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I recently made ciabatta, which turned out very well, with a good crust and nice open crumb. However, I felt it could use more salt to give extra flavour. I'm aware that salt and yeast do not make good bedfellows (or should that be breadfellows?), so how much salt can I safely add to the recipe without compromising it?

FYI, the recipe in question uses 3.25 cups polish, 3 cups of flour, and 0.75 cups of water to 1.75 teaspoons of salt (I use table salt to avoid lumps of undissolved salt in the bread).

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+1 - Good question! –  rfusca Feb 20 '12 at 15:50
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+1 for the pun. –  Sobachatina Feb 20 '12 at 16:45
    
Get more kick from the salt you have by powderising it first, and then dissolving into some hot water as part of your total water. Salt appears to dissolve in normal water, but it tends to have significant amount of suspended crystals, and hence a less even salty taste –  TFD Feb 20 '12 at 23:25
    
2% works nice, between raise time/Taste. If more salt is preferred, sprinkle some on top, like pretzels. –  Optionparty Jun 10 '13 at 11:01

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Based on experience and experimentation alone (I bake bread several times a week), I'd say to be consistently safe you probably want to max out around 3% in baker's percentages. 2-2.5% is much more common, but I've done as much as 3%. After 3%, things got very inconsistent. Sometimes it would work if the structure was just right, but mostly I got loaves that didn't rise well.

If I did my math and conversions to weight right, it looks like you're probably in the 2% range, so you should be able to add about 50% more salt.

EDIT: It must be higher, but I'm not sure how high. Bread Baker's Apprentice as a 4.2% Poolish Focaccia and other others in that range. BBA seems to max out in the low 4's.

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I'm sure somebody will point out a recipe somewhere that has 6% salt or such, so given a really sugary dough, it might be possible to push it further. –  rfusca Feb 20 '12 at 16:03
    
+1, Assuming that we are talking about primarily lean/rustic breads (ciabatta was noted) then I'm sure you wouldn't see anything up to 6%. Peter Reinhart in Bread Baker's Apprentice recommends 1.5% - 2.5%. 3% is probably pushing it a bit, but should be possible. Plan on a little extra rise time to compensate for slightly weakened yeast? –  Sam Ley Feb 20 '12 at 17:33
    
I can vouch for a 3% salt bread. Was a quick-rise too, with around 9% live yeast equivalent, so maybe not so good for a BBA recipe. But it worked, and didn't seem to inhibit the yeast - it rose a lot in a short time, I think it could have worked with more salt too (although it wouldn't have been to my taste). –  rumtscho Feb 20 '12 at 23:24
    
Yep, 3% seems to be the maximum recommended. –  BaffledCook Feb 21 '12 at 0:23

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