Neapolitan dough is typically made of high-quality flour, salt, water and fresh yeast.
Indeed yeast is a key component and you'll know why shortly.
By the way, did you know that man has been using yeah way before he first learned to write? Amazing, is not it? It continued to this day, with countless yeast applications including of course, as a significant ingredient of pizza crust, or dough.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but exports of the olden days were referred to as "unleavened bread", which means they were made without a rising agent, more commonly known as yeast.
Have not had the chance to try one of those, but others who have done so say they taste a bit "boring." In fact, early writings claim that "bread was discovered the day man realized that fermented dough could have been used to make the pancakes rise, to enhance their taste and to give them new textures."
An important discovery, I should say. Note the three important elements again: yeast as a rising agent, as a flavor enhancer and as a contributor to texture. (See the relation to our job of mastering the craft of pizza perfection?)
Through the works of the 19th century scientist Louis Pasteur (who first provided that fermentation was caused by living organisms or yeast), we have come to understand that yeast really aids in improving not just the taste, but even the aroma of bread.
Now, just so you know, the most popular variety of yeast is called saccharomyces cerevisiae, and it's the type used in making bread mainly due to its ability "to transform the sugars naturally present in flour into alcohol (which is evaporated away during baking) and into carbon dioxide. "
The bread's overall volume is a result of said process or transformation; wherein the bread "rises" as a result of the carbon dioxide produced during the baking process.
The same transformation happens in the dough of pizza; where the yeast produces carbon dioxide and alters, through the enzymes, the physical characteristics of the pizza dough.
The yeast also produces aromatic compounds which contribute to the overall aroma and flavor of the dough.
Dry or fresh yeast?
Excluding the "ancient sourdough", the yeast that you can use as ingredient in your pizza dough basically comes in two popular forms: the wide-available dry or instant yeast, and fresh yeast.
There's an ongoing questioning as to what form of yeast produces the better result for your dough. One school of thought argues that fresh yeast is superior to dry yeast. Conversely, there's the opposite who proponents prefer "the easier path" so to speak.
As advocates of pizza Napoletana or the authentic Neapolitan pizza, the debt has long been settled – only fresh natural yeast is permitted.
It could be a little hard to find since it is highly perishable, but believe me, the extra effort to find and use fresh yeast instead of the widely-available instant yeast would be all worth it.
The big difference lies in the resulting flavor. Only fresh yeast produces that flavor that is lacking in bread or pizzas made with dried yeast.
I hope you appreciate it by now. Authentic Neapolitan pizza demolitions only the highest quality of ingredients; and only fresh yeast satisfies that requirement for your pizza dough.
I'll be discussing the procedure and technical aspects of adding fresh yeast in your dough in more detail in my upcoming articles, considering measurements and tips on proofing fresh yeast; where to buy, how to store, or how to revive fresh yeast – among others. Please watch out for them.