The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

salt and yeast

  • Pin It
pcyoung's picture
pcyoung

salt and yeast

as a rookie to this field of culinary bakerisms, my question is of the salt and yeast relationship> touching OK? Mixed together? or can I add salt after first rising? 

pcyoung's picture
pcyoung

can salt be added to ingredients along with the yeast? or later?

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Salt plays many roles in a loaf of bread.  One of them is yeast inhibitor and for this reason I generally keep them apart but not to the point of waiting until after the first rise before adding the salt.  This is an acceptable technique when you discover that you have accidentally left the salt out of the mix.


Good recipes are written with an understanding of the role that salt plays and I would suggest that you follow the instructions in such a recipe....and welcome to this site.


Jeff

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

any difference, I like a bit more salt than most folks and my dough rises nonetheless. Also, in a German baking video, the baker puts in salt along with the warm water and yeast saying "it will enhance the yeast action".  Try it both ways, see what you think.


Happy baking !

proth5's picture
proth5

will leave salt out of an autolyse (when one mixes the flour and liquid in a bread dough together to form a "shaggy masss" and allows it to rest for a half an hour or so prior to additional mixing.) 


I have never heard, though, of waiting until after the first rise.  Salt does inhibit yeast action somewhat, but not so much that it must be incorporated after the first rise (which would be a difficult thing to do.)


There is no particular need to keep salt and yeast separate in the normal mixing process although a lot of folklore has grown up about it.


Hope this helps.

ananda's picture
ananda

I venture to suggest that this has come from good practice in commercial bakeries.


We would frequently weigh up ingredients ready for mixing some hours hence, when I was working in industrial and craft bakeries.   This obviously necessitates keeping yeast and salt well separated.


If dough mixing takes place immediately, then adding salt and yeast to different corners of the mixing bowl [hand, or, machine] is simply "good practice"


"Delayed salt" is a specific type of mixing method.   The real bonus is that it draws moisture to the surface of the loaf, and gives wonderful colouration.   The dough can be a sticky beast to handle meantime, and the fermentation will be off to a flyer too!!!


I do believe it's quite popular in Italy.   Refrigeration could be pretty handy, methinks


Best wishes


Andy

proth5's picture
proth5

in the "Delayed Salt" mixing method.  What is that and how is it done?


And I don't mean to continue with questioning things, but why?  Why is adding salt and yeast to different corners of the mixing bowl (especially with instant yeast which is what most of us use) "good practice"?  The people who have taught me (no slouches as bakers) have actually made light of such a practice because they will eventually come in contact anyway.


I can see keeping them separate for mise en place, perhaps especially with fresh yeast, but the corners of the bowl thing - I'd like to understand why you would advocate that.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi proth5,


I don't use instant yeast!


Also, I was trying to suggest that established practice is born out of over-caution.   Maybe that didn't come over?   Remember, that I'm teaching young people who are at the beginning of a potential career in the baking industry.   The fundamental is that salt draws water out of yeast through osmosis, thereby killing it.   So the "good practice" is just a means to help them on their way.


Delayed salt: later, I'm really tired just now.   Common practice would be to add salt in the last 2 minutes of machine mixing.   I'm afraid I haven't ever used this method at home, mixing by hand.


Best wishes


Andy

proth5's picture
proth5

open the great "which is the best yeast" debate yet again.  Yet, most of us raggedy home bakers don't have a good source of fresh yeast, so we do what we can. 


Frankly, those same instructors have scoffed at the idea of separating fresh yeast and salt.  And so we must agree to disagree.  So many bakers, so many opinions.


Peace.


Pat


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi proth5,


I don't have a problem with instant yeast.   If that works for you, and anybody else, great: that's fine.


I don't use bakers yeast at home, as I only use natural cultures.   My wife is somewhat yeast intolerant, and we prefer bread raised in a complex way.


In College I follow industry practice in the UK, which is to use fresh yeast.


I respect your methods, and I expect you to do likewise with mine; that is all.


However, I don't detect much "peace" in your message.   I signed up to TFL as a homebaker....that is where I do most things of interest to this site.   I don't expect to be castigated for being an instructor: I deserve a lot better than that, and I'm sorry you felt inclined to respond in this way.


I tried to provide an honest explanation about why I encourage my bakery students to keep salt and yeast separate.   Hell, yes, this is a really small matter, and probably won't make a bit of difference 99% of the time.


So let's stop nitpicking shall we?


