How to get bubbles in pizza crust? Here is what an expert baker has to say

  • By: Emma
  • Date: May 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Table of Contents

How to get bubbles in pizza crust?

Do you like bubbles in your pizza crust? This is a surprisingly common question.

We asked Anna, an experienced baker, and here’s what she said:

It’s easy! All you need is some baking powder and an oven.

But there is so much more to learn about bubbles in pizza crust and why do they form.

Follow the simple steps listed in this blog post, and you’ll be enjoying bubbly crust in no time!

Let’s get started!

What do we mean by bubbles in pizza crust?

We are talking about bubbles in the crust, not air pockets under the toppings. Bubbles are typically bigger than air pockets, and it is easier to see them with an unfrosted pizza since they are more or less stationary.

Air pockets may be larger overall, but they can move around making it difficult to discern between them and bubbles.

Bubbles are typically easier to see during the bake since they are not obscured by toppings.

The bubble formation process is slightly different from what you might refer to as “oven spring”. Oven spring is the fast expansion of dough that happens when it first contacts hot oven air after being cold.

Oven spring is a common phenomenon and happens in many recipes.

Bubbles are the result of another process. These can also refer to yeast-driven bubbles that form during dough proofing as some recipes call for.

Is Bubble formation important in pizza crust?

While air pockets are normal in the yeast-leavened dough, bubbles are not. We know that they can form, but just how important are they?

Here is what researchers say about it:

Fermentation indication

Most sources seem to indicate that bubbles are a sign of proper fermentation and proofing. Many purveyors claim that a bubbly dough will result in a better crumb structure.

Yeast-based bubbles may contribute to finer crumb structure by trapping gas, but the main reason for bubbles is simply because fermentation occurred as it should have.

Aeration indication

According to food science expert Harold McGee, bubble formation shows that the protein has been properly aerated in the dough.

It is an indication that denatured proteins have formed a matrix around gas bubbles, holding them in place and creating a network that gives structure to the dough. This is important with yeast-leavened dough because it then allows for oven spring when heat causes this air bubble matrix to expand.

What causes bubbles in the dough?

Several factors cause bubbles to form, but the process starts with yeast. When fermenting at room temperature, fermentation by yeast can produce many small gas bubbles.

When you put the dough into a hot oven after cold-fermenting, these same gases expand further since they are rapidly heated.

At this point, you have a network of proteins that hold gas bubbles in place. This is the same concept behind pieces of bread that have holes or hollow spaces, such as bagels and some sourdoughs. In these dough types, heating causes protein networks to expand creating air cavities between them.

In pizza dough, the bubbles are still mostly created by yeasts which continue to feed on sugars and create carbon dioxide.

The baking powder doesn’t contribute much here since it is used in relatively small quantities.

This type of bubble formation contributes to a more open crumb structure overall. You can see this with unfrosted yeast-leavened dough because bubbles are often trapped in the dough when it is baked.

In addition, baking powder can also contribute to bubble formation in a second way. When baking powder reacts with moisture and carbon dioxide, it produces sodium bicarbonate. This reaction needs an acidity level of 4 or greater to be able to work properly.

8 Ways to get bubbles in pizza crust

You can get bubbles in your dough using different ingredients and techniques.

While yeast fermentation is the primary place where bubble formation happens, you can also create them with baking powder or other high-acidity ingredients like tomatoes.

We’ll look at several ways to do this below:

1) Cold ferment then bake with the hot oven method

This can be done with refrigerated dough or you can cold ferment your own dough.

This method creates bubbles by both yeast activity and baking powder. This is an ideal recipe if you want the benefits of lower GI with a chewier crust structure than what high-protein flours provide.

2) Cold ferment then bake with the slow oven method

You can also cold ferment your dough and then bake it in a slow oven.

This method creates bubbles by yeast activity alone, but the dough won’t rise much since there is no leavening agent. You can get bubbly crust with this method, though it will be smaller in size compared to other recipes.

3) Warm water mixing instead of cold water mixing

When working with fresh yeast, you can mix the dough using warm water instead of cold. This is also called “hand mixing”.

This method creates bubbles by yeast activity alone and will result in a crust that rises very little if at all.

4) Add baking powder to your recipe

Instead of using the cold-fermenting method, you can add baking powder to your recipe.

You can use this technique if you want a yeast-leavened pizza dough that has a crispy crust and bubbles inside it.

5) Add pureed canned tomatoes

You can try adding pureed potatoes or high acidity ingredients like buttermilk to your recipe.

This method creates bubbles by baking powder activity alone and can result in a crispy crust.

6) Mix high-protein flour into your recipe

You can also add high-protein flours, like bread flour to your recipe if you want a dough that has fewer bubbles but is chewier.

7) Add leavening to your recipe

You can mix in baking powder to your recipe. You don’t have to use a cold-fermenting method if you add leavening, but there may be a taste difference between the less ferment yeast method and this one because leavening agents react with acid to create carbon dioxide.

8) Creating an ideal dough for bubbles

If you want to use one type of flour or technique, here are the ideal dough properties for bubbles:

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a process where yeast feeds on sugar and creates gas. This can create large air pockets within a dough ball.

The bubbles happen during the dough’s rise, which happens either by letting it sit at room temperature for hours or with what is called “proofing” in commercial bakeries (heating the dough to speed the fermentation).

The gas is mostly carbon dioxide and this is what causes bubbles in the final crust. This is also what makes yeast-leavened doughs rise during baking, which is why they are typically higher in volume compared to other types of bread.

What are yeast bubbles?

Yeast bubbles are the result of yeast fermentation. This process creates gas and it’s the gases being produced during this process that creates bubbles.

A dough with a lot of yeast helps create more yeast bubbles compared to a dough without much yeast. This is why a strong flour or a long rise time helps to create these bubbles in your final pizza crust.

What are baking powder bubbles?

Baking powder bubbles are the result of a chemical reaction between acids and leavening. This can occur right after mixing or after an extended time in the refrigerator.

Baking powder bubbles also happen during baking and this is how pieces of bread that use baking powder as the leavening agent become lighter in texture.

What are baking soda bubbles?

Baking soda bubbles are the result of a chemical reaction between an acid and an alkaline ingredient.

This can occur right after mixing or after an extended time in the refrigerator.

Baking soda bubbles also happen during baking and this is how pieces of bread that use baking soda as leavening rise during cooking.

This happens very quickly, which is why it’s better suited for things like brownies where you want a quick burst of air in the middle of your baked good.

What are carbon dioxide bubbles?

These bubbles are similar to yeast bubbles, but they are the result of carbon dioxide being released during a chemical reaction.

Carbon dioxide bubbles happen in chemistry class when you mix baking soda and vinegar or with yeast fermenting.

These bubbles wouldn’t be useful for pizza dough because they would only appear once the dough is already cooked on your pizza stone (and even then, they’d be so small you couldn’t see them).


In a nutshell, to get bubbles in your pizza use either baking soda or a different oven temperature setting as explained above.

happy baking!

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