May 19, 2010

The Overnight Rise

I think we make a pretty mean pizza in the Fillippelli household. The crust, courtesy of  my wife, has a good balance of flavor and chew, and whether it's a simple pie with just a little sauce, some Moroccan olives and freshly grated pecorino or something bit more adventurous with radicchio, fontina, and walnuts, the final product is always delicious and satisfying.

But there's always room for improvement. In today's New York Times, Oliver Strand suggests a way to take your crust to a new level of flavor: letting the dough rise overnight (if not longer!).

It’s not a new idea. Anthony Mangieri redefined New York’s artisanal scene when he opened Una Pizza Napoletana in 2004 (now living in San Francisco, he will reopen his pizzeria there later this summer). He learned to let dough rise for 24 hours in Naples. Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix all have overnight rises; at Lucali’s in Brooklyn, the dough rises for about 36 hours; and at Saraghina, also in Brooklyn, it goes for as long as 72 hours.

What's the difference between a 3-hour rise (ours is usually more of a 5- to 6-hour rise) and a 24+-hour rise?

...the prolonged fermentation of an overnight rise not only develops the dough’s structure, it also enables starches to transform into flavorful sugars. The dough becomes complex and nuanced.

Hmmm... I'll be the judge of whether "complex and nuanced" translates into "better tasting."  Love a good pizza experiment!

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