The Fresh Loaf

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Salt - Why Bother?

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hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

Salt - Why Bother?

Why is it that salt is deemed an essential ingredient in bread making? When I first started making bread I stuck faithfully to the recipes given, chucking in the requisite amount of salt. But more recently, I have ditched the salt and to be absolutely honest, I can see no real difference in the quality of the loaf that comes out of the oven at the end of baking. By quality I mean in taste but also in the substance/texture of the bread.

For sure I have mixed results with my bread (eg. occasional problems with rising, or comes out with poor texture etc), but this is no worse now than it was while I was using salt, just a result of my ineptitude.

One thing I often do, is leave the dough to rise and prove for long periods, especially if I am forced to, like if it is a bit cool - I have even left it to rise in the fridge for a day or so, so that might have helped the flavour develop. But at the moment, it is really warm, and it all seems to be ready to bake off in a flash, and it still comes out really good.

So why is salt so important? What am I missing? Can anyone convince me that I need to use it again since I seem to have reasonable success without it?

Interested to hear your thoughts.

Hedera

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Personally, I find unsalted bread to be very bland, but there are some traditional recipes that call for no salt at all. Salt also helps tighten the gluten.

So, you don't have to have salt to make bread, but most folks seem to think it tastes better with salt than without. But heck, if it works for you without salt, who cares what most folks think? :-)

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

I guess loading the bread with salted butter overcomes any blandness issue from not putting it in the bread directly! ;^)

I'm a bit of a novice on the technical side in this business, so excuse my ignorance, but what do you mean by 'tighten the gluten'?

 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

LOL! You've just hit on one reason I don't bake bread without salt. I end up putting w-a-y too much butter on the bread, far more than my waistline or arteries need!

Also, in any type of cooking salt helps to "marry" flavors together, as well as enhance flavors.  There are many flavors which become more apparent in the presence of a catalyst, such as salt, fat or alcohol.  If you're really in an experimental mood, you might try making two otherwise identical loaves, one with salt and one without.  You might notice things in a side by side comparison that are overlooked when relying on memory.

But the only palate that matters is yours. 

browndog's picture
browndog

Make your dough, leave it a half hour or so, then seperate a cup or two off and knead  a teaspoon of salt into that little batch. You will learn in about a minute what 'tighten the gluten' means. Quite amazing when you feel the dough strengthen and dry under your fingertips.

Cooky's picture
Cooky

As JMonkey said, the most important thing is that you're satisfied with your own product. It's your food, so you can make it any way you prefer.

 Myself, I fiind saltless bread unpalatable. It does play some role in the chemistry of the process, but again, if you are happy with the texture of your bread, you're good to go.

 Are you baking mostly whole-grain recipes? It may be that the more complex layers of flavor in whole grains make the salt less of a issue.

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

Yes, I use wholegrain pretty much most of the time. I never make just a plain white loaf, unless doing something particular like a Challah. I also go heavy on extras like seeds, so maybe it's like you say, the flavour doesn't become such an issue then.

I'll do as suggested and have a go at seperating off a bit of dough and mixing some salt in to see what the difference is. A bit of experimentation will be a good way to learn what I'm doing and why.

Thanks for your comments.

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

I find that the quantity of salt is very changeable, but should still be included as a flavor enhancer.  If you've ever had old fashion oatmeal, then you understand that a little bit of salt in the oatmeal is needed or you can add a cup of sugar and it'll never get sweet.  Salt isn't needed just to make the bread savory, it's a launching platform for all the other flavors to show their stuff.

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

Very interesting comments from verminiusrex.

What I've decided to do is, to do two loaves side by side one with salt one without. I usually do a double batch anyway, kneading 1.5kg flour and split it before letting it rise. Could I add the salt at the end of the main kneading, or does it need to be in there from the outset for best results?

I am beginning to worry that I have been missing out now. I'll come back and tell you what I think when I have done this little test.

Thanks for all the input.

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

If your recipe/formula calls for salt, I would add it when called for in the instructions. That's the only way to know the entire effect it's having on the loaf. But more experienced bakers might have different advice.

browndog's picture
browndog

There's a technique known as 'autolyse' that is essentially a rest period of 30-60 minutes for the unsalted dough. Yes, it's just fine to add the salt after you've kneaded. Just be thorough about getting it mixed--it may seem hopeless at first but it comes around pretty quick. However since you're in an experimenting mood, you could just autolyse, that is, mix your flour, water and yeast only enough to combine--no kneading--let it sit half an hour or so, then add your salt and knead. This 'rest' is another trick to jumpstart gluten, and you might find you like the effect particularly with whole grains.

Good luck, and don't let us scare you. You only have to please yourself (and your girlfriend) after all. Everyone keeps saying that because it's true.

 

andrekhor's picture
andrekhor

Traditional breads from the Tuscany region do not have salt in them. A practice since the olden days when salt was a highly sought after commodity.

http://eatmorebread.blogspot.com

rcornwall's picture
rcornwall

Salt aids in strengthening gluten. You can bake successfully without salt, but why? If its a health concern thats one thing, but other than that why would you want to get rid of an ingredient which naturally enhances the other flavors.

rcornwall

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

So, today I did the test and baked side by side, two loaves exactly the same at every stage other than the addition of salt in one half of the mix after having done some mixing and kneading for 5 minutes.

Briefly, I had 50/50 white and wholemeal organic flour, added the yeast (I don't have a starter yet) and water, mixed and then kneaded for 5 mintues then split into two, and added the amount of salt suggested by a fairly similar recipe to one of the two halves. They then stood for a couple of hours for first fermentation. It was a very warm day and they shot up really fast, but at the same rate as each other. Then I knocked back, added seeds, shaped and proofed. (One went into a tin, the other was bottom baked as my second tin had a hugely disappointing pain bouillie in it at the time, a big failure). Baked at 200C for 10 minutes followed by another 30 minutes at 150C.

The result? - Without wanting to sound flippant, the salted bread just tasted too salty. I can't say it added to the flavour in any way for me, other than by making it really salty. The non salted version had a great flavour, especially considering how quick it rose and proofed due to the heat of the day. This flavour was almost masked in the salted loaf, and all I get is the salt.

As far as handling and performance go, I couldn't tell the difference in the texture of the two doughs, or improved elasticity or anything like that. The crumb in the final loaves seems actually to be better in the unsalted than in the salted, with the latter seeming a bit stodgy. This may be as in the final proof, the salted one didn't rise as much, maybe as the salt retarded the yeast? I took some pictures, and can post them if anyone is interested (assuming I can figure out what to do)

All in all, I have come to the conclusion, that I prefer my bread with no added salt. My girlfriend did a blind taste test and came to the same conclusions as me. Also, I was surprised by the amount of salt that goes in to bread. I intend to try the side by side test again with less salt next time, to see if that makes a difference, but I am now really sceptical of the outcome before even going in to it.

I wonder if anyone else who is a confirmed salter would have a go at doing a similar test and letting me know what your experience is?

I'm off to get some unsalted butter for the etra loaf, maybe that will make it more palatable!

Atropine's picture
Atropine

I have indeed made my standard bread without any salt...I was trying a new technique and was uncertain when to add any, so I just omitted it.  BLECH! 

 

I do not know about texture, as I was trying a new technique anyway, but the saltless bread was flat, flat, flat in terms of taste...like an orchestra missing the percussion section.  Even when it was used for grilled cheese (with salted butter and of course, cheese being salty) it was SO icky that we ended up putting garlic salt on as well!  Which meant that instead of having a tsp of salt for an entire batch, we probably had close to that per sandwich (or at least per two sandwiches).  I thought it might be ok for cinnamon toast as well since that is sweet...nope.

 

That made a believer out of me. 

 

I am not sure how much salt you put in your loaf, but it is possible that it was just too much--I have done that as well.  Some recipes, actually, call for much more salt than necessary (typos?), and the resulting bread is WAY too salty.

 

Before ditching the salt shaker entirely, I would recommend trying it again, but cutting the salt by at least half.  You did not mention how much salt you put in, but if you could TASTE salt, then it was probably WAY too much.  I have salt in ALL my bread now after that one experience, but only when I followed a specific recipe could you actually taste salt (and I quickly changed that to less salt).

