How much should the pizza be cooked to be crunchy at the right point?

Cooking

According to a statistical survey, pizza is the food that makes everyone happiest. The reasons can be different, for example, the enormous diffusion in Italy and the world, the speed and the fascination of the realization (especially with the wood oven) or the simple preparation, but that hides a world of secrets.

What does crunchy pizza mean?

Let’s start by defining what we mean by crunchy pizza. A fragrant dough is very different from a dry or burnt one: a good pizza is soft but not rubbery thanks to the fragrance of the money, which we will get if it is well leavened and above all ripe. A mixture with a robust gluten-free mesh is, in fact, able to stretch a lot in the creation of leavening cells during cooking: the more giant bubbles with thinner walls will cook better and become crunchy, without affecting the softness of the pizza bite as a whole ( because it contains a lot of air), obtaining a fragrant and soft pizza at the same time .

Furthermore, the water contained in the mixture evaporates during cooking and continues to do so even immediately after the pizza leaves the oven (until it drops below 100 degrees), and caramelization begins, a process of transformation of sugars, like Teo explains in this pizzaiolo forum :

“Caramelization is a chemical process that starts after the evaporation of the water present in the pizza and then begins the transformation of sugars present at the time of cooking in caramel. A mature dough has already completed the process of transforming the compound sugars into simple and during cooking will have a more homogeneous and uniform browning, unlike a little mature or too mature. ”

A further distinction we must make is that between sliced ​​pizza, baked in a pan in electric or gas ovens, and the flat one, baked in a wood oven (or gas oven) directly on the bottom of the oven (usually in stone or refractory bricks) ). We will talk about it better later, but for now, we anticipate how to recognize an edible dough cooked to the right point, in both cases:

  • The crunchiness of a flat pizza can be seen from the edge, which is usually left thicker during preparation (especially in the traditional Neapolitan recipe). The thickness and the absence of seasoning leave the dough free to swell thanks to the heat of the oven, forming large cells that will allow a friendly browning. As for the seasoned part of the pizza, with optimal cooking, it should be fragrant in the lower part (in contact with the oven floor) and the upper and softer section in the central area.
  • The pizza in the pan provides more exceptional hydration of the dough than the pizza to the plate because we can have a more “liquid” mixture thanks to the container that will keep the shape and will allow us to season and move it. The more significant presence of water will enable you to use stronger flours, provided you lengthen the leavening and maturation times, thus allowing us to have a dough that spreads quickly, which will grow considerably in volume and which will be cooked evenly to perfection, resulting in crunchy.

Dough and oven: the winning couple

The consistency of a pizza after baking depends on many factors. To some of them we have already mentioned, but it is useful to summarize them distinguishing them on the basis of two main groups, concerning the dough and the oven, in order to understand what relationship exists between the recipe and the method of our money, the type of cooking and the final product, improving the pizza based on the oven we have.

The five critical factors in  dough

1. The quality of raw materials

The pizza was born as a mediocre dish, and the main components of the recipe are mostly water and flour (in addition to yeast, which can be made with the same two ingredients using the sourdough technique). It is essential to use right quality ingredients, because being few, they cannot be camouflaged, and with a little experience, at the first bite, there is a weak flour from a good one.

Good flour can give life to a great dough, and it will carry with it all the aromas of wheat, especially if it is an unrefined flour, type 1 or 2, which will have a higher quantity of proteins and will form more gluten mesh secure. Water is also essential, both the temperature and the purity: by raising the water temperature we speed up the leavening of the dough, and it is better to use mineral water if you do not have good water from the tap (in big cities and industrial areas water is massively disinfected with chlorine, but leavening works thanks to the proliferation of microorganisms)

2. The doses of the recipe

The main parameter of dough is hydration, that is the relationship between water and flour, which we have already mentioned. Usually, the pizza in the dish has a hydration of around 60%, while in the pizza pan it can exceed 80%. In addition to this, the ingredients we use are essential, first and foremost water and flour but also yeast, oil, salt, and even sugar. The enzyme is used to make the dough grow, but we must not overdo it, because it would affect too much the taste of the money and the digestibility of the pizza (a mixture with a lot of yeast is fast and has no time to mature correctly).

The amount of yeast to put in the dough varies according to many factors, mainly the time we will give it and the method and temperature with which we knead and let the mass rest. The oil is essential because it confers elasticity and fragrance to the dough. The one to put in the money should be extra virgin olive of good quality, while to grease the pan or bowl where we put the dough you can use one of the seeds, more viscous and cheap. Sugar is an optional but highly recommended ingredient, especially for pan pizza. Added to the dough, it favors leavening and allows a more magnificent fragrance and browning after cooking, especially on the edges, due to the caramelization process that we talked about at the beginning of the paragraph. You can use the regular cooking sugar, that of cane, honey or malt, which in small quantities will not affect the flavor of the pizza.

3. The kneading method

At this point we understand many things, ranging from the time spent kneading the order of the ingredients, from the longer or shorter pauses and the strength of the arms that we give to the dough on the work surface, just to mention the most important.

The result must be a compact dough that grows without losing the shape it has

we gave, with an internal structure dense enough and durable to hold back many gases, by doing.

4. Rising

The dough should rise for many hours, depending on the type of pizza you want to make and the recipe you followed. It is possible to balance the leavening time of dough with the amount of yeast, but also with the temperature at which you will keep it. It is also possible to provide various leavening phases, starting from the creation of the dough until the time of the starter for the pizza to the plate or directly in the pan for that to the cut. With a little experience, you can understand how dough behaves, and it is possible to go for more and more sophisticated tests, gradually obtaining a product that is always a little better.

5. Drawing up

A good draft is significant to allow the dough to grow in the oven, because if the mixture is crushed too much, it will break the gluten mesh, preventing the mass from growing at that point and favoring the birth of huge bubbles in the oven, which will lead to uneven cooking. Not for nothing is the phase called rolling out the pizza, you have to stretch it and pull it without pressing, to leave the gluten net intact, which will hold back the gas by making the pizza grow and making it soft and fragrant.

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