Here's Why You Should Never Omit The Salt In Sweet Recipes

Ever wonder why your favorite super-sweet dessert recipes, from cakes to cookies, include a dash or two of salt? Turns out, there's a good reason, according to Science of Cooking.

You'll find salt in just about every recipe you ever cook, but, for most dishes, the primary flavor isn't one that you'd describe as "salty." Rather, used in the right proportions, the salt essentially boosts the other flavors in your dish, including the sweetness of your favorite desserts. That little half or quarter teaspoon of salt in your favorite cake is acting as the backup singer to your chocolate or vanilla's lead vocals. While you can't identify the salt in your sweet recipe at first taste, you'd definitely recognize something was wrong if it went missing.

Beyond this, though, in some dessert recipes, salt acts as a strengthening agent, as Understanding Ingredients for the Canadian Baker points out, helping beaten egg whites retain their shape and conditioning the gluten in your dough so that it's able to expand without breaking down.

Does the type of salt you use in your sweet recipe matter?

While most baking recipes will turn out just fine if you use your normal kitchen salt for that minuscule amount needed, you can upgrade your baking projects by adding other types of salt to your desserts, as cookbook author Shauna Sever notes. She recommends fine sea salt for your baking, as the fine grain lends itself easily to sifting and it dissolves easily and quickly. Coarser kosher salt is less popular in baking but can work in desserts wherein a lot of liquid is used, which ensures the larger grains dissolve. Both fine sea salt and kosher salt are a bit of a step up from your traditional table salt, which some home cooks find has a slight chemical flavor. Sever also recommends fleur de sel, a luxurious French sea salt that's hand-harvested from skimmed bodies of salt water. As Sever says, "it's the glamorous sort of finishing salt you see sprinkled on things like sea salt caramels and bougie chocolate chip cookies."

But whatever salt you go with for your sweet recipes, only one thing is really crucial — that you actually add that salt, and that you add exactly the amount the recipe calls for.