Many people are familiar with the ingredients of certain dough recipes such as bread, cookie dough, and pastries; however, there has always been some confusion around the recipe for pizza dough and what should be included within it.
One of the key ingredients of pizza dough is salt – it is necessary for a variety of reasons, including flavor.
However, if you use too much salt in your pizza dough, this can have an unwanted effect, so it is important that you are making sure that you are adding the right amount to your dough without compromising its quality.
In this article, we are going to be looking at how and why you should use salt in pizza dough and how monitoring the salt-levels will result in the perfect taste and a bread product that gives you that crispy pizza crust that all home pizza makers strive for.
Do You Put Salt In Pizza Dough?
Salt is an important ingredient in any pizza dough recipe – look in any cookbook at the range of recipes for pizzas, and you will see salt listed. However, bakers will tell you that it is important not to go overboard with the amount of salt that you use whilst also ensuring that you use enough.
This may be something of an art and may take some practice with your favorite recipes to get it perfect, but once you know just the right amount, you will be making incredible pizzas in no time.
How Does Salt Affect Pizza Dough?
One of the key things that salt can do for your pizza is that it will vastly improve the flavor – without salt, you might be left with bland and tasteless breads that do not compliment the pizza toppings anywhere near as well as you would want them to.
However, salt plays more than one role in the process of making pizza dough – and yes, there are many types of dough, each with a slightly varying recipe. Take sourdough, for example, whose ingredients include bread flour, sea salt, and a starter – these are not the commonly listed products found in pizza dough.
A pizza dough recipe would contain flour, yeast, water, olive oil, sugar, and salt, The quantities of which and the flour weight will vary depending on how much dough you wish to make.
When you add salt to the other pizza ingredients like flour, yeast, etc., you are doing far more than simply improving the taste, although this is an important part of the process. The taste without salt would be very much resemblant of flour and would be quite starchy. You might also notice that the texture and color of the pizza are slightly different without using salt.
Additionally, the salt will help with the overall structure of the dough ball. You can use sea salts or table salt; there is no right or wrong here, but the different types of salt may produce a very slightly different flavor. We are all familiar with the concept of allowing the dough to rise, either at room temperature or in the fridge, and as this happens, the gluten bonds are broken down because the yeast will ‘eat’ the sugar, and this results in carbon dioxide air bubbles which causes the dough ball to rise.
However, if the salt levels are too high, this can alter the fermentation process further and result in a less than desirable end product – but we will look into this a little more later on.
What Type Of Salt Should I Use For My Pizza?
Making pizza is tricky, but knowing the right things to include will give you a pizza that is delicious and will have the perfect crust. Of course, you will need to gather together everything you need; water, flour, yeast, sugar, oil, and salt. But one of the most common musings of home pizza chefs is what type of salt is best for pizza dough.
In truth, you can use any type of salt for your pizza, but using a fine salt such as table salt will mean that it is more easily able to mix in with the flour and other components of the pizza bread dough.
Some people may prefer to use sea salt, and this is fine, but it is more common in sourdough, but to achieve a tasty, fluffy crust that is golden-brown in color, will require salt that is a little less coarse.
Of course, if you do want to use this type of salt for pizza, one of the best ways to do this is to either grind it down to something a little finer or dissolve it in water – this is one of the most recommended ways by top pizza chefs. But it is also important to keep in mind that the mineral levels in this type of salt may be slightly higher, so if you are looking to make a pizza that isn’t terrible for your diet or health, then it may be best to stick to other kinds of salt.
What Happens If The Salt Level Is Too High?
So, you have mixed together your flour, olive oil, yeast, and sugar, but you have misjudged the salt levels, and now there are too many of these minerals in your dough. What is going to happen?
Whilst salt is one of the key ingredients in this recipe and does play an important role, too much salt can mean that the fermentation process does not happen correctly. The thing that would be the most devastating is that the salt could kill the yeast, and this would stop fermentation altogether, meaning that your dough would not rise at all.
However, this will only happen if you have used far too much salt. In contrast, if you have added just a little too much table salt, then you may find that the taste is effected – your dough may have a saltiness to it that is unpleasant. Where fermentation is concerned, it may have a negative impact on the yeast, but this may not be as tragic as bread dough that has an extremely high percentage of salt. Bakers recommend that the salt percentage is 2% of the flour weight, so if you were to use 500g of flour, you would use 10g of salt and no more.
