Salt helps the gluten; it gives flavour; it acts as a preservative; and it helps to slow down the action of the yeast. But how much salt do we actually need in bread? At what point is the chemistry of baking affected by reducing salt?
I started using less and less salt in my breads. The structure and longevity did not seem to be affected at first – but I did miss the taste.
At 1% salt-to-flour, the effects were not very pronounced. At 0.8%, there was a marked lack of flavour. At 0.6%, the yeast was too active and the bread staled quickly. So 0.7% is probably a minimum – if you have the scales to weigh so accurately!
What’s so great about Fougasse? It’s always seemed to me to be a gimmick – a loaf that looks like a dead leaf. I thought I ought to try it and see what the fuss is about.
I used a sourdough and, out of habit, the dough was too wet to cut and shape properly. More flour added; more proving time allowed.
Cutting it was an art that took several attempts to get right – the end result should have fairly equal strands, well spaced. The spacing was a problem because of the size and shape of my trays, but I’ll get that right next time.
The crux, though, is: what does it taste like? The answer is: crusty. Which turned out to be a good thing. The creamy sourdough stood up well to the constant complexity of the crust and the bread soon disappeared under the attack of constant nibbling.
So next time, with more flavour, I think. And a slightly drier dough.
Fougasse – it’s all about le crunch