Joy the Baker

What’s the best salt for baking?

March 25, 2008

It’s possible that you’ve never even considered the question of salt, but salt in an essential component in baking.  Sure, you may only add 1/2 a teaspoon at a time to your baked goods, but don’t take salt for granted!  Salt accentuates the flavor of bakes goods.  It particularly enhances the flavors of butter, and flour, and salt works wonders in a recipe with chocolate!

In bread baking, salt helps the gluten hold more water and carbon dioxide.  Did you know that it also creates a stronger and tighter crumb.

There are three major types of salt in stores.  How do you choose?

Jump on over, let’s talk salt!

 

Iodized Table Salt

Table salt is made by sending water down into inland salt mines and then evaporating that water until only salt crystals remain.  In the 1920′s iodine was added to table salt in an effort to prevent goiters (yikes…) which were caused by an iodide deficiency.  Most table salts sold in the United States are iodized.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is an additive free salt.  It is racked during evaporation, which creates its characteristic flakes.  Kosher salt comes in a course grain and a fine grain.  The fine grain is great for baking, because it disperses quickly into ingredients.  A course grain salt could have trouble evenly distributing through a baking recipe, and you wouldn’t want that.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is created from evaporated sea water.  The process is a bit more costly than the inland mining process of table salt, and sea salt may contain trace amounts of minerals.  Because there are many seas around the world, there are many varieties of sea salt: Celtic sea salt, Hawaiian sea salt, Fleur de Sel, and Sicilian sea salt, to mention just a few.  Basically, if there’s a sea, there’s a good chance it has a salt.  I use a fine grain sea salt- La Baleine from France.  It’s nothing terribly fancy and can be found in most grocery stores in the states.

 So which salt is best for baking?  I know I’m supposed to have a definitive answer for you, but really… just use whatever salt makes you feel fine and dandy.  The truth of the matter- in a blind chocolate chip cookie taste test, you may not be able to taste the difference between table salt, kosher salt and sea salt.  It depends on how sensitive your palate is to salt.  I happen to to think that iodized table salt has a stronger salt taste.  I choose sea salt because it feels like it has a cleaner salt taste that accentuates other ingredients but isn’t an assault on the taste buds.

Do you have a favorite salt?


36 Comments Add A Comment

  • I really find that it depends on what I am making depends on what type of salt I use.

  • Wow! You all have thoughts about salt! I thought I was the only dork that actually thought about salt.
    Gretchen Noelle- Peru salt! Never even thought of that. Now I’m curious!
    Tempered Woman- A nice Fleur de Sel is one of my favorites. It’s just a bit too much money for the everyday baking for me though. And yes- issues, you have them ;)
    FRM- I like the La Baleine too. It has a great grain size and not an overwhelmingly salty flavor. It’s a winner! And the photo was taken with a 100mm macro.
    Eat- Smoked sea salt!? That sounds super interesting! I wouldn’t quite know what to do with it either.
    WGG and Megan- This Hawaiian salt that you speak of sounds lovely. It’s probably work a special trip to Hawaii to pick up! And while I’m there, I’m sure one trip to the beach and one cocktail wouldn’t hurt either.
    ieat- Thank you!

  • I use my regular salt for baking but I have Pink Hawaiian sea salt in a special little crock I call my Love Spice. I sprinkle that on things like my baked potato and meats and tell the family I’m sprinkling love on it!
    Just bought some Fleur de Sel but haven’t used it yet. Great pictures.

  • Not much of a baker myself but I really love your first picture! The depth of field is perfect!

  • I have all different kinds of salt in my pantry, but usually I reach for table salt simply because it’s closest. I always have the table salt out, but the other salts are in a cabinet with my spices which means I have to go dig them out. I’m way to lazy to do that :)

  • I routinely use a fine grain kosher salt for nearly everything. Course Hawaiian salt is my favorite when seasoning meats. Fleur de Sel is remarkably delicate and clean tasting, but a bit pricey for daily use.

  • I have this smoked sea salt that I purchased from a Japanese food show that I still have not used. I’m still not sure what to use it in. For baking I like to use regular table salt because I find the small grains blend easier into doughs, custards, and such. But for cooking I use kosher or sea salt. I love fleur de sel or maldon sea salt added to and sprinkled on chocolate anything and caramels.

  • I just use kosher salt merely because its what I already have for my general cooking needs. *shrugs*

    Also, great photo of the salt in the spoon!

  • Like you, I use La Baleine fine grain in my baking . . . but I don’t have any particular reason for doing so. I’ve often wondered about this question and I’m glad to read that I’m in good company in my salt choice. I love, love, love your photo of salt on a spoon. Are you using a macro lens . . . or a magnification filter? Or does your regular lens have a short minimum focal length? Just beautiful!

  • I am a firm believer that a pinch of salt makes everything taste better, and I often taste batter, custard, sauces and add a pinch more before finishing the dish.

  • I am sure I use the table salt b/c its the cheaper one. Maybe I’ll have to branch out a little salt-wise in my next baking endeavor. Thanks for the tutorial! :)

  • I use Sugar In The Raw a lot for pie baking and cake baking…I like the heft and the salt itself tastes good and looks good. Flavor? Who know…I swear it helps the taste, but I’m sure I couldn’t tell the difference if tested. Beside that…Dixie Crystal sugar as an everyday salt. John

  • I have so many salts in my pantry~ I’m pretty sure I have issues. But I think my blog confirmed that long ago. Lately I’ve been using Penzey’s Fleur de Sel in everything and I’ve been very happy. I think Kosher salt can sometimes come across as too salty in some dishes. Not sure why? I like the more delicate salt taste of the Fleur de Sel, especially since I don’t necessarily want to taste the salt but have it enhance the dish. Another great reason to use fine versus coarse in baking~ you can sift it with your flour and rising agents much easier.

    • I use penzeys spices also. Good salt & good spices make a difference Madagascar vanilla is great when baking bread. I always add some to the liquid. Same for salt

  • The salt in Peru is so different and so delicious I pack it up with me when I travel!!! It is a light powder that I sprinkle over things. I absolutely love it!

  • I use the exactly the same salt, sometimes I’ll have their courser version, which looks great on baked potatoes or other dishes where you can see the salt.

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