I'm trying to reduce my salt intake. I've noticed in baking recipes where baking powder is used they add salt. Can I omit the salt or would the recipe fail?
I completely agree with Cascabel's answer. I do want to add a bit.
Salt is an amazing flavor enhancer and most (sweet) baked goods use very little (1/4 to 1 tsp) considering that most of the recipes make 12-24 servings (more for cupcakes/cookies etc) but it does make a difference. Most baked desserts gain quite a bit from having the added salt... and they don't even have to be baked.
Even in things like buttercream frosting, adding a little salt greatly helps to balance the overwhelming sweetness of the frosting and makes it more palatable to adults. All of my favorite buttercream recipes have a small amount of salt.
Anyway, removing the salt won't cause the recipe to fail... I'm sure I've accidentally omitted it several times in the past when I'm in a rush to get stuff in the oven... it can just make the flavors not as strong or remove some of the flavor contrast, so things can taste a bit flatter.
In baking, salt is generally only for flavor: things won't taste as good without it. So you can reduce it or leave it out if you want, just be aware that you may sacrifice some flavor.
This shouldn't have anything to do with the baking powder. Baked goods that don't use baking powder usually contain salt as well.
I would just note that salt does sometimes play other roles in baking, particularly in yeast breads (but also in relatively lean doughs raised chemically, like soda bread). Salt concentration slows down yeast growth, and it can also alter gluten formation early on. It can also affect final texture and even browning to some extent (as a side effect).
It is possible to modify most bread recipes to bake without salt, but it may require altering the rising time (and perhaps how much you knead/fold/shape). And of course there are notable bread traditions that are simply made without salt, like much bread in Tuscany.
I stopped using salt 40 years ago, therefore I never use salt in baking. I have never noticed any issues. Once your palate adjusts, you will enjoy the fresh flavour of food rather than the salty overtones.
I disagree with the other answers. I've heard this opinion frequently, but never seen it work that way in practice.
I live in Europe, and baking recipes here rarely use salt in baking. I certainly don't, and frequently omit it from American recipes too. I don't notice much of a difference between making it with and without the salt.
My best guess is that If you are accustomed to eating baking goods with salt, you'll miss it if they don't have it. If you're not accustomed, you won't. This would explain my observations in salt being used in some local cuisines and not others. Salt preferences can certainly be changed for savory dishes by simply changing the amount of salt eaten until one has grown used to a new level; I've done so myself, and I've known others who do it. There is a good chance it works the same way for sweet goods.
So, if you want to eat less salt, just omit it. Even if it is a bit unusual at first, it will likely grow on you. Just note that if you're serving to a crowd which expects salt, the results can be perceived by them as underwhelming.
I know this thread is old but I'm going to post anyway. All the previous people may not be aware that people who are "reducing salt" might actually mean reducing sodium. Check your baking soda and baking powder labels if you're thinking home baking is not a source of sodium!
This still adds up. Consider my recipe that uses 2 eggs (70 mg sodium each), ½ tsp baking soda (600 mg), and ¼ tsp baking powder (70 mg). Divide that by 12 (muffins) and that's 67.5 mg of sodium per muffin. That is without any added salt!
And just as little as ¾ tsp salt adds another 1770 mg of sodium to my recipe, which would make EACH muffin have 215 mg of sodium. Please be aware it does add up bakers!
Salt is generally used for flavor in cooking, but when it comes to baking it plays more of an important role. In baking, salt is used to activate the leavening agent in the product-like baking powder or baking soda. This means that if you omit salt all together your product won't rise as much or at all. You should be able to reduce the amount of salt you use and still get your product to rise, but I would not recommend omitting it all together.
I doubt the tiny percentages of any salt present is affecting your daily salt intake. Avoid fast food/processed food and presumably, continue to reduce or pay attention to sodium in your own cooking. A pinch of salt in a cake isn't going to do much harm for you.
No one yet mentioned potassium chloride salt substitute which in the small quantities of, say, cupcakes works fine.
Also, flavor enhancing mineral drops such as Concentrace have had the sodium removed; adds depth.