Salt and Breadmaking

PB from Bangalore, India wrote me today: Hare Krishna! I wanted to ask… is it necessary to add oil or salt while making atta flour dough for chapatis? My husband has read that we should avoid using salt & oil while making it. Why do we add salt to the dough & is it required?”

the magic chapati:

My reply: It is a matter of personal taste whether you add oil or salt in chapatis. Salt improves the flavour of the breads, there is no doubt. It accentuates the natural sweetness of the grain, even. Saltless bread is very bland. And the salt also improves the dough texture due to chemical changes with the gluten.*

Oil or ghee inside the chapati dough makes the breads softer and more tender. I prefer to leave out any oil or ghee, and spread the hot chapati with a little ghee after cooking.

(*When salt is added to a dough, some of the negatively-charged chlorine ions will bond with the positively-charged sites on the gluten protein, neutralizing the overall charge. With the repulsive forces eliminated, the web will tighten, compact, and bond with itself more strongly. A more bonded, compact gluten web can better withstand the force exerted by the swelling air bubbles in an actively fermenting dough, and thus will expand more slowly).

And for those who thought that adding/not adding salt in bread was an insignificant choice, think again. Read this interesting article.
Posted by Kurma on 27/12/07; 10:10:32 AM

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