Help your pizza dough relax with pineapple juice

If you’ve ever questioned your baking skills because your homemade bread doesn’t look exactly like the perfect loaves you might find in the bread aisle of the supermarket, don’t worry: there are many additives in the products. purchased in store. breads that don’t typically appear in the average home kitchen. (Unless you regularly stock up on preservatives like propionates and EDTA.) And the main thing that keeps these plastic-wrapped breads as soft as a pile of Siberian kittens is a widely known family of ingredients under the name of paste conditioners.

Bakeries use dough conditioners to improve loaf volume, dough handling, crumb structure, crust color and even slicing ability. Their toolbox is vast: to achieve all these effects, they rely on industrially produced emulsifying agents, pH regulators, oxidizing agents, reducing agents, vital wheat gluten, various types of malt and a cargo of enzymes.

If you look hard enough, you can find some of these ingredients at specialty retailers online, but they’re often packaged for those who produce large amounts of dough in commercial settings. If you don’t feel like buying several pounds of paste conditioner just to experiment, there are alternatives that might be in your fruit bowl right now.

Pineapples, kiwis, and papayas, in particular, contain powerful proteases, a class of enzymes that can break down proteins, including long strands of gluten. (It’s what gives your bread structure, but also what can make the dough hard to work with.) The result, if a given enzyme is used in the right proportions, is dough that doesn’t fall back angrily when you stretch or unroll it (a quality bakers call “extensibility”). For pizza, pretzel, and bagel recipes, having a loose dough is a real godsend when trying to shape it.



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Photo by Joseph De Leo, food styling by Micah Marie Morton

But more enzymes does not equal better bread. In fact, if you overdo it, you’ll just turn your batter into a soup. This is why pineapple bread recipes call for canned pineapple or pineapple juice; cooking the fruit denatures the enzymes, robbing them of their protein-munching power. This is why you should always use fresh juice as a dough conditioner.

You may have seen some of these isolated enzymes on the shelves in the supplement section of your local health food store. Bromelain (derived from pineapple) and papain (derived from papaya) have long been used as remedies for inflammation and to aid digestion. Elsewhere in the supermarket, bromelain also appears in some brands of powdered meat tenderizer. (They also tenderize bread dough, but in even smaller amounts because they’re purified – more on that below.) You may have already experienced some of the protein-digesting effects of bromelain if you’ve eaten lots of pineapples in one sitting, which can lead to mouth irritation and a sore tongue.

Lucky for your mouth and your bread, you only need a very small amount of either enzyme to loosen your dough. In modernist bread, authors Francisco Migoya and Nathan Myhrvold recommend between 0.01 and 0.05 percent fresh pineapple juice or 0.03 percent fresh papaya juice for pizza dough, pretzels, bagels and challah. Now those are baker’s percentages, which means if you’re making a pizza dough recipe that calls for, say, 500 grams of flour, you’ll only need 0.05 grams to 0.25 grams of juice . And if you don’t have an extremely well-calibrated scale that is accurate to one hundredth of a gram, you can make do with a drop or two (like a pipette) of fresh juice, which you add to the water in your recipe just before mix it with the dry ingredients. Your bread mileage may vary, so you’ll need to calculate how much juice your dough needs based on the total weight of flour in the recipe.

Another caveat: using fruit juice as a dough relaxer is not an exact science. Depending on the type of fruit you use and its degree of ripeness, it may contain more or less active enzymes. As Migoya and Myhrvold note, “Using fruit as a delivery vehicle for enzymes requires experimentation.” As with salt when seasoning a new recipe, start with less than you think you need; add a little more in subsequent batches if you find your dough is not as relaxed as you would like. And if you use a whole pineapple, you’ll have plenty of leftovers to eat on its own, bake into cakes, or even turn into a tepache, which might also be relaxing.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Jim Lahey

Enjoy your meal

Originally appeared on Epicurious

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