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Metallic Taste in Brownies

Kaylene asks: We made brownies tonight. The recipe calls for margarine, cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour. The only thing I did different was I used “I can’t believe it’s not butter”. It had a very strong metallic taste. We thought maybe the whisk we used was rusted so we dumped the whole thing and started over using only plastic and metal. We had the same results. This is a family recipe I have had many times, It is delicious. Please help. What am I doing wrong? We are baking to see if the taste bakes out.

Baking S.O.S. says: I am curious how the second batch turned out when you made it again without using the wire whisk. Did the metallic taste disappear?

You mentioned that you used “plastic and metal” in the second batch, so I am wondering if you baked the brownies in a metal pan? Could that potentially be the source of the metallic taste? I can’t imagine why it would, but you could try baking in a glass pan to see if that makes any difference.

My first instinct is to say that too much baking powder causes a metallic taste in baked goods, but you did not list baking powder in the list of ingredients. Does your recipe call for any baking powder or baking soda at all?  If not, then that could not be the source of the problem.

And I do not have any experience baking with “I can’t believe it’s not butter!”, so I cannot say whether this would be the culprit of the metallic taste or not. I assume that margarines and butter substitutes that used to be made from hydrogenated vegetable oils have recently changed their formulas to somehow make their products without trans fats–since hydrogenated fats became undesirable as soon as manufacturers had to start labeling trans fats on their packages. So it is possible that “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” now behaves differently in baked goods than it used to because it is now made differently than it used to be.

You could try making your brownies with butter and see if that has any effect on the finished flavor and texture, too.

Let me know what you come up with–this is a perplexing problem!

13 comments to Metallic Taste in Brownies

  • Emily

    I’m curious if this problem was ever resolved, as something similar happened to me tonight. I made cinnamon rolls, a recipe I’ve used dozens of times and never had a problem with, did nothing different, and yet the batter has a strange metallic taste and smell. I have no idea what it could be–no baking soda or powder in the dough, just flour, water, eggs, salt, sugar, yeast, brown sugar, and milk powder. The dough is rising now, and as Kaylene said, I’m desperately hoping it “bakes out,” since the rolls are a lot of work and I hate to waste the time.

  • Hi Emily,

    This is what Kaylene said after she baked the second batch of brownies:

    “Thank You for getting back to me so fast. I only used glass and plastic in the second batch and the metallic taste was still in the batter but I baked it anyway. ( I didn’t bake the first batch). The finished brownie tasted pretty good but was a little crumbly. I did bake in a glass pan. The recipe did not call for baking powder or baking soda. I did use gluten free flour. Not sure if that would make a difference.”

    Since you say you also experienced the same problem, this is very perplexing to me because the only culprit I know that causes a “metallic” taste in baked goods is too much baking powder. Since neither your nor Kaylene’s recipes call for baking powder, I cannot explain what else might cause the problem. Please let us know if the taste “baked out,” as you said.

    P.S. I always tell my baking students that they should NOT taste raw dough that contains eggs because it could cause salmonella poisoning, no matter how slight the risk. So I guess I don’t actually taste my raw doughs before I bake them. Perhaps the problem could be in tasting a raw dough! Perhaps the taste disappears after baking. I’m curious!

  • Emily

    Hi again,
    I actually ended up pitching the dough, because the metallic smell was sooo overpowering that it was giving me a headache. I noticed in Kaylene’s response she said she used gluten free flour–I always make these with GF flour because I have celiac disease, but I did use a different flour than I normally do, so I’m wondering if that could be the culprit. The flour itself didn’t smell metallic, but maybe it interacted with something else I used differently than my usual flour. I’ll go back to the old flour next time and see what happens.
    Thanks for your reply!

  • Hi Emily, perhaps you have discovered the answer to your own question then–and I hope it will helps others, too!

    I find it interesting that both you and Kaylene report experiencing this problem when using gluten-free flour. Perhaps it was one brand in particular, as you mentioned. But what I am curious about is whether the flour could have developed the metallic taste or flavor over time. My thought is that some types of flour that have a lot of oil in them, such as whole wheat flour where the entire wheat kernel is ground into the flour, have a tendency to go rancid much more quickly than refined white flour. And when whole wheat flour turns rancid, it makes everything smell and taste “off.” It is not metallic, but you can tell that something just isn’t “right.” And then I throw my flour out when it goes rancid because nothing can mask the taste or off-smell of rancid flour.

    So perhaps the gluten-free flour has a similar effect, but different taste.

    To prevent this problem, I store my whole grain flours in the freezer so that they don’t rancid nearly as quick. Try storing your gluten-free flour in the freezer for longer-term storage and see if that makes any difference. I wonder if that might help?

