|These cookies are from the same batch of dough.|
The cookie in the upper right corner is missing salt & baking soda. Ick.
I knew that it was true that salt makes a big difference in the flavor of foods, but I really don't experiment much to see what food is like with little to no salt. Last night, though, I made a quick batch of Shakespeare Oatmeal Cookies. They didn't look at all like the cookies I'd made days before with the same recipe. The were much paler, puffier, and just all-around anemic looking. Weird. Fortunately, I don't bake all of my cookie dough at once. I leave most in the fridge and bake fresh cookies as "needed." When I tasted a cookie in the morning, it was a little hard, and had a harsh sugary flavor. I thought about where I might have gone wrong. I knew I had added brown sugar as well as white sugar... It was when I looked at my measuring spoons that I realized that I had added the spices to the dry ingredients, but not the salt or baking soda.
I took the remaining dough out of the fridge and let it soften a little. Then back into the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl it went, along with almost a teaspoon each of salt & baking soda (I'd baked about 9 cookies in the first batch). After quickly mixing in the missing ingredients, I returned the dough to its plastic container and then to the fridge.
After work, I baked up some more cookies, and voila! The soft, browned, chewy cookies I'd intended. I'm not sure how all the chemistry works with cookie dough. I do know, though, that salt & baking soda help make cookies delicious. I won't be forgetting them again anytime soon.