Home-made pizza dough, the retardation method
by Kristina Jeren/Andrija Brljak/George Cane/Filip Rukavina/
Homemade pizza dough is somewhat of a mini mystery – the main subject being the yeast amount needed for the perfect result. Often the results would be closer to bread then the fine, thin pizza with a rich and crunchy crust. So, what is the perfect recipe for the homemade pizza then? We have made an experiment with various yeast amounts and types to determine that.
The characteristics of the dough greatly rely on the amount of yeast used and on the time the dough spends resting before you bake it. More yeast, the dough rises quicker. More time spent rising (fermenting), the dough increases in volume. The trick is to find the perfect balance between the amount of the yeast and the fermentation time, which are, logically, inversely proportional. Same day fermentation often yields satisfactory results, but the real fun starts with multiple-day cold fermentation. It has been found that multiple-day cold fermentation (the retardation method) produces rich aromas and better structure of the dough so that’s what we want. At cool temperatures yeast behaves differently: produces carbon dioxide more slowly, produces fewer sour
We chose the Italian classic as our test subject – Pizza Napolitana. The dough recipe consists of only four ingredients: water, flour, salt and yeast, and is baked in a wood fire oven which has reached the cooking temperature of 485°C. Since flour is the main ingredient, it is important to use the right flour type. Staying true to the original Italian recipe we used “00” flour (very fine, powder-like white flour) with 12% protein content. Since we are cooking the pizza in our regular home oven at only 250°C, we’ll add two more ingredients which will
|Ingredient||Percentage in relation with water||Amount|
|“00” flour||160%||224 g|
|Olive oil||5%||7 ml|
|Yeast min||0.5%||0.7 g (dry or fresh)|
|Yeast mid||1.0%||1.4 g (dry or fresh)|
|Yeast max||1.8%||2.5 g (dry or fresh)|
In total, we have tested six different pizza dough variations:
- Fmin – 0,5%
- Fmid – 1,0%
- Fmax – 1,8 %
- Dmin – 0,5%
- Dmid – 1,0%
- Dmax – 1,8 %
Mix salt and water together, set aside. Mix yeast and flour, add sugar, oil and water/salt solution. Knead well, for at least 15-20 minutes to activate the protein (gluten). It’s what gives dough its structure; form a smooth dough, set it aside, covered, at room temperature to rest for half an hour to an hour.
After that time, separate the dough and form nice, even balls, each for one pizza. The amount of ingredients we used makes 364g of dough, that makes 2 small pizzas. Roughly, one pizza, 25-32 cm in diameter, would require between 180g and 250g of dough.
Put the pizza dough balls in an airtight container and let them rise in the fridge for 3 days. This process is known as cold fermentation or retardation. Keep checking on the dough, when it doubles in size, it is ready to be baked. So by varying the fermentation time and the
After three days it was time to test the dough. The difference in the size of the specimens was quite visible. We have used simple toppings, the same for every pizza: tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil on the rim. Baking time was 4’30”.
Properties tested were dough elasticity (ability to stretch), fluffiness – dough texture/airiness when baked, the form of the rim, smell and flavour (taste, texture).
If the dough
|Type of dough||Elasticity|
|Fmin||Elastic, stretches back|
|Fmid||Elastic, stretches back|
|Fmax||Elastic, hard to stretch|
|Dmin||Elastic, easier to stretch|
|Dmid||Easy to stretch|
|Dmax||Easy to stretch, tends to brake|
Since the temperature of the dough cannot be maintained constant, it is hard to tell the difference between the elasticity of the doughs with different yeast amount, so the conclusion is that the amount of yeast didn’t have much influence on the elasticity of the dough.
One of the most important aspects of baked pizza dough is its fluffiness or, more technically, its texture. You want the dough to be airy and gentle on the inside and crunchy on the outside. If it’s stiff and chewy it hasn’t risen enough, or it has been rising too long so it collapsed and lost the air.
|Type of dough||Fluffiness|
|Dmid||Not so fluffy|
|Dmax||Not fluffy at all, dense, chewy|
Regarding the dough
The form / thickness and the crunchiness of the rim means a lot to pizza lovers. While the center of the pizza should stay rather thin and compact, the rim should be well risen and crunchy.
|Type of dough||The rim|
|Fmin||Well risen, crunchy|
|Fmid||Well risen, crunchy, center a bit thick|
|Fmax||Rim risen, but center too thick|
|Dmin||Well risen, crunchy|
|Dmid||No rim, baked flat|
|Dmax||No rim, baked flat|
Smell and flavor
Last but not
|Type of dough||Smell and flavor|
|Fmin||Very sweet, no aftertaste|
|Fmax||Not sweet at all, yeasty taste|
|Dmin||Yeasty taste, slightly bitter aftertaste|
|Dmid||Yeasty taste, slightly bitter aftertaste|
|Dmax||Neutral taste, very bitter aftertaste|
Based on the characteristics tested (dough elasticity, fluffiness, the rim, smell/flavor) our conclusion is that three days cold fermentation of the pizza dough works best with the smallest amount of fresh yeast (0,5%). More yeast would scientifically influence the taste, making it “yeasty” and with dry yeast even bitter in aftertaste. Furthermore, too much yeast results in a collapsed dough which has no pleasant characteristics at all. To improve the fluffiness of the baked dough the yeast amount can be slightly increased towards the Fmid value, cca +0,2%.
The final recipe in ratios (three days cold fermentation):
- Water 100%
- “00” flour 160%
- Salt 5%
- Sugar 2%
- Olive oil 5%
- Fresh yeast 0,5% – 0,7%
One pizza, 25-32 cm in diameter, requires between 180g and 250g of dough.
You can download this document in a pdf file here