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" What is the purpose of salt in cake recipes? "

Dear Anne and Sue,

What is the purpose of salt in cake recipes? Is it for taste only, or does it also aid in leavening? Is there a ratio formula for each cup of flour?

Diahn Green


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Dear Diahn,

The main function of salt in cake recipes is to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients. Its presence perks up the depth and complexity of other flavors as the ingredients meld. Salt also provides a balance to the sweetness of cake batters—but a salty flavor should not be discernible.
Depending upon the method of combining ingredients, salt can also have a strengthening effect if it's combined with egg whites. If whipped egg whites to which salt has been added are "folded in," they're better able to hold their volume. Although salt is not considered to be an aid in leavening, it can contribute slightly to the volume of some recipes.

An often-cited proportion is 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of salt per cup of flour, though other sources may cite different amounts. There is not a specific ratio formula for home baking. This means that the salt in a recipe may require adjusting—for example, if a high proportion of salted butter is included.

You can reduce the salt according to your taste, but if you leave it out completely, you'll likely find your cakes taste a little "flat."

Anne & Sue


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