Salt plays an important role in your bread dough, but this is often overlooked as discussions focus on what the yeast is doing or which flour to use. So why do you need to add salt to your bread dough, how much should you add and can you reduce the amount of salt in your dough if you’d like to?
Watch the video below to find out the answers to these and other questions about using salt in bread baking, or read on.
What does salt do in your bread dough?
Salt plays an important role in how your bread making for a number of reasons. These include:
- Adding flavour to your bread. Leave out the salt in your dough and your final bread will be relatively bland and tasteless. Whilst there are breads that are made without salt, they are usually made to accompany a rich dish, so do not need to have lots of flavour themselves.
- Strengthening the gluten network in your loaf. Try making your next dough without adding in the salt. You’ll find the dough is more elastic and won’t hold its shape as well. Then knead in the salt. The dough will tighten up. This effect will help your bread dough retain the gas produced by the yeast and create a well-risen loaf.
- Slowing down the rate at which yeast produce gas. Salt competes with yeast for water, and also, when absorbed by the yeast, slows down the rate at which they can digest the flour and produce gas to rise your dough.
How much salt should you add to your bread dough?
In general, bread recipes aim to add salt at a weight of 2% of that of the flour weight. So 2g salt in every 100g flour. In a standard bread loaf recipe using 500g of flour, you’d add in 10g of salt.
The amount of salt may vary slightly for different types of bread, for example enriched loaves.
Can you reduce the amount of salt you put into your bread dough?
For many reasons, you may wish to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Although bakers aim to add salt at a level of 2% of the flour weight, this can be reduced to suit your tastes or needs.
You can reduce the amount of salt in your dough to between 1.5 – 2% of the flour weight. Try out different amounts to find what works best for you. That’s also one of the great benefits of baking your own bread – you can control what goes into it!
What type of salt should you use in bread dough?
This really comes down to personal preference. You don’t need to source a specific salt for your bread dough, unless it’s for dietary or medical reasons.
When teaching a bread making class, and when baking at home, I use a basic table salt. It does contain an additive to stop the salt clumping together in the packet. If you’d like to avoid additives, you could use sea salt flakes, however, you’ll need to grind these to make them fine enough to dissolve in your dough.
Want to learn more about baking great bread at home?
If you’d like to learn more about baking great bread at home, do check out some of my other resources. There are plenty of bread making tips and recipes on my blog. You can also join my free live bakealongs on Facebook each Saturday morning at 10am.
Ready to get baking some new, delicious loaves? Join one of my online bread making classes. Learn step-by-step how to bake a range of breads from ciabatta to brioche, baguettes to cinnamon buns and more. You can find out more here: https://www.theepsombakehouse.co.uk/learn-to-bake-bread/