Bread has always been one of my favorite go to food choices. From bagels to garlic bread to pizza to sandwiches, bread was probably my number one comfort food. When I was told to go on to a Low Sodium lifestyle, I quickly saw that sodium was everywhere, especially in bread.
I always enjoyed cooking, but baking was never something that I did, especially baking bread. The closest I came to baking bread was opening the can of Pillsbury bread or biscuits and throwing them in the oven.
According to a CDC report of February 2012, the number one top source of sodium in our diet is bread and rolls. Not just because of the amount of sodium in each slice of bread, but also because the amount of bread the average person consumes on a daily basis. This is not just related to white bread either; sodium is in all types of commercial and bakery breads.
Breads that claim to be “Heart Healthy” are normally loaded with as much sodium as any other type of bread. Here are just a few examples: Arnold’s Healthfull 10 grain bread has 150mg/slice, Nature’s Own Whole Wheat has 150mg/slice, Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Dark Wheat has 150mg/slice, Whole Foods Whole Wheat Bread reports somewhere in the range of 130 – 158mg/slice.
There are a few low sodium bread options (Pepperidge Farm as an example) out on the market shelves, however, the way that the manufacturers have reduced sodium appears to be more focused on the reducing the size and thickness of the slice of bread/loaf, than the actual amount of sodium used.
The fact is that Salt is one of the 4-key ingredients in making bread. From several bread making classes that I have taken, the magic number that is constantly used is that salt should account for 1.8% to 2% of flour, by weight. According to the website WildYeastBlog.com, Salt has several roles in the bread making process:
• Salt effects dough texture, making it stronger and less sticky.
• Salt reduces oxidation of the dough during mixing. Oxidation causes the degradation of carotenoid pigments in the flour that contribute to the flavor and the crumb color.
• Salt regulates yeast activity, causing fermentation to the progress at a more consistent rate.
• Salt affects shelf life.
I have found that when making bread with without salt, you have to adjust for the rising times, the final baked product has less color and does not brown as evenly, and the flavor is quite dull. I have tried a full range of salt and less salt products trying to find the best way to make bread that still has the flavor that everyone would enjoy. All of the less salt products contain either increased levels of potassium or magnetism or both, which for many people could cause other problems.
As I said before, baking bread was never one of my strengths or passions. Early on we purchased a bread machine so that I could start making my own no/low sodium breads. The breads were pretty good when they first came out of the machine, a nice, hot and soft texture. But later that day and especially the next day, the breads were just too dense and heavy.
So I replaced the bread machine with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. At first this didn’t do much to solve the problem of dense and heavy bread, but I kept experimenting. After nearly 7 years of experimenting I finally achieved a successful product that not only I enjoyed, but my family and friends enjoyed as well. Now I make bread at least once a week. At first it seemed like a lot of work, but now I have cut down my total work/kitchen time to less than 20 minutes and making bread is actually fun.
I have to admit that all of my bread recipes include salt. However, I am using and recommend, the specific brand of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. Of all salt and less salt products, Diamond Crystal Kosher salt has the lowest amount of sodium and NO potassium or magnesium has been added.
Making your own bread is actually easier than most people think. It doesn’t take a lot of your physical time, however you do have to be patient and let the dough do its thing. The benefit is full flavored bread that is at least 100mg per slice less sodium than the store brands. Once again I am enjoying my comfort food.
For more low sodium and flavorful recipes, please visit www.lowsodiumguru.com!
BA Whole Wheat Bread
• 1 1/4 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
• 1 cup King Arthur Bread Flour
• 1 1/4 tsp SAF Instant Yeast
• 1 Tbs Hershey’s Cocoa, Natural Unsweetened
• 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
• 3/4 cup Warm Water (60 to 70 degrees)
• 1 Tbs Unsalted Butter, melted
• 1/4 cup Honey
Using my Stand Mixer, add the wheat flour and bread flour. On one side of the bowl add the salt and cocoa. On the other add the yeast. Because we are using Instant Yeast, there is no need for proofing the yeast. Using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients that you have just added to the bowl making sure that you combine everything.
I make a well in the center of my flour mixture. Here I add the water, melted butter and honey. Again with the wooden spoon I mix everything together. Make sure that all of the dry ingredients are well incorporated. Now, just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes. Wheat flour takes a little longer to absorb the liquid and this will make the kneading much easier.
After the 10 minute rest period, remove the towel and plastic wrap, and attach the mixing bowl to the mixer. I immediately turn the mixer to speed 2 for 15 to 30 seconds and then increase the speed to 3.
If the dough does not appear to be holding together, (sometimes the mixer will seem to just create a well in the dough and the dough spreads out across the bottom of the bowl), Stop the mixer, Add 1 Tbs of Wheat Flour and using your wooden spoon, move the dough around to make sure it is covered in the newly added flour.
Turn the mixer back on to speed 3 and let it knead the dough for 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place on a work surface. The dough will be a little stickier than normal dough. As long as nothing is sticking to your hands when you pull away from the dough – then your good. Just knead the dough by hand for 30 seconds. This helps to smooth out the dough and get rid of some of the stickiness.
Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and place in a warm, draft free location for a hour or hour and a half. I use my unheated oven as my draft free area.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and place on your work surface. Punch down the dough and shape it into your loaf, either a round (placing onto a baking sheet covered with a spill-mat, parchment paper or corn meal) or you can even put the dough into a well oiled loaf pan.
Again, place the shaped dough into a draft free location and cover with a cotton towel or plastic wrap. Let it rest for 30 minutes. The bread will not double in size during this point, but it should rise a little. It will rise more during the actual cooking stage.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using an egg wash, either an egg white with some water mixed together or a tablespoon of egg substitute, and lightly brush over the top of the dough. Using a sharp knife, gently score the top of the loaf.
Place the loaf in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes. The bread is done when it will have a hollow sound when tapped on with a wooden spoon or check to make sure that internal temperature is between 190 and 200 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let it cool a little before slicing.