Make a Perfect Pizza Crust - Part 2 - Let It Be!
Secret #2 to a Super Pizza Crust
Welcome to The Perfect Pizza Crust - Part 2. I'm exploring ways to make a pizza crust worthy of a "WOW!" In Part 2, we'll look at a hint that most experienced pizza and bread makers know about and use. However, it is very seldom included in recipes for pizza dough/crust. I've tried this one, and it makes a huge difference.
Photo courtesy of Flickr and avlxyz
The Basics of Pizza Dough
Photo courtesy of Flickr and dalboz17
My suggestions will work on pretty much any pizza dough recipe that you find. The basic procedure is the same. It's those extra touches that make a tremendous difference to your final result. Here is a quick overview of making pizza dough:
3-5 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package or 2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
These are the basic ingredients for pizza dough in approximate quantities. You don't absolutely have to add the sugar. You can mess around with the basic recipe by adding olive oil, or use honey instead of sugar. You can add herbs...lots of creative possibilities.
Mix together all of your ingredients, and adjust amounts of flour or water to get a sticky dough.
Knead by hand or in a machine or mixer until smooth and elastic.
Let is rise until double.
Spread it out in a pizza pan, add your toppings and bake.
Here's the Secret
Right here! Are you paying attention?
Photo courtesy of Flickr and ninjapoodles
Mix the flour and water together, holding back about 25% of your flour. Mix them just enough to combine. If it looks like a goopy mess, that's good. Then, (here it comes!) cover the bowl and walk away for 20 to 30 minutes. Really, that's it. So simple, but it makes an incredible difference.
After the 20 to 30 minute wait, you can go back to your dough and add the salt, sugar and yeast. Mix the dough for several minutes before adding the rest of the flour. Continue on with the rest of the pizza-making process.
What Does It Do and Why?
Did I just waste half an hour?
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Jeff Kubina
When you mix the ingredients together and let them sit for a bit, the flour has time to hydrate. The fancy word for this is autolyse (pronounced ah-toh-leez). Sounds simple, but it's pretty cool. You'll notice the texture of your goop is significantly different after the wait than before. In essence, this wait has done some of the kneading for you. When you use this trick, you really don't have to knead the dough as long.
Flour contains two proteins, glutenin and gliaden. When water is added, glutenin and gliaden get plumped up, start to mix together, and along with the water molecules, begin to form gluten. As you mix the dough, gluten molecules stick together and form longer strands.
Photo courtesy of Flickr and Leslie Duss
During kneading, the gluten strands become stronger and stretchier. Continued kneading aligns the strands into a honeycomb-like network that will trap gas and expand as the yeast goes to work.
The autolyse step allows the gluten strands to form stronger bonds before it the network is formed. Enzymes also work on the gluten, producing a dough that handles and stretches out more easily.
For a nice animated explanation of gluten formation, visit Bread Science at exploratorium.edu.
What Do You Think?
Do you think autolysing your dough is a useful step?
Best Pizza Books from Amazon
Pizza-making on YouTube - Tony shows us how to shape the blob of dough into a pizza shape. It's more interesting than it sounds.
Where Do You Get Your Pizza - Do you make homemade pizza?
Do You Make Your Own Homemade Pizza?
Photo courtesy of Flickr and SeriouslyGood1
You Could Have a Brick Pizza Oven on Your Countertop!
Wouldn't it be great to have a brick oven right in your kitchen? This beautifully designed oven is lined with real brick, heats to 500 degrees F., comes with its own pizza stone, and is big enough to roast a whole chicken. Fits on your countertop. Customers who have bought the oven have given it rave reviews. Click here to read them.
American Pie by Peter Reinhart - This is a wonderful resource for pizza people like you.
Pizza-making Gadgets from Amazon - Check out these helpful items.
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