Salt

As well as boosting the flavor and the aroma of bread, salt plays an important role in tightening the gluten structure which is what adds strength to your dough. It helps the loaf to hold on to the carbon dioxide gas that is formed during fermentation, supporting good volume. Salt, being hygroscopic, is able to win the battle for water which means the yeast’s activity and subsequently fermentation and enzyme activity is slowed down which also helps boost flavour.

As far as bread goes, most types of salt work as long as the salt crystals are fine enough to dissolve and be distributed easily.  You can use some of the recipe’s water allocation to dissolve the more coarse type grains.

Some salts can contain additives, some have other minerals next to the sodium chloride (NaCl) considered beneficial for you (like Celtic sea salt which is also lower in sodium).

As far as ethical or health benefits go, the choice is yours, taste wise, and functionality wise it will not make a big difference to your loaf.

Table Salt

The most common type of salt and readily available for most people.  It’s highly refined and finely ground, with some impurities and trace minerals removed in the process. Table salt is usually treated with an anti-caking agent to keep it from clumping.

Most table salt is iodized, meaning iodine has been added to prevent iodine deficiency.

Sea Salts

Harvested from evaporated sea water, sea salt is usually unrefined and coarser-grained than table salt. It also contains some of the minerals from where it was harvested – zinc, potassium and iron among them – which give sea salt a more complex flavor profile.

“Sea salt” is a pretty broad term, as it includes some of the specialty salts described below. Sprinkle it on top of foods for a different mouth feel and bigger burst of flavor than table salt.

Celtic Sea Salt

Also known as sel gris or gros sel (French for “grey salt”, or “big salt”), Celtic sea salt is harvested from the bottom of tidal ponds off the coast of France. The salt crystals are raked out after sinking; this, plus the mineral-rich seawater its extracted from, gives Celtic salt its moist, chunky grains, grey hue and briny taste.

It’s great on fish and meat as both a cooking and finishing salt, as well as for baking.

Flake Sea Salt

Harvested from salt water through evaporation, boiling or other means, flake salt is thin and irregularly shaped with a bright, salty taste and very low mineral content.

This shapes means the crunchy flake salt dissolves quickly, resulting in a “pop” of flavor. Of the different types of salt, use it as a finishing salt, especially on meats.

Black Hawaiian

Also known as black lava salt, black Hawaiian salt is a sea salt harvested from – you guessed it – the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It gets its deep, black color from the addition of activated charcoal.

Coarse-grained and crunchy, black Hawaiian salt is great for finishing pork and seafood.

(Source: https://www.wideopeneats.com/12-different-types-salt-use/)

Himalayan Pink Salt

Of the different types of salt, Himalayan salt is the purest form of salt in the world and is harvested by hand from Khewra Salt Mine in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan. Its color ranges from off-white to deep pink. Rich in minerals – it contains the 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body – Himalayan salt is used in spa treatments, as well as the kitchen.

Its mineral content gives it a bolder flavor than many other salts, so use it as a cooking and finishing salt – or to add a bit of flair to a salt-rimmed margarita! Slabs of the stuff are used for cooking and serving (Himalayan salt retains temperature for hours), and unfinished pieces often appear in shops as lamps.

Kosher Salt

Koshering salt – or kosher salt, in the U.S. – is flakier and coarser-grained than regular table salt. Despite it’s large grain size it dissolves quickly, making it a perfect all-round cooking salt.

Most kosher salt does not contain any added iodine, and only rarely any anti-caking agents. Despite the name, all kosher salt is not certified kosher, it’s actually used in the koshering process.

Fleur De Sel

Flowers of salt. Harvested from the fine film formed through evaporation on the surface of seat water. The crystals are smaller than other sea salts, and softer, more humid.

The mix of minerals in the crystals can include high levels of calcium and magnesium, making the taste a little softer than other salts. Relatively expensive, Fleur de sea, is usually used in presentation rather than as a bulk salt.

Kala Namak

Kala namak (“black salt” in Nepalese) is Himalayan salt that’s been packed in a jar with charcoal, herbs, seeds and bark, then fired in a furnace for a full 24 hours before it’s cooled, stored and aged.

This process gives kala namak its reddish-black color, its pungent, salty taste and a faint, sulfurous aroma of eggs. It’s often used in vegan and vegetarian dishes to give egg-free dishes the taste of egg, as well as in Ayurvedic practice.

Disclaimer: Whilst we hope the information provided is helpful and informative, we cannot guarantee that all details will be 100% accurate.  There are many schools of thought and conflicting ideas on many of the sourdough processes and methods.  This site is simply meant as a broad guide to baking sourdough, and is not a scientific reference.

Also, please forgive the mixed US and UK spellings throughout. We have a team from various countries working on this site.This site may contain affiliate links. 

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Made with Sourdough ❤

Lame

noun

A special sharp knife, or tool which holds a razor blade, in a curved or straight manner. You use it to score the dough before baking.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is generally understood to be a covered earthenware or cast-iron container for cooking casseroles. They are ideal for bread as they can accommodate bread dough and be covered to help generate the steamy environment requiredto encourage the dough to rise. Enamel roasters with a lid, covered pyrex dishes, or even a flat tray with a bowl over the top of the dough, are equally effective.

Bakers’ Percentages

Sometimes called baker’s math, this is a method to express the different ingredients as a percentage of the total amount of flour. It makes scaling a recipe or building a recipe very easy once you know the total weight of the flour, and also allows you to know the ‘hydration’ of your dough.

