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Leaveners-Baking Soda, Powder and Yeast

Updated on December 18, 2012
Angela LaMor RMA, NCPT and cancer survivor
Angela LaMor RMA, NCPT and cancer survivor

Written by Angela LaMor RMA NCPT and Frances Bleuet owner of Nutrition for Weight Loss

Breads are either unleavened flatbreads or they are soft, fluffy leavened breads, which means raised by one of three ingredients: baker’s yeast, baking soda or baking powder. These leavening agents are activated by water, heat, or acid.


Baker’s yeast (different from torula yeast or brewer’s yeast) originated in ancient Egypt. It works through the process of fermentation which changes sugars naturally in the dough slowly releasing bubbles of carbon dioxide. This slow process preserves the structure of the dough.


A quicker method would be with baking soda or baking powder. This method works by the interaction of an alkaline with an acid which produces carbon dioxide. This quicker method produces breads called quick breads. Baking soda and baking powder are used when the consistency of the bread is strong enough to contain bubbles even when they are rapidly produced. When the batter is not thick enough to support the bubbles, then the slower method of fermentation through the use of baker’s yeast is used.


The base of baking powder is either tartrate from cream of tartar (made from grapes), phosphate or aluminum. Each has a different rate of reaction. Some work at room temperature, some can be stored unchanged until heated at oven temperatures. Baking powder contains less salt than baking soda and most recipes using baking powder call for the addition of salt for it to work properly.


Baking soda is also known as bicarbonate of soda. It is alkaline and activated by mild acids such as vinegar, cocoa, lemon juice or cream of tartar (often used to stiffen egg whites for meringue).


Baking soda is a natural component of bile. Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder to help break down dietary fats. In the body (by nature of its alkaline properties) baking soda neutralizes hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). That’s why some people take it to treat indigestion or heart burn. This can lead to more indigeston and heartburn in three ways. First, taking it on a regular basis to ease indigestion (or heart burn) can cause the body to improperly digest foods (by neutralizing and thereby inactivating, hydrochloric acid). Second, It can cause the body to overly secrete hydrochloric acid (in an effort to compensate for what's being destroyed) causing more heartburn and third, it can cause vitamin deficiencies (baking soda destroys B vitamins). B vitamins are needed for proper digestion and in time overly consuming baking soda as a remedy for indigestion will cause continuing indigestion.

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    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      smart great terrific hub read thanks