Do Excellent pizza at home without a wood-burning oven – or without a high-quality oven, for that matter – possible, as announced Latest version of Interactions, an educational series produced by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Presenter, chemist Samantha Sam Jones, is challenged to prepare it herself, as on her first attempt she gets something that compares to a “carton”. Then the young researcher decides to solve it according to her specialty: the scientific method.
The first difficulty for the novice chef was dough, she explains, so she decided to turn into a leading figure in the field: Peter Reinhart, professor of bakery at the California Culinary Academy and author of successes in the US such as American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza. As the expert emphasized, The quality of the pizza will ultimately be determined by the result of the dough after baking.
“If you don’t like pizza, there’s probably a problem with the dough,” Reinhart explains. Sam’s first lesson: Forget cheese and tomatoes, which are transformed into secondary factors, Focus on kneading. The step shouldn’t be complicated, the professor explains, because it basically involves four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. What is the main challenge then? Try not to do it too quickly, and even less for now.
Reinhart insists that making pizza dough is a slow cooking process. Sam, who let it rise for 45 minutes at room temperature on his first try, is considering leaving it overnight in the fridge for a second time. It is his specialty, he explains what happens when you add water to the mix. Yeast consists of Single-celled fungi, millions of them per granule. It is in a dormant state, i.e. inactive, until it comes into contact with warm water.
When you mix the ingredients, the yeast enzymes kick in Breaking down the starches in flour and turning them into sugars. Thus the enzyme amylase “makes” maltose, and the enzyme maltase – not to be confused – then makes glucose, a “very simple” molecule of maltose. Yeast metabolizes glucose and produces carbon dioxide and ethanol. It is this process that causes a beer-like smell during the fermentation of the dough, as it is still the same as that used to make it.
At the same time, the proteins in the flour – glutenin and gliadin – form hydrogen bonds when they come into contact with water, and are linked together by disulfide bonds. This whole process gives rise to gluten that “maniacs everyone” as Sam points out, hence the name “gluten-forming proteins.” Enhancing these chemical reactions to create more gluten is precisely why the mixture should be kneaded. This will give her more flexibility and will give a better result.
The Gluten also has an essential function: to capture the carbon dioxide produced by fermentation, which causes gas bubbles that allow the dough to rise.. If allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight, all reactions can be completed in sufficient time to ensure the best results, especially when it comes to flavour. The trick of “feeding” the sugar yeast makes it grow faster, but the taste is damaged.
It’s time to cook: According to Reinhart, a homemade oven does not exceed 250 degrees Celsius — or 500 degrees Fahrenheit, as it would be measured in the United States. Pizza ovens operate at higher temperatures The maximum baking range will be optimal. Reinhart explains that the changes caused by heat must happen quickly before the moisture in the dough can evaporate completely. The first thing that disappears is ethanol, which allows carbon dioxide to escape.
At about 80°C, the starch goes through a process of ‘gelating’, which solidifies the dough while maintaining its elasticity if prepared properly. And at about 130 degrees Celsius, the sugars and amino acids in the dough will undergo a “Maillard reaction”, which causes different degrees of “toast” for raw materials in the kitchen. In about nine minutes, your pizza will be ready“Much better,” Sam said, savoring the results of his second try.
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