 

For health reasons, I do not think that the tsp or so of salt per batch would add significantly to any sort of hypertension (as that tsp is then divided into, what, 14 slices?).  However, it is possible that someone might be THAT sensitive or have that much trouble and should avoid it.

 

Other than that, I would never recommend omitting the salt, but everyone has their own preferences in taste. 


But unless someone is in terribly fragile health, salt is not evil, but necessary for health.  It is necessary for the body to keep the right balance of water and electrolytes.  It is also inexpensive, and allows us to taste flavors that we might not otherwise taste in cooking.  There were a lot of politics that started the "anti salt" campaign, that are probably not appropriate to discuss here.  But our bodies were made to not only need salt but to seek it out.   

 

I am not saying that people are anti salt, or are being politically correct or anything--bread is fun to experiment with, and if you like bread without salt in it, make it how YOU want it to be.  I am just offering that a small (not too much) amount of salt in bread makes bread better.  If it is a matter of health reasons, ask your doc, but a little bit of salt in a bread recipe is not "bad" health-wise.  BUT if you can taste salt, then it is probably too much in bread (unless it is a nice big pretzle :-) ).  Salt should be just in there enough to draw out the other flavors. 

 

Long story short:  yes I tried it without salt and it was a horrible failure, but a good lesson for me. :-)  I also had it with too much salt and THAT was a failure.  

 

Just my experience, ymmv :-)

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

All the recipes I am looking at - albeit in the only book I have, (Book of Bread by Ingram and Schapter) have 2 teaspoons of salt for every 700 grams or so of flour. It did seem a lot as I was adding it, so I will try it again, as you say with about half that amount. Is that the sort of quantities that you use?

I can't quite remember why I stopped using salt - it was a long time ago. I'm convinced it wasn't health though as I shove all sorts of other junk down my neck. I don't think it was cost - as poor as I have been, things have never been quite that bad. Maybe it was the spirit of enquiry and finding it to my taste I stuck with it. Whatever.

I guess I have just got used to it as it is. Or maybe I just have no taste! ;^) Each to their own, but thanks for your comments, it is interesting to hear other peoples experiences. If you're ever passing Brighton (UK) pop in for a slice, and see what you think of my salt free loaf!

rcornwall's picture
rcornwall

I have read a couple places that to get the salt to do its thing regarding elasticity, the salt needs to be added during the initial mixing and is much less effective if added to an already formed dough. I havent confirmwed this myself, but if your dough tastes salty then it sounds like you may have too much salt in your dough. I keep my salt content to 1-2 % of the flour. Any more than that and my bread starts to get salty.

rcornwall

browndog's picture
browndog

Interesting. Autolyse by definition requires 20-60 minutes of a saltless rest, though at the end of that time you don't have what you would call an already formed dough.

The instructor at a sourdough workshop I attended at King Arthur got that 'look' when asked about saltless bread, and budged from her tenets so far as to say you could 'safely' reduce salt by half in a recipe, but she couldn't condone less than that.

It seems moot, Hedera, if you two are happy as is. I do think salt is something we Westerners are very acclimated to because of its pervasive presence in our diets. It makes sense that you find its absence 'normal' since that's what you're used to. I can't think of a reason for you to change if you don't. I'm disappointed you didn't at least feel ythe difference in the dough, though. It may be that it's more pronounced in a wetter dough.

What sort of proportions did you use for this bread? I may take up your challenge for a lark, at least on a small scale. Don't think I want a pound and a half of unsalted bread, though... :)

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

Browndog - my basic bread routine is pretty basic. It goes thus...

750g white flour, 750g wholemeal, 900ml water (usually it is a bit more than 900ml, if the dough is still feeling a bit short) mixing in dried yeast to the water with a spoon of sugar to give it a kick start. Mix it all together, knead and hey presto! ready to roll.

