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Baking Powder’s Reaction in Cupcakes

Baking powder is an essential ingredient in many baked goods. To observe the difference baking powder makes, two batches of cupcakes were baked: one with baking powder and one without. Because of the baking powder, the cupcakes with the baking powder rise like normal cupcakes. This occurs because of the chemical reaction between the baking powder and other ingredients. Carbon dioxide is released as air bubbles that make the cupcakes light and fluffy. 

Sioux Center, Iowa

Driving Question

  • How can you tell a chemical reaction has occurred in the cupcakes?

Probing Questions

  • What effect do you think baking powder has when baking cupcakes?
  • What observable differences do you see between cupcakes baked with and without baking powder?
  • When comparing our recipes with and without baking powder, how do you think the appearance of the batter changes?  

Classroom Suggestions

  • In groups, students will be asked to brainstorm ideas of where they think they may have seen chemical reactions. They can share these ideas as a class to grow an understanding of how chemical reactions are all around us. Students will understand that they are a part of our everyday activities.
  • After introducing the idea of chemical reactions, students can read an article about a specific reactive ingredient: baking soda (or baking powder which has baking soda in it).
  • By this point, students will have an understanding of the chemical reaction that occurs when baking soda mixes with an acid. In a plastic water bottle, we will mix baking soda with vinegar.  The combination will result in a chemical reaction that will inflate the balloon. 

Relevant Related Resources

Is Baking Powder the Same as Baking Soda? | Simply Recipes: This article describes the relationships between baking soda and baking powder.  Understanding this difference will help students make a prediction of what baking powder will do in cupcakes. The article supports the phenomena through showing the chemical reaction that is needed for cupcakes to rise.
Why Do Vinegar & Baking Soda React? | STEM Mayhem: This article explains the reaction that occurs between baking soda and an acid. It will be used as background information for the students before we do our experiment. This will help them understand the science behind the phenomena.​​​​​​​
Easy Homemade Vanilla Cupcakes | Life, Love, and Sugar: The recipe will allow students to see the ingredients we will be using. After reading the article on the difference between baking soda and baking powder, students will understand that the baking powder will have the same reaction as baking soda. This will allow students to predict how each batch of cupcakes will turn out.​​​​​​​
Examples of Chemical Reactions in Everyday Life | Science Notes: This article provides examples of everyday chemical reactions that students may have experienced. This provides students the opportunity to grow their background knowledge about chemical reactions.

Iowa Core Alignment


Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred

Credit Info

Phenomena submitted by Tyra Hulstein and Avery Koopmans

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