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Adding Salt to Cake and Cookie Recipes

butterscotch's picture

Last night I was trying a new recipe for lemon-almond pound cake and accidentally added too much sugar (don't ask). I didn't want to throw out the batter and start over since it contained a lot of homemade almond paste that I hated to waste. Luckily, the recipe was almost flourless and contained a high proportion of liquid ingredients, so I was able to rescue it by adding more flour to the batter. After I added what I thought was the maximum amount of flour the recipe could tolerate, I tasted the batter and found it still too sweet. That was when I noticed that the list of ingredients didn't include salt. I added some, and the addition helped a lot, eliminating what I thought was the sickeningly sweet quality of the salt-free version.

Now my question: Did the chef who created this recipe make a mistake? Shouldn't cakes and cookies always have a smidgen of salt for balance and accent? I know there are times when salt should be avoided in baking because it has a toughening effect, but I thought it was considered a good idea to include some in most cakes and cookies.

RHart18's picture

(post #63475, reply #1 of 6)

I'm glad it worked out for you.  As for the salt, I think every recipe I've ever made for cookies and cakes have salt.  That said, they usually recommend unsalted butter.  Could there have been another source for the salt already?  Was there any in the almond paste?  That's the only thing I can think of.

butterscotch's picture

(post #63475, reply #2 of 6)

Thanks, Robin. Salt in the almond paste is something I hadn't thought about. The recipe called for 12 oz. of almond paste. I decided to make my own and used Mean Chef's recipe which doesn't call for salt. I can see that commercial almond paste would have salt, but it's hard for me to believe that it would have enough to supply an entire cake.  If it does, I don't think I'll ever buy it again! The rest of the ingredient list is salt-free. The butter called for is "unsalted".

deejeh's picture

(post #63475, reply #3 of 6)

I've seen numbers of recipes for baked goods that don't include salt.  Because I use unsalted butter, I've gotten in the habit of throwing in a pinch of salt unless a quantity is called for in the recipe.  The end result is always tastier, imo.  Sweet things without any salt taste flat to me.  I even put a pinch of salt in CookieM0nster's macaroons :)


butterscotch's picture

(post #63475, reply #4 of 6)

I'm going to do likewise from now on.

evelyn's picture

(post #63475, reply #5 of 6)

me too - I always add salt to baked goods. It's the 'accent' that picks a recipe up, as far as I'm concerned. You should see what I do to my caramel and butterscotch sauces - I'm sure no one would want to know the salt content there! ;-)


In life, learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.
CookiM0nster's picture

(post #63475, reply #6 of 6)

"I even put a pinch of salt in CookieM0nster's macaroons :)"

There probably was salt in the original recipe. I started making it at a time when my mother was on a salt restricted diet, so everything I made at that time has the salt taken out.

And I'm with evelyn on salt in caramel. It definitely needs a judicious amount to bring out the best flavor.