The Unexpected Sweet Touch You Need For More Flavorful Pizza Dough

A little sweet touch makes everything better, even something as simple as pizza dough. It may not be the best part of pizza, but dough is the most important part. Like the bread for your sandwich, the pizza dough holds everything together, and even in a supporting role it can make or break your pie. You may be craving the sauce and the cheese, but get a bland, flavorless crust, and none of the rest matters. And good pizza dough is tougher to make than it seems too. The standard Neapolitan pizza dough is like a baguette and other crusty white breads, it's just flour, water, yeast, and salt. Everything that's good about it comes from technique, with skilled pizza masters taking years to hone their craft. But there is an ingredient that can boost your dough without all that effort, and it's one a lot of pizza spots use themselves. A little sugar can help make your pizza dough perfect.

Sugar gets a bad rap these days, but used in moderation it's almost as useful and powerful an ingredient as its white granulated partner salt. Sugar won't just make things sweet but it will make every other ingredient it touches more flavorful. Being so simple, pizza dough can be a bit bland, so you want to use every trick in the book to boost its inherent flavor without adding too many extraneous ingredients. A few teaspoons of sugar will do just that.

Sugar will give your pizza dough better flavor and better texture

While sugar will help boost your other ingredients, that's not the only way it improves the taste of your pizza dough. Sugar also helps your crust brown better, which can be very useful in home ovens that don't hit the high temperatures professional pizza ovens do. The presence of a little extra sugar boosts the Maillard reaction by augmenting the sugars naturally found in flour. This reaction creates extra browning, and those spots contain far more complex flavors than are naturally found in your dough. So by promoting faster browning while your dough cooks, sugar adds another dimension of flavor to your pizza. And if you need any more convincing, know that while Italian pizza doesn't usually contain sugar, New York-style pizza does for that exact reason.

Adding sugar to your dough will have a few other effects to be aware of when making your pizza. A small amount of sweetness will accelerate the growth of your dough by giving the yeast more sugar to consume. This can also add flavor to your bread through the fermentation process, but you need to be careful about over-proofing as the dough will rise faster. Finally, sugar will tenderize your dough, making it softer. This can be positive for the interior of your crust, yet it can also hurt the gluten bonds that hold the dough together, so always use sugar in your pizza dough with a light hand.