Is your pizza dough missing something? Adding herbs and spices might help. But proceed with caution: You don’t want to overdo it.
Herbs, spices, seasonings and flavors are used throughout the pizza-making process—in the dough and the sauce, as toppings and even with the cheese. They certainly can be added with the other ingredients during the mixing of the pizza dough as well.
Typically, dried herbs, spices, seasonings and flavors should be added at a starting level of 0.25% based on the amount of flour—that is, 1 ounce (28 grams) for 25 pounds (11.35 kilograms) of flour. Because of higher water content, the level of fresh herbs should be two or three times greater than that of dried herbs—between 0.5% and 0.75% FB or 2-3 ounces (56-85 grams) for 25 pounds of flour.
You should particularly use caution when adding garlic or onion to the dough; both act as reducing agents due to naturally occurring enzymes. Reducing agents cause the dough to relax and make it easier to stretch, sheet and/or press. Although this can be a positive attribute in pizza dough, the reducing effect from the garlic or onion can also reduce the oven spring/volume of the resulting crust and shorten the refrigerated life of the dough.
Still want to give it a try? Garlic and onion powders can be added to the dough mix at between 0.06% and 0.12 % FB or ¼ to ½ ounce (7-14 grams) for 25 pounds of flour. Chopped or crushed garlic should be used at between 0.25% and 0.5% FB or 1-2 ounces (28-56 grams) for 25 pounds of flour.
These levels of herbs, spices, seasonings and flavors should be considered starting levels. The levels may need to be increased or decreased to suit your tastes—for example, fresh herbs, although more expensive, have a cleaner (truer), more robust flavor than dried herbs.
Keep in mind that you only want to offer a hint of these flavors and aromas in the dough. Used in excess, they tend to mask the natural flavor of your dough. That’s why many pizzaioli prefer to layer ingredients and flavor components on the pizza itself to ensure that each bite offers a different experience and the taste buds aren’t overwhelmed on the first bite.
Jeff Zeak was a longtime contributor to PMQ and the former pilot plant manager for the American Institute of Baking (AIB).