Normally, after kneading for the first time, I divide in two, leave to ferment for as long as it takes, then knock back, knead in seeds to taste, then shape/place in tin to prove. Into the oven at 200C for 10 mins, then turn down to 150C for 30 mins or so more. Remove from oven, wait for token period before slicing and applying butter

That's the usual form. On this occasion, for the purposes of experimentation, after a few minutes of the first kneading, I divided in two and added 2 tsp salt to one half. Continued to knead for a while, before placing in bowls for first fermentation, then as above for the rest of the process.

A couple of thoughts - quite often the time between finishing the first kneading and getting it to the oven is pretty extensive due to low temperatures and consequent slow rising. Maybe this helps the flavour develop so the salt becomes less important. The other thing is, I do frequently fairly load the bread with seeds, maybe a couple of handfuls of various sorts - again, this may help the flavour reducing need for salt.

Let me know how your little side by side test goes.

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

2 tsp sounds like a lot of salt in one loaf to me.  I would expect more like 1 to 1.25 tsp. per loaf. At any rate, if you're used to no salt, you may find that the bread you like best has as little as 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per loaf.  The ideal amount should make the bread taste better, not salty.  It will be interesting to find out if you decide that any salt at all is an improvement or a detraction.

At any rate, salt seems to be my particular nemesis lately.  I started one of PR's WW sandwich loaves in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.  I was sure I had forgotten the 1/2 tsp of salt called for in the soaker, so made a note to add it the next morning. Well, once baked it became evident that I had indeed added the salt when due.  I think the loaf ended up with 1-5/8 tsp. of salt instead of the 1-1/8 tsp. the formula called for.  It was too salty for us - I decided to slice and freeze it for making breadcrumbs.

A few days later I decided to make biscuits from the extra sourdough I had been accumulating.  It was a real seat of the pants recipe, and I didn't include enough salt for our palate.  We ended up topping the biscuits with butter and salt!

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

More confusion for me - I have just mixed Jr. Wraith's baguette recipe and it is sitting for the 30 minute autolyse - complete with salt! This is one recipe I keep going back to because it really works and makes great bread. Also the Mike Avery video where he makes his Panama bread ( I think that is what he calls it) shows him adding ALL ingredients before the autolyse. Plus I have trouble kneading in salt by hand, so why is it such a crime to add it first? Just wondering, not being confrontational, A

browndog's picture
browndog

The bread police will arrive shortly, Annie...

The purpose of autolyse is to give the flour a chance to fully hydrate and the gluten a headstart in developing. The salt competes for moisture when added during the autolyse, and acts somewhat as a break on the developing gluten.

I don't think it matters much in the end. Mike Avery has a casualness combined with the skills and breads to justify it, that I find very reassuring.

 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

Reinhart's whole grain book includes salt in the soaker (flour, milk & salt) but not in the biga (flour, water & yeast).  Both are left to sit overnight.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Well, the police didn't show up and the bread was terrific. I used some white whole wheat flour with the bread flour ( both KA ) and did the French fold and two more folds before shaping. The dough had lots of big bubbles so I kneaded both pieces quite firmly, then let them sit for 15 minutes before shaping batards. Let them proof on parchment with cornmeal and transferred them to the hot stone and removed the parchment after a few minutes. Supper was salad but I'm afraid the bread undid any good in the diet department.. So I guess I will coninue to add the salt early on and not worry about it, A

bwraith's picture
bwraith

OK, I've been carefully following this thread. I want you people to know that I'm very concerned about all this talk of no salt in bread. Don't make me report you to the bread authorities.

So, like Atropine, I'm having a hard time buying that unsalted bread tastes better than salted. If I had to omit salt from bread, I'd feel like a naughty boy being punished. "NO SALT IN YOUR BREAD FOR A WEEK, YOUNG MAN!" If only I were young enough and recently engaged in some trouble deserving of a scolding like that.

OK, but taste is mysteriously different from one person to the next, so I'll defend Hedera's right to enjoy the bread unsalted, and she does have good company with the Tuscans and their tradition of bread with no salt. They certainly know some things about food in that region. Still, I'm in favor of some salt in the bread. Browndog, I can easily imagine the doubtful look of the instructor at KA when challenged with the question of putting no salt in the bread.

