In the kitchen

Bitter Batter

What’s worse than spending a couple of hours lovingly measuring and mixing a bundt cake batter, baking it in the oven and not so patiently waiting for it to cool, only to take that first bite and feel like you just sucked a lemon? Not much.

My daughter loves to bake with me and I love to try new recipes and we always do things from scratch. It’s a lovely way to spend those snow days and long breaks from school. Usually I like to think I can hold my own in the kitchen, and then suddenly we started becoming nervous about eating any of my made from scratch goods.

It started with the bundt cake, which tasted sort of okay in some places and in other places; remember those old Tom and Jerry cartoons where Tom sucks alum up through a straw? Yeah it was like that. My mom ate the cake with us and thought it tasted just fine, so I was really confused. Then the pancakes and waffles turned on us too. Could it be my cookware? Was the flour to blame? Completely flabbergasted I did what most of us do and I googled, “why are my baked goods bitter”?

One thing I discovered across the board is to be cautious of how much baking soda and baking powder you use in a recipe because the natural bitterness of these ingredients can overwhelm.

A good rule of thumb is 1-2 tsp of baking powder for every 1 Cup of flour. For baking soda you will want to ration about 1/4 tsp to your 1 Cup of acidic ingredients, ie: buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice or vinegar.

But I had made all of these recipes in the past and my ratios were good to go, so why were my daughter and I suddenly puckering up? Apparently there are different types of baking powder, who knew? Some contain aluminum and some don’t. That’s when I realized I had bought a never before tried store brand of powder as a quick purchase the last time I stocked up on the stuff. I checked the container and sure enough it contained aluminum.

Apparently some of us have a sensitivity to the aluminum in baking powder and it leaves us with a bitter taste in our mouths, whereas many folks out there never notice it. That’s why my mom had no idea what we were talking about with our bundt cake. I went on the hunt for some aluminum free baking powder and found a small can of Rumford. (I’m sure there are plenty of others, but this is the first one I found.)

Since baking with the aluminum free baking powder, we have had no further bitter batter issues, and I am fearlessly back in the kitchen.

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