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Pizza, Gluten, String Theory

For the second time in the past month and the second time in my life, I just made no-knead pizza dough. It has thrown my conceptual world into a tizzy.

Since I was about 20 years old, I’ve made pizza by making a dough, kneading it, and cooking it. People (= my wife) claim to like it. But the Internet was all abuzz with the no-knead approach, so I of course tried it, just as I tried eating Diet Coke and Mentos together, poured a bucket of ice over a stranger’s head, and bit some kid’s finger. The recipe is 100% weird.

The ingredients are basically the same: three cups of flour, some water, salt, and 1/8th of a tsp of yeast. Yes, you read that right: 1/8th of a teaspoon. My teaspoon measuring set stops at 1/4. So I had to fill that one up, and gently blow on it until it looked half full. Or half empty.

You then mix all the ingredients together but just until they’re combined. As you may have guessed already, you do not knead it. Instead you put it in a warm place for 22-24 hours. You then take it out and once again you do not knead it. You pull it into shape, put on sauce and cheese, and bake it at 500F for 8-10 minutes, or until it’s a little crunchy on the bottom.

Then you take it out carefully because it’s very very hot and the melted cheese is designed to attach itself to flesh like a pain magnet. And, now at last you knead the shit out of it.

Nah, now you eat it. And it tastes more like pizzeria crust than my fluffy kneaded dough. Crunchy, chewy, slightly charred.

The process shoots to hell my mental model of how gluten forms. I thought molecules rubbed against each other and got entangled like barbed wire riding a packed rush hour train, forming long chains of stringy gluten. The kneading did the entangling. But in this recipe nothing does. Gluten apparently is the result of bread’s need for intimacy.

And you know what else doesn’t make sense? The recipe says to put crushed canned tomatoes on top as the sauce, rather the cooked concoction I’ve been making. And that sauce is better, too.

What next? Chickens that lay omelets?

BTW, here’s the recipe I used. Please note that it doesn’t require kneading the dough.

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3 Responses to “Pizza, Gluten, String Theory”

  1. Most of my breads and pizzas are no-knead — for years now. They taste better for less work! If you really want to do something you can do some “folds.” Speaking of late to the game, I got a piece of steel, and last week’s pizza crust was impressive.

  2. […] Replied to a post on http://www.hyperorg.com : […]

  3. Say more about this steel. Is it like a pizza stone but — taking a wild guess here — made out of stone?

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