I’m stealing again, this time from Sandor Katz and his fabulous florescent book, Wild Fermentation. Katz suggests that bread yeast grows more obligingly without salt to slow things down, and that makes sense. I’ve now mixed up two batches of long rise artisan bread dough sans salt. Both looked quite happy and bubbly after their overnight rise, as though this was middle of summer and not the coldest month on record.

bread-new-year

The trick would be getting salt added before baking, and I opted to knead the grains in on the second morning. Which brings us to the next item, kneading. Borrowing again from Katz, I worked a bit of additional flour into my dough at the same time I added salt, to give the yeast a little snack. (My dough tends to come out pretty wet, so the extra flour firmed things up nicely.) Well. Not only did the loaf rise flawlessly, with none of those icky nubs you can get with homemade bread, but the flavor was also very good. I didn’t sample every single slice, of course, but the bread got eaten. Fast.

The long-rise and five-minute people tell you not to handle your dough too much, and the thinking is that a long rise time allows lots of flavor and gluten to develop. But now I’m wondering whether a good knead or two on subsequent days might not hurt and maybe even helps.

If someone can shed some light on these mysteries, I would like that.

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