Most people eat a lot of pizza throughout their lifetimes. So for the pizza connoisseur, there’s no such thing as a bad pizza (for the most part).
Does Pizza Dough Need To Be Proofed? – Introduction.
Proofing pizza dough before baking is a crucial step in the process if you want your pizza crust to turn out great and not just good. It is easy to distinguish between the unproofed dough and proofed dough. An unproofed dough is denser and lacks flavor, whereas a proofed dough is airy, flavorful, and full of those little air bubbles we all love. All pizza masters proof their dough.
This article will explain what proofing is, what the benefits are, and some simple steps to follow.
Then, you can bake a delicious pizza with a bit of know-how and patience, just like the pros do.
What is Proofing?
Proofing is just another word for “rising.” The technical term you may hear is fermentation.
Many recipes for baked goods that involve dough use this method, and for a good reason.
But why is it so important? And what happens when that pizza dough rises?
What Is Fermentation?
When you make pizza dough, you use yeast in the recipe. The term fermentation refers to the action that yeast has upon the dough or the chemical process of the yeast eating the sugars in the dough.
This action converts those sugars into carbon dioxide. Fermentation creates those little air pockets in the pizza dough after it cooks.
What Is Dough Maturation?
Another term that goes hand in hand with fermentation but means something very different is maturation. These two processes happen together, but maturation refers to how complex sugars in the dough get broken down.
It’s thought that the process of maturation makes pizza dough easier to digest. Reducing complex carbohydrates into simpler ones is the same thing our digestive system does.
Fermentation happens quicker than maturation.
There are different methods you can use to proof your pizza dough.
Some are quicker than others, probably designed for people who don’t want to wait so long to enjoy their homemade pizza!
It’s not wrong to do it this way, but it will change the taste and texture of your dough.
It’s important to note that there are different kinds of yeast, like sourdough.
Therefore, the action and speed with which they cause fermentation will differ.
Also, instant yeast requires no proofing at all. But most pizza dough recipes will call for a standard baker’s yeast.
The temperature the yeast is exposed to is crucial to how the proofing process works.
A lower temperature slows down the fermentation process, allowing more time for the dough to mature.
On average, it takes between 24-48 hours to completely mature.
The variation is sometimes due to what kind of flour you use and how much water is included.
You can look at the W value on your flour to know how long to let your dough prove. It would be best to use flour with a higher W value when making pizza dough.
The higher the W value, the longer you can let your dough ferment.
It’s a balancing act, and it all comes down to the result you get when you bake your pizza dough.
Here are two methods you can use to proof your pizza dough.
The Cold Method
The cold method is the best if you want a properly “proofed” dough. It takes longer than the quick method, but your patience will be rewarded with an airier, more flavorful pizza dough.
- Knead your dough (don’t skip this step!)
- Place the dough in an airtight container or a bowl as long as it’s completely covered.
- Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and form it into individual balls.
- Place the balls back in the bowl, recover them, and allow them to proof at room temperature for a minimum of 8 hours!
- The dough balls are ready to bake when they have doubled in size.
To ensure the dough is ready, poke it and check for an indentation. If it springs back, let it set a little longer.
If your finger leaves an indentation, your pizza dough is ready for baking!
The Quick Method
If waiting up to two days to enjoy your delicious pizza doesn’t sound like much fun, you can prove your dough outside the refrigerator.
You will get a similar result, but your pizza crust will be slightly denser and probably lack some of the flavors you would get with cold proofing.
Here’s how to quick-proof pizza dough.
Warm proofing requires the yeast to work faster during fermentation, so you will need to use a little extra yeast in your recipe and add a little bit of sugar.
The temperature range is essential when using the quick method. Anything above 95 degrees Farenheight is too warm. On the other hand, if your dough reaches 120 degrees Farenheight, your yeast will probably die, and your dough will sour.
- Knead your dough (don’t skip this step!)
- Place the dough in a bowl and cover so that it’s airtight.
- Allow the dough to proof for sixty minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and split it into individual balls.
- Leave the dough balls on the countertop and cover with an upturned bowl.
- Allow the balls to proof for another 8 to 12 hours.
If your dough has doubled in size, it’s likely done. If you want to be extra sure, again poke the dough and check for an indentation.
If it springs back, let it set a little longer (but not too long because warm proofing dough goes wrong very quickly). If your finger leaves an indentation, your pizza dough is ready for baking!
Proofing sounds complicated when you break it down into the chemical process. But all you need to know is this.
Proofing is a way to allow the yeast to do its thing and results in a better-tasting crust with more flavor and an airy texture.
The best way to proof your dough is in the refrigerator, which allows the fermentation process enough time to get it right.
If you’re in a hurry, you can proof your dough outside the refrigerator at a warm temperature. It will speed up the fermentation process, resulting in a denser, heavier dough that tastes like yeast. But, again, patience pays off, which can be exceptionally accurate in the kitchen.
Whichever method you use, it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy the outcome. Now let’s eat!