Who gets to lick the spatula?
February 21, 2010 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Why is that eating too much of the raw batter for something when baking will make you feel sick, but eating the baked product is no problem? It's the same stuff, presumably getting digested in the same way, right? (And yes, I did make muffins for lunch today, and no, don't ask ...)
posted by woodblock100 to Food & Drink (21 answers total)
raw egg.
posted by availablelight at 7:13 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some people think raw eggs are dangerous to eat.

Dough has raw eggs in it.

I've never had a problem.

Your mileage may vary.
posted by dfriedman at 7:15 PM on February 21, 2010

raw egg is not necessarily the problem when self-prepared - contamination usually comes from the outside of the shell.

also, I think there is some recent problems with e-coli in raw grocery store bought cookie dough.
posted by jbenben at 7:20 PM on February 21, 2010

This raw egg stuff isn't what the poster is asking about.
posted by hermitosis at 7:21 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have never felt ill from eating raw batter.
posted by serazin at 7:21 PM on February 21, 2010

Response by poster: raw egg

No, no ... this is not what I meant. Instead of saying 'sick' I should have said 'queasy'. I mean just a few minutes after eating the batter left in the bowl ... The 'slick' feeling from the buttery batter seems to make people (not just me, I guess) queasy. But we can eat buttery (and fatty) foods with no problem. What's the difference?
posted by woodblock100 at 7:22 PM on February 21, 2010

While I don't know the all magical sciency terms behind it, cooking does change the chemical properties of food, so the cooked versions and raw versions of foods are not the same stuff, being digested the same way.

For instance: cooking absolutely ruins cookie dough.
posted by coryinabox at 7:23 PM on February 21, 2010 [14 favorites]

My subjective experience is that raw batter tastes both heavier and sweeter than cooked muffins. I feel pretty full on a couple of tablespoons of batter, and eating more than that makes me feel weighed down.

It's also possible that the raw baking soda in the recipe, that has not yet been used in combo with the acidic ingredients to create CO2, is reacting unpleasantly with your stomach acids. Your digestive system is not an Easy Bake Oven, and is unhappy when you treat it like one. But it won't kill you.
Baking soda and baking powder are commonly used in cookie dough. The dough rises when these leavening agents break down and release carbon dioxide, which expands. Paula Figoni, associate professor in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University, says baking powder releases 60 to 70 percent of its carbon dioxide during mixing, while baking soda releases 30 to 40 percent (the rest is released when—or if—the dough is baked). Most cookie recipes call for a very small amount of leavening agent, so ingesting raw cookie dough isn’t much different, gas-wise, from drinking a carbonated soda.

To date, there have been no reported cases of people bursting open due to cookie dough rising in their stomachs. ...
In short: one baked muffin = delicious. Raw batter equivalent to one muffin = oh God, why did I drink a coke with that muffin?
posted by maudlin at 7:24 PM on February 21, 2010 [9 favorites]

i'd say it's the density of the mix - the baked muffins are full of air bubbles so you are getting less material per bite, and then chewing it and breaking it up some more.

The raw batter is more of a thick fatty milkshake - you could be ingesting more of it more rapidly than if you were eating the baked muffin.
posted by davey_darling at 7:31 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your stomach doesn't like raw flour either. I think it's the fact that stuff has to break down in the oven before we can process it effectively. A big load of raw ingredients makes your system go WTF is this stuff? and it has to work harder to do the breaking down that should have occurred in the oven, that is why you feel queasy. This is according to my mom when I was 10.
posted by amethysts at 7:34 PM on February 21, 2010

Cooking was invented to pre-digest foods. Some scientists think that the invention of cooking not only gave human beings an advantage by reducing parasites, but made a huge difference in our efficiency in getting calories out of the foods we were able to hunt or gather. You would need to eat many more raw potatoes to get the same calories as from cooked potatoes. The same goes for raw meat. Cooking breaks down the elements of food into easier-to-digest chemicals.

