I prefer himalayan salt or . It's the best salt in the world!
- Most importantly, salt significantly enhances the flavor of bread. Unlike a prime steak or most vegetables, which taste delicious without seasoning, bread is bland without the addition of salt.
- Salt tightens the gluten structure which gives strength to the gluten, enabling the dough to efficiently hold the carbon dioxide, produced by the yeast when it feeds on the sugars in the flour during fermentation and during the first 10 minutes of baking. Without salt, dough remains too relaxed, very sticky, difficult to knead, and produces a substandard volume when baked.
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- Salt has a retarding effect on the activity of the yeast.The cell wall of yeast is semi-permeable, and by osmosis it absorbs oxygen and nutrients, as it gives off enzymes and other substances to the dough environment. Water is essential for these yeast activities. Salt by its nature is hygroscopic; that is, it attracts moisture. In the presence of salt, the yeast releases some of its water to the salt by osmosis, and this in turn slows the yeast's fermentation or reproductive activities. If there is an excess of salt in bread dough, the yeast is retarded to the point that there is a marked reduction in volume. If there is no salt, the yeast will ferment too quickly. In this sense, the salt aids the baker in controlling the pace of fermentation. Nevertheless, we should note that a careful usage of yeast, control of dough temperature, and the type, maturity, and amount of preferment used are better tools for fermentation control. Salt quantity, as we have noted, should stay within the 1.8–2% range.
- Salt indirectly contributes to crust coloring. This attribute is a result of the salt's characteristic of retarding fermentation. Starch in the flour is converted into simple sugars by the amylase enzymes, and these sugars are consumed by the yeast as it generates fermentation. Since the salt is slowing the rate of the sugar consumption, more of what is known as residual sugar is available at the time of the bake for crust coloration. In the absence of salt, the yeast quickly consumes the available sugars, and the crust on the baked bread is pale and dull.
- Salt helps preserve the color and flavor of flour. The carotenoid pigments, naturally present in wheat flour, are responsible for giving flour its creamy color and wheaty aroma. It is extremely important for the baker to understand that an unbleached flour, such as all of King Arthur's flours, contains a complete profile of carotenoids, and that bleaching flour destroys these fragile components. For this reason alone, choosing a high quality unbleached and unbromated flour is preferred for all breadmaking. Other than bleaching flour and thereby destroying the carotenoids, overoxidizing of the dough during mixing, which occurs when a dough is mixed too intensively for too long, also destroys them. Salt has a positive effect on the preservation of carotenoids, because dough oxidation is delayed in the presence of salt. For this reason it is preferable to add salt at the beginning of the mix. In this way, salt benefits the eventual flavor of the bread by helping to preserve the carotenoids during the mixing of the dough. When salt is added during the later stages of dough mixing, it can be detrimental to the carotenoids, which may become overoxidized.
- One other use of salt is useful to note. It is common to include a portion of salt in a levain culture during warmer and more humid months. This addition of salt, at a rate of 0.2–0.3%, retards the action of the natural yeast, and thus prevents over-maturing of the culture. In the preparation of German-style rye bread, there is a similar technique that is occasionally employed, called the Salt-Sour Method, in which all the dough salt is used in the sourdough phase. The result is to slow the activity of the sourdough yeast cells, reduce the production of acidity, and have a strengthening effect on the gluten structure.