Role of salt in breadmaking • Lesaffre Bangladesh

Role of salt in breadmaking

Role of salt in breadmaking

There are only four essential ingredients in basic breadmaking: flour, water, yeast, and salt. The role of the first three ingredients is clear – flour and water to form the dough, and yeast to make it rise. But what about salt? What is the role of salt in breadmaking? Is it really essential?

Salt, as it turns out, plays not just one but multiple roles in making bread. It fulfils several objectives, both organoleptic and technical. Indeed, salt is necessary for baking a successful loaf with great taste, texture and appearance.

What does salt do in bread?

In breadmaking, salt is a taste enhancer as well as a functional ingredient. It has four important functions as follow:

    1. Strengthens gluten network

Salt is necessary for the proper formation of gluten. It tightens the gluten strands to make them stronger so that the dough can hold carbon dioxide more efficiently, resulting in a strong and elastic dough.

    1. Controls yeast activity

Salt slows down the growth and reproduction of yeast in the bread dough. A reduction in salt will increase yeast activity, resulting in a less stable dough that will impact the first rise and final proofing stages. The tolerance of dough will also then be reduced.

    1. Enhances flavour

Salt absorbs moisture and flavours to enhance the taste and aroma of breads. Without salt, bread tastes bland and less aromatic – with just a dominant ‘wheat’ flavour from the flour. Basically, bread is not very appetizing and rather lifeless without salt.

    1. Improves crust colour

Salt determines the brownness of the crust colour by curtailing yeast to consume all the residual sugar in the dough. This sugar gives bread the deep golden-brown crust as it caramelizes during baking.

How much salt to use in bread?

The level of salt to use in bread is largely determined by the flavour that is desired in the end product. The range of use can vary from 2% in European style breads to 0.5% or lower in some flatbreads.

The percentage of use is also dependent on the region and countries, and often reflects how the bread is eaten. For example, less salty bread is usually paired with very salty or spicy food. 

Is it possible to add too much salt to bread?

An excess of salt will result in poor volume, slow fermentation due to the detrimental effect on the yeast, an unpleasant flavour, and a reddish-brown crust colour also known as a ‘foxy’ crust.

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