How Salt Affects Baking

Here are a few ways salt affects your baked goods from the moment it's added to the dough:

  • Salt slows down all the chemical reactions that are happening in the dough, including calming fermentation activity to a steadier level.
  • Salt also makes the dough a little stronger and tighter.
  • Salt impacts the shelf life of baked goods, but its effects depend on weather conditions. Salt is hydroscopic, which means it absorbs water. Consequently, in humid climates, it will trap moisture from the air, making a crisp crust soggy, and therefore shortening shelf life. In dry climates, however, the salt helps hold water in the bread longer, inhibiting staling, and thus extending the bread's shelf life.
  • Salt, of course, adds flavor to baked goods. It also potentiates the flavor of other ingredients, including butter and flour.

Salt comes in several forms, including fine, course, sea salt and Kosher salt. All provide the same effect. In fact, in blind taste tests, people were not able to distinguish a difference in the bread's taste based on the type of salt used.