flour and water or milk, you get a dough, but when you bake or cook that dough, the resulting baked food will come out flat without baking powder involved.
Baking powder is supposed to make the dough become lighter and fluffier. It’s the reason your food doesn’t turn out heavy and thick and instead has an airy quality to it, or at least why your food doesn’t turn out any thicker and heavier than it already is.
Why do you need it in cookies, though? most cookies are not fluffy and light, right? What does baking powder do in cookies that the other ingredients are not able to do?
How Baking Powder Works in Cookie Recipes
So you mixed together your cookie recipe- you mixed the eggs, sugar, flour, and milk- but then you realize you forgot the baking powder. Do you really need it, though? Can the cookies just be fine without it? It might be hard to tell until after you bake the cookies.
I want to tell you ahead of time that if a recipe calls for baking powder then you likely need it for the food to taste like it should and to have the right texture. Even cookies benefit from baking powder, as without it, they can become flat and hard.
Baking powder in cookies- what does it do? It transforms a heavy, thick cookie into something a bit lighter. As you bake the ingredients in the oven, the milk or water will react with the baking powder.
The chemicals in the baking powder, which are sodium bicarbonate and tartaric acid, will react with the heat and the liquid. They react best with milk, but they can also react with water. Once those ingredients are heated, an interesting chemical reaction will occur.
This causes air bubbles to form inside your mixture, and these get bigger and bigger the longer the food is cooked for. So, your food will look quite flat at first, but once it starts to bake, the dough or batter will get bigger and lighter.
More air will be forced inside the batter as the air bubble rise, creating some space inside the food and make it lighter and fluffier.
If you are making hard, crunchy cookies, you would use very little baking powder or perhaps none at all. If you are making lighter, softer cookies, then you need the baking powder. It is an essential part of the recipe and very important to making the cookies taste the way they should.
I guess you could say that it is like the difference between crunchy chocolate chip cookies and soft, fluffy ones. Now, some people swear by one or the other and have definite favorites, but you can tell a difference just by looking at the cookies. When you bite into them, there is a major texture and hardness difference to the as well.
What Does Baking Powder Do in Sugar Cookies?
If you use baking powder in sugar cookies, you get specific benefits that you miss out on without it being there. Sugar cookies should not be tough and hard, but rather light and a bit soft.
They don’t need to be fluffy, however, and too much baking powder will make them overly fluffy and too airy. You have to get that balance just right, so follow the directions carefully.
You can always decrease the baking powder for next time if your batch of sugar cookies comes out too light. Of course, if they come out too hard and crispy, then adding more baking sugar can help. The amount of sugar you use can affect the consistency and texture too, so watch for that.
You need the baking powder to add some lightness to the sugar cookies. Otherwise, your cookies will be too hard and not as enjoyable to eat. If you want a soft cookie that is a delight to bite into and not one that might chip a tooth, then be sure to include the baking powder.
You don’t need a lot of baking powder for cookies. Having the exact right amount isn’t a big deal for making sugar cookies or any other kind of cookie, for the most part.
It is far more important that cakes have the right amount of baking powder, but cookies have more leniency in that area. The proportions don’t matter quite as much. Still, you will need some baking powder so that your cookie into a flat, hard pancake.
What does baking powder in cookies do? It causes air bubbles to form and expand, making space in the cookie that would not be there otherwise. It makes your cookies taste lighter and not as thick and heavy.
Should You Make Your Own Baking Powder?
You can make baking powder at home using those two ingredients I already mentioned- tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate. These two ingredients are all you need to make a chemical reaction happen when baking your cookies.
However, it can be tough to get the right proportions for the powder and ensuring that it works like it is I supposed to.
You could end up with single acting baking powder instead of the more common double acting baking powder. What that means is that the reaction won’t be as strong and your cookies will not raise as much.
Most baking powder is double acting baking powder. That is simply the default type of baking powder used, whether the recipe calls for its specifically or mentions what kind of baking powder.
Unless single acting baking powder is specified in the recipe, you can assume that double acting baking powder is what is being used.
If you want to make your cookies as cakey as possible, adding more baking powder is not the way. Simply adding extra baking powder will not make the cookies raise more and more. there comes a point where adding more does not make a difference, so just stick to what the recipe calls for, as that should give you the perfect amount of being powder and raising for your cookies.
Adding more can be unnecessary or can make your cookies turn out oddly. So, you could make your own baking powder, but you have to watch the proportions carefully and still follow the recipe directions precisely.