The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking powder taste in bread flour

glakritz's picture

Baking powder taste in bread flour

First, some of you may remember, just before the holidays I posted about not being able to get bread flour here in the small villiage I live in in Central America.

I was able to make a connection the other day and score 100 pounds of what is referred to as Strong Flour.  The problem is that all the baked goods I have tried with it have a strong baking powder taste.  Does anyone have a solution to masking the taste? 

Also, the stoves here do not seem to get hot enough to brown bagels.  Is there anyway to force the browning, as they are getting done on the inside, but when left to brown, they get hard on the outside.

flournwater's picture

" Is there anyway to force the browning, as they are getting done on the inside, but when left to brown, they get hard on the outside."

It would help if you could provide a full description of the stove you are using and whether your experience is universal within your community or unique to your stove.

glakritz's picture

It is an Indurama propane.  The whole village cooks with propane as it is the only thing available.  I would have liked to have it calibrated, but there is no one here that knows how to do it.

flournwater's picture

These look to be high quality ranges:

so it would appear you'r'e using a proper appliance for  your cooking/baking.


Propane provides a very good and stable heat source.  It is likely that mrfrost has identified the most likely source of your browning problem so I'd suggest you start with a baking soda bath when boiling your bagels.  However, getting back to your oven, whether it is or is not the source of any browing issues you do need to determine how accurate it is.

Check to makek sure the burners burn evenly; that there are not areas on the burners that do not ingnite properly.  Check to make sure the gasket on your oven door seals properly.  If you use steam in your bread baking the steam should not escape around the oven door.

Get an oven thermometer and check to see if your oven is heating properly.  If it doesn't, you can use this as a guide:


mrfrost's picture

This certainly will not help with the baking powder taste, but if you add baking soda to the water that you boil the bagels in-(you are boiling your bagels?)-they will almost certainly brown. Exactly how much baking soda, I don't know off hand, but it should be easy to find out. Maybe someone will chime in.

I say this because I just made the Khobiz Mohala recipe here, where a baking soda solution is brushed on the buns, and boy, did they get brown, fast.

A lye solution would acheive the same, but we won't get in to that.

flournwater's picture

I use about a tablespoon of baking soda to a gallon of water.

pmccool's picture

but is it possible that your flour is self-rising, as well as strong?

It would explain the flavor.  The "strong" descriptor simply means it is high in protein.


glakritz's picture

It is obvious to me by the taste that they have mixed something in it.  I will be traveling soon and wonder if it isn't just better to by gluten flour additive when I am back in civilization for a few days.  I certainly would not want to eat anything made from this stuff.  I tasted a bagel this morning and I still am left with the after taste 8 hours later.  Do you know of a way to get rid of the taste?

Chuck's picture

If it's "self-rising" flour, I'd be cautious that the problem is more than just the taste. Such flour is so common in some countries that it's often called "regular" flour - beware. It's likely to have the same things in it as Bisquick or as used in quickbread recipes. Even if you find some way to kill the taste, there's still the behavior.

I'd worry that it will try to "rise on its own", which could make a mockery of recipes and pan sizes. If the combined rising of the flour and your yeast is "double" the normal amount, the dough could easily balloon up but then collapse.

In particular I'd worry that if it "tries to rise" as soon as you add water, it will be impossible to ever do a proper "autolyse" step.

(What did you conclude about comments such as "you don't need (maybe don't even want) 'bread flour' for bread" on your earlier thread? Have you tried to make bread with whatever  you already have? I'd hate to see you try very hard to "solve" a problem that wasn't really a problem in the first place.

Bakers in the U.S. are spoiled by having readily available flour with much much higher gluten content than was historically available to artisan bakers or that is available in many other parts of the world, and tend to use it in lots of places where it's not really necessary. Often that outrageously high gluten content is more of a curse than a blessing - just ask the bakers who've tried to very closely duplicate the taste and texture of a "real" French baguette without using French T55 flour.)

glakritz's picture

Though the taste was there, the results were less than I was used to in the US,  The bagels rose only sllightly.  I have been using a recipe that I used in the US for egg bagels, and there may be a need to switch to the recipe on this site.

Baking powder is a very common ingredient here.  Every mercado sells it in 2 and 5 libre bags, so it must be the levenor of choice.  Lavendaro is fairly hard to find, and I have only found one mercado 32 miles away that carries the dry.  Due to the lack of refigeration, I worry about using the solid, which I can buy in the village, as it may have come in on a donkey's back, which is quite common for delivery, instead of a refigerated truck.  Again, and this harkens back to my original recipe, the eggs are not refigerated here, either.  You must take the word of the vendor on how old they are. 

The bakers in town are fairly loath to passing information.  This is a 2 family village with a lot of inner marriage, so those 4 of us from the outside have to respect the bounds that are placed on us by local custom.  Bakers will only share their secrets with family. 

And, I know the problems with French baguette.  They sell a pan here and call it baguette, but it is soft and doughy, much like Wonder Bread. 

Using the strong flour, the rise has been beautiful and there does not seem to be a problem with over-rise.  It is just that they taste awful.  I am sure there is baking powder in the flour, as it just seems so common here.

On my next attempt, I think I will try the recipe here using the AP and see if I get better results.

glakritz's picture

Thank all of you wonderful bakers for your input.  It helps to have communication with such skilled people.

I would especialy like to thank flournwater for the link to the rerulator on the oven.  When it is light tomorrow, I shall attempt to calibrate it a bit.  If that doesn't work, I'm resorting to having a wood burner put in.  At least I will be warm in the cool mountain mornings. 

Recuerdos, Gail

Barbstew's picture

Most likely is that the reason for the taste is in fact a high content of baking powder.  Labeling may be an issue for that bag of flour.  The taste you are getting may actually be from the baking soda you use to poach the bagels in before baking.  Both will give an alkaline taste and sometimes it will linger for those with a very sharp sense of taste.  Test the flour by adding water to a small amount and see if you get a bubbling action without adding anything else.  Another way would just be taste test the flour straight from the bag.  If you can taste it in a bagel, you would be able to taste it in the flour. 

As for browning, if you oven reaches the required temps, and your bagels are not browning, it may be more of an issue of higher altitudes.  I can't remember much about the adjustments in baking at high altitudes when I watched my mother as a child, but I do remember that it takes much longer to cook certain foods.  Try baking them longer or at a higher temp.   It may mean searching for more info on high altitude baking.  You didn't mention at how far above sea level you are living. 

Barb - Cooking, baking and stitchin' for 50 + years