Pizza Quest Globe

Close Menu

Peter’s Blog, August 8th — Alright, Controversy!!

Written By Peter Reinhart
Thursday, 09 August 2012 Peter's Blog

I’m packing and getting ready for the big book launch over the next two weeks in SF and the Bay Area, so will keep this short.  The schedule is listed below in my previous Peter’s Blog, if any of you can make it to any of the classes or book signings. There are still a few seats left for the classes but you’ll have to call the venues for more info.

But this week I think we’re going to have to address the controversy that emerged in the Comments section of my last posting, thanks to someone named Scott007 and a few other voices, including another Scott — Scott123. It’s actually kind of exciting — apparently, I’ve pissed a few people off and am not sure why but would sure like to find out what I did (if you aren’t up to speed, please check out the Comments thread in the recent Peter’s Blog — last time I checked there were 14 comments).  So, what I’d like to do is open up the discussion here on this posting, via a new Comments section, the one on this posting, and ask any and all of you to chime in.  If I’ve trashed NY pizza culture, as Scott123 accuses, or passed on misinformation about pizza methodology or dough science, let’s get it all on the table so we can clear it up.  Scott(s), how about getting specific and make your case — I hear that 123 is a well respected pizza authority so maybe I have something to learn from you. None of us have a monopoly on the whole truth and Pizza Quest was created to be a forum for the sharing of our mutual pizza journeys and celebration of artisanship. I’m open to learn from you but also would like to know the actual specifics of where you think I went wrong, rather than generalized attacks.  The only rule for this discussion is civility — I reserve the right to edit out ad hominum attacks, unnecessary language, and nasty language.  But differences of opinion — sure, I’m okay with that. So, for those who want to play along, go ahead and express yourselves — but let’s do it respectfully, please.

I won’t be posting another Peter’s Blog till I return at the end of the month, but will try to join in the Comments section from the road if my i-Pad and local WiFi will allow it. In the meantime, let’s get to the heart of it — we’re on a search for the truth (or, perhaps, truths). Let the discussion begin….




BTW, the autolyse method doesn’t always require no yeast or salt. There are methods that add it before the resting period (aka autolyse) and some where you add one before and one after. In other words, it’s a method that’s main purpose is to allow maximum hydration and development with minimum mixing (and, thus, minimum oxidation). So what seems to be happening now in the bread world is that many bakers are creating their own variations and applications of this principle based on the circumstances of their production schedules and needs. There really does seem to be more than one path up the proverbial bread mountain, which is why I love this journey so much.



I use a 30 minute autolyse that includes salt and yeast when I make both pizza and bread dough primarily, as you say, to allow for maximum hydration and development with minimal mixing.

I am assuming that a 24 hour cold autolyse w/out yeast or salt would exhibit considerably less bacterial activity than a 24 cold ferment with the addition of yeast and salt. Is this correct?


Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Prof. Raymond Calvel defined autolyse as flour + water (not necessarily all of the flour + water) as is the practice at Gosselin


Pappy: Bacterial activity is significantly lowered by the addition of salt



Although Calvel’s classic definition of autolyse excludes salt and yeast, there is some variation, even in his classic text, A Taste of Bread. Many people, myself included, find little difference when yeast and salt are added before the autolyse period.

The main point to autolyse is reduced, gentle mixing time and minimal oxidation of the dough. Oxydation harms beneficial flavor compounds.

I made four pizzas yesterday using a 30 minute autolyse with added yeast and salt. Three minutes in the mixer on 1 and a 2 minute hand knead got me to windowpane. Given that I did a 6 hr room temp ferment, I could have mixed less.

1 2 3 4 21

Add Comment

Pizza Quest Info


Vision Statement

Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter’s Books

American Pie
Artisan Breads Every Day
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on