Example: If you build your dough with 1000 gram flour, 670-grams water, 20-gram salt, and 8-gram yeast. According to bakers percentages, that will be 100% flour (the amount of flour is always 100%), 67% water, 2% salt, and 0.8% yeast.
You divide the amount of the different ingredients with the amount of flour.

Banneton / Brotform / Proofing Basket

A type of basket or container used to provide structure for shaped loaves of bread during proofing. Banneton baskets are also known as ‘Brotform’ or ‘proofing baskets’. It is normally used for doughs that are too soft or wet to maintain their shape while rising. They come in a range of sizes and shapes. Look for ones that fit the size of loaves you want to bake.

They are often made of natural rattan, or wood fiber. You can also use any container lined with a well-floured tea towel.

Oven Spring

The final burst of expansion of dough upon being introduced to a hot oven and where the yeast activity is increased during the first few minutes. At approximately 60C/140ºF degrees the yeast is killed off, but up until that point, dough can expand in the oven in the first phase of baking if it’s not over-fermented and still has dough strength. Many factors can impact oven spring including the length of fermentation, gluten development, and the hydration of the dough.

Stretch-and-Folds

An alternative to traditional kneading used to develop gluten. The process is performed periodically in the bowl throughout the bulk fermentation. Take a side of the dough and gently stretch it up and over, to fold it upon itself, rotate the dough 90º, and repeat, then turn the bowl 45º and the same stretch and fold. Once all four corners of the dough have been stretched and folded, gluten development and a smooth, elastic dough are underway. Also, see ‘Folding’ and ‘Coil Folds’.

Bulk Ferment

Most loaves have two fermenting cycles. One before and one after the loaves are formed. Bulk fermentation is the first cycle, with a long fermentation period of the dough after the initial mixing of flour, water, starter, and salt and often comes during and after a period of kneading or ‘stretch and folds’.During this stage we are aiming to create dough strength, structure and flavor. The dough should feel alive, strong, airy, spongy and the surface shouldn’t feel sticky.

The bulk fermentation generally takes place at room temperature, unless otherwise noted in the recipe and is a longer period of time (4 -12 hours) than the final proofing period. This step may be referred to as the first prove or first rising. Acetic acid, an organic acid is produced by bacteria in the sourdough culture during the fermentation process. The presence of acetic acid helps to gives sourdough its characteristic acidic tang. The warmer the environment, the faster the development of the dough will be

Window Pane

The window pane test is one of the best ways to tell if you’ve sufficiently stretched and folded your bread dough. Pull a small piece of the dough and using both hands and your fingers stretch the dough very thin if it holds its shape without tearing the gluten is well-developed and your dough is ready to be pre-shaped, shaped and rest for it’s final prove.

Starter / Starter Culture / Sourdough Starter

A mixture of flour and water used to leaven bread that contains bacteria, yeast, and organic acids. Made either by inoculating with an established colony of bacteria or by capturing wild bacteria and yeasts over a longer period. Sometimes also called Leaven / Levain.

Autolyse

verb

Autolyse (pronounced auto-lees) is a process in which a portion of (or total) water and flour in a bread recipe are gently pre-blended and set to rest for a period of time.

This resting period gives the dough special processing characteristics and improves the overall quality of the baked goods.

During autolyse process, several events can occur in the pre-mixed water/flour mixture:

  1. Continued flour hydration. Water molecules work their way into damaged starch, intact starch granules and proteins.
  2. Protein bonds continue to develop as a consequence of adding water, creating more gluten strands without mechanical work. This leads to better gluten structure and gas retention.
  3. Flour enzymes (mainly proteases) acquire time to adapt and work on the gluten by breaking down protein bonds.Protease activity is higher at low pH (acidic conditions). This is why autolysed doughs that contain yeast or pre-ferments (e.g. poolish) often experience greater protease activity. Such doughs are more extensible, weaker, softer and show less resistance to deformation than autolyzed non-fermented doughs.2
  4. Finally, as a result, the dough feels less sticky and very smooth after the autolyse.

As a general rule, the longer the autolyse time:

  • The shorter the dough mixing time (less mechanical development of gluten-forming proteins in needed). This means less energy consumption during mixing.
  • The shorter the dough stability duration
  • The less tolerance to overmixing. Breakdown is more pronounced once peak (maximum strength) is attained.
  • The smaller the P value in the alveograph test
  • The more extensible and less elastic the dough becomes at the end of autolysis
  • The better the sheetability and machining of dough during lamination of croissants
  • The easier and faster the dough expands during oven spring (better volume)
  • The lower the need for dough conditioners
  • The better the flavor and aroma of the finished product
Leaven/Levain/Sourdough Starter
noun
  1. A substance, in this case a wild yeast starter, that is used in sourdough baking to make dough rise.
  2. Some methods of baking, such as ‘Tartine Method’ require a sourdough leavening agent be made from a sourdough ‘mother culture’ (aka your Starter). This technique is often employed to boost the yeast activity of the sourdough starter by feeding a small amount of starter a larger quantity of flour and water. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter, a leaven can be prepared 8-12 hours before the dough will be mixed by combining 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter with ½ cup flour and a scant ½ cup of water. This leaven can then be used as the sourdough starter and will be quite active come baking time.
verb
  1. cause (dough or bread) to rise by adding leaven.