Why is Salt In Dough

Why is Salt In Dough

The main role of salt in dough is for flavor; it is an essential seasoning. If you have ever eaten bread or a pizza crust without salt you would know instantly that something was different. Baked dough without salt tastes bland and has a lackluster flavor regardless of the toppings. The crust is the first thing we taste on a pizza, wither you are from New York and fold your pizza in half or the rest of the world and don’t the crust is your first taste and it should be perfect.

Before you consider removing or reducing the salt over health concerns or think “isn’t 5 grams of salt a lot, most package foods mention sodium in milligrams”. Remember that those measurements are per serving and salt is the chemical compound NaCl, Sodium Chloride, and is only 40% sodium with the remaining 60% being chloride. If you have 5 grams of salt in a recipe you are only adding 2g of sodium. Out of a 13” pizza a typical serving size might be one slice if divided into six pieces. This puts the dough right in the same sodium content level as most other foods, around 333mg. Just as too much salt intake can harm the body salt is essential for the health of your cells, nerves and muscles as well. Wither for dough, toppings or any other food use just enough to enhance the flavor of the food and not over power it.  You do not want to mask the natural flavors with salt.

Roles of Salt in Dough Before Baking

Salt affects elasticity and texture of the dough creating a dough that is stronger and feels less sticky. This is helpful in stretching and hand tossing when forming a crust. Dough with lower salt levels is more likely to tear or stick to the pizza peel.

Salt regulates the yeast activity by slowing down their sugar consumption rate and creating a more consistent fermentation.  This slow fermentation time allows for the gluten to become fully hydrated and also preventing the dough from over fermenting quickly. An over fermented dough will have less sugar left to caramelize when baking thus lacking a tasty golden brown colored crust.

Salt reduces the oxidation rate of the flour during mixing and kneading. Oxidation of flour causes a degradation of the carotenoid pigment which contributes to the flavor and color of the final baked crust.

Roles of Salt in Baked Crust

Salt enhances the flavor; a crust without salt will seem bland and take away from the overall experience of the toppings.

Salt attracts water and will help keep your dough moist and fresh, more important in bread or for left over pizza. A bread product without salt will become dry and stale in texture within a few hours of baking, these effects cannot be slowed or reversed.

Formulas to Determine Amount of Salt in Dough

Typical salt levels in dough should fall between 1.7% and 2.1% of the weight of flour, roughly a half a teaspoon (2.3g) per level cup of flour (125g). Below are two formulas used for adjusting salt levels by weight and percentage.

% of Salt =  (Salt Weight / Flour Weight) * 100

Use this formula to determine the percentage of salt in a dough recipe when you know the weight of salt and flour being used.

Salt Weight = (% of Salt to Use * 0.01) * Flour Weight

Use this formula to determine the amount of salt to use by weight when you know the percentage of salt you would like to use and the amount of flour being used by weight.


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  • Mark Savides

    I have omitted the salt in my dough for years. I use molasses, and add chopped garlic and pizza seasoning in the dough. I don’t miss the salt at all. My crust recipe is flour, yeast, molasses, and water. with garlic and pizza seasoning.

    I have reduced my salt consumption so much that everything is too salty. I can’t eat fast food or pizza from a restaurant as they are all too salty for me.

    • http://www.brianyork.net/ Brian York

      Hi Mark,
      Sorry for the late response. Very late. Would you mind posting your recipe here. Would love to give it a try. I love molasses!

    • Brian G. Cole

      Any reason why? You do realize a diet really low in sodium is actually unhealthy and using molasses as an alternative lol no wonder you don’t miss salt your eating candy pizza. Sugar natural or not is far worse than salt.

  • Mark Savides

    2 1/2 c Flour ( I use 50/50 bread and AP)
    1 1/3 warm cup water
    2 tablespoon dry yeast
    2 Tablespoon Molasses

    Optional – 1 Tablespoon pizza spice (salt free)
    4 cloves fresh garlic minced

    mix warm water, molasses, and yeast. mix water mixture with flour and knead until formed. add flour to get tactless dough consistency. knead in garlic and Pizza spice (if used) roll out dough. don’t worry if it is thin it will rise. put dough in pizza pan with a bit of cornmeal under the crust. Heat oven to 100 degrees. (Just turn on your oven till it gets a little warm) let crust proof in oven for 20 mins. Then remove crusts from oven and heat oven to 350. Blind bake the crusts until they rise and get slightly browned. Let crusts cool for about 10 mins. make your pizza and top it. then bake in 450 degree oven until done. This will yield 2- 14 inch crusts that are crispy on the bottom and soft and fluffy on the top about an inch thick.

    Leave the salt for your cheese and toppings you will never miss the lack of salt in your crust.

  • LeAnne Kneece

    Thanks Mark for posting this. My husband is on a low sodium diet so I need to cut it where I can. Is it possible to use honey instead of molasses? I have plenty of honey and I’m not sure if the little bit of molasses I have is still good….. 🙂

    • Yellow Yam

      I strongly recommend you see my reply. Sodium is NaCl for the purposes of a Nutrition Facts label. The government is bad at science.

  • Yellow Yam

    That argument about NaCl being 60% chloride is total bullshit. First, the chemical compound is NaCl; therefore, for every sodium atom, there is one chlorine atom. Second, sodium refers to mass of the compound NaCl. If you try to use this guy’s formula for a nutrition facts label, the FDA will sue the shit out of you.

    If you want to make your pizza dough taste good without causing heart attacks, just add basil, oregano, or other herbal seasonings to the mixture.

    • GM

      Besides being an ignorant belligerent loudmouth, you’re also WRONG! The recommended amount of SODIUM intake daily is 2300mg, OR one teaspoon of SALT; as published in any health recommendation. One teaspoon of SALT is ~5500mg in weight. The math shouldn’t be too hard for you from there.

      • Losaltchef

        Your 2300 number is not the recommended amount, but rather the Maximum allowance for a healthy person under 55 years of age. The number drops considerably when you add age and/or heart issues.

    • Rogier van der Heide

      In 100 grams of ordinary salt there is about 38 grams of sodium. That’s just how it is. And when the FDA writes “sodium”, they mean, well, sodium. The description above is quite accurate.

  • Robert Rufa

    The AHA used to recommend a MAXIMUM daily sodium intake of about 2300 mg. That’s 2.3 grams, or a tad more than one slice of crust alone. These days that recommendation is lower–1500 mg for everyone. So please don’t suggest 2 grams of sodium is insignificant. If you don’t understand why it matters, look up Congestive Heart Failure, Causes.

  • Erich Weiler

    First of all, SCREW THE “HEALTHY” BULLSHIT WHEN IT COMES TO PIZZA. If you want healthy food, eat a rice cake. Pizza is for taste, not for health…. GOVERNMENT OUT OF PIZZA

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