2

Food:

Baking focaccia.

Ingredient and step in question:

3 grams of salt called for pre-mix.

'Problem':

Normally I put the salt in the dry ingredients. Yesterday I put the salt with the wet mixture (1/2 tsp yeast, 2.5 cups water, 2 tbs honey). Noticed a less-than-normal rise at about the 8 hour mark, with no improvement at 10 or 12 hour mark.

Question:

Is this expected behavior for putting the salt in the wet mixture? Does salt in the wet mixture impede growth more than salt in the dry mixture?

  • It's hard to say without understanding your method. Were you using a different recipe or method, or changing a single part of your existing method? If you can give more details that would help. – GdD Oct 24 '19 at 21:46
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Yes it does - here's the reason why:

Yeast need some salt to grow properly, but they only need a very small amount (see 3rd para of intro). When you added the salt to the wet mix (sponge), you made it into a high enough concentration to inhibit the growth of the yeast, so it didn't reach the log-phase growth that you would expect when generating a sponge mix. This delays how the yeast behave later in the process by altering the slope of the growth curve and allowing it to reach the stationary phase (where an essential nutrient is depleted) without ever growing at a fast enough rate to make the dough as you expect.

The reason there was no further improvement with longer incubation, is also due to the depletion of that same essential nutrient. Basically this is rate limiting, so the gas generated from growth is equal to the rate at which the gas is escaping from your dough.

When you mix the salt into the dry ingredients this volume change relative to the wet mix, dilutes out the salt to a concentration where the yeast can grow effectively, but they are still limited by what has happened during the sponge growth. Where the log-phase is delayed, it will take much longer to start growing rapidly, and there isn't enough free water in your dough to allow the yeasts to easily reach log-phase in the full dough, so this limits what happens with the final product.

  • So would it be better to keep the salt to the dry ingredients? Or would the rate limited growth be the same? – user79154 Oct 24 '19 at 22:32
  • 1
    The dry ingredients - they do need some salt. The dry ingredients dilute out the concentration - I'll edit this into the answer. – bob1 Oct 24 '19 at 22:46
  • interestingly, the bake turned out delicious! I would say compared to my 'normal' routine there was about 60% of proofing in sheer size. I stretched the dough in a pan over about 2 hours before baking at 450F for ~30 minutes. May have to continue the experimentation... – user79154 Oct 25 '19 at 15:06

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