I have to agree with browndog on the texture. It is hard to imagine not noticing the texture change in the doughs I've tested with or without salt. However, with Hedera's recipe of 900g of water in 1500g of flour with half of it whole grain, that's very low in water compared to my usual 50/50 white/whole grain loaf. I think it is true that if the hydration is fairly low and the dough is fairly stiff even without the salt, the salt may not help the texture. I've made doughs that were very inelastic and wouldn't rise well by adding salt to a very low hydration dough, so maybe at low hydrations, salt isn't that important to texture. When I've especially noticed the texture difference with salt is when I left salt out of an 85% hydration white flour ciabatta dough. It went from mysteriously unmanageable to very docile after it dawned on me I'd forgotten the salt and then corrected the problem by belatedly mixing it into the dough.

By the way, salt is tricky in volume terms. I got out my lab scale and most advanced NASA anti-gravity measuring spoons and did some salt weighing. Two tablespoons of my coarse sea salt weighed 22g, 2 tbsp kosher salt weighed 32g, and 2 tbsp Morton table salt weighted 37g.

As far as the "right amount of salt", the traditional amount (other than Tuscany) is around 1.8 to 2% of flour weight, at least I don't think there is much question about that. For 700g of flour 2% would be 14g of salt. That would be 2 tsp of Morton's table salt or a little more, so the recipes Hedera was quoting do sound typical. If a typical loaf is something like 1 lb, then Kippercat is right, 1.5 tsp of Morton's is pretty close to 2% of the flour weight for a "standard" loaf with 1lb of flour in it. At 1500g of flour, those are good sized loaves Hedera is making, so the salt amount will be more like 4 or even a touch more tsps in the 1500g of flour.

I agree with Hedera, that if you happen to add salt later, for example after an autolyse, it does seem like a lot of salt. If you spread the dough out like a pizza, and sprinkle the normal amount of salt over it, it seems like there is plenty of salt to spread around. I've caught myself wondering if somehow I had measured much more than I needed once or twice.

On the other end of the scale, my teenage son will grab a piece of my typical miche with about 1.8% salt to total flour weight and sprinkle salt on it, then butter it with some salted butter, and walk away very content. He seems to resent the fact I leave out the extra 0.2% salt and makes up for it with a hefty dose, always managing to do it almost ceremoniously in front of me. Would you ask the chef at a nice restaurant for the salt shaker? Should I feel insulted?

Bill

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and my loaves are low salt not no salt. But if my diet contained many salty foods to dip or spread on the bread, I might go for no salt. I normally add one teaspoon of iodized table salt to each 500g flour. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the other ingredients and amount of sugar in the recipe.

Salt is essential, and many times the body demands it. I've noticed especially in summer that the kids with their high activity levels pack in the salt, it's a survival instinct no less. But it comes with a warning: they should be drinking more water too, much more. So Bill, if he likes it salty, set out the salt shaker next to the bread and along with it a glass and water pitcher. And don't let it bother you unless he's got high blood pressure.

Our bodies have different demands. I'm always catching myself not drinking enough water (thus raising my own body salt levels) and my tap tastes better if "aired" about an hour before drinking, very flat. I was shocked to see salt levels in bottled flavored water while there two months ago, frustrating too. I think a large part of the population don't bother to notice how much salt they consume and tend to get too much, paired with it, drink minimal amounts of water. Salt/water is the kind of rocket science everyone should know about.

In Austria, it is an old traditional to bless a house with bread and salt. Also at Easter eggs bread and salt get blessed. Wonder where that comes from? Bread of the earth, salt of the earth....
Mini O

browndog's picture
browndog

Okay, Hedera Helix, here's my take on your bread.

 

after 5 minutes kneadingsalted on the RIGHT

 

end of bulk, salted LEFT

salted RIGHT

salted RIGHT

salted RIGHT

 

750 grams flour, half ap and half whole wheat, 600 grams water, plus a couple tablespoons of honey and a quarter cup of buttermilk powder. 40 minute soaker for the flour and water.

I divided the dough after the initial knead, added a teaspoon salt to one half, and kneaded both pieces a few minutes more. You can see the difference pretty easily right off.