You may find that the dough is far slower to rise. Furthermore, because the yeast has not had a proper chance to impact the gluten development, you will find that when it comes to stretching your dough ready to add the toppings, it will be much more difficult.
When you stretch pizza bread dough, you should be able to do this easily. When you knead your pizza dough, the gluten structure becomes longer and stronger, thus resulting in quite a sticky and stretching dough – and this is great, but it is important to allow the yeast and gluten to work together during the fermentation process to give you a dough ball that has an excellent taste, can be easily stretched and will help to form that delicious pizza crust that is so famous around the world.
Much attention is paid by bakers around the world, and to achieve an open and airy crumb structure, which will deliver a fluffy crust, this process is even more important. So when you are putting the flour, water, yeast, oil, sugar, and salt together, be certain to ensure that you do not over-do the salt.
The amount of salt you use will drastically impact this process, but you should also think about your salt intake. If the percentage of salt is too high, this could cause health issues.
What Happens If I Don't Put Salt In Pizza Dough?
On the other hand, pizza dough recipes without salt will impact things on the other extreme of the scale – we did say that getting it right may take a little practice, but once you understand the roles of the bread dough ingredients, it becomes a little more easy to find that balance.
Of course, if you do not put salt into your pizza dough, this will also impact the flavor, making it taste a lot like flour, and whilst flour does play a key role in this type of bread dough, you certainly do not want it to be flavored that way.
But when we are looking at how the gluten and yeast react to the absence of salt, it is easy to see why finding the right amount is important.
We have given you information on how the dough might rise more slowly when the amount of salt is too high, but when you reduce this amount to zero, you may find that the bread dough becomes ‘overblown.’ This is because using salt will control the rate of proofing, whether done in the fridge or at room temperature and without it, you end up with a dough that has a gluten structure that cannot be managed.
A Note On Proofing Times
It is also worth pointing out that the amount of time you leave your bread dough to ferment could have an impact on the overall quality of the dough. Of course, if you have added too much salt, you may find that no matter how long you leave the dough, the salt has slowed it down so much that it will never rise properly enough to give you a fluffy crust, and you may need to start again.
Most bakers would suggest that 24 hours in the fridge or 2 hours at room temperature will be sufficient for the dough to rise and the roles of the yeast and gluten to be completed. If you leave it much longer, there have been reports that the acid production goes out of control, and the dough becomes too dense to use.
If you do not leave your dough to proof for long enough, you will not achieve an airy crust when it comes to eating your pizza. This is the aim of so many home pizza chefs so getting it right is imperative.
Can You Add Salt To Pizza Dough After It Has Risen?
Some people wonder whether adding salt to the pizza bread dough after the yeast has been allowed to ferment is a better idea – if you are in a hurry, then the answer to this question would be yes, you can put salt into the bread dough after the dough ball has risen.
This is because mixing the other foods together like water, oil, and flour, etc., will still create that all-important gluten link that the yeast needs to feed on, but the process will happen much more quickly. You can then put the salt into the mix afterward to ensure that your crust has a beautiful flavor when it is time to eat.
In some cases, you may have forgotten to add your salt when you are making the dough, and unlike some of the other components of the recipe like flour and water, you could potentially get away with it – if you are willing to have a starchy taste. However, there are some suggestions for adding salt after the dough has risen, but this could mean leaving it to rise again after the salt has been added.
You may also need to add a little extra water for this since the bread could become dry, and you may also find the diluting some salt in some warm water and then kneading it into the dough will improve things.
Pizza is one of the most well-loved meals on the planet, and we are sure that you have called up a friend many times to arrange a pizza night, especially if you love making your own pizza at home. But one of the most common problems is the link between salt and pizza dough and whether this ingredient is important or not.
In short, salt plays just as much of an important role as other key components of your pizza recipe, such as flour and sugar. But it is important to remember that to get a perfect pizza and a dough ball that will rise to perfection, the amount of salt you use should be monitored.
Too much salt can slow down the proofing process or even stop it in its tracks, but using too little salt will mean that you end up with an overblown pizza dough. Furthermore, the level of salt you use may affect the color, taste, and texture of your pizza.
In essence, you should be careful to use the right amount of salt – most professional chefs would suggest using 2% of the flour weight – this may not seem very much, but it is also important to think about the health risks of eating a lot of salt.
Once you have mastered the art of using the correct amount of salt, you can feel confident that your pizza dough will work out well every time, and if you ever forget to include salt in the recipe – there may be a chance to save your dough by putting in a little salt afterward.