Unlike most food books, “On Food and Cooking” has no recipes, but it is the most comprehensive and useful book ever written on the science and lore of food and how to cook it. Professional cooks can use the information within to better understand the chemical and enzymatic reactions occurring in the cooking process, and by better understanding the science of food, they can better manipulate it, better solve problems with food preparation, prepare food more safely and make food that just plain tastes better.
It’s been around for a long time (my copy is from my college days some 20-odd years ago), so I bet an old, used copy could be picked up pretty cheap!
Great question, and a super topic for an article, I’ve done this before, but it has been a good number of years so it never hurts to review.
Water: Too Much.
Produces weakness in the finished dough, causing it to collapse with the weight of toppings. Think tough, chewy, leathery finished crust with little or no crispiness.
Water: Too Little
Insufficient finished crust volume/height. Potential for developing a gum line in the crust. Excessive snap-back at forming.
Sugar: Too Much
Makes for a sweeter tasting finished crust. Reduces the potential crispiness of the crust due to the shorter baking time. Crust may soften up more quickly after baking due to the hydroscopic nature of the crust resulting from the excessive sugar. In some cases, you may end up with a gum line due to the shortened baking time.
Sugar: Too Little
Dough/yeast burns out after two days in the cooler. If you are looking to hold the dough for three or more days in the cooler, go with 2 to 3% sugar in the dough formula to provide some nutrient for the yeast.
Salt: Too Much salt can stop or slow down fermentation, making for a less flavorful crust, or one which exhibits a tendency to blister or bubble. Excessive salt will also affect the flavor of the finished crust, making it more salty. Since salt also exhibits a binding affect upon the dough, too much of it can create a problem with excessive dough memory.
Salt: Too little salt also affects the flavor of the finished crust, giving the crust a pronounced, starchy taste. It will also result in a somewhat sticky dough at the mixer. During dough management, lack of salt will allow fermentation to proceed too rapidly, possibly leading to yo reduce the yeast level (wrong thing to do) because, now the dough wil not rise properly during baking, and you will probably end up with a beautiful gum line in the crust. If you’re tossing the dough, insufficient salt will weaken the doughh, making it harder to toss without tearing.
Oil: Too much oil can result in a heavy textured finished crust, while too little oil can result in a lack of flavor in the finished crust, or it may also exhibit a tendency to tear during forming if the oil level is too low. Oil also affects the overall eating properties of the crust, so an dough with insufficient oil may produce a finished crust that is lacking in consumer appeal. I could go on and write a book about each ingredient, but these are the highlights of functionality of each ingredient.
Again, thanks for a great question.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
Can you explain the phenomenon that occurs to cause a crust to blister or bubble when too much salt is used, and also the phenomenon that takes place to cause the crust to have a pronounced starchy taste when too little salt is used?
Sure, when too much salt is used, the fermentation rate is dramatically reduced, with the end result of the dough receiving less fermentation in any specific period of time, hence, the dough is underfermented (even though the dough might have been fermented for the correct period of time), and it is this underfermentation that is responsible for those blisters and bubbles forming on the top of the pizza during baking.
As for the starchy taste with insufficient salt, that is primarily the result of the typically lean dough formula used in making pizza. By “lean” I mean it doesn’t have copious amounts of butter, sugar and eggs along with other flavoring materials. So, in the case of pizza dough, the flour has a major influence on the flavor of the finished crust. If you look at the composition of flour, you will see that it is roughly 75% starch, the rest being protein, water, and minerals. The salt brings up the “other” flavors present, like those from the added oil (olive oil), protein, and those developed during the fermentation and baking process. These other flavors cancel out the starchy flavor to give us that plesant fermented flavor that we look for in a great tasting pizza crust.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
We use your dough recipe posted here on pmq in the recipe bank. I was wondering if there is an ideal bake temperature and time, using a conveyor oven, to get the “best baked” crust. ie no gum line, bubbling, good color & flavor etc.
If you have a “typical” finger profile of full open across the bottom, and one or two fingers open or partially open across the top, if you have one of the “new generation” high efficiency air impingement ovens, you should be able to bake at 465 to 475F with a bake time of just under 5-minutes. If you have any other air inpingement oven, try a bake temperature of 465F with a bake time of about 6-minutes. As you know, it all depends upon your finger profile.
Tom Lehmann/ The Dough Doctor
They are very common on crusts made with commercially frozen dough which is made with as little fermentation as absolutely possible as fermentation negatively impacts the yeast when it comes to survival during the freezing process.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor