Getting that perfect slice of pizza means making a lot of considerations in terms of the dough-making procedure. Getting the ingredients and quantities just right is one of these considerations, as is paying special attention to your dough.
An important step that you need to take while preparing your dough to make it fluffy and light is dough proofing, something that many beginner pizza-makers tend to neglect when they’re starting out. Here, you can get to know about the benefits of dough-proofing and a couple of methods for how long to let pizza dough rise, and see the difference in how the baked crust turns out yourself!
What Is Dough Proofing?
Dough proofing refers to the crucial process of preparing your dough so that the gluten has time to settle, and the yeast makes the dough more voluminous. This mainly happens due to the yeast’s consumption of the sugar present in the dough, releasing carbon dioxide that makes the dough airier and lighter than before.
Stages Of Dough Proofing
1. Bulk Fermentation Of Dough
Bulk fermentation refers to the stage of dough proofing that is usually the longest. The final step that comes right before shaping the dough is when the dough has been mixed with the yeast and is ready to rise.
The gluten can align at this step, and the dough is usually enlarged to twice its original size. You can tell when the fermentation is done when you can poke the dough, and it retains the shape instead of springing right back.
For the purposes of bulk fermentation, it is always a good idea to use a larger container to allow the dough space to expand while also making sure that the temperature is steaded at 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and covered with plastic wrap.
2. Retarding Dough
In this step of how long to proof pizza dough, you can choose to infuse your pizza dough with further complex flavors. This step also allows you to cool down your dough and subsequently slow down the rate of fermentation for your dough, giving it time to absorb more flavors as well as being prepared the day before you’re planning to make your pizza.
For this, a simple method is simply putting your mixture of dough and yeast into the refrigerator overnight at temperatures ranging from 33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also choose to shape your dough into balls before putting them into the refrigerator.
3. Shape Proofing The Dough
The last and arguably the simplest stage of how to proof pizza dough is shape proofing your dough. At this stage, if you haven’t previously shaped your dough into balls, then you can do so in order to allow it to set in the required shape. This ensures that you don’t have to forcibly deflate the dough of any air present inside it, making your dough fuller and more lightweight.
How To Proof Pizza Dough
While proofing your dough undoubtedly has a lot of advantages that come with it, there are a couple of ways to go about it that can give you even better results.
1. Quick Proof Dough
Quick proofing pizza dough is one of the most common ways of doing so, mainly because of how simple it is to achieve. To help your dough proof quicker and aid the fermentation process, you can choose to add an excessive amount of yeast, along with some sugar, in order to proof your dough quickly.
Of course, the extra yeast ensures that fermentation takes place quickly, with the sugar providing nutrition to the yeast at the same time. Once this dough has been kneaded, it needs to be proofed in a large container, allowing it to expand. Make the dough airtight with the help of plastic wrap covering the container and let it sit for an hour.
Once this is done, you can split the dough into balls and then proof them on the counter for a couple of hours, covered by bowls – after which you can start baking your dough.
For this process, a warm temperature is ideal so as to quicken the fermentation – so attempt to keep your dough in temperatures around 95 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. It can yield a chewy crust once the dough has been baked properly.
2. Cold Proof Dough
If you’re not under a time crunch and can afford to proof your dough for a while, then it is strongly recommended that you use the cold dough proofing technique. This can give your dough more complex flavors than the above method.
While quick proofing your dough can lead to a dense crust, it can also make the crust taste quite yeasty – if you’re looking to avoid this, then cold proofing your dough is a great idea. Since you can take your time with the fermentation by slowing it down, you can choose to add the usual amount of yeast and not add sugar at all.
While you may expect less yeast to allow for smaller bubbles, this is not the case since you’re taking your time for the yeast to ferment. For this process, you’ll need to knead the dough as usual and then proof it for an hour in an airtight container.
After the initial proofing, you can get this dough to your refrigerator and let it ferment for a duration of up to a couple of days for best results, after which you can take your required amount of dough and start rolling them into balls.
