Salt and water

I generally use Kosher salt for cooking with and have been using that for baking with too. I've been wondering if the courseness of the salt might effect the way it mixes into the dough and how that might effect the overall loaf. Same question with water... We use purified water int the house... Would a higher mineral content water make a difference?
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Optionparty's picture
Optionparty 2011 January 11

On a TV show, they said coarse salt can cut the gluten fibers. They recommend a finer salt.
I would think dissolving the salt in some water first then adding it into the dough would work even better.

Pure water has no taste. Soda pop makers (bottlers) use local water, as it is favored by locals.
I think Bread book writers are concerned with chemical additives to the water (chlorine, fluoride)
that would adversely effect yeast development.


Muff 2011 January 11

Kosher salt has an interesting texture and is better tasting as it dissolves in the mouth, but I seriously doubt that it helps the flavor of the bread in any way- so many other things going on that will dominate such a delicate difference. But measuring salt is important, and typical table salt is not as fluffy as Kosher salt; you shouldn't use as much if you are measuring by volume. If you measure by weight, however, no change is called for.


Water hardness does make a difference in bread as well as in beer. And, as in beer, there is no "right" or "wrong", just different things to be aware of. Sodium chloride is the major mineral salt in your bread and the other players will be relatively minor. But they can affect ease of developmenty and strength of the dough subtly, in my humble opinion.

Others may have different experience, but that's the way it looks to me.

Good luck,


Muff 2011 January 11

Sorry, but my BS Alarm went off when I read that. Salt necessarily dissolves very quickly in the dough and I don't see how it could remain abrasive or cutting enough to do any damage.

Bran, on the other hand, is accused of cutting gluten, and it certainly is easy to break down a dough that has a lot of bran flakes in it. So maybe there's something to it.

But as for salt, I don't think that's the way it works. (Something that does matter about when you add the salt is this: if you hold the salt out until the dough is nearly developed it will take much less time to reach development. Add the salt and continue to mix for another minute or two, and you're done.)

When we mix pain au levain we add flour and water to a mature poolish and incorporate enough to wet all the flour but not enough to start development. Then we throw the salt on top, and allow the mass to stand at least 15 minutes, often half an hour, whatever is convenient. After the autolyze period it develops very quickly, typically in four minutes on third speed (Hobart vertical mixers). Age two hours, punch, take to bench in 30-60 minutes, divide and make up at once. Chill several hours and bake straight out of the retarder.



Postal grunt 2011 January 11

Mineral content in water does make a difference for yeast vitality in the fermentation process. Professional brewers and bakers have recognized this for years. Some English and American breweries are sited specifically for their access to the local water. There's a pizzaria in Arizona that set up a water treatment plant in house to recreate the water of NYC for their baking needs.There's nothing wrong with getting rid of the nasties in water but a pure water with no minerals, such as a distilled water, isn't the way to go. However, if you like the results you're getting with your purified water, there's no reason to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

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