Throughout kneading, two folds and shaping, the unsalted dough behaved like a spoiled child, clinging to my fingers and only resentfully coming 'round. As you can see it did come 'round, though it never got 'lovely' like its brother, which was satiny and pleasant to handle immediately after it was salted.

They rose at similar rates and baked up about identical, neither springing up but rather more out, which I attribute to a lack of gluten development. I didn't want to knead unequally, I didn't want to fight the sticky, and I was hoping a couple of stretch-n-folds would do the trick. Never mind.

The salted bread was tender, easy easy on the tongue, wonderful clean wheaty flavor. I would happily make this bread again, either kneading longer or popping it in a loaf pan.

The unsalted loaf was...not bad...exactly..it was bland. It was somewhat tough and chewy, though not abysmally so, but quite in contrast to the lovely texture of the salted loaf. It was edible. It wasn't awful, and if salt-free was a concern of mine I could easily learn to like it, and vary it to improve the taste and the texture, which Hedera does with nuts, seeds and grains. It would still be ears above any store-bought nonsense.

 

hedera helix's picture
hedera helix

The side by side test that I want to do now is standing side by side with you and seeing how our different breads evolve, but geography gets in the way. I know video conferencing is possible, I'm not sure video baking has been done before.

I notice that your proportions have quite a bit more water than I used - a third more than me. Maybe that's where the handling difference comes in to play. I have in the past upped the amount of water that goes in to the dough, but not by that much. It does, as you so eloquently put it, 'behave like a spoiled child', and so I can see how salt would help there, given it's interaction with water (what's the word - hygroscopic?). Maybe that's the key - the salt makes the water more manageable rather than the dough/gluten? I have nothing to base that on, it's just a thought. This whole  thread is beginning to make me feel very insecure - no salt, not enough water, what else am I doing wrong?!

As for me finding the salty loaf I made unpalatable, I wonder if the extra water in yours makes a difference to that as well? (Actually, having eaten more of the salty bread over the last days, I am beginning to get used to it, but it does still seem too much for me). I think I might have to do another test looking at water as well. Complicated game this baking business.

I think at the end of all this I am likely to stick to the way I go about things at the moment, but it's been good to talk about it with others. We're all happy, which is the important thing.

If I do any more experiments, I'll let you know.

browndog's picture
browndog

You know , Hedera, the profoundest (?) lesson I took from this little experiment was that either of these loaves would be fine, depending on what you expected and were used to. The difference was not that dramatic. I'm sure you could teach yourself to prefer salted bread but why on earth bother?

Yes, I think the hydration was a big factor here. I did the initial soaker with 500 ml water and the dough seemed rather stiff after 40 minutes, so I added however much I said..and then the dough was pretty juicy, as you can see, but by the time they were shaped both doughs were not at all wet and at least the salted one felt like satin.

I couldn't begin to ferret out the science, though. We need Sheriff Bill for that. I really like your idea, at least from an aesthetic perspective, of making the water rather than the dough, more manageable. Hygroscopic is indeed the word.

This whole thread is beginning to make me feel very insecure - no salt, not enough water, what else am I doing wrong?!

I know EXACTLY how you feel. For me it's been a strugge--keeping my own path while still being able to learn and improve. For example, huge holes in bread impress me, I admire what other folks' achieve; their pursuit in my kitchen has been a challenge and a misery, yet I don't even much care for such an open crumb in my breads.

On the other hand, sourdough is something I initially disdained and now embrace in a bear hug, a sea change brought about by interactions here.

When I first came to TFL there was a voice (other than my own) that more than once sternly announced it didn't matter what everyone else did, it only mattered that my baking please me. This was half a year ago, and I'm finally beginning to appreciate the wisdom and truth of that advice.

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

I've just reread this thread, so that a bit more of the info would sink in. Many thanks to all of you for your discussion and experiments.

I'm a bit curious if typical store-bought bread has higher salt percentages?  I don't mean the artisan-type bread, but simple, plastic-wrapped sandwich loaves.  I know that processed foods typically add more salt to make up for lack of other flavors.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

So, from what I can tell, both here and in two other discussions, is that salt is 90% a flavor thing and a 10% non-flavor.

