Can you use yeast instead of baking powder

Can you use yeast instead of baking powder?

If you’re an avid baker, then you’ll no doubt have baking powder in your pantry. 

If you are a bread lover, then you’ll also definitely have yeast. But, have you ever thought of using one in place of the other?

Apparently, many of you seem to be asking the question, ‘Can you use yeast instead of baking powder?’. If you have ran out of yeast, can you use baking powder to make bread?

Or, if you have ran out of baking powder, can you use yeast to make a cake?

Let’s find out!

Baking Powder vs Yeast

Baking Powder

baking powder vs yeast

Baking powder is a white powder that can be found in every grocery store.

It shouldn’t be confused with baking soda, which looks very similar to baking powder, as there is a difference between baking powder and baking soda.

Baking powder is a leavening agent which is essentially a mix of baking soda and cream of tartar. 

Baking powder is used to raise our favorite cakes, cupcakes and can even be used to make fluffy pancakes.

Unlike baking soda, baking powder doesn’t need to be mixed with an acid to be activated.


Active dry yeast

Yeast is a microorganism that is part of the fungus family.

Yeast has been used for centuries to make bread and if you are a bread lover, you will certainly have used yeast to make your delicious bread.

Yeast requires food, warmth and moisture to flourish in. Once mixed in with your dough, yeast begins to feed on the sugars and starts to expand, creating carbon dioxide and making your dough rise.

Yeast comes in different forms, including instant yeast (or rapid yeast)active dry yeast and fresh yeast. All these types are activated differently. 

Instant yeast can be used and mixed directly with the dry ingredients. Active dry yeast, on the other hand, has to be proofed in warm water before it is mixed in with the dry ingredients. 

Fresh yeast is similar to active dry yeast in that it has to be mixed into water first before it is used with the rest of the ingredients.

Is yeast the same as baking powder?

Is a courgette (zucchini) and cucumber the same? They are both green and long, but if you bite into a courgette thinking it’s the same as a cucumber, you will be very disappointed. 

Both yeast and baking powder are leavening agents, but one is a chemical and the other one is a single-celled organism. 

When mixed in with other ingredients, they both create carbon dioxide causing whatever you are baking to rise.

Just because they both do pretty much the same thing, does this make yeast the same as baking powder?

There are ways that you might use both ingredients interchangeably, but would you really want to make a cake with yeast? I can’t imagine it being very tasty!

Can I use baking powder instead of yeast?

If you find yourself having run out of yeast and are craving for the doughy texture of bread, you can use baking powder instead of yeast for some bread recipes. 

Baking powder works well when you make bread with just flour and water and a few other ingredients.

Baking powder is a great yeast substitute if you want to make a quick naan bread recipe or mini bread rolls.

naan bread with baking powder
This quick naan bread recipe can be made with 100ml water, 200g plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and salt and herbs to taste.

It can also be used to make a loaf of bread, but as you can see from this photo, it doesn’t look like the most appealing bread.

bread loaf made with self-rising flour
This loaf of bread is made using this recipe. It is made using self-rising flour which contains baking powder in it.

Nothing beats using yeast in making bread. With baking powder, you just won’t get the same rise, texture or flavour.

But, if you are really desperate for some bread, baking powder could work as an alternative for certain types of bread recipes. 

Can I use yeast instead of baking powder?

Although it is possible to use baking powder instead of yeast when making some types of bread, is it just as easy to use yeast instead of baking powder in a cake?

There are actually a lot of ‘dessert’ recipes out there, like Panettone, Bara Brith, donuts and cinnamon rolls that use yeast. But, are they classed as cakes or are they classed as bread? 

Although I have personally not attempted to use yeast in a cake as of yet (next baking challenge perhaps?), I was surprised to see that there are a lot of cake recipes out there that use yeast as the leavening agent. Who would have thought it!

King Arthur Baking has a recipe for a lemon cake that uses yeast as a leavening agent.

I also noticed that a lot of traditional Eastern European cakes use yeast as a leavening agent. 

Saverin, which is a type of French cake also uses yeast. 

So, it clearly is possible to use yeast in cakes. And although all these recipes seem to have positive reviews, I am still sceptical myself.

Time to hit the kitchen I think and make some yeasted cake!

cake with yeast instead of baking powder

So, can you use yeast instead of baking powder and vice versa? Surprisingly yes! 

But, keep in mind, that it’s not as simple as just using one of the other.

Both of these leavening agents are completely different to each other, so if you change up your recipe, be prepared that the taste and texture will be different.

You can use baking powder for certain types of breads and you can use yeast for specific cake recipes.

But, using them interchangeably probably isn’t the best idea.

The measurement will also be different. If a bread recipe asks for 1 teaspoon of yeast, that doesn’t mean that you can use 1 teaspoon of baking powder instead. 

When it comes to making an actual loaf, you might have to use other ingredients to help raise the bread, like self-rising flour or beer (yes beer).

If you are using yeast in a cake, the best thing to do is follow a recipe and follow it to the tee. You won’t be able to just substitute yeast in your usual cake recipe. 

The recipe from King Arthur Baking is a great one to start off with if you are interested in trying a yeasted cake.

Happy yeasty baking!