The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When mixing dough, is it wrong to add salt and starter all at once?

rgrgeo's picture
rgrgeo

When mixing dough, is it wrong to add salt and starter all at once?

I am wondering if it is incorrect to add salt and preferment all at once to a flour/water mix that has been autolysed, when preparing a dough.  

The general rule has been to add the salt after incorporating the starter, separately, presumably due to salt inhibiting the yeast activity.  

However, I have seen others preparing their dough by adding starter and salt and incorporating both together for the bulk rise.  

Can anyone tell me the benefit or harm to adding salt with preferment to an autolysed dough, or is it just a matter of preference?  

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

An autolyse is technically flour and water only. Nothing else.

But I often mix everything until incorporated and then let it rest an hour or so.

I am a freak about thoroughly mixing ingredients. So, I mix the Levain thoroughly with the dough water. In a separate bowl I mix the flour and salt. Then I add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix until there are no lumps of flour. After that it is set aside for an hour or more to rest.

Dan

rgrgeo's picture
rgrgeo

This tells me that there are many ways to approach the mixing process, and confirms what I suspected.  

Thanks for letting me know and helping understand this better.

 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

There are so many ways to make bread (and good bread, at that). Some flours are better if you don't autolyse. Sometimes the 'autolyse' or rest stage includes starter, if there is a high percentage of high hydration starter in the dough (otherwise the remaining flour / water mix would be too dry and dense). Sometimes everything gets mixed together and then rests for a while (e.g. using sprouted flours).

Generally I don't think there is a problem mixing the salt and starter in to the autolysed flour and water at the same time. I believe both Chad Robertson and Ken Forkish do this, as well as other master bakers. You probably want the benefits of the salt (i.e. strengthening the gluten network) as well as control of the ferment at this point.

Hope this answers your question!

rgrgeo's picture
rgrgeo

I will probably give this a shot next bake.  I have always followed Chad Robertson's method. However, lately I have been using a flour/water autolyse before incorporating the preferment, then shortly after, the salt.

I am interested in preserving the integrity of the dough, and I find adding the salt later (with reserved water) is somewhat traumatic to incorporate, though It's always worked out just fine.  I am wondering how it would be to set the dough up all at once (following the autolyse), rather than in stages.  

Thanks for your response.  I really appreciate have this forum as a resource.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Yes adding the salt to a mixed dough will break the dough. But this is very temporary and the dough recovers very quickly. Most bakers see no problem with this. Salt has a very pronounced affect on gluten. 

The above is one of the reasons I mix all ingredients in a most of my doughs. I hate to see the gluten shred and I also like to be sure everything is harmoniously incorporated.

Many, probably most expert bakers have no problem mixing the salt last. But then again, I’m no expert :-)

Dan

rgrgeo's picture
rgrgeo

Adding the salt later might be better left for experts.  

Though, I do realize the dough recovers quickly enough after doing so.  

I feel that eliminating the extra step of adding the salt will give me a better opportunity to observe and manipulate the dough structure.  Something I am just learning to grasp.  

Thanks!

 

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

the salt if you add it later!  yesterday I did just that at the end of my slap and folds.  I had to add a bit more water and the salt and do more stretch and folds etc to incorporate. it is much easier to do levain and salt basically together at the end of autolyse. it is my preferred way but as others have said there are many ways to do it, just find what works for you.

Leslie

rgrgeo's picture
rgrgeo

This is exactly what I want to do, instead of adding the salt as an extra step.  

I appreciate you letting me know its your preferred way.  

Roger