To Salt Or Not To Salt? 🥖

Exploring whether or not you should be adding salt to your pasta, pizza, and bread doughs (hint: it depends)

Welcome back – I hope you and your belly have had a truly wonderful week!

In this edition of the Feeder newsletter, you’ll learn:

  1. What difference salt will make to your pasta, pizza, and bread doughs…
  2. An authentic recipe for making Chinese char siu…
  3. How to make bright-purple sauerkraut…

…and lots more. Let’s dive in! 👇

🍝 Fresh vs. Dry Pasta

Which do you prefer?

Personally, I’ve always stuck to dry pasta – fresh pasta looked like way too much effort, especially without a pasta roller.

But a few days ago I had my first attempt at fresh pasta… and it turns out that it’s surprisingly easy to make! I don’t have a pasta machine (yet), so I rolled it out by hand like a true Italian nonna, and it came out perfectly. The recipe I used only has 3 ingredients, and I was honestly amazed at how good it tastes.

You can see how it turned out here:

My only mistake?

Adding salt to the dough!

Salt strengthens gluten, so adding a pinch of it to your dough will give your pasta a chewier, firmer texture. But I learned the hard way that it will also make your dough a lot stiffer and harder to work with. That might not be a problem if you have a pasta maker, but it’s not ideal if – like me – you’re trying to roll it out by hand.

I spent a good 20 minutes being taunted by my dough. Every time I tried to roll it out, it would just snap back into place like a rubber band.

I got there eventually, but next time, salt the pasta water, not the dough.

🧂 Tip of The Week:

Should you add salt to your dough or leave it out? Here are 7 tips to help you decide:

  1. Salt improves flavor. Bread baked without salt will taste bland. But don’t go overboard – a good rule of thumb is around 1.8 – 2% salt based on flour weight.
  2. Salt tightens the gluten network, so adding it to your dough can momentarily make it stiffer and harder to work with. If it gets too tight, allow it to rest for a few minutes and it’ll usually relax again.
  3. Add salt to bread dough early. It will flavor the bread and make your dough less sticky (and, therefore, easier to work with). Salt will also give your bread volume by better holding the carbon dioxide released from your yeast, which gives bread its porous, springy texture.
  4. Add salt early to pizza dough, as it will give the dough the elasticity it needs to be pulled (or rolled) into a pizza shape without tearing. In Neapolitan-style pizza, around 2.5 – 3% salt is used.
  5. Leave salt out of Italian pasta dough, especially if you’re rolling it out by hand. Instead, add it generously to the pasta water (see this article if you want to nerd out on pasta water-salt ratios).
  6. Add salt early to Asian noodle dough (like ramen and udon). Unlike Italian pasta, Asian noodles tend to be pulled, not rolled, so you’ll need the extra strength that salt provides to keep your noodles from ripping.
  7. Add salt later to batters and dough for cakes, pancakes, and delicate pastries to keep them tender, but make sure to whisk thoroughly to incorporate evenly before cooking.

🌮 Best of the Week

A few of my favorite finds from the past week:

  1. 😴 Our Top 3 QUICK & EASY Chinese Recipes!
    Made With Lau is easily YouTube’s most wholesome cooking channel. This father-son duo team up weekly to capture classic Chinese recipes, and the whole family gets involved as they discuss Chinese culture, stories, and childhood memories. If you’re new to the channel, this video on making char siu is a great intro.
  2. The End of Plastic Food Packaging?
    You know those little ketchup sachets that get thrown in with your take-out order? Imagine if, rather than being packaged in plastic, they came neatly wrapped up in sustainable packaging that’s biodegradable and entirely edible. It kinda sounds too good to be true, but it’s just one of several problems that companies like Notpla have already solved. Next step? Scaling it up! Costs will still need to come down considerably, but the end of plastic food packaging might finally be in sight 👀
  3. What are some food myths that many people still believe?
    Be completely honest, how many of these were you surprised by?

🌍 Healthy Food, Healthy Planet:

Your sustainability tip of the week…

Besides strengthening your dough, salt has so many uses in the kitchen. One of my faves is using it to ferment your leftover veggies. Last week made this beetroot sauerkraut from half a head of lettuce and some beets that were slowly shriveling up at the back of my fridge – it turned out incredible!

As a German, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this was the first time making sauerkraut for me, but it definitely won’t be the last. I’ve been using it as a relish on nearly every dish I’ve made, it adds a delicious salty/tangy crunch, and the bright purple adds a nice pop of color to beige foods.

Why Does This Help? 🤔

Food waste is responsible for nearly 10% of climate change emissions, which is a staggering amount. Pickling or fermenting is an easy way to use up leftover veggies, and keep them from going off.

Learn More: From Kimchi to Sauerkraut, Fermented Vegetables Have Gone from Taboo to Wellness Darling

🗺 Cooking Around the World

This week, why not try…

Italian Ragù

Want to try your hand at fresh pasta? Serve it up with a slow-cooked ragù sauce! I slow-cooked a pork & beef shank ragù (loosely based on the Recipe Tin Eat’s recipe below) to go along with my pappardelle last week… it was divine!

For best results, cook it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight – you’ll be amazed how much better it tastes the next day.

Here are three riffs on this recipe:

  1. Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta, by Recipe Tin Eats
  2. Mushroom & Lentil Ragu, by Bianca Zapatka
  3. Chickpea flour tagliatelle with hare ragù and apple and saffron sauce, by Great British Chefs

🤷‍♂️ Nailed or Failed?

I tried making this Pea & Truffle Soup with a Parmesan Galette from the MasterChef: The Classics With A Twist cookbook… how do you think it turned out? 👇
It’s the perfect appetizer for a dinner party – it looks super fancy but is actually relatively easy to make!

👋 Now Over To You!

Let me know your thoughts!

Did you find this week’s newletter useful? Do you have a delicious recipe or great resource to share? Anything you’d like to see more of, or less of?

I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, comments, or just want to say hi, please drop a comment below!

Have a wonderful week, and happy cooking 🍜

Become a Better Home Cook!

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