Adding salt


What is the benefit of waiting before adding salt? I mix it in with the second lot of flour but occasionally forget so have to add it later (unles I really forget and it's already in the oven). I can't tell a difference between the two, so why do people bother with the extra hassle and the risk of uneven distribution? Is there something  I should look out for?

Thanks in advance, Mark

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farinam's picture
farinam 2013 June 16

Hello MkII,

Salt is a mysterious beast.  It seems it inhibits yeast activity, enhances gluten development, slows enzyme activity and the list goes on.

As I understand it, and I'm no expert, the idea of the autolyse stage is to allow reliable wetting of the starch granules in the flour before further processing and for enzyme action to start to develop the gluten structure without the requirement for energy input through kneading etc.  So the idea is that this is best done without salt in the equation.  It is certainly without question that the texture of the dough changes quite dramatically after an autolyse stage.  Whether the effect is different with or without salt is quite possibly open to question and in my experience undetectable (but I do it anyway).  I've never had a case of poorly distributed salt.

There are a multitude of what you might call myths out there about making bread in general and sourdough in particular.  You must feed your starter beforehand, it must be at its peak when you use it --- the list goes on.

By and large, in my experience, the whole process is pretty robust - just as the maintenance of a starter is robust and whatever works is an acceptable method of doing things provided that you follow just a few basics.

So, I guess the take-away (to use an over-worked management speak) is that whatever works for you is the right way to do it. Polish on, polish off, salt in, salt out.

Good luck with your projects.


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