You're Probably Not Adding Enough Salt To Your Chocolate Cake

According to Exploring Our Fluid Earth, salt is an essential mineral that supports the overall health of the human body. But is salt a necessary addition for everyday foods? explains that certain foods, such as milk and beets, contain natural levels of sodium. But the salt we add to our daily meals may equate to more than a matter of personal taste. King Arthur Flour Baking Company indicates that yeasted bread, for example, needs salt to make prepared dough more malleable and slow fermentation to also enhance the final color and flavor of your freshly baked loaf. Southern Living adds that a small addition of salt can step up the flavors of a seasonal fruit salad; bitter fruits or vegetables can be softened with salt. But when focusing our attention solely on baked goods, many attest that salt adds that extra something to their favorite treats. 

Without this vital mineral, you couldn't make a salted chocolate mousse recipe or follow King Arthur Baking Company's cookies, which are rolled in sugar and salt before baking. But what about chocolate cake? There are a number of reasons salt is suggested in cake recipes. But for chocolate cake, a little extra salt can work wonders.

Elevate the depth of flavors in chocolate cake with a little extra salt

The New York Times says it best when describing a chocolate espresso brownie with flaky salt: "The salt minimizes the espresso's bitterness, intensifies the flavor of the chocolate and offers a savory contrast to the sugar's sweetness." Science of Cooking unpacks this statement perfectly when answering a question on the purpose of salt in cake recipes specifically; i serves as the ultimate flavor booster. And beyond FAQ Kitchen's note that salt balances moisture levels within baked goods, there's science behind the effect of salt on sugar when it comes to human taste receptors. explains that when sugar and salt come together on your tongue, your taste buds notice sugar easier and undergo a heightened reaction. In other words, salt can make your foods sweeter. And the contrasting qualities of sugar and salt together lead to a beautiful amplification of flavors. 

Things get even more interesting when we add chocolate into the mix. Like fruit, chocolate can have a bitter flavor. The Chocolate Journalist outlines how salt can take the sharp edge off rich chocolate and amplify the overall flavor profile of chocolate-infused recipes. And AllRecipes cites a Southern baker who recommends adding "an extra dash" of salt to "balance out the sweetness of the cake." Maybe that extra pinch of salt is what you need to create the ultimate chocolate cake recipe.

Other ways to elevate your chocolate cake

If the combination of salt and chocolate doesn't excite you, King Arthur Baking Company says that leaving it out altogether won't affect the overall consistency of your cake. Some suggest the secret to making amazing chocolate cake is coffee: Ina Garten adds an entire cup of java to the batter of her popular Beatty's chocolate cake recipe (per Food Network). 

If you want a lighter cake with fresh flavors, Food Network suggests making a cake without the heavy envelope of rich buttercream, instead adding open layers of fruit and whipped cream. If you want something truly unique, Adam Liaw of "The Cook Up" (via SBS) suggests the additions of yuzu and even beer. which can improve cake's overall texture.

Making the perfect chocolate cake comes down to personal preference. If you want to enhance the richness of chocolate but keep your cake as traditional as possible, a little salt goes a long way. But if you feel like adding a completely new flavor component, opt for an ingredient that's new and unexpected. Just make sure the end result is a dessert you're eager to enjoy.