  • Emily

    That could be–I’ll have to try that. Normally I buy my own whole grain flours and mix them myself (almond flour, tapioca starch, etc), but in this case I decided to just get a bag of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour, which I haven’t used in years. I figured it would be easier. Oops!!

    This has happened to me twice before, but it was years ago when I was first learning to bake, and I don’t remember if I used Bob’s flour in those cases, although it’s very possible that I did. I’ll stay away from it in the future and hopefully will avoid this happening again. What a waste of perfectly delicious dough.

    Thanks for your help, though–I wouldn’t have put two and two together without reading this post and your replies to my comments 🙂

  • Hi Emily, Thanks for your addition input. I just purchased some Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free flour (for the first time) and put it in my freezer for long-term storage. I have yet to bake with it, and now I feel hesitant to try–in case that might be the culprit!

    But the best way to tell if the flour is the problem would be for me to bake 2 batches of the same recipe–one using regular AP flour, and the other using Bob’s AP Gluten-Free flour, then do a taste-test comparison between the two. I think I will have to try that to get to the bottom of this. 🙂

  • Hi Emily and Kaylene,

    I decided to put the gluten-free flour theory to the test to see if that might be causing the metallic taste in your baked goods, since gluten-free flour was the one common ingredient in both of your recipes.

    I baked 2 batches of “Beet Brownies”–one using regular all-purpose flour, and one using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour.

    The base recipe for brownies calls for roasted and pureed beets to add moisture to the brownies, but you cannot decipher the taste of beets in the finished brownies.

    When I prepared to make the gluten-free brownies, I started out with an older bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour. Although the flour was well within the expiration date, it had been stored at room temperature for months, and it had an “off” taste to it. I then opened a brand new bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour, and it tasted fine. So I baked the brownies with the new flour, and I stored the remaining flour in the freezer. I hope that will preserve the freshness longer (as mentioned above).

    After both batches of brownies were baked, I noticed a visual difference between the two immediately: the brownies baked with the GF flour were very red in color. You might assume that it was the purple color of the beets that caused the brownies to look reddish. The batter before baking was distinctly red in color. However, after baking, the brownies with regular AP flour looked like normal brownies–they were brown in color. So my best guess is that there is definitely something in the Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour mix that reacted with the other ingredients in the recipe to create that reddish color. Perhaps that could also be affecting the flavor?

    But when I tasted both batches of brownies, the flavor seemed fine. I did not notice a metallic taste in the GF brownies. So I think it may go back to whether the GF flour is old or not, or even what goes into the GF flour mix.

    I’m not sure if that solves the problem, but I feel like we’re getting closer to understanding an answer!

  • i had the metallic taste for the 2nd time. first time was a regular cake mix. then, yesterday also a mix. i don’t use any extra ingredients. the first time i think it was old oil. this time it was new oil with the same results. do any of you ladies use oil to coat the pan? i don’t see how it could be anything else in my case. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Natasha

    Another victim here of Bob’s Red Mill “All Purpose” Flour. :/ I was trying to make white chocolate brownies this afternoon – no small feat while juggling an active 6 month old. Just before I went to put them in the pan to bake them I tasted the batter and almost threw up! It tasted metallic and fishy!! I was so confused!! Anyway – after much research, I have decided the culprit is most definitely the flour – and not because it’s “bad” – I just bought it and it smells ok in the bag – but apparently this flour has a long history of being disgusting to bake with. Such a waste of time, eggs, butter, white chocolate and sugar. 🙁 Sigh. Anyway – here is where I really confirmed my theory. http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-All-Purpose-Gluten-Free/product-reviews/B000ED7M3Q/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0

  • Thanks for sharing your experience! I hope that will help others who might be experiencing the same issues.

  • Jenny

    Well, I am in this site because I’m googling metallic taste /smell in batter, and guess what? I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free flour Argh! My lament same as all- time, money, ingredients.

  • Heather

    Hi, I just made a brownie mix and it tasted fishy before I added the eggs or flour (it was just melted butter, cocoa and sugar in a pan). Could it be burnt cocoa that causes the fishy taste? I went ahead and baked them anyway – will let you know how they turn out!

  • Rachel Ruggiero

    I too just made a second batch of GF Chocolate Chip cookies, the one that shows up on Pinterest as being the NY Times cookie. I was so excited because the cookie itself tastes so good and has an amazing texture. However, the batter tasted like metal, after cooking I could still taste it but not as strong. I thought it was my bowl. The second batch I made in a plastic bowl and same turnout. I can’t believe that flour is still on the shelves, this has to be happening to everyone. Ugh!

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