Yeast is a key ingredient in many pizza doughs; as the yeast ferment sugars in the dough, they produce carbon dioxide which bubbles into the dough, creating the light and airy texture necessary for a good crust. It’s a slow process, though, often requiring several hours for the dough to rise. Recently, researchers studied an alternative pizza-making method that generates bubbles in the dough via pressurization — with no yeast required.
The new technique is similar to the process used to carbonate sodas. The team mixed flour, water, and salt and placed the dough in an autoclave, which allowed them to control both temperature and pressure during baking. They dissolved gas into the dough at high pressure and then carefully released the pressure during baking, allowing the bubbles to grow. They used rheological measurements to compare the characteristics of yeasted and yeast-free doughs at various stages in the leavening and baking processes.
Now that they have the methodology down, they’ve purchased a food-grade autoclave and are looking forward to taste testing their yeast-free creations — none more so than their team member who has a yeast allergy! Since the pressures required for their method are quite mild, they hope it’s a technique that restaurants will take on. (Image credit: B. Huff; research credit: P. Avallone et al.)