Is cornstarch the same as baking powder? When a recipe calls for cornstarch and you don’t have any on hand, you might be tempted to substitute similar ingredients, such as baking powder.
While it may appear to be a feasible idea, it may not work because different ingredients have different properties and applications.
So, what exactly is the distinction between cornstarch and baking powder? The main distinction is that cornstarch is used as a thickening agent, whereas baking powder is used as a leavening agent. The former thickens mixtures, while the latter causes them to rise.
Continue reading to learn more about the differences between corn starch vs baking powder, how they are used, if they can be used interchangeably, and much more!
Baking powder is a dry leavening agent that is commonly used in baking. It’s made with baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate), cream of tartar, and cornstarch.
When the base (sodium bicarbonate) and acid (cream of tartar) are combined with water, a chemical reaction occurs that results in the production of carbon dioxide. This reaction aids in the expansion of baked goods in size and volume.
What the Role of Cornstarch in It?
We want the above-mentioned reaction to occur when we want it to. This is where cornstarch comes in handy. Its purpose is to prevent the acid and base from reacting too quickly. It accomplishes this by absorbing any moisture that the mixture may be exposed to.
The Purpose of Baking Powder
Baking powder is a useful ingredient in cooking as well as a leavening agent in baked goods.
Baking powder, which is commonly used to make pancakes and waffles light and fluffy, is also used in recipes such as American-style dumplings, Middle Eastern falafels, and other fritter-like fried foods.
Baking powder can be single-acting or double-acting, with most commercial varieties being the latter because they begin releasing carbon dioxide as soon as moisture is introduced.
The heat of the oven or griddle releases the remainder of the gas.
Professional pastry chefs, on the other hand, use single-acting baking powder, which skips the first rise of double-acting baking powder and reacts only to high temperatures.
How to Cook with Baking Powder
The best way to cook with baking powder is to follow the recipe exactly and use the amount specified.
Baking powder is used in recipes that do not contain acids. For example, when baking powder, eggs, milk, and flour are combined in a recipe, the baking powder acts as a rising agent when it reacts with the liquids.
A good rule of thumb is one teaspoon of baking powder for one cup of flour, but you can certainly experiment.
Cornstarch, also known as corn flour, is a starch powder derived from corn endosperm. Cornstarch, like many other starches, is used to absorb moisture.
Cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening agent in cooking because it thickens sauces and stews when heated.
The Purpose of Cornstarch
Cornstarch is valued for its thickening properties because it is made up of long chains of starch molecules that unravel and swell when heated. This is known as gelatinization, and it is what causes the thickening.
Cornstarch, in addition to being a thickening agent, is also an anti-caking agent. A common application would be to dust shredded cheese or powdered sugar with cornstarch to prevent clumping.
It also aids in the absorption of excess moisture caused by condensation, preventing the formation of a slimy texture.
Cornstarch can also be used as a marinade for meat or fish for stir fry, as a substitute for flour in shortbread, and to make food extra crispy.
Cooking with Cornstarch
The method for using cornstarch is the same whether you’re thickening gravies, soups, sauces, or any other liquid.
When cooking with cornstarch, never add it directly into a hot liquid as this may cause lumps.
Instead, make a slurry with room temperature or slightly cool water (or any other liquid). Mix the slurry into the liquid to be thickened and gradually raise the temperature.
This will ensure that the cornstarch molecules are distributed evenly before they begin to swell and gelatinize. The thickening effect starts around 150°F and peaks around 180°F.
When the sauce has thickened to your liking, stir it as little as possible and avoid bringing it to a boil, as this will cause the thickening effect to break down.
Is Cornstarch the Same as Baking Powder?
Is baking powder the same as corn starch? The primary distinction between cornstarch and baking powder is that the former is primarily a thickening agent, whereas the latter is a leavening agent. When combined with other ingredients, they serve entirely different functions.
Can Cornstarch be used in place of Baking Powder?
Cornstarch cannot be used to replace baking powder, but it can be used to make baking powder. Here’s a simple homemade baking powder recipe I like to use:
- 2 tbsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp corn starch
4 teaspoons baking powder is produced by this recipe.
Can Baking Powder Substitutes Cornstarch?
Because baking powder contains cornstarch, you might think it can be used as a substitute. This, unfortunately, is not the case.
The amount of cornstarch in baking powder is insufficient to produce the same thickening effect as regular cornstarch.
Even if you add it in larger amounts, the taste of your food will be greatly affected because the other ingredients in baking powder give it a bitter, slightly salty, and sour flavor.