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How much yeast should I put in my pizza dough?

Sorry, the question is not posed very correctly. It assumes that there is ONE ideal quantity of yeast we should use, regardless of important elements like the rising time or the temperature.



If you just shoot me the question like this, the best answer I can give you would be a generic percentage, to calculate the yeast in proportion to the amount of flour you use. Therefore you need to know what baking percentages are. If you prefer, there's a video version of this article.


So how do you phrase the question correctly if you’re not into geeky things and if you want a precise answer?


Well, I’d try something like that:


“How much yeast should I put in my pizza dough if I use X grams of flour?”


Like this, you gave me a basic detail about your recipe. It’s ok, but it would be even better if you could add something about your desired timings. 


“I want my dough to be ready in a couple of hours”

Or

“I want my dough to be ready tomorrow, after 24 hours”


The perfect question


It would be also great to know what kind of yeast you have in the fridge - even though I’m going to explain why sometimes this could be less relevant.


I think it’s fair to say that most of the times we have either active or instant dry yeast. They are basically dehydrated versions of fresh yeast, which in my experience is not always easily found.


The process to make active yeast is more aggressive and it kills more cells than the process to make instant yeast. And this is why the same amount of active yeast contains less yeast cells than instant yeast.


Now, as I said, the difference may not be relevant depending on the conditions:

In general, the longer the rising time, the less significant the difference is, because overtime active yeast will eventually catch up with instant.


Once all this useful details were added, we can phrase a complete question:


“How much active dry yeast should I put in my pizza dough if I use 500 grams of flour and I want my dough to be ready in a couple of hours?”

NOW we’re talk…erm…asking! 


The answer


This precise question deserves a precise answer, that is:


“A batch of pizza dough made with 500 grams of flour will be ready in around 2 hours by using five grams of active yeast.”

The amount of instant yeast would be 4 grams instead.


There is a ratio between active and instant yeast - common knowledge is that we should use around 25% more active than instant yeast.


There is also a fresh to instant yeast ratio, that is three to one. Meaning you have to multiply by three the amount of instant yeast your recipe calls for. The fresh to active yeast ratio would be two and a half instead.


Let’s see another example and change a detail in the question:


“How much active dry yeast should I put in my pizza dough if I use 500 grams of flour and I want my dough to be ready in 24 hours?”


It’s 0.1 grams


I know, I know it’s ridiculous - I think I hear you saying “how the heck I’m supposed to measure that thing”. What is it? Just a single grain of yeast?



Well, the solution is a precision scale, a small, inexpensive item you can find quite easily, for example here [affiliate link].


Get it, really, it will make you feel like a proper pizza geek 🤓



One last important detail: the two doughs we defined, 2 and 24 hours, should rise at room temperature, just like neapolitan pizza.


I think that around 20°C (68°F) is common enough in our houses, so let’s consider this the benchmark. Any deviation means that you have to adjust accordingly the amount of yeast to keep the same rising time.

 

For example: if I wanted to make the two hour dough, but the room temperature was 22° - 23°C (71.6° - 73.4°F), then I would try using 4 grams of active yeast.


Similarly, a room temperature of 17° - 18°C (62.6° - 64.4°F) means we need to increase the amount of yeast, I would try with 6 grams.


Do some experiment and find a balance between the timings you want or need, the temperature of your kitchen and the amount of yeast. If you’re giving up the fun of experimentation, then just stick to my tutorial or if you’re really ready to up your pizza game consider my video course.


In conclusion


A short digression into pizza-science before I say goodbye.


Maybe you wonder if those 0.1 grams for the 24 hours dough are even enough, maybe you think that the amount is so small that your dough won’t even rise.


However, remember that yeast will duplicate inside the dough as long as there is some oxygen around. To an extreme, I can put even one single cell of yeast and it still will slowly populate the environment it’s living in.




Finally, if you've been following me for a while you know that I always recommend a long rising time.


This gives more taste, more complexity in the flavours because while yeast carries on its metabolism, it produces different byproducts, in particular some acids that are the aromatic components of our baked goods.


So while the 2 hour dough will taste a bit meh, plain, you can expect your 24 hours dough to be more satisfying for your tastebuds.


In general, the longer the rise, the more complex the flavours.


However, beyond 48 hours I can not really taste any big difference. Maybe it’s just me of course, or maybe there's a bit of unjustified hype behind ultra long fermentations and people just fell for a suggestion. My 2 cents.


I hope you liked this article, if you have found some value in it and you feel like supporting me, keep scrolling down and you will see several ways to pat my back!

Ciao, see you next time 🍕




 

Here's how you can support me!


🌾 You can simply buy me a bag of flour



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Photos from Amazon marketplace and Giphy

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