Pizza yeast is something that’s been around for a while but isn’t widely used. In fact, I only became aware of it recently after a reader sent me a question asking about it. So what is pizza yeast, exactly?
In general, pizza yeast is a unique yeast blend that contains conditioner products, such as dough relaxers, that makes the dough easier to shape out. This kind of yeast is considered a specialty product and is sometimes marketed as “pizza crust yeast” by brands such as Fleischmann’s.
But is a dough relaxer really necessary to make great pizza at home? Let’s discuss what pizza yeast is, how to use it, and some alternative methods you can try in its place.
How Does Pizza Yeast Work?
Pizza yeast is a special kind of leavening product made specifically for pizza. What sets it apart from regular yeast, both dry and fresh, is that it contains a “dough relaxer” that supposedly makes the dough easier to shape.
In the case of Fleischmann’s “pizza crust yeast” product, the dough relaxer in question is called L-Cysteine. L-Cysteine is an amino acid that acts as a building block for proteins and is commonly found in many baking products.
Pizza yeast works by taking advantage of the effects of the L-Cysteine which softens the gluten bonds and makes the dough easier to handle and shape.
Pizza Yeast vs Instant Dry Yeast
Pizza yeast and instant dry yeast are very similar – in fact they’re mostly the same thing. The difference is the inclusion of a dough relaxer product – L-Cysteine, an amino acid that relaxes the gluten bonds within the dough and makes it easier to shape.
These pizza yeast products are marketed as producing a dough that’s much easier to work with than fresh or instant dry yeast. They require only a few minutes of kneading and supposedly do not need to rise at all. The chemicals in the yeast make the dough not only easier to shape but also helps the crust rise in the oven as it bakes. This extra rising feature is mostly due to the dough being softer making it easier for air to push it up.
The main benefit to pizza yeast is speed. Pizza yeast allows you to mix, knead and use the dough all in one sitting. But this convenience does come with a cost.
The Downsides Of Pizza Yeast
Pizza yeast might be a godsend if you’re in a hurry to make a quick pizza, but you should realize that it comes at the expense of quality.
Normally, a pizza dough is left to rise and proof at least twice, and sometimes several times, before the pizza is actually made. During this time the dough ferments which allows it to build up a complex flavor and texture that contributes quite a bit to what makes pizza so great.
As the dough ferments, not only is the gluten structure of the dough changed but several chemical reactions are happening as well that affects taste. As the yeast feeds on the starches and sugars present in the dough, it produces gasses and leaves behind different kinds of acids and alcohols that gives a well fermented pizza crust its unique flavor.
Because of these processes, each batch of pizza dough has a unique taste and texture as so many variables such as temperature and time come into play and affect the chemistry of the ingredients.
With pizza yeast, most of these unique pizza dough characteristics are lost because the dough isn’t given time to rest and ferment. The chemical additions to pizza yeast can also make the pizza crust too soft and spongey as well.
Pizza Yeast Substitute
The best substitute for pizza yeast is time. Simply giving the dough ample time to rest not only allows it to ferment and create a complex network of gluten, it also allows those same gluten bonds to relax making the dough easy to work with.
So, for example, instead of using a pizza yeast you could simply leave your shaped dough balls to proof at room temperature for an hour or more before using it. This will relax the gluten and make the pizza as easy to shape as if you were using pizza yeast. This extra time also lets carbon dioxide build up in the dough which will make it rise in the oven as well or even better as if you were using pizza yeast.
Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast
Pizza yeast is beneficial to those who need to make a pizza fast due to its no-rise and easy-kneading properties. It certainly can be said that pizza yeast will get you much better results than similar quick pizza dough recipes using baking soda and baking powder.
But all this inconvenience comes at the expense of quality in the finished product. A quick pizza dough using pizza yeast simply cannot compare to what you can achieve from following a traditional pizza dough recipe using dry or fresh yeast. The taste and texture of the traditional pizza dough is simply superior to anything that you can make with pizza yeast.
With that being said, it might be useful to keep a packet of pizza yeast in your refrigerator just in case of a pizza emergency. Pizza yeast is certainly an interesting product with lot’s of potential, even if the end results are limited.
Why Is Pizza Yeast Different Than Regular Yeast?
Pizza yeast is active dry yeast mixed with the chemical L-Cysteine. This yeast and chemical mixture makes a dough that rises well and kneads and shapes easily.
Can I Substitute Pizza Yeast For Regular Yeast?
In general, you can substitute pizza yeast for regular yeast as long as you know what you’re doing. Pizza yeast containing dough relaxers will make whatever you’re baking much softer and weaker than if you were using regular yeast. So for a soft dinner roll it will probably be fine, but for something like crusty bread it’s probably not the best choice.
What Is Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast?
Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast is a special line of yeast mixture containing the dough relaxer L-Cysteine. L-Cysteine is basically just an amino acid that makes gluten bonds weaker and a pizza dough that’s easier to shape and work with.
How To Use Pizza Yeast
Pizza yeast is used the same way as regular yeast. Simply substitute regular yeast in your pizza dough recipe for pizza yeast instead. However, keep in mind that since pizza yeast is intended for making a quick pizza dough you’ll probably need to use more of it than you would regular yeast.
Which Yeast Is Best For Pizza?
In general, the best yeast for pizza is the kind that is most readily available to you. For most people, this will be active dry yeast but for others it will be fresh yeast. Each kind of yeast is a living and breathing organism so the flavor and texture will be slightly different each time. Try experimenting with different kinds of yeast until you find one you like the best.