You can definitely put too much yeast in pizza dough and these will be the negative outcomes:
- The dough will rise too fast and collapse
- It won’t develop flavors from fermentation
- It will taste overly yeasty
- It becomes hard to handle
The amount of yeast in pizza dough will have a big effect on how the final pizza turns out. More yeast means that the dough ferments faster which causes the dough to rise faster.
In this guide, I’ll explain why this isn’t so good, how much yeast to ideally use, and what to do if you end up putting too much yeast in your dough.
What Yeast Does In Pizza Dough
Yeast is a microorganism that feeds off the flour in the dough and ferments it to produce gas and other compounds. As the dough ferments, the stretchy gluten network develops to improve the dough’s texture. Longer fermentations allow the dough to relax and be workable.
Fermentation is not just about making the dough rise; it’s about flavor development. When yeast ferments, it produces acids and alcohols that contribute to the unique taste of the dough. A long fermentation process allows these flavors to mature and intensify, giving your pizza crust a deeper flavor.
What Happens If You Put In Too Much Yeast?
1. The Dough Rises Too Fast
Too much yeast in pizza dough will cause the dough to rise too quickly and then deflate. The dough can essentially over-ferment very quickly.
It will balloon in size to a point and then run out of energy and stop rising. At the same time, the strength of the dough weakens so the bubbles will “blow out” of the dough.
Over-fermented dough tastes acidic and “off” so it has an impact on more than just the texture.
2. No Flavor Or Texture Development
Dough that rises too quickly doesn’t have the time to build up the flavor and texture that longer fermentation creates.
Fermentation leaves acids, alcohol, and tasty compounds in the dough. With longer times, these mature and develop further to create those delicious flavors and aromas you get in great pizza and bread (and other fermented things like wine, beer, cheese, etc).
When you don’t give the dough enough time to build these up, the outcome tastes really bland. You pretty much just taste the flour and yeast.
3. Overly Yeasty Flavor
Yeast has quite a distinctive flavor and with too much yeast it will dominate the taste of the crust. Too much will taste too “yeasty” and not like the mild, tangy flavor you were hoping for. The nicer flavors come from the time spent fermenting.
4. Difficulty Handling The Dough
The dough will lose strength and structure quickly with too much yeast. It starts strong and springy after kneading builds up the gluten network, but will quickly become weak and sticky with too much yeast.
This means it will stick to your hands and be difficult to move around. When you stretch the dough it will tear easily so you’ll end up with holes.
How Much Yeast Should You Use?
I like to use a small amount of yeast in my dough recipe – 0.5g for every 500g flour (0.1% baker’s percent). But will use more if I am short on time.
How much to use depends quite a bit on how much time you have on hand but generally, pizza doesn’t need that much yeast because it doesn’t need to rise massively like bread does.
If you are in a rush then you need to use more yeast, and if you have the luxury of time then you should opt to use less so that your dough comes out better.
Remember that more time fermenting = better flavor and texture in the dough.
Using baker’s percentages is a way to compare the quantities of ingredients compared to the flour weight. e.g. 500g flour and 5g yeast would be 1% yeast.
Here is a table with some guidance on how much yeast to use which I borrowed from my other detailed post on How Much Yeast In Pizza Dough?
|Temperature||Fermentation Time||Instant Dry Yeast Percentage||Example Yeast Amount Per 500g Flour (3 dough balls)|
|Room Temperature||2 hours||0.5%||2.5g|
|Room Temperature||5 hours||0.2%||1g|
|Room Temperature||8 hours||0.1%||0.5g|
|Room Temperature||18 hours||0.03%||0.15g|
Tips On Controlling Yeast Activity
Controlling the yeast activity in your dough is a balancing act between a few factors. Here are several ways you can manage that:
Temperature. Fermentation activity increases with higher temperatures and slows down with colder temperatures. The water temperature and the room temperature are the main influences.
Put dough in the fridge and you can store it for several days. Mix your dough with warm water and it gives it a kick start. It’s ideal to lower the temperature to give your dough at least 6 hours to develop.
Adjust the Hydration Level: The hydration level, or the ratio of water to flour, can impact yeast activity and dough texture. Wetter dough speeds up fermentation as it is more fluid and allows the yeast to be more active. Wetter dough also becomes harder to handle. Pizza dough is usually 55-70% hydration.
Time. The amount of time you need is another key element in the equation of great dough. You must give the dough the time it needs, and rushing it usually means a lesser quality dough. A slow rise may require some planning, but the results are well worth it in terms of flavor and texture.
Yeast Quantity: The amount of yeast you use directly affects the dough’s rise. Less yeast in your dough will result in a slower and more controlled fermentation, while more yeast will lead to a faster rise. Remember, that even with less yeast, a long fermentation can produce the best results.
Flour Types: Flour is the food that yeast eats to ferment. Different types of flour, such as all-purpose, bread, or “00” grade flour, can affect how yeast interacts with the dough. Bread flour, for example, has a higher protein content and can produce a stronger, chewier crust. Try to get familiar with a certain brand.
Use a Preferment: A preferment, such as a poolish or a biga, is a mixture of flour, water, and a small amount of yeast that is allowed to ferment for an extended period before being incorporated into the main dough. Using a preferment can enhance the flavor of your pizza dough and reduce the amount of yeast required in the final dough.
How To Fix Pizza Dough With Too Much Yeast
The main way you can fix a dough that has too much yeast in it is to lower the temperature by putting it in the fridge.
By doing this you slow the yeast activity right down so it doesn’t let off too much gas and make your dough weak and floppy. Depending on how far along your dough is in its fermentation, the damage might be done, but you can always extend a dough’s lifespan by putting it in the fridge.
Remember that you will need to bring the dough back up in temperature for at least an hour or two before you use it, otherwise, it’s tight and hard to work with.
If this isn’t possible then you should test your dough by giving it a press – if it feels very soft and weak then you should aim to use it sooner rather than later otherwise the dough can tear when you stretch it.
Getting to grips with yeast quantity in pizza dough is key to mastering a great dough. Crucially, it’s knowing when there is too much yeast for your recipe and dough temperature.
The best pizzas are made from slow-moving doughs with not much yeast. Use my table to try to pick an amount of yeast that fits your time schedule. I like to use around 0.1% – about half a gram of yeast for 500g flour.
You can further control the dough with temperature, the amount of water, and the amount of time you want to let it rise. Typically the dough will reach a prime fermentation point and then it’s time to use it before it goes soft.