Laurel asks: I have made two muffin recipes and both have left a metallic taste. One recipe used 1 Tbls. baking soda and 1 1/2 cup flour and 3/4 cup buttermilk, and one used 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 cup flour and 1 1/3 cup buttermilk. I’ve read that you should use 1/4 tsp. baking soda to each 1 cup flour. Could I be using too much baking soda? Is it the buttermilk? Why would a recipe use more baking soda than is really needed? Should I try again and use the lower measurement of baking soda? I appreciate any suggestions you might have.
Baking S.O.S. says: You are exactly right: too much chemical leavener–in this case, baking soda–can cause a bitter and metallic taste.
You also did your research well: you only need 1/4 tsp. baking soda for each 1 Cup of flour in a recipe, so it sounds like the proportions are way off in the recipes you have tried.
In answer to your question about the buttermilk, the buttermilk would not be the cause of the bitter and metallic taste. The acid in the buttermilk is necessary to react with the base in the baking soda to activate the chemical reaction that makes the muffins rise.
I would suggest that you try a completely different recipe, rather than trying to modify or make adjustments to the recipes that aren’t working out for you. Certainly there should be a good muffin recipe out there (for the variety of muffin you are trying to make) somewhere that has been tested and tried, that has turned out successfully so that you don’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” so-to-speak.
You could start with some of the muffin recipes that I provided at Baking S.O.S. in this blog post: Muffin Recipes for Healthful Alternatives to Cupcakes in School Parties. These are some of my all-time favorite muffin recipes, and I can guarantee that they have been tested and loved!