October 5, 2022

We Used Science To Make Better Pizza: Small Chemistry Tweaks With Amazing Results

This week our host, Sam, talks with popular baker Peter Reinhart and learns how a number of little chemistry tweaks can transform a horrible pizza into an amazing one.

Video Transcript:
( Women singing Bella Ciao).
Oh my gosh, that is so much better than last time.
( dramatic music).
So how did I, a researcher Ill add, not at all a chef, obtain from that cardboard-y things to this on just my 2nd attempt?
That in fact tastes like pizza.
By doing the only thing that I understand how to do, go way too deep into the science of it. So if you wan na discover the science of pizza, or simply wan na understand how to quite quickly make a terrific one without a fancy oven, lets go.
( positive music).
My biggest issue with the first effort was the dough.
The key to an excellent pizza actually does boil down to the quality of the crust.
Peter Reinhart is a widely known baker and professor of baking, and hes written a lot of books about it, including “The Bread Bakers Apprentice” and “American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza.” So he was certainly the man to speak to.
It truly has to do with the crust. And if you were disappointed, you understand, in the one you made or in any pizzeria that youve been to, it normally begins with not loving the crust.
So for this video Im gon na forget about the cheese and the sauce and truly concentrate on the dough.
Dough is essentially four components: flour, levin, water, and salt or business yeast, which is the most typical type of doing it.
The recipe that you were following, was it a one day dish? Did you make the dough and try to make pizza on the exact same day?
Yeah, it was the same day.
When they try to do pizza doughs is that they generally encourage going fast as opposed to going sluggish, the biggest mistake I think that home cooks make. And slowing things down when it comes to bread dough is a game-changer.
Whats the distinction in between letting dough increase for 45 minutes at space temperature, which is what I did, versus leaving it overnight in the fridge?
Lets take a look at those ingredients again. Whats really taking place when I mix together flour, salt, water, and yeast?
Water might not seem like the most exciting active ingredient, but as soon as you include it to yeast and flour a lot of things begins happening.
Water activates the yeast. Yeast are single-celled fungi. Each of these tiny blobs is countless yeast.
A lot of bakers yeast is dormant, meaning its just sitting there not doing anything. When you include warm water, the yeast becomes active and the yeasts enzymes get to work, along with some enzymes in the flour breaking down flour starch into sugars.
The enzyme amylase breaks starch into maltose, and then the enzyme maltase breaks maltose into glucose. Glucose is a very basic sugar particle that yeast can metabolize, producing carbon dioxide and ethanol.
This is called fermentation and its the same procedure utilized to make beer, kombucha, sauerkraut, all sorts of things.
At the exact same time, the proteins in flour are starting to do their thing.
These proteins are generally gliadins and glutenins, however we typically lump them completely as gluten-forming proteins.
Im sure youve become aware of gluten because individuals are obsessed with it.
Once water is included, these proteins begin forming hydrogen bonds and disulfide bonds with each other, providing you gluten.
Kneading the dough provides a lot more chances to communicate, forming more gluten, producing dough thats a lot more flexible, something my last dough absolutely was not.
These gluten networks working with other proteins, starches, and lipids in the dough will trap the CO2 originating from fermentation. That trapped CO2 types bubbles that make the dough rise.
And putting the dough in the refrigerator overnight permits all of these reactions to take place slowly, which Peter states is really crucial for the tastes from fermentation to establish. Thats not something that you wan na hurry or interrupt.
Often people attempt and conserve time by including a little bit of sugar or extra yeast. The dough does rise faster and you do get something that feels and look like pizza dough, but its simply not gon na taste as great.
There was my first problem. 45 minutes wasnt nearly enough time for all of those responses between those components to take place.
Now that this has sat overnight, Im gon na attempt to figure out what I messed up with the baking part since Im sure I screwed something up.
Normally in a home oven, we can typically get to a minimum of 500 degrees and maybe in some home ovens 550. A lot of pizzerias are baking in the New York-style pizza someplace around 600 degrees.
Ooh, I definitely set it to like 400 last time. Im not at the phase where Im gon na buy a pizza oven yet, however I can crank this up as high as it goes.
As the temperature level of the dough climbs, a lot takes place really quickly. And this is fantastic since Peter informed me that we want a high sufficient temperature level for these changes to take place before we lose all of the moisture in our dough and end up with dried pizza.
Initially, the ethanol caught inside the dough will vaporize and the co2 gas will begin to leave. As soon as the dough is at around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, starches in it will begin to turn or gelate into a gel.
And then at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, sugars and amino acids in the dough will undergo whats called the Maillard response, which is actually a series of responses that produce a bunch of various substances that give pizza dough taste and a great brown color.
In the interest of doing a practically regulated experiment, I stuck with the exact same active ingredients as my original recipe, only altering the time and temperature.
( women singing in a foreign language).
Mm. That is a lot better than last time.
The recipe is in the remarks.
And Ive added a link to Peter Reinhardts website Pizza Quest where he looks for the perfect pizza.
How much sauce is on my teeth?
? La la la?

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