Will using carbonated water in my pizza dough make it lighter or crispier?

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My initial gut reaction is that it probably won’t, because traditional pizza crust is a kneaded, heavy dough (relative to batters and very light pastries), two qualities that make it unlikely for the effervescence of the water to do much good. 

By the time you’ve let the yeast wake up to start fermenting, added your other ingredients, and mixed and kneaded the dough, my guess is that those tiny little bubbles are going to be long gone.  Carbonation is helpful in making lighter tempura and beer batters (as in our fish & chips recipe), as long as they’re used immediately, but I don’t think it’s going to provide much leavening to an actual dough.

The only reason I can think of that it might give you a crispier crust is that you’ll be adding slightly less water if measuring by volume, due to the space taken up by the bubbles, and less water can lead to a stiffer crust.

That said, I don’t have personal experience with this substitution to tell you one way or the other for sure.

– Question Submitted by Lonnie

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2 Responses to “Will using carbonated water in my pizza dough make it lighter or crispier?”

  1. 1
    Pat says:

    Using carbonated water (aka club soda or fizzy water) will produce a crispier crust, cracker like, if cooked at high temperatures (over 500° F). Making dough invokes a lot of chemistry, so best to break out the old text books to understand the relationships between cold water vs warmer water, adding sugar vs none). Enjoy!

  2. 2
    Matthew says:

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for commenting! Sorry for not responding sooner, the auto-notification system doesn’t seem to be updating me reliably at the moment.

    That’s fascinating. For the reasons I stated above, it make no sense to me that carbonation would make any difference in a kneaded dough. Do you happen to know why it would?

    Also, when would you add the water to make that difference?

    Thanks also for the note about chemistry – it’s always good to remind people. I’m a baking enthusiast myself (my favorite part of culinary school), and more people need (knead?) to be aware of this. A lot of folks approach baking like they do cooking and are surprised when things go wrong after they improvise a tweak without thinking through the ramifications.

    That said, I’d submit that in the case of pizza dough (at least traditionally yeast leavened), both those factors you’re discussing are having an affect due to biology – i.e. the yeast. Warmth & sugar encouraging the yeast vs cold & less food slowing them down.

    Interesting related tidbit: according to my culinary school baking instructor, when you add the salt can also be a factor (though the timeline still seems short enough that I’m not sure about that). He recommended popcorn salt, believe it or not, for leavened dough, on the theory that the ultra small granules could be incorporated later in the process.

    Marx Foods