What does salt do for pizza dough? It’s a question that’s asked a lot, so we tasked Ooni Ambassador Lewis Pope with explaining the importance of salt in pizza dough.
First up… What kind of salt?
There are generally three types of salt that you’ll have in your cupboard. Salt flakes, coarse salt, and fine salt. Lewis recommends using fine sea salt, because it’s the easiest of the three to dissolve in water for your dough.
Salt flakes and coarse salt take much longer to dissolve than fine salt, meaning there’s a higher chance that your dough will end up with gritty deposits - not what you want!
Salt isn’t just there for flavour, it also plays an important role in the fermentation process. It helps tighten the gluten structure within the dough, which in turn helps strengthen it. Salt also helps regulate the yeast - the less salt you use, the more active the yeast will be, and the weaker your dough will turn out. Conversely, if you use too much salt, it will really slow down the fermentation, and it may even kill the yeast.
So, what is the ideal quantity of salt to use in pizza dough?
In Neapolitan style pizza, around 2.5 - 3% salt is used. For example, if you have 1kg of flour, 2.5% will be 25g of salt. Check out the Ooni app which features a Dough Calculator, taking the hassle out of percentages for you!
Lewis conducted an experiment to show the difference between using no salt, 3% salt, and 6% salt. For each dough ball he used 63% hydration and a 2 hour room temperature proof at 23C.
Ingredients: 184g Flour, 116g Water, 4g Fresh Yeast, 0g Salt
- After two hours, the dough ball was bursting out of the container, the yeast had been super active.
- The dough ripped very easily, there was no strength in the structure at all.
Ingredients: 181g Flour, 115g Water, 4g Fresh Yeast, 5g Salt
- The dough ball was looking pretty much perfect. It had risen a good amount.
- The dough stretched well, with good elasticity.
Ingredients: 178g Flour, 112g Water, 4g Fresh Yeast, 11g Salt
- The dough ball had risen a tiny amount, there was very little change to the volume.
- Although the dough still stretched well, the flavour was unpleasant.
Lewis’ recommendation: 3%, the dough will be easy to work with and you’ll still get the impact of the flavour.