Loading up a homemade pizza with a lot of veggies is a great way to work in your five or more daily servings of fruits and veg. But a soggy crust can make or break the meal. Who knew the American Chemical Society could help you improve your homemade pizza crust? They've teamed up with PBS to make cool videos, one of which gets into the science behind what makes a fab pizza crust. They included info from famous baker and scientist Peter Reinhart, who says successful crust-making is all about time -- you need to let it rise overnight in the fridge, instead of for 45 minutes on the kitchen counter. And when you bake the pizza, you need to make sure your oven is hot enough.
Why? I learned from the video that it has to do with chemical reactions between the yeast, water and flour. Here's a very quick and basic explanation of what the happens: The yeast activates when mixed with warm water, jump-starting the chemical reactions. When you mix all of the ingredients (water, yeast, flour and salt) together the chemical reactions continue. Kneading the dough encourages chemicals to make contact, and the dough will become more elastic as you go. After kneading, the dough is ready to sit and rise overnight. Reinhart says the longer you let it rise, the better it will taste.
When you've let the dough rise and you're ready to bake the pizza, crank the heat. Reinhart says 500 degrees or more will help you create a crust of perfection. And once you have the foundation for a really good pizza, you can pile on your favorite veggies to make a healthy meal. I'll share my fave recipe for veggie pizza next week in another podcast.
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