Add Miso To Baked Goods For A Subtle Flavor Boost

Beyond soup, miso can also do wonders for baked goods. A traditional Japanese condiment believed to be brought from China, Umami Information Center explains that miso is typically made by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji, but sometimes other beans, peas, or grains can even be added to the paste. Widely used in savory applications from sauces to stocks, braises and even pickles, the unique flavor profile of miso can also add a subtle, yet distinct flavor boost to desserts.

Miso tends to have a pungent aroma that might make diners initially reluctant to experiment with the condiment. However, beyond this blatant funkiness, the paste has underlying notes of fruit and nuts. The perfect fusion of saltiness and sweetness, the condiment can amplify the complexity of a dish. However, not all miso is the same. White miso is mild and nutty, whereas yellow paste is earthy with more acidity, with red miso being the boldest and most salty. Essentially, the darker the paste, the more intensity it possesses.

While miso does great things for flavor, it also has significant health benefits. Containing nutrients like vitamin K, copper, and zinc, Healthline reports that the fermented delicacy is also full of probiotics, which can contribute to good gut health, digestion, and immunity function. With so many positive features, making miso a part of your culinary experiments is worthwhile. Simply keep it in the fridge (or freezer, according to Live Kindly) to preserve freshness until you're inspired to do some baking.

Balancing sweetness with savory saltiness

The best recipes are balanced, which is why desserts always require a touch of salt — to keep from becoming sickeningly sweet. Instrumental in baked goods, Bon Appétit explains that salt contrasts sugar, but also makes cocoa less bitter, citrus brighter, and spices more aromatic, all while adding layers of dimension. But, sources of sodium don't necessarily have to come from salt.

For the ultimate expression of sweet and savory, Taste recommends incorporating miso into baked goods to heighten flavor. Though it might seem odd given that the paste is so assertive on its own when worked into sweet recipes, miso mellows, offering subtle umami and enriching other (potentially, earthy) ingredients. Although there isn't a specific type of miso that's suggested, it's advisable to taste pastes before adding them to a recipe to ensure flavors work cohesively.

Since miso is so salty, you can forgo salt in favor of the paste. For the best results, King Arthur Baking recommends using two tablespoons of miso for every cup of flour listed in a recipe. That said, it's best infused into liquid ingredients to prevent grittiness and guarantee even distribution. Great when paired with nuts, seeds, warm spices, chocolate, or caramel, miso is a great addition to cakes, brownies, cookies, or any baked goods with the words "salted" in the title. Try it for yourself, and you'll be pleasantly amazed!