The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

salt and yeast

slaughlin's picture

salt and yeast

Having been just totally blown away by SDbakers thread about the experience at SFBI, the one thing that jumped out at me is the salt/yeast interaction portion.  So what exactly is the issue with adding salt with yeast.  Should adding the salt be delayed after the autolyse?  Any explanation or help is appreciated.

Steve in Spearfish SD

ps. Whoever is near the thermostat please turn it down its 104 here today

mkelly27's picture

Here's how I understand and have observed salt in the dough.


Salt and instant yeast in a proofing bowl will fail.

salt added to a dry mix of flour,instant yeast, etc. before wet stuff is fine

autolyse should be without salt, just flour and water (no yeast either), yeast or starter is added to the autolysed flour first, the salt is then mixed in.  

It really does "tighten up" the mix and I think it is good advice to add it late in the process.


Don't be like me, and forget to add salt. with everything going on in my kitchen at that point it is very hard to remember if you added salt yet or not.  I am developing a set of signals in my kitchen to identify where I stand in the ingredient mixing program.  Anything not added to a recipe is on the left of the stove, anything already added goes to the right.  think about it. 


Two wrongs don't make a right. Three lefts make a right

SDbaker's picture

Mkelly is right on about autolyze.  When this topic came up here, are my notes:

 Autolyze is flour and water, no salt.  Maybe instant yeast.

This increases dough strength without mixing.

Salt increases flavor, regulates fermentation and is ideal around 1.8 - 2.0 % total flour weight, slows down the chemical reactions in the dough, slows down the oxidation of the dough when mixing, increases shelf life and moisture retention (beneficial in a dry climate). 

Hope this helps,

SD Baker

rcornwall's picture

Salt will allow the gluten to be more extensible. But salt will kill yeast if it is in direct contact with it. Thats why many bread recipes call for adding the yeast to the flour before adding the yeast. It gives the yeast a coating to protectit.


abatardi's picture

If I'm making neapolitan style pizza dough and using traditional mixing techniques for that (not what I would regularly do for pizza or bread with an autolyse), this ends up being to start with water, add salt, dissolve completely, then add yeast, dissolve completely, then add flour gradually.  People might see flaw in this, but no, this doesn't hurt the yeast.  The fear and generally accepted truth is that putting them together will kill the yeast... I suppose if you mixed dry salt and fresh yeast together it would kill the yeast... I also suppose if you put dry salt and dry yeast together and added them to water at the same time, some yeast might die... But if salt is completely dissolved, osmotic balance is already there and the salt won't be pulling any more water out of the yeast to destroy the yeast cell.  It's fine..

As far as autolyse, it is water+flour only.. salt and yeast are added in later.  Salt would defeat the purpose and toughen the gluten, yeast would begin to ferment during the 20-30 mins.

 - aba

rudolf's picture

Salt is basically poisonous, to ourselfs if taken in too great quantities, and poisonous to the yeast. With this in mind I never add salt in a poolish or bigga but always add with the last ingredients to be added. And yes, work out a system so you do not forget it. Having said that, salt adds flavour to the bread and strengthens gluten, Also acts as a preservative but with sourdough this should not be a consideration, Lacto bacilli is perfectly capable of preserving its own environment, ie the loaf.