Sincerely, my best wishes to you


Andy

proth5's picture
proth5

Let me assure you that  my mesage had no intent to castigate you in any way and if it came off that way I am very sorry.  I know what I was thinking when I wrote the message and really it was the intent not to restart the great "fresh vs instant yeast debate" (which has in the past raged - with some heat -  on these pages and which seems to be based on personal preferences, prevailing practices, and frankly, the availability of the product) and suggest that with instant yeast the "separation from salt" question was of even less importance.  Again, if it came off any other way, please attribute it to the inadequacies of electronic vs face to face communication.


Oh, and "raggedy home baker" was my "official" job title at one point. It's really a joke on myself and most people with whom I "correspond" recognize it as such.  I am sorry if you read it and took it as something else. I guess I should be more careful about that.


I, too, tend to use natural cultures for my bread at home, but have been giving thought to getting back into commercial yeast baking again - for reasons that I can't really articulate.


I've read many of your postings and do respect your methods.  I tend to question folks when they make statements so that I can learn, not to cast aspersions.  That is how I learn. In fact, my questions might indicate that I respect your opinion because I don't bother to ask questions unless I do. 


And I really have a voice in my head giving me a very stern lecture on why the practice of keeping yeast and salt apart is ridiculous and the -accurate- explanation that salt can pull moisture from yeast thereby killing some of it really doesn't come into play in practical situations.  So it is "agree to disagree" - we take the same facts and come to different conclusions as to the best path forward. Happens all the time.


I am interested in the "Delayed Salt" method, because I have had some folks tell me to mix that way, but never with an explanation as to why (or with the explanation that the salt will somehow kill all of the instant yeast used in the formula)  I'm not sure that it would be 100% applicable because my "home mixing" method is a bit too gentle to incorporate salt towards the end, but I am interested nonetheless for future reference.


So not nitpicking - sincerely interested.


Really- Peace.


Pat

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Pat,


Have you ever deliberately brought yeast into direct contact with salt?   Just like a slug, the salt soon pulls all the moisture from the yeast rendering it completely useless.


I completely agree with you that use of any type of dried yeast means salt is not at all likely to impact on yeast activity rate.   I understand you wanting to ask questions, and I hope the reference to wanting to give my novice bakery students the best start through adoption of good practice is a good explanation.   Commercially, fresh yeast is the norm in the UK; dried yeast is common at home, for the reasons you outline, especially availability.   Dried yeast has never found favour with UK bakers, generally.   I'm not sure why, but, frankly, I completely agree with you that I do not want to open up the debate on fresh vs. dried.   Each to their own...please; they all work!


Having read your correspondence with davidg of late, I'd not be calling you a "raggedy homebaker".   Clearly you have it as a bit of a joke, but I'm sure your knowledge and skill take you a bit above that level in reality?


Anyway "Delayed Salt"; what to tell?   I'm certainly not familiar with adding it as late as after the first fermentation.   Do you use autolyse?   That's a bit like delayed salt.   I'm actually quite a "heavy" mixer, although I do only mix by hand.   You are right to question whether gentle mixing could incorporate the salt effectively if using "delayed salt" method.   I'm afraid I don't have the answer for you, but somebody else may well know.


The Italians like this method, and attribute a crispy crust to its use.   It's something to do with the salt being close to the surface, so the dough stays wet on the surface for longer, leading to better crust colouration and texture.   But, I haven't done a lot of research on it, so can't tell you much more than that.   Does this give you a basic idea of how it works?   I'm sorry not to be more helpful than that for now; I'll come back if I have more


All good wishes


Andy

proth5's picture
proth5

I have put salt directly on my levain just to see what happened.  Didn't notice a difference in my final product.  However, I didn't leave it there for hours and hours - which would be interesting to try some day - but dumped it on and then proceded directly to the mix.  The brief contact probably wasn't enough.  So that - plus that "voice in my head" - is why I keep questioning - but generally hold to the "it doesn't much matter in practice" school of thought.


I do use autolyse, but at this time, with the mixing method I use, and at the direction of the "voice in my head" (ok, the individual who taught me the "fold in the bowl" mixing technique) - I put the salt - along with my liquid pre ferment in the autolyse.  I tried it without the salt a couple of times and found no difference in the finished product.  Either I don't have a critical enough eye (which doesn't seem likely) or other subtle actions on my part make up for the salt in the autolyse.  Again, this is perhaps why I struggle mightily with this "salt" question.


After my last batch of bread (baked after three months away from baking, a brief reprieve, and then another month away) I feel that I know nothing about baking at all (also my oven seems to be dying, but hey, I'm not making excuses!) I find myself from time to time in groups of people who, quite seriously for some reason, think I must do this baking thing for a living and have to explain myself. I am on an obsessive quest for knowledge, I'll admit - it's just the way I am - about everything I undertake.  If I don't make jokes I'm afraid I'll take myself seriously and I've had to do that a bit too much lately in my "real" work and I don't want to infest the rest of my life with it right now.  I need to keep the details of my real life somewhat obscure, but we all have things to which we cling to keep our general sanity...:>)


Sometime after I get a new oven, I'm going to get a real mixer and I may put this "delayed salt' to the test.


