Baking soda is not only the main ingredient in science class volcano experiments or fridge deodorants, it is also an integral part of baking powder. If you're unable to zip out to the store to purchase the powder, or if you're just wanting to use up a leavener at hand, baking soda can easily substitute for the powder in any bread, even pizza crust. This method of leavening is also much faster than waiting for yeast to rise, yet has a similar texture and flavor.
Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda
Baking soda is the foundation of baking powder. Baking soda is also called sodium bicarbonate, and its reaction with an acid, such as vinegar, results in the release of carbon dioxide, causing bubbles in breads and other baked goods. Baking powder contains baking soda, as well as the acid that it needs to react with, along with a stabilizer. This enables baking powder to be used in recipes where there is no additional acid added.
Leavening Pizza Dough
Leavening pizza dough is traditionally done through the addition of yeast, which requires kneading, proofing, punching down, and a second proof. Baking powder and baking soda eliminate the need for a second proof and punching down, and the first proof takes only a fraction of the time needed for yeast. The pizza dough will still contain small air bubbles made by carbon dioxide, causing it to rise.
Create baking powder from a mixture of baking soda, cornstarch and cream of tartar. For every 4 parts baking powder called for, use 1 part baking soda, 2 parts cream of tartar and 1 part cornstarch mixed together. Add this at the same time that the recipe calls for baking powder to be added. If these are unavailable, simply add a small amount of an acid to the wet ingredients of the pizza dough, while adding the baking soda to the dry. For example, if a dough calls for milk, use buttermilk in lieu, adding the acid to the recipe without changing ingredient amounts themselves.
While baking soda cannot be tasted in pizza dough if the correct amount is used, add flavor and disguise a slight overdose of soda by adding dried rosemary, basil, oregano or sage to the dough. Caramelized onions and garlic also add a slightly sweet flavor. Pesto or chopped sundried tomatoes, drained of oil, are also an easy way to add extra taste to the dough.