Difference Between Baking Powder and Yeast

The main difference between baking powder and yeast is that baking powder is a synthetic ingredient while yeast is a natural ingredient.

Baking powder and yeast are two common leavening agents we use for bakery products. Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent made up of sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar. Yeast, on the other hand, are living microorganisms that act as leavening agents. Although they are used for the same purpose, they shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Baking powder can make a batter or dough rise immediately while yeast takes some hours to make a dough or batter rise.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Baking Powder 
     – Definition, Nature, Uses
2. What is Yeast
     – Definition, Nature, Uses
3. What is the Difference Between Baking Powder and Yeast
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Baking Powder, Yeast, Leavening AgentsDifference Between Baking Powder and Yeast - Comparison Summary

What is Baking Powder

Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent made up of sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar. Baking powder can be single-acting or double-acting. Double-acting baking powder is the most commonly used one in baking. Bakery items like quick breads, cakes and muffins are made with baking powder. Baking powder is usually used for thin batters.Main Difference - Baking Powder vs Yeast

Baking powder helps to lighten the texture and increase the volume of baked goods. It releases carbon dioxide into a batter or dough via an acid-base reaction; this reaction causes bubbles in the wet mixture, making it expand and leavening the mixture. Sometimes, baking powder also contains cornstarch; cornstarch acts as a buffer to prevent the premature reaction of base and acid. You can use baking powder when you want a good rise without having to wait, and when the recipe doesn’t call for an acid like lemon, vinegar, or cream of tartar.

What is Yeast

Yeast is a living microorganism that is used as a leavening agent in baking. These microorganisms consume sugars and excrete carbon dioxide, making the dough rise. There are different forms of yeast: dry yeast, fresh yeast and instant yeast. Dry yeast is the most commonly used out of these. It is a granulated form of yeast where each granule has live yeast cells covered with dead yeast cells. You have to soak dry yeast in warm water for a few minutes before adding it to the dough/batter.

Difference Between Baking Powder and Yeast

Yeast is typically used in recipes like sandwich bread, pizza, focaccia, and enriched bread like cinnamon rolls. In general, we use it for recipes with thick doughs. You can use yeast when you are letting the dough rise for several hours, or when you are making shaped doughs like pizzas.

Difference Between Baking Powder and Yeast

Definition

Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent made up of sodium bicarbonate and cream of tartar. Yeast, on the other hand, are living microorganisms that act as leavening agents.

Type

While the baking powder is a synthetic ingredient, yeast is a natural ingredient.

Time taken for Leavening

Baking powder can make a batter or dough rise immediately while yeast takes some hours to make a dough or batter rise.

Change in Taste and Consistency

Moreover, using baking powder does not change the taste or consistency of the food while using yeast can change the taste and consistency.

Action

Baking powder releases carbon dioxide through an acid-base reaction, making the dough rise. In contrast, yeast releases carbon dioxide by fermentation from the sugars present in the dough.

Conclusion

Both yeast and baking powder act as leavening agents in baking. These release carbon dioxide to lighten the dough and make it rise. Baking powder releases carbon dioxide through an acid base reaction while yeast releases carbon dioxide through fermentation. In comparison to baking powder, yeast is much slower acting and leaves a distinct flavor and smell. This is the main difference between baking powder and yeast.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Spoon with active dry yeast for baking bread” By YourBestDig (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Flour in a jar, bake, bakery, baking, powder, wheat, seasoning” (CC0) via Wallpaper Flare

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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