Pat

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

This was the first post by pcyoung and I would guess that about now,  pcyoung has decided that we are all half nuts in light of the dialog that has occurred here over the question: "...of the salt and yeast relationship> touching OK?"


It has all given me a good laugh,


Jeff

proth5's picture
proth5

if we all weren't a bit nuts we wouldn't be here.  Some of the "great debates" on these pages would get some of us sent to places where we couldn't harm ourselves.


And yet, that's how I've learned so much.


It's good to have a passion!

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I agree.


Jeff

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Pat,


I really meant fresh yeast in direct contact with salt: no other combination is a relevant test.


Isn't it important to include your liquid levain in the autolyse, to give the flour sufficient liquid to take up?   Then you just need to add salt when mixing the final dough?   That makes it a kind of delayed salt technique in itself, no?   I know a stiff levain would usually be kept separate, but I'm pretty sure Hamelman, for one, advocates inclusion of liquid levain or, poolish within the autolyse.


Other than that, did you find anything of use in the somewhat limited information I gave about "delayed salt" effects?


I agree with you that some of the best TFL discussions come out of nowhere in the middle of a thread about something which seems remote to the discussion as it ensues.   Isn't that the whole point sometimes?   There does, however come a point where it is best to move such a discussion into another post.


BW


Andy

proth5's picture
proth5

not having a good source for fresh yeast - levain was as close as I could get.  As I said, we do what we can.  Next time I have a chance, though, I will not be able to resist trying it.


Yes, it is important to put a liquid pre ferment in with the autolyse - although some would disagree because an autolyse is "supposed" to happen in the absence of salt and leaven. Another raging controversy on these pages.


You know, I was thinking about the statement that I made about the salt and the autolyse, because I had a rather spirited discussion with the individual who taught me the "folds in the bowl" technique for hand mixing dough.  This individual was working with us on a mix in a spiral mixer and told us that you always hold the salt out of the autolyse.  "But, but," I sputtered, "you told us to put the salt in at the beginning on the hand mixing technique."  "Oh, that" to paraphrase the reply, "There it doesn't matter and the mixing is so gentle that it isn't a good idea to hold it out."  Which is when my tolerance for odd contradictions and idiosyncratic beliefs in this bread making business was born.  I was trying so hard to do everything "just right" and here was this well qualified individual mixing things up a bit.  Because of that I've starting considering my words when I start to type "always" or "never."


The way I hand mix dough (and others describe the method better than I, but it involves taking a plastic  dough scraper, folding the dough 10-30 times in a bowl, letting it rest for 20-30 mins, and then repeating the process a certain number of times), I would be reluctant to hold the salt much after the original "autolyse" because the dough is so well developed by the second set of folds that I would have to tear it a little to incorporate the salt and I don't want to do that.  But I will be considering the method for when I get a mixer (and that new oven, because my current one has taken to burning the stuff in the back and not baking the stuff towards the front - we can take some variation, but that's an oven with a problem) and will run an experiment to see if I find a difference. Of course, that is also dependant on me ever being at home long enough to bake two batches of bread...


Thanks for pointing out that the claims for a better colored and crispier crust, though. I have really never heard that before.


Pat

LindyD's picture
LindyD

In answer to your question, pcyoung, add the salt at the start of the mix, or immediately after the autolyse.


Here's the reasoning behind that advice.  Since it was written by Jeffrey Hamelman, it's well worth following.


Adding all of the ingredients at the same time (including the salt and any yeast) is perfectly fine and in fact, those are the precise mixing instructions for the formulas in Mr. Hamelman's book.


Happy baking.

herculeorama's picture
herculeorama

I guess the idea of putting salt, yeast and other ingredients in different corners comes from bread machines which have a program to start a delayed mixing. Say you put in everything, set the program and timer before going to bed and in the morning you have a loaf awaiting you in the machine. In this case, if yeast and salt were in close contact, theyeast would die. So idea was to separate them until the mixing began. If you were to make the dough right away, even putting them in separate corners would ultimately serve no purpose since you are going to mix them anyway.


Personllay I mix my flour and salt and sugar(if the recipe calls for it) together thoroughly in their dry states. Then add water and finally yeast.


 

Adriano_Molinelli's picture
Adriano_Molinelli

Here in Naples, we just use saltwater from the Mediteranian. We mix the saltwater with the flour and the yeast later. I only use dry yeast when my wife wife is out of town. She takes the live culture with her wherever she goes, if you know what I mean.