Like us humans, not all pizza bubbles are bad. In fact, a bubbly dough during the proofing stage is precisely what you are looking for. It’s the massive bubbles during the baking that you need to avoid.
The science behind the bubbles is pretty amusing. The yeast in the dough produces carbon dioxide gas, which gets trapped in the gluten network, causing those air pockets we call bubbles. But don’t worry; there are some simple tricks to help you control the bubbles in your dough and get that perfect crust.
In this post, I’ll dive deep into the science behind bubbles in pizza dough and share some of my favorite tips and tricks for getting rid of them. From adjusting your dough recipe to tweaking your baking technique, I’ll cover it all. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the pizza game, you won’t want to miss this one.
Let’s get started, shall we?
To Bubble or Not to Bubble?
Ah, the great debate of pizza bubbles – to love them or hate them?
Well, there are both good and bad bubbles.
On one hand, bubbles can be a beautiful thing. They create texture and dimension in the crust, making every bite a unique experience. A pizza with evenly distributed bubbles can also provide a perfect ratio of toppings to crust. Thus preventing the toppings from sliding off.
Personally, I love a couple of charred bubbles on my crust (leopard spots).
On the other hand, large bubbles on the dough or baked crust can be a nuisance. First of all, they create an unappealing appearance. If you really think about it, nobody really likes giant bubbles on anything!
However, it’s not just about appearance. Bubbles can also impact the cooking time and temperature of the pizza. If the bubbles are too big, the crust can burn while the toppings remain uncooked. Sometimes, they can also cause the toppings to slide.
Finding the right balance is key.
Science Time: What Causes Bubbles in Pizza Dough?
As stated previously, bubbles in the pizza dough are both inevitable and necessary during the proofing stage.
Short answer: it’s all about the yeast!
Bubbles in pizza dough are a result of the yeast fermentation process. Yeast consumes sugars and produces carbon dioxide gas, which gets trapped in the dough, causing it to rise and form bubbles. Factors like yeast type, temperature, and fermentation time can affect bubble size and quantity. Proper dough handling can ensure a light, airy crust.
Reasons Your Pizza Has Too Many Large Bubbles
|Reasons for Large Bubbles
|1. Inadequate Proofing (Underproofing or Over-proofing)
|– Let dough rise until it has doubled in size (1-2 hours at room temperature or 24-72 hours in fridge)
|2. Dough isn’t at room temperature before baking
|– Allow dough to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking
|3. Overactive Poolish (due to prolonged fermentation or high temperature)
|– Monitor the fermentation time and temperature of the poolish to avoid overactivity
|4. Rapid temperature changes causing steam buildup
|– Allow pizza to reach about 5 degrees F above room temperature before baking
Too many large bubbles on the dough ball or baked crust are not a good sign. Here are a few possible reasons behind it:
When it comes to making pizza dough, proofing is an essential step that cannot be skipped. However, it’s crucial to get the timing right. Underproofing can lead to the formation of large but flat bubbles on the dough.
Underproofing, in simple terms, means the yeast in the dough hasn’t had enough time to produce enough CO2. This leads to the formation of large bubbles on one side of the dough. This phenomenon is known as “fool’s crumb” because a lot of perceive large bubbles as a sign of a successful bake.
Although rare, over-proofing can also cause a bubbly dough. The bubbles in an over-proofed dough have a smaller diameter but more height. While this may sound like a good thing, these bubbles will eventually collapse during baking. This will result in a dense and unappetizing crust.
So, how do you get the proofing time just right? It depends on several factors such as room temperature, humidity levels, and yeast activity. A general rule of thumb is to let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. This usually takes about 1-2 hours at room temperature or 24-72 hours in the fridge.
The Dough Isn’t At Room Temperature Before Baking
Allowing your pizza dough to come to room temperature before baking is an essential step that many people overlook. If you don’t let your dough warm up, it can cause bubbling crusts during baking.
When the cold dough is placed in a hot oven, the heat causes the air pockets inside the dough to expand rapidly. This causes large bubbles to form on the surface of the crust. These bubbles can cause uneven cooking and burnt spots on your pizza.
Your Poolish Maybe Too Active
A poolish is a pre-fermented mixture of flour, water, and yeast that is used to enhance the flavor and texture of pizza dough. When a poolish becomes overactive, it can cause large air bubbles to form in the dough balls.
An overactive poolish means that the yeast in the mixture is producing more carbon dioxide than the dough can handle. This can occur when the poolish is left to ferment for too long or when the temperature is too high, which can speed up the fermentation process.
