You might have experienced baking a disaster out of banana bread.
Sometimes you may forget to get it out of the oven in time; it would then come out looking like coal. Other times, your banana bread won’t taste like bananas at all. Instead, it tastes more like baking soda, soapy and metallic.
In this article, we’ll see why your banana bread tastes like baking soda and how to resolve this.
Why Your Banana Bread Tastes Like Baking Soda
The quality of your banana bread is most likely affected because of these few baking soda mistakes:
- Baking soda proportion isn’t adjusted accordingly
- Swapped baking powder with baking soda
- Baking soda is past its shelf life
- Baking soda isn’t thoroughly sifted
There’s also a bit of science involved in understanding what baking soda does to your banana bread.
Once you have that figured out, you’ll finally know how to avoid these baking mishaps.
What Baking Soda Does in Baking
Have you ever noticed how baking soda reacts to vinegar with a bubbling reaction?
Combining baking soda, an alkaline mineral, with an acidic ingredient causes a bubbling reaction that emits carbon dioxide gas.
It’s essentially the same in baking. The carbon dioxide that’s mixed into your batter contributes to the aeration of your batter or dough.
Acidic ingredients like brown sugar, yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vinegar activate this reaction of baking soda in your recipes.
Furthermore, baking soda reacts to heat, causing your batter inside the oven to expand and rise. This chemical reaction is responsible for giving your baked goods that lift and soft, airy texture.
Now that you know how baking soda works, let’s see below how it affects the taste of your banana bread.
4 Baking Soda Mistakes You Might Be Doing
Take a look at some of these baking soda mishaps you can avoid the next time you make a new batch of banana bread.
1 – Baking Soda Proportion Not Adjusted Accordingly
You may have added more baking soda than required for your recipe.
Too much baking soda can make your banana bread taste like one and even cause it to rise unmanageably inside the oven.
It will also affect the texture of the banana bread and make it sink to the bottom.
More baking soda causes your banana bread to brown faster too.
Little to no amount of baking soda isn’t good either. Your baked goods won’t lift, turning them into a dense mess.
2 – Swapped Baking Powder With Baking Soda
Some banana bread recipes will call for baking powder instead of baking soda.
Baking powder is made of baking soda and an acidic compound, making it a self-sufficient leavener. It’s suitable for banana bread recipes that don’t require acidic ingredients like buttermilk or yogurt.
Using the same amounts of both ingredients won’t yield the same result. It’s because baking soda is more concentrated than baking powder. Thus, an excessive amount of baking soda isn’t ideal for substitution.
Swapping one for the other can affect the taste of your banana bread, causing it to taste bitter.
3 – Baking Soda Past Its Shelf Life
Generally, it’s safe to consume baking soda past its shelf life. However, when it comes to baking, it won’t work much as a leavener.
It starts to lose its leavening power after six months (or up to a year) since opening its box. If you accidentally use expired baking soda, a soapy taste will be prevalent in your banana bread.
If you think your baking soda has been sitting on your shelf for a long time, check its potency by pouring a small amount of vinegar on it to see if it fizzes. If it does, you still have a reactive baking soda good enough for baking.
4 – Baking Soda Not Thoroughly Sifted
Sifting is an essential process for your dry ingredients. It helps remove clumps and allows easier mixing of your dry ingredients.
Sifting clumped-up baking soda is just as necessary so that it distributes into your batter evenly. Some parts of your banana bread will taste strongly of baking soda due to its uneven incorporation.
How Much Baking Soda Do You Put in Banana Bread?
The measurement of baking soda you need for your banana bread depends on the volume of your batter.
However, you only need just enough to have it react to the acidic ingredient you’re using. As a general rule of thumb, a quarter teaspoon of baking soda per cup suffices.
In your banana bread, sources of acidic ingredients like buttermilk, sour cream, and brown sugar will help baking soda work as it should.
Even bananas are a source of acid. But, you can’t rely on bananas alone for the acid because when they ripen, they lose their acidity.
So, balancing baking soda with other sources of acid will further improve your recipe’s texture and flavor.
Why Use Both Baking Powder and Baking Soda?
Other banana bread recipes call for both baking soda and baking powder.
Baking soda acts as a neutralizer to acidic ingredients like buttermilk, making it lose its tangy flavor.
This is where the baking powder is used to provide that extra lift and tanginess that baking soda fails to achieve.
For baking powder, one teaspoon is enough to leaven a cup of flour. Some banana bread recipes only need baking powder to give it the right texture and rise.
Baking soda is stronger in power than baking powder. In case you need to swap your baking powder with baking soda, only a third of the amount of baking powder is what you need to lift your baked goods.
What to Do When You Accidentally Use Too Much Baking Soda
There are a few ways you can still fix your banana bread batter before it’s too late.
If you accidentally added one tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, proportionately increase the measurement of the rest of your ingredients to compensate.
Counter the excess amount of baking soda with acidic ingredients by simply adding a small amount. Bakers like to use molasses, buttermilk, sour cream, or applesauce to enhance their banana bread.
Even if it’s too late to save your banana bread once it’s baked, don’t let it go to waste.
You can deconstruct your banana bread and repurpose it to make other desserts.
We all make mistakes, but that’s okay! That’s how we learn, after all.
So, by the end of this post, you finally understand why your banana bread tastes like baking soda.
Now, you know not to add too much baking soda because that will make your banana bread taste like soap. On top of that, your banana bread will turn into a sinking disaster.
Moreover, swapping baking powder-required recipes with baking soda will affect their texture and flavor. Using expired baking soda and forgoing sifting is also a mistake.
Even better, professional bakers have provided you with solutions to save your banana bread.
One method is to compensate for the excess baking soda with increased measurement proportions. Another is to add acidic ingredients to create an interesting flavor profile and give it the right texture.
Now, enjoy your new fluffy banana bread without it tasting like baking soda anymore!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.
Friday 2nd of June 2023
Hi, in the article you wrote that one may save and repurpose soapy muffins in other recipes. Please tell me how! I’ve got a dozen regular banana oatmeal and another dozen with added chocolate chips. Gluten free. I checked the baking powder and it had expired, also I think the recipe called for too much. Thank you!