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I've been learning how to make pizzas.

In the book I follow, for home ovens at 500 F, one needs to add a browning agent in pizzas to bake the pizza well. In 453 grams of flour, he uses 9gm of diastatic malt. Sugar and honey are 2 other alternatives we can use instead of malt. I used 9gm of honey for my pizza dough. It didn't seem to brown at all. My first question is "What proportions of sugar and honey should I use instead of 9gm of malt and why?"

I used coarse whole wheat dough without browning agent and didn't use sufficient water (mostly?!) in my 1st iteration which didn't bake well at all. 2nd time, I used something called maida (all purpose flour) with a browning agent which was better.

I'm following Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani. He tells to use browning agent so I'll go with it.

  • 4.5g active dry yeast,
  • 9g pink salt,
  • 70g water to activate yeast first and
  • extra 225g ice water to make the dough
  • 5g oil
  • Cold fermentation (in fridge), 1 day bulk+ 1 day after cutting dough into balls.
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    Your question is not exactly clear. Your title suggests that you are looking for a browning agent, but you end with the very broad question of how to make the dough. Would you mind editing so that we know how we might help? There are several questions on the site that refer to pizza already, so, first see if your question is answered there. Then, clarify the remaining question. – moscafj Sep 15 '19 at 18:07
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    To help determine the cause of the lack of browning, we also need to know the amount of yeast, salt, and water you used, and what type of fermentation you used (temp and time). – NSGod Sep 15 '19 at 18:56
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    Also, it is not my personal experience that a browning agent is even necessary, so it would be helpful to share what your source of information is. – FuzzyChef Sep 16 '19 at 3:56
  • @NSGod I've truncated the question to just how to substitute diastatic malt. I'm following Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani. He tells to use browning agent so I'll go with it. 4.5g active dry yeast, 9g pink salt, 70g water to activate yeast first and extra 225g ice water to make the dough, 5g oil. Cold fermentation (in fridge), 1 day bulk+ 1 day after cutting dough into balls. – caissalover Sep 17 '19 at 17:11
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    @caissalover Could you please edit your post to include all that additional information? It’s a lot easier to find everything in one spot instead of digging through the comments. Thanks! – Stephie Sep 17 '19 at 18:50
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I don't know exactly how much honey or sugar you should use. I make pizzas all the time and get sufficient browning to my taste, without adding any "browning agents." However, different recipes may react differently, and you may prefer a dough that browns faster or darker than mine.

In any case, you'll need a lot more honey or sugar to replace the diastatic malt by weight. Diastatic malt means that it has active enzymes which break down some of the starch in flour and thereby release natural sugars in the dough. Those sugars help to feed the yeast (and thus tend to cause a greater rise), but also will aid in surface browning reactions.

If you substitute diastatic malt with sugar itself, you're not trying to replace the malt powder or malt syrup -- you need to replace the sugars that the enzymes would have released into the dough. Thus, there's no possible proportion to give you: the amount of sugar released by using diastatic malt will vary depending on fermentation conditions, type of flour, and probably other factors. Again, I don't really know how to give you an exact amount of sugar/honey to use -- there are all sorts of recipes for pizza with greatly varying amounts of sugars in them. You might start by adding a tablespoon or so of sugar/honey to your dough and see what happens. (Definitely try more than 9 grams.) Adjust up or down until you get the effect you like the best. (Adding sugar to pizza dough won't just affect browning: it will alter texture and flavor too, so it's best to experiment. And note that some of the sugar will also be digested by the yeast in long fermentations, so you may need to make further adjustments depending on your procedure.)

Additionally, you might find that longer fermentation will allow natural enzymes in the dough to break down some of the sugars too and promote browning. There's a limit to this process, and you already mention a day-long fermentation in the fridge. But fermenting for 2-3 days in the fridge and/or allowing a little more time at room temperature when the dough is "warming up" for fermentation may allow the enzymes to simulate a bit of your diastatic malt effects.

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  • Thank you very much. There couldn't have been a better answer. – caissalover Sep 21 '19 at 5:31

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