To allow the dough to come back to room temperature, you can prove these dough balls under bowls for a couple of hours. This process gives you a crust that is more lightweight and crispy than if you were to quickly proof your dough.
Additional Tips On Proofing Pizza Dough
While cold proofing your dough can take a while, it is believed that the longer you can leave your dough to ferment in the refrigerator, the better your crust will be. The dough becomes easier to work with, with the gluten relaxing so your crust can be springier once baked.
However, durations longer than 3 days for the fermentation process can result in too much of a good thing, with the dough’s flavor becoming slightly sour from the alcohol. Additionally, the yeast tends to stop working after a while as well, making the dough difficult to work with as it will be difficult to prove it after a while.
It is important to note that dough that has been cold-proofed needs to be baked slightly longer, or it can remain under cooked. It is best to try out the fermentation time for cold-proofed dough yourself since the taste can differ significantly, so it largely depends on your preference.
As you have seen, you can proof pizza dough without it being too overcomplicated. With these methods in mind and some patience regarding the yeast fermentation process, you too can enjoy perfectly baked artisanal pizza crust that’s far from amateur!
1. Do All Pizza Doughs Need To Be Proofed?
Pizza doughs that utilize dough balls are the ones that need to be proofed. These dough balls usually undergo the process of fermentation, in which the yeast takes in sugar and then releases carbon dioxide when then seeps into the cells of air in the dough itself.
This happens when the dough starts to expand in terms of volume – the yeast releases air bubbles all throughout the dough.
While dough balls definitely need to be proofed, the same can be said of rolled-out dough that needs fermentation in many commercial uses. While making a pan pizza, for instance, the dough can be proofed while being rolled out.
Apart from this, doughs that are par-baked and live dough do not require to be proofed since they do not need to be fermented and then expanded, as other kinds of crusts do.
2. How To Proof Frozen Dough?
Properly proofing dough is extremely important, and the process has a lot to do with the temperature of your dough during fermentation. When the yeast is fermenting, it is important to decide whether you want to slow down your fermentation process by keeping it at a cooler temperature or quicken the fermentation by keeping your dough at a warm location.
For slow fermentation, temperatures around 33 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Contrarily, for quick fermentation, it is ideal to keep your dough at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
To ensure proper slow fermentation in your refrigerator, you can take a few measures such as decreasing your refrigerator’s temperature and closing the door to a walk-in refrigerator, or even allowing your dough to get enough air and space in the refrigerator.
While these may seem inconsequential, these measures can make a huge difference if you’ve decided to slow down the fermentation process for your dough by keeping it in the refrigerator.
3. How Do I Know How Much Frozen Dough To Proof?
If you’re cold proofing your pizza dough regularly to make large batches of pizza, it is important to know just how much dough you need to utilize each time for proofing to avoid discrepancies in the amount of dough.
For this, you can use a couple of methods to estimate how much frozen dough you need to prove each time. Firstly, you can begin to plan your pizza dough proofing requirements by planning ahead in terms of how much pizza dough is being consumed, with an additional buffer of around 10% in terms of extra dough that you can keep on hand.
Once you have calculated the projected dough requirement, you can plan how much dough you need to prove. Additionally, to avoid your dough over-or under-rising, you can start to utilize your cold-proof dough from the refrigerator on a rotational basis.
4. How Do I Know If My Pizza Dough Has Achieved Proper Rise?
It is important to know right during the dough-making process whether your dough has risen properly after being proofed. Luckily, there are a few ways to tell whether your dough has achieved optimal rise.
During the proofing process, you can observe your dough closely to notice whether the expansion of the dough has been substantial. You can easily tell apart risen dough since it doubles in volume once it has been proofed.
On the other hand, dough that has not risen enough will tad bit too springy and will not sustain any indentations.
Similarly, dough that has risen too much will be difficult to work with and may break quite easily when you’re handling it. During baking, you should aim for a crust that has a rich, grainy, and light yeasty flavor and is golden-brown.
Both over-risen and under-risen dough make for bland and flat crusts that are dense with irregular textures.