Baking Powder and Bitter Taste (January 20th, 2007)

This past Friday I ended up baking a small cherry cake for our family. The recipe was very simple – it only had 5 ingriedents: flour, baking powder, eggs, oil and pie filling. Unfortunatly, after the cake was baked, it turned out that it tasted very bitter to me. My wife on the other hand, did not taste anything unusual. To add more to this mystery, I have been tasting a bit of bitterness in some baked goods at my home for quite some time. My first thought was an egg substitute but after some research, it was something entirely different.

It turns out that the blame is on the baking powder. There are two reasons why baking powder can cause something to taste bitter:

1. Some people are sensitive to a specific type of baking powder. It turns out that there are TWO types of baking powder – one containing a salt called “sodium aluminum sulfate”, and others that don’t. This particular salt is bitter according to this page and this page. Wikipedia seems to imply that some people are more sensitive to its taste than others. While there has been healthy concerns, it does not look like they were confirmed.

2. Using too much baking powder causes bitterness. According to this page at Joys Of Baking, too much baking powder can cause bitter taste. The normal proportion is about 1 to 2 teaspoons per 1 cup of flour. This recipe had a mistake – 2 TABLESPOONS instead of 2 tea spoon.

While I was researching this, it turns out that for the past year we used to use non-aluminum baking powder made by Rumford. However, recently we ran out, and when I went to check the cupboard, it turns out that we switched to a different brand made by Clabber Girl which contans aluminum.

If you feel particularly lazy to go shopping, Amazon sells Rumford baking powder online with free shipping right here.

P.S. The only reason why I am bothering to post this is because it took me more than 20 minutes of Googling to find the right answer. I am hoping that my post will help others find the answer quicker.


29 thoughts on “Baking Powder and Bitter Taste (January 20th, 2007)

  1. Thank you, I will try this!! I just made some muffins and I noticed they had a bitter taste, and wanted to find out why! This may be it! Thank you for posting this–you learn something new every day! 🙂

  2. I have been tasting baking powder in quite a few recipes and my husband never tastes it like I do. Thanks for posting this! I even bought a new baking powder thinking the last one went bad prior to the expiration date. Turns out, it has aluminum. I’ll be trying the other kind to see if that’s the issue. Almost 10 years later, and your post is useful 🙂

    1. I would stay away from anything that uses aluminum. I have an old pan set that uses aluminum on the outside for even heating (works!) and is clad interiorly for good cooking and separation from the aluminum. I have used this set since 1979 and am still pleased with it. It came with a lifetime warranty!., which I used once. I have NO dissatisfaction at all. I have read that aluminum pans by themselves are toxic, so there! Helpful?

  3. Thank you for sharing your findings! I’ve recently had a few baked goods come out bitter and I wasn’t sure what could have been causing it. Looks like I’ll be getting non-aluminum baking powder during my next shopping trip. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your story! I found this page through Google because I experienced the same thing with muffins I just made!

  5. Hi thanks for the post as I’ve been googling why i have bitter spots in my banana bread. I think it could be because I did not sift the baking soda or mix it thoroughly enough.

  6. Hey thank you so much… Even I had gone through with the same problem.. Tablespoons ! Dis is the mistake by chefs who give out the recipes

  7. I, too, just encountered this problem. I noticed that my cookies had a slight metallic aftertaste (I still punished them), and looked at the can. Sure enough, it’s Clobber Girl. Not to day that their product is terrible. But I suppose that I am sensitive to the taste. I don’t have any other opinions for comparison, however, since I live alone.

  8. Thanks so much for this – I’ve been tasting this a lot and my daughter refuses to eat my baking. I use “Magic Baking Powder” and although it doesn’t have aluminum listed, I still taste the bitterness. So I”m still confused …

  9. Thanks for posting. My mother-in-law has been complaining that some of my baked goods taste bitter. Now I know why. We use the Clabber Girl product. Looks like I need to buy something different.

  10. Thank you. I made my first muffins with Almond flour. My baking powder does not have sodium aluminum, it’s sodium bicarbonate, but I may have used a tablespoon instead of tsp. I was trying to find out if its the taste of the almond flour but maybe the powder that’s the culprit. Will experiment.

  11. My daughter’s recent baking has had tiny white lumps which we all find unbelievably bitter when eaten. Turns out it was due to a store brand can of baking powder with sodium aluminum sulfate. We usually buy Rumford and will make sure to do so in the future! Thanks for the post!

  12. Thank you for this post I made cupcakes and frost them than I taste them and they had kind of a bitter taste I thought it was because of the baking soda but I didn’t know why.😊

  13. I’ve been trying to figure out why I had a tingling/burning sensation after using a baking powder/oil/water mix as an egg white substitute (egg intolerance). You post has been very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to post. I”ll be switching out the the Rumford brand.

  14. I couldnt figure out why my toungue tingled and my mouth went dry when i bit into one of my baked goods, but now i know!

  15. I just noticed had the bitter test on my almond bread. I will ditch the bitter brand of baking soda immediately. Thanks for the insight.

  16. Our family has been getting bites of a horrid, chemically lemon flavor in our waffles. I’ve thrown out all ingredients and bought new. It was still there. My husband made sure the baking soda was mixed well and not clumped., and the flavor still occurred. Such a sad mystery for us! So thank you very much for posting this. We will try using aluminium free baking soda next time.

  17. Thank you! The waffle recipe I used today had the baking powder listed as 2 tablespoons, which seemed excessive to me. Flour amount was 2 cups. They were good, but I was aware of a slight baking powder taste. Next batch I am reducing the amount of baking powder. And I am also buying new baking powder without sodium aluminum sulfate…

    Again, thank you.

  18. I baked a chocolate cake recently, however I added 1/2 tspn of baking powder for 1 and a 1/2 cups of flour. What do you think could be the problem. Also my baking powder is hard and could that be it???

  19. My husband couldn’t find the salty or the bitter taste but I could… Should I get a fresh packet of baking powder???.

  20. Thank you so much for posting this! I made a large batch of cupcakes for a party and sampled one. It tasted so bitter, I was going to toss out the entire batch. However, I asked my friend to sample one and she said they were delicious and not bitter at all. I started worrying about what was wrong with me. Most google pages pointed to expired baking soda or some even said it could be due to GERD. I am so relieved to find your post…
    I always use a non-aluminum baking powder but I was out of it and used Clabber girl which was all I could find at the nearby grocery store.
    Mystery solved – I am sensitive to “sodium aluminum sulfate”…who knew!


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