So, batter is bound to be harder to digest than cake.
posted by musofire at 7:34 PM on February 21, 2010

The taste of raw flour in batter/dough sometimes bothers me, that could b a factor.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:36 PM on February 21, 2010

It's the same stuff, presumably getting digested in the same way, right?

This assumption is wrong. It isn't the same stuff - heat changes things chemically/compositionally, just as much as clay becomes pottery when fired and heat treating metal and other components can make them stronger/change their properties.

The raw and cooked ingredients are not at all the same things - heat has changed them (and allowed them to react with other chemicals/ingredients), which is why we cook things. You presumably wouldn't argue that raw and roasted chicken was the same thing, so why would it be different with anything else?
posted by Brockles at 7:38 PM on February 21, 2010

You're eating a raw dough. What does dough do? It rises, expands, and basically bubbles away like a chemistry experiment. Now put that in the contained space of your stomach/GI system, and you're primed for some awesome stomach activity. You've basically turned yourself into a walking fermentation vessel.

My favorite combo is oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough, a bowl of bean chili, 3-4 big glasses of milk, and then top it off with a whole orange for dessert. Acids, proteins, and sugars. After about 15 minutes of that caldron bubbling away inside me, I can pump out enough gas to fill the Hindenburg. It's a formula that I've perfected over the years and am quite proud of it. See, Dutch Oven.
posted by webhund at 7:56 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

My speculation: The batter is more liquid, so it "dumps" out of your stomach faster. This may lead to "dumping syndrome." This would be a problem if you ate a lot of high fat, high sugar batter. One it is cooked, it will stay in your stomach longer.
posted by fifilaru at 8:00 PM on February 21, 2010

I absolutely agree with the theory that the batter is rising in your tummy. Think of how you fill a muffin cup 1/2 - 2/3 full with batter, and then it expands while baking until it's about twice as big. Baking soda and/or baking powder does that chemically by making bubbles in the batter, and it does something similar in your stomach.

As another example, have you ever done that kiddie science experiment where you mix vinegar and baking soda to make a foamy, erupting volcano? Your stomach acid could be thought of as super-strong vinegar, so when you add baking soda it's doing the same kind of bubble action. All that extra, unexpected volume makes you feel sick to your stomach. But if you BAKE the muffin batter first, then the bubbles happen in the oven and the baking soda gets used up, so it can't react when the cooked muffin hits your stomach.
posted by vytae at 8:04 PM on February 21, 2010

Response by poster: Dutch Oven

Wow ... I did not need to know about that ... (I live alone now, so knowledge of this is of no use to me these days!)
posted by woodblock100 at 8:06 PM on February 21, 2010

My suspect for the culprit has always been raw flour.
posted by Netzapper at 8:32 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Raw grains are indigestible. Cows have a rumen stomach for pre-digestion of these tough seed head plant materials. Humans cannot digest cellulose, they must cook it first to break down the cell walls, and IMHO, it's still bad for you though baked.
posted by diode at 8:53 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

it's still bad for you though baked.

Cellulose is not bad for you. You need cellulose to help your gut work properly. It's dietary fiber, or "roughage".
posted by oneirodynia at 11:12 PM on February 21, 2010

I'm pretty sure coryinabox, amethysts and musofire have the correct answer here.

We don't generally eat raw grains, raw legumes or raw potatoes. Cooking these vegetables is a way of pre digesting the food, breaking down some of the enzymes, proteins and complex carbohydrates that are found in the raw variants.

In the case of some legumes, soaking is an additional, important step in the preparation process. Soaking begins the germination process, and additional complex carbohydrates are broken down by the legumes during germination. I have read that well-soaked beans tend to cause fewer problems with bloating and flatulation than under soaked beans, for instance.

So, when you cook the flour, you're changing its chemical composition into one that's easier for your digestive system to handle.

I searched for some scientific articles to back this up, but my google-fu is apparently not strong enough.
posted by syzygy at 2:44 AM on February 22, 2010

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