If an overactive poolish is used to make pizza dough, the dough can become difficult to handle, and the large air bubbles can result in uneven crusts. This can be particularly problematic for thin-crust pizzas, as the large air pockets can cause the crust to puff up too much.
4 Tried and Tested Ways to Prevent Huge Bubbles on Pizza
1. Give the Dough Enough Time to Proof
The proofing process is crucial when it comes to making pizza dough. Allowing the dough to rest and rise for the right amount of time can prevent large bubbles from forming on the crust during baking.
However, it’s important to note that yeast activity can be unpredictable, especially in warmer temperatures. This can lead to over-proofing and cause large bubbles to form on the surface of the crust.
One way to reduce yeast activity and ensure a more controlled proofing process is through cold-fermenting. By refrigerating your dough for at least 24 hours, you slow down yeast activity. This leads to a more flavorful and evenly risen crust with smaller bubbles.
2. Dock Your Dough
Docking the pizza dough means using a spikey tool to prick the surface of the dough. It helps to release any trapped air and prevents it from expanding during baking.
By docking the dough, you create a more even surface for toppings and prevent the crust from puffing up and burning in the oven. This is particularly important for thin-crust pizzas. That’s because they are more susceptible to large air pocket formation.
A pizza docking tool is a simple device that resembles a small rolling pin with spikes or needles. It’s used to pierce the dough evenly and quickly, ensuring that no part of the crust remains undocked.
Not only does docking prevent large air pockets, but it also helps to keep your toppings in place.
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If you don’t have a docker, no worries. You can use a fork or even your fingers to dock the dough. I usually like to do things the traditional way. So I simply use my fingers to poke holes in the dough while stretching.
3. Allow Your Pizza to Come to Room Temperature
Allowing your pizza to come to room temperature before baking is a crucial step in preventing bubbles.
When you take a cold pizza straight from the fridge and put it into a hot oven, the sudden temperature change causes rapid steam buildup. This steam creates large air pockets, which cause the crust to puff up unevenly and can even lead to burnt spots.
Allowing your pizza to come to room temperature lets the dough release any trapped gases. Ideally, it should be 5 degrees F above room temperature. This results in a more evenly cooked crust with fewer bubbles.
4. Feel Free to Pop the Large Bubbles While Stretching the Dough
If you see any giant bubbles while pressing out your dough, just pinch them to release the air. Make sure not to punch the living daylight out of the dough, though. That is the shortcut to a terrible crust.
To pinch the air bubbles, simply use your fingertips to gently press down on the dough around the bubble until it flattens out. This step won’t be necessary if you dock the dough.
|Ways to Prevent Huge Bubbles
|1. Proper Proofing
|– Cold ferment dough for at least 24 hours to reduce yeast activity
|2. Dock Your Dough
|– Use a pizza docker, fork, or fingers to prick the dough and release trapped air
|3. Room Temperature Before Baking
|– Ensure pizza dough is slightly above room temperature before baking
|4. Pop Large Bubbles While Stretching the Dough
|– Gently press around the bubble to flatten it out
The Bubbles You Want to See – Indicative of a Neapolitan Pizza Done Right
Neapolitan-style pizza is renowned for its light and airy crust. One of the key characteristics that make this style of pizza so unique is the bubbles that form on the cornicione during baking.
While some may view bubbles as a flaw in their pizza, many pizzaiolos actually strive to create them. These bubbles are a sign of a well-made dough that has been fermented properly.
In fact, some pizzaiolos go as far as to say that the more bubbles on your Neapolitan-style pizza, the better! The reason is that these bubbles create little pockets of air that trap heat. It helps to cook the crust evenly and gives it a satisfying crunch.
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And let’s not forget about the highly sought-after leopard spotting on the cornicione. These dark spots are caused by charred microbubbles. They signify that your pizza has been cooked in a super-hot oven.
It’s an art form that requires skill, patience, and attention to detail to achieve.
So next time you bite into a slice of Neapolitan-style pizza, take a moment to appreciate those beautiful bubbles and charred spots. They’re not flaws – they’re what make this style of pizza so unique and delicious!
Bubbles are fine as long as they are tiny, few, and far between.
I hope this article helped you understand what’s causing those large bubbles and how to get rid of them.
So, next time you’re making pizza, take note of those beautiful, tiny bubbles on your crust. They’re not just there for show – they’re a sign that your pizza has been made with care and expertise.
That’s all for today. Happy baking!