The Role of Salt in Breadmaking

What will happen to your loaf if you forget the salt?

If you forget the salt when breadmaking, the resulting loaf won't just be flavorless; it will also be dense and crumbly. Why?

Some traditional bread varieties (most famously, loaves from Tuscany) contain no salt, but most do. To answer this question, we started by baking two loaves of bread using the same recipe but omitting the salt from one. We cooled them, sliced them, and called the tasters. The bakers in the group immediately identified the problem in the saltless loaf. Civilian tasters called the saltless loaf “bland” and preferred the lighter texture of the bread made with salt. Next, we did a little research and found that the salt is not just for flavor. Salt stabilizes the gluten network in bread dough, resulting in a larger, less dense loaf.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  Salt does more than flavor bread: It also strengthens the stretchy gluten structure, improving the texture of a loaf.

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