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Confusion About Yeast and Salt %

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srulybpsyd's picture
srulybpsyd

Confusion About Yeast and Salt %

Hi All,

My wife and I did a large bake of Maggie Glezer's Slow Rise WW Challah about 2 weeks ago (documented here). We froze the challahs after cooling but only got around to eating them this past weekend. To say I was disappointed is an understatment. The challahs looked and smelled delicious but they were quite dense (more than 100% WW I've made in the past), a little dry, and had the wrong kind of sour note. I expected some "tang" due to the long rise times and firm preferment but my wife and I both agreed that this just didn't tatse right.

I went back to the recipe to see if I had messed up the procedure and noticed something interesting: In her recipe for two loaves of this challah she calls for Bread Flour in the preferment and WW flour in the final dough. In the expanded recipe for 5 lbs of flour she calls for WW flour in both the preferment and final dough. In addition, in the smaller recipe the % of yeast is about 0.1%, while the % yeast in the larger (all WW) recipe is 0.05%. In both recipes the % salt is about 2%.

Do these percentages seem reasonable? I understand that less yeast as well as a greater salt to yeast ratio will lead to a slower rise, but I'm confused about why the recipe with the WW preferment calls for less yeast than the BF preferment. If anything I would think it would be the opposite.

Thanks!

Sruly

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for the recipe, one or the other?  

WW would speed up fermentation and using less yeast with all whole wheat makes sense.  But I would think that replacing bread flour with  WW in the preferment of the larger recipe, would give a different bread.  The flavour scales tip to whole wheat for sure instead of a lighter tasting mixture of bread flour and ww.   Two % salt is normal and doesn't affect yeast.  Actually less that 1% will slow down yeast and yeast can tolerate quite a bit of salt.  Most worries about salt affecting yeast are unfounded.  

srulybpsyd's picture
srulybpsyd

I've looked for an errata page online but can't find any:( I know that WW has higher protein content so less yeast is needed for fermentation but for some reason I thought you actually need more yeast to account for the heaviness of the WW flour.

Also, I had read that 2% salt is fairly standard, I just thought that the ratio of yeast to salt in this recipe seemed too big.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

8% salt (on the flour weight) stops yeast fermentation cold.  Dropping the yeast amount doesn't make the salt concentration stronger it stays the same. If you want to think in terms of ratios, then don't forget there is plenty of flour and water in there. I've not heard of salt to yeast ratios.  Yeast is determined by the flour weight, salt is also determined by the flour weight.  Fermentation will give off heat, and that can be a factor in a large amount of dough that traps heat in the center.  Add salt and yeast separately and not wet them both together in a small amount of liquid and they will be fine.  If you stir them both dry into the flour, there are no problems.

Slowing down the fermentation also means more wet time on the dough, this will soften the sharp bits of bran in the WW flour and actually add to the rise, the gluten is not being cut up by the bran.  Yeast will multiply and make up for the difference when given the time.  The beauty in soaking whole grain flour.  A speedy WW recipe in not necessary a good one for that reason it requires more gluten flour (like the bread flour) because it will be cut by the hard bran.

If it was me, I'l lower the salt a little anyway just because it's a sweet dough and I wouldn't want it to taste salty.  What do you think?  Does it taste salty?  

srulybpsyd's picture
srulybpsyd

Yep, I would definitely call it just a bit salty. I guess my misconception is that I read that salt slows down the action of the yeast so I just assumed that there was a direct ratio of salt to yeast without accounting for the dilution by the great amount of flour. My real big issue though is that the final proof seemed pretty minimal and the oven spring was almost nonexistent. What do you think might have accounted for this (especially the over spring)?

Also, is there a standard procedure for soaking whole grain flour? I've done a cornmeal soaker for Anadama bread, would it be the same? Or would it be more like an autolyze?

Thanks!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

on the other thread, that should get you some answers about the challah.   Might want to repost some of the questions there.  :)  

srulybpsyd's picture
srulybpsyd

It's an honor to get a boost from such a seasoned pro:)