Here at Rossa, we are absolutely obsessed with the idea of making quality pizza. It’s something we work toward every day which is why we thought we’d take a moment to share the love (and knowledge) with all of you. Although pizza seems like a straightforward thing to make, there are many elements that can make the process tricky which is why not all pizza is created equal. Today we are going to focus on how quality dough is made.
There's that old chestnut about beauty being in the eye of the beholder which is why we speak about “quality” pizza and not the “best” pizza. There are so many different styles and variations that it’s impossible to say what “best” looks like but we can share some universal guidelines that push for quality across the board. Keep in mind, we are condensing complex details into a few paragraphs but this will hopefully give you a better idea:
Basic pizza dough ingredients typically consists of flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and water. There are many ingredients that bakers will add to make their dough unique but the general trick lies is in the quality of the ingredients you use, when and how to mix these ingredients, how long you proof your dough for, and how you knead your pizza dough.
Pizza dough is as personal as topping choices — even more so in fact. Ask any two pizza-makers and you'll get two different recommendations for which flours to use. Having an understanding of how flour works and what different types of flours are out there is a very valuable first step towards coming up with your own ideal blend, but the real key with finding a dough that works for you is to just jump in and get your hands dirty. Our preference is “00” flour because it’s finely ground and has a lower gluten content than most flours.
Once we have mixed these ingredients, it’s time to proof (ferment) our dough. At its most basic, this process is the act of using yeast to digest carbohydrates and convert them to alcohol and carbon dioxide. It's what puts the sour into sauerkraut and the bubbles in Champagne. It's what makes dried chorizo tangy and tea complex. It's what makes you forget all of this neat stuff when you've had a bit too much beer. It's also, of course, what gives a great pizza crust (and all yeast-leavened breads, for that matter) its light, airy structure and distinctive complex, slightly sour taste.
We personally cold ferment our dough for two days. This produces more of the desirable flavour compounds and fewer of the sour ones. It also improves the texture of the dough.
Finally, kneading develops the strands of gluten in the dough, allowing it to rise properly and giving it the proper texture. If you don't knead it enough, it'll be too dense and hard. You can also over-knead your dough and once done, you can’t really undo the damage of over-worked gluten.
So whenever you walk into Rossa and order pizza, you now know why our dough has gone through a two-day process and why we never bake with fresh dough! This obviously takes quite a bit of planning but the detail makes all the difference!