Autolyse Pizza Dough

We all don’t have a stand mixer to pulverize and simply beat the life out of our dough for 10-20 minutes to get the most gluten development possible. Interestingly enough humans have been making bread for centuries and stand mixers have just been around in the home for a few decades. You can bet neither your grandmother nor the French kneaded dough for 20 minutes by hand so there must be another way. As always simpler is better … autolyse. In fact unless you have a professional grade mixer for breads you will probably find this technique better for you and your mixer. Autolyse is a bread making technique which will almost certainly not be found anywhere on the topic of pizza dough but pizza dough is essentially bread dough and requires better gluten development than most breads so I find this odd.

Gluten strands can start developing on their own with just time. Autolyse is a technique that is simply allowing the water to hydrate the flour with no other additives. When water and flour by themselves are mixed just enough to come together two things happen. Protease enzymes break down the proteins in the flour so they can reform as gluten and amylase enzymes convert the broken starch into sugars. If you added salt to your mixture the salt would greatly reduce the abilities of the protease enzyme. This process only takes between 20 minutes and an hour. After the flour and water dough has sit incorporate the rest of your ingredients in to the dough ball via kneading.

To make it easier to work your other ingredients into the water and flour mixture you should only used two thirds of the flour and all of the water in the recipe. If you own a scale mix to 90-100% hydration. 100% hydration means for every 1g of water use 1g of flour.

If you use this method you should not need to use a mechanical mixer and very little kneading will be required. Also by avoiding the oxidation caused by a mixer you will retain some subtle flavors that would otherwise be lost.

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  • T Glenn

    This is the opposite of what I have read. I have seen autolyse recipe that says to use all the flour for the recipe, but not all the water as you want a ‘shaggy’ ball of dough (not a soggy one).

    • Brian York

      Some recipes just like to make extra steps just to make them seem superior in my opinion. As a dough that takes 20 steps is better than one that is 10. Autolyse is simply just giving the flour and water a head start on the process of breaking down the starches. This requires water to start the process, how much isn’t critical. Now if you want to make extra steps go ahead, do a blind test you should find that there is no difference. Also no one suggested a soggy dough. They say shaggy to visually suggest you don’t have to mix it all the way to a smooth dough.

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