Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
May 15, 2011 03:43 AM

Baking Troubleshooting

Hey there,

This weekend I made Kim Boyce's Peach Ginger Muffins, they would have been great except for the fact that they had an odd salty/bitter after taste. This has happened to me before with other baked goods (not just muffins) and I have no clue what is causing it. I can't really find any common denominator between the recipes (one was an olive oil cake, the other cookies and the third being these muffins. Most of the ingredients that I used in the muffins were new (except the baking soda). Ideas anyone? I'd really like to avoid this problem in the future.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I checked her recipe online and it seems sound, although there's a bit more baking soda in it than I would use, but the recipe flour mix is hearty and it may need more leavening that normal. You might want to try cutting back on the salt, by 1/2 teaspoon, in lieu of reducing the baking soda.

    Salty/bitter taste generally indicates too much leavening, either baking soda (salty) or powder (bitter/metallic). If you're getting a proper rise in your baked goods, then the leavening agents are working: I've never had older (but still viable) baking soda add a bitter flavor, but definitely a salty taste from over measuring or recipe error. I assume all three of the baked items you mentioned contained baking soda? How about powder? Does the book recommend a particular type of baking powder?

    I'm wondering if you're sensitive to a particular formulation of baking powder containing aluminum sulfate, if you're using a brand containing that chemical in your muffins; perhaps you need to switch brands with a different chemical leavening. I would start with that; my feeling is that might be responsible for the bitter taste issue.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Thanks. I also thought that 2 teaspoons of leavening seemd like a lot.

      Actually, what is bizzare about the whole thing is that one recipe called for both baking soda and powder (the muffins) another called only for powder (olive oil cake) and the third called only for soda (cookies). Hence, the lack of common denominator. In addition I have made the olive oil cake again without any trouble.

      The book does not recommend a particular type of baking powder and the powder I use does not contain aluminum.

      In any case, I'm going to give these muffins another try tomorrow and cut the salt (and possibly the baking power, though I'm nervous about playing iwth the leavening agents). We'll see what happens.

      1. re: tichyek

        Cut the salt and the soda down a half teaspoon and see what happens. It is a bit bizarre. Is there whole wheat flour or a portion thereof in all three recipes? Sometimes ww flour can impart a slightly bitter aftertaste in some baked goods, but not usually when used in a mix of flours, unless it's old.

        What type of pans are you using? Just curious.

        Anyway, I hope you can figure this out, let us know how it goes after tomorrow's try. Good luck.

        1. re: tichyek

          I baked those muffins last year and didn't have any issue with off flavors.

      2. I know this sounds weird but did you eat pine nuts from China or Korea before making and tasting these baked goods? I had "pine mouth" for two weeks and all kinds of things tasted bitter and "funny". [Found out that it was "pine mouth" from a thread on Chowhound - I couldn't figure out what was happening till I found that thread.]

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bethcooks

          Hey all- Sorry for the delay.
          So...the second batch came out better, though there was still some residual saltiness and they didn't have quite as much height as the first batch. The bitterness was gone. I still don't know precisely what is causing the little bit of saltiness (maybe my crystallized ginger?) who knows? In any case, I'll continue playing with the recipe.

          As for the pans- the muffins were baked in plain old muffin tins, the cake was baked in a ceramic dish and I assume I baked the cookies on a cookie sheet with baking paper.

          I'm not sure I'll ever get to the bottom of this, but I just hope that should it happen again I can catch it before I serve the offending item.

          @Bethcooks- "pine mouth"- ha! No, I didn't not eat pine nuts before tasting or making. Alas, pine nuts are pretty expensive around here and don't find themselves hanging about my house much.

          Thanks all for your help.

          1. re: tichyek

            "didn't have quite as much height as the first batch."

            Well, I guess you could try cutting out the salt completely, and since you didn't quite get the rise you initially had, go back to the original measure of soda, if the lack of rise affected the texture. I have no idea if this will eliminate the problem, though. I don't know why crystallized ginger would have a salty aspect. It's a baker's mystery. ;-) If you ever figure it out, please let us know. Good luck.

        2. Alright. Let's go back to the leavening theory. I've been using Argo baking powder which is new to me. I know it's supposed to be super great- aluminum free, double acting etc but is there any chance is reacting weirdly with my ingredients? This issue is still bugging me.

          8 Replies
          1. re: tichyek

            Switch out brands. Did we discuss what type of peaches you're using? Fresh, frozen or canned? Just a thought.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              I have been using fresh peaches.
              I also had a long discussion with my uncle who mentioned that perhaps the issue lies in the fact that Israeli products have different acidity levels than American ones and were interacting differently with the leavening agents. Since then, I switched the sour cream for plain yogurt and have not had a problem. Very odd.

              1. re: tichyek

                Ooooh, ok, I had no idea about your location,sadly never checked it. I usually check profile pages for location of posters if there's a clue that something in the query or issue might be off or different, but sometimes there's no info. I didn't do that with you. Anyway, problem solved, that's the best thing, and I believe your uncle was totally right about acidity levels.

                All the best.

                1. re: bushwickgirl

                  sorry I didn't mention it. Thanks for all your help. I'd send you a muffin, if I could :)

                  1. re: tichyek

                    We have pretty good peaches coming in now from the South, and probably will have even better soon, from New Jersey, so I'll give the recipe a go. Thanks for the offer, however; much appreciated.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      Keep an eye out for Jersey white peaches, bwg, to die for this year. As fragrant as roses.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Love those things, and you're right, the fragrance of them.

            2. re: tichyek

              I cook to different batches of muffins that used more than the usual amount of baking powder.
              they both tasted horrible,a really bitter strong aftertaste that itch and burned our tongues.
              I have been using Argo baking powder, double acting, aluminum free in breads muffins never noticed until yesterday with that horrible first batch.
              So today I made a different recipe with 3.5 teaspoons of BP but they sitll had the aftertaste.
              Since I am using your same brand I wanted to ask you if you are still having problems.
              I don't want to scarred my kids with these awful pancakes. ajjajaja

            3. I agree with others here. You are using aluminum-baked baking powder and/or too much baking soda. I'm guessing it's the baking powder. Buy some Rumford or Argo and throw away your old stuff (Clabber Girl, for example).