For the 10%, it is stickiness and behavior when kneading and a slight difference in rise time or finished consistency.

The 90% is mostly a lack of salty taste rather than any contribution to that beer or bread flavor as I am seeking.  It seems that if one adds it in the mix then it takes much less than if one adds it later or even after baking.  Curiously, when I made croissants for the first time, I left out the salt and just before placing it in the oven, sprinkled about 6 grains of salt on each.  Even though I always use unsalted butter, a few people commented that they were salty.  The powerful onslaught of salt from the surface made them think that the entire dough had that much salt.

Interesting point: Salt makes things taste "better" because it desensitizes the bitter receptors of the tongue making things taste sweeter.  It actually has nothing to do with flavor since flavor is only in the nose. (Unless you are doing something different with the bread and maybe I really don't want to know this....)  (-:

Anyone still here, after all this time?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And I'm tempted to edit part of my statement long ago.  I have since turned to measuring my salt by % of the flour weight and experimented only lately with salt in the starters.  This does increase the starter's ability to trap gas longer as it ferments.  I get higher rises but don't have the ability to test for total acid.   Total acid is important.  How salt affects total acid should be the Question.  I'm sure there is a paper on it.  Run a search using perimeters of:  Sodium chloride on total acid of bread dough   ...and see what pops up.

This isn't a paper, per say, but interesting none the less... (also popped up in the search)  and easier for many of us to understand:

http://www.classofoods.com/page1_4.html

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I have discovered those lumps of fresh dough found in the refrigerator at the supermarket. 
Can you ever forgive me?

I let it rise over night covered in a bowl on the counter.
Fold in flavors such as one medium to small minced onion, or sugar,cinnamon and raisins, or garlic butter.
Let it sit covered in a cast iron frying pan until it rises again.
My cooking technique is to heat the oven to 500d, place the pan in and immediately turn on the oven.
Bread is cooled to perfection in about an hour or two.  (Time is not critical)

When I was mixing my own dough, I discovered that leaving out the sugar only changed the structure a small amount so I left some in.  With the store-bought dough I have no idea how much salt has already been added.  My conclusion is that salt is of absolutely no consequence.

However, I have found a way to make the dough taste extremely salty without being so. Spray the dough with a little water and sprinkle about 20 grains of large grained salt such as sea salt. When you take a bite, you get a powerful onslaught of salt flavor that you believe the the entire slice of bread was infiltrated with a lot of salt.

It so totally tricks the tongue and mind...

 

 

 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Don't use it and call yourself a Perugian - they avoided using salt in their bread to avoid paying the Papal Tax of 1540 - an apocryphal story but Tuscan bread remains unsalted to this day..., 

Wild-Yeast 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

as opposed to making it from "Scratch".

As for the salt, I forget where it was, I was told that salt is an ingredient-paramount. 
I am only challenging that presumption.  I am/was aware that salt breads have existed all along.

It is fascinating that 2 - 3 grains of salt can make one believe that the it is thoroughly salted though.
I never sal any of my food but a grain or two go a long way when used only at the dinner table.

 

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

I could not eat breat without Salt in it.

It is way to bland, even if I would ad caraway seeds, onions... or whatever takes my fance at the time of baking.

Salt does improves the flavour of the bread.

I never use just Wheat flour, I usually use Wheat, Wholemeal and Rye in my loafs and the Salt does indeed bring out the flavour of the Wholemeal and Rye flour much more.

Latley I put 1 tbsp of Olive oil in my dough.

 

As for the Salt, I add it once I mixed the flours and the water together, I sprinkle it on top of the mix and cover with Plastic Wrap , Autolyse for 30 Minutes and than use my dough scrper to pusch the salt in to the dough and do my S&F's.

To me, Bread without Salt is like Soup without Salt, just not good enough.

But that is just my taste.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The way I prepare dough is to first develop the gluten structure. This is followed by adding an over fermented high hydration levain. It all lies in the bottom of the bowl like cake mix till the salt is added. It then "tightens up" before your eyes into a kneadable ball ready for the bulk ferment. Once you've seen this wonderful biochemical reaction you will never forget why salt is necessary...,

Wild-Yeast