Types of Raising Agents Used in Baking | 4 Types of Raising Agents

Hi there Bakers and Foodies; today I’ll be sharing four types of raising agents used in baking.

This is a post in our Baking Ingredients series. I’ll be sharing the types of raising agents that are used in baking. These are agents that help your cake or your bread rise. They’re called raising agents or leavening agents. I’ll be sharing two chemical ones and two natural ones.

1. Baking Powder

It is mainly used in cakes and sometimes in cookies.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda (an alkali) and an acid. In most cases, cream of tartar is used as the acid.

Baking powder is used in most recipes where cake is being baked or cupcakes, as well as pancakes and even cookies.

This is really easily available in supermarkets. You can buy it anywhere in shops that sell food items or cake supply shops.

2. Bicarbonate of Soda/Sodium Bicarbonate/Baking soda

This is an alkali by itself and it’s mainly used in cake recipes.

Baking Soda

Please note that Baking soda is used where there is a highly acidic ingredient in a cake recipe. An example is if there is natural cocoa powder, a lot of vinegar, a lot of buttermilk, or applesauce – in a cake or cupcake recipe.

Please note that you cannot use it all the time in cake recipes. It has to be a tested recipe where there’s a lot of acid and there’s a reason why you need to use the baking soda.

If you do use it the wrong way in a recipe without an acidic ingredient, the cake will still rise, but there will be a soapy (and/or a slight bitter) aftertaste in your cake. This happens since there is no acidic element to interact with the alkali and balance out the taste.

3. Eggs


Eggs are a natural raising agent when it comes to cakes and especially in Sponge cake making. By beating/whipping the eggs, they gain a lot of volume and that tends to help you when it comes to cake making – especially when using the egg whites.

Chocolate ‘biscuit’ Sponge cake result by Amari Student – Eggs used, no Baking Powder

Some cakes don’t even need baking powder in them, you can actually use the whipped eggs as the raising agent. In cake-making especially baking Sponges; eggs are used as a raising agent, as well as in Cookie-making e.g. Meringue cookies

Meringue Cookies (Image Courtesy: Pixabay)

4. Yeast

Yeast is a natural raising agent. Please note that there are various types of yeast – three main types used especially by Bakers.

3 types of Yeasts (Image Courtesy: homecookworld.com)

Yeast is used in bread making and yeast pastries and it tends to take time because it is a fungus and needs a really specific warm, humid temperature to actually work very well.

It also needs time to slowly proof and rise as well.

Bread and Buns made of yeast-results from an Amari Baking Class

I hope this post has been helpful. Make sure to check out our other posts on ingredients here.

P/S: We offer both Practical and Online baking class for cake making and bread and pastry making. Click here to see full list of practical classes.

To see the full list of our Online classes – click here

To inquire about any of our classes, click here to send us a direct WhatsApp message.

We also have a Recipe Book for Cakes, Breads and Cookies, check details here.

Share this with a baker or foodie friend you know it will help ^_^

Published by Amari

Baking with Amari offers learning experiences in form of short baking and cake decorating classes. We have a baking workshop at Discounts Arcade, Shop no. 51 on Ngong road (Adams Arcade area next to The Green House), in Nairobi that offers baking & cake decoration learning experiences for those who want to learn what bakers and cake decorators do in a practical/hands on Bakery kitchen. We have both online and practical/physical classes. We also offer baking business start-up training and group mentorship as well via our Baking for Profit Program. We also sell locally tested baking recipe books (soft copy & printed books).

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