No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Salt in bread

When I became a breadmaking tutor in the early 90s, one of my goals was to demystify breadmaking; to remove all the many myths that surround the whole procedure – which is, IMO, one of the simplest processes it’s possible to undertake in a kitchen – and show it for the simple craft that it is.

One of these myths is that ‘Salt is essential in breadmaking.

Not true! Bread only needs 3 ingredients - flour, water and yeast (either commercial or wild).

My dad had a small baker's shop, back in the 40s and 50s, and, every now and then, he would be asked by one of his customers to make a loaf without salt. These were, in the main, pregnant women with high blood pressure, who were told by their doctors to reduce their salt intake.

So I've never bought the 'Bread must include salt' line.

There is a whole region of Italy (where they know a thing or two about making bread) that doesn’t use salt in bread. Not at all! Haven’t done so for centuries – and yet the bread they produce is highly regarded. I’m talking about Tuscany

Salt, to me, is just like sugar in coffee – it’s very easy to train the palette to do without it.

When my first granddaughter started eating bread, about 10 years ago now, my daughter-in-law asked me to make bread without salt. I used Dove’s organic wholemeal (here in the UK) and found that, once I got used to it, the bread tasted fine – in fact it was full of flavor.

For myself I use 1% - or 1g per 100g of flour - about half the amount I used to use. I find that quite sufficient – but I can leave it out at any time.

The bottom line is that the amount of salt anyone uses is subjective – it’s entirely up to you how much you use.

It's only today, after writing all this, that I realised I make bread without salt on a regular basis. I gave up using salt in my sweetened breads, over ten years ago - I didn't see the point of using salt and sugar in the same bread. I treat salt as just another ingredient, which I include or leave out as necessary.

The lack of salt in no way affects the dough - nor does it affect the flavour.

We make iced buns, for instance, regularly in my teaching sessions and no-one has ever tasted them and said they are lacking in flavour - yet almost every recipe I looked at on the net contains salt. I have to ask, "Why"?

The only conclusion I can come to is that, "Because it's always been done this way".

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