Can you make bread without salt?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you make bread without salt?”, and why do we add salt to the bread?

Can you make bread without salt?

Yes, you can make bread without salt. But it does not mean that you should. Salt performs a very important function in bread baking. 

If you skip the salt altogether, you will end up with a slack bread and a sticky dough. Ideally, salt should be added at the rate of 1.8 to 2% of the weight of flour. This amount is already negligible. 

The best you can do is further cut down on the amount of salt. Completely eliminating the salt from the recipe is impractical and is not recommended.

The flavor of bread with limited or no salt can be compensated by adding some herbs and spices like fresh chopped rosemary, caraway seeds.

This only applies to traditional bread. If you are making Tuscan bread, you will notice that there is no salt in the recipe, to begin with. 

Due to its composition, Tuscan bread turns out pretty bland. But the baldness is balanced with add-ins such as olive oil or garlic on top and the sides like salty meats, cheese, stew, etc.

Why do we add salt to the bread?

There are several reasons why we add salt to the bread. Salt imparts certain quality characteristics to the finished products and also affects the dough kneading. 

Salt controls yeast fermentation

Salt allows you to control the rate of yeast fermentation in the dough. In the absence of salt, the yeast will reproduce limitlessly, exhausting all the sugar in the dough. When yeast takes longer to perform fermentation, a larger number of flavorful notes are produced. 

A dough with no salt will show overactivity during the proofing stage by inflating rapidly and appearing fluffy. But the dough ends up too sticky to handle and produces a rather dense bread.

Salt strengthens gluten 

The volume of the finished bread depends upon how much carbon dioxide the bread was able to trap during the baking stage. Gluten strands with poor strength are unable to trap the gas produced during fermentation, thus, resulting in a deflated bread with poor volume.

Salt makes the gluten stranger. Stronger the gluten strands do a better job at holding the carbon dioxide gas. This results in a cohesive dough that is baked into fluffy bread with a large volume.

Salt improves crust color 

Bread contains the residual sugars that are the remnants of starch breakdown by the amylase enzyme. These sugars caramelize under the baking temperatures and form a brown crust on top of the bread.

However, the sugar will be all used up if there is no salt in the dough to impede and rein the activity of yeast. The result is bread with a pale crust that no one finds desirable.

Salt modifies flavor 

Salt adds flavors to the bread. The flavor notes are subtle and can be detected in terms of something crucial missing in the bread. A saltless bread has a bland and flat taste.

How to make a no-salt bread loaf?

Ingredients 

  • 18oz strong white bread flour, sifted, plus extra to knead
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7g sachet instant dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (or other mild-tasting oil)
  • spray oil
  • 2 tbsp skim milk
  • pumpkin or sunflower seeds, to serve (optional)

Instructions 

  1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC/fan 180°C/gas 6.
  1. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, and yeast until homogenous.
  1. Use a spoon to stir in oil and 1¼ cup warm water to the flour mixture.
  1. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes. Beware of over-kneading the dough as it can result in floppy bread. Once the dough forms a ball and becomes elastic, let it proof inside a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel or an oiled cling film. The proofing will take about 30-45 minutes.
  1. Lightly dust your counter with flour and take out the dough onto the counter. Punch the dough with your fish and work it into a round or oval shape. Place the dough ball on a lightly greased baking dish. Cover with an oiled cling film and let the dough ferment. 
  1. Make a shallow cut at the top of the bread and smear the dough with some milk using a brush. Sprinkle the dough with 2 tbsp of pumpkin or sunflower seeds if you like.
  1. Bake the dough for 30-45 minutes or until a golden-brown crust develops.

Other FAQs about Bread that you may be interested in.

How to tell if bread is spoiled? (5 simple ways)

How long is bread good for?

How to store cornbread?

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “Can you make bread without salt?”, and why do we add salt to the bread?

References

https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/blog/2020/07/29/why-is-salt-important-in-yeast-bread
https://www.healthyfood.com/healthy-recipes/no-salt-bread-loaf/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.