Puntata, Staglio and Appretto

The process of making and shaping the dough has 3 keystone steps!

Leggi la versione italiana: Italian version

It does not really matter if you will make a pizza (any kind), focaccia or bread. You will go through what I call “the 3 keystone steps of dough making”. Skip one of them at your own risk.

What if we all start to make bread with the exact same initial ingredients?
Same amount and quality of flour, yeast, same water etc. Even the same weather outside. Same room temperature. Same mixer and tools.
Do you think we all end up with the same final product?
My answer is: it is doubtful.

So, what is the secret?
What grandma does in her recipe that I can not replicate in mine?

It all comes to balance, and balance needs action and time. Or better: right action at the right time.

Intro

To define the actions and times I just talked about, Neapolitan pizzaioli invented 3 words: Puntata, Staglio and Appretto.
Funny thing: these 3 words have nothing to do with baking. They come from different fields, and they have been adapted to fit into the “baking world.”

I call them: the 3 keystone steps of dough making. I like this bombastic way to define them because I think that just by deeply knowing these steps, everyone’s “baking show” can improve. Also, by knowing them, you can easily talk with a pizza chef and, with a short sentence, describe all your dough making process and understand his one.

Let us dig into each one of them!!

Puntata

So, here you are. You added everything you need into the mixer. You mix following the recipe, step by step. Some ingredients got into earlier than others; it does not really matter what you did: now it is time to take out your dough.
The puntata start at the very moment when you press the mixer’s off button. Even if you leave the dough in the mixer bowl, move it on the table or put it in a box.

Puntata Teglia Romana dough
Puntata Teglia Romana dough

Puntata is a name that comes from the pointer dog.
In the same way that the pointer dog freezes before chasing the prey. Your dough “freezes” and gently orient the gluten in one direction, but ready to follow the shape that you will give it.

In English, this is commonly called bulk fermentation.

During this time, 3 things mainly happen:

  1. The yeast converts the sugar into carbon dioxide. The gluten network traps the latter, so the dough increases its volume (leavening). This is the most evident process.
  2. The PH level reduces—the acidity increases.
  3. Long resting time activates the autolysis that weakens the gluten network. Resulting in a more extensible dough.

The purpose of this move is to provide the best plastic characteristics to the loaf. So it can be easily managed in the next step.

in short

Puntata is the bulk fermentation resting time.

If a pizzaiolo says something like:
“My dough has 24 hours Puntata at CF.”
It means
“I put all the dough into a refrigerator for 24 hours.”

Staglio

Once the Puntata time is over, it is time to cut and shape the dough.

Staglio is: cutting the dough and shaping it into balls (the PANETTI or PANIELLI).
The word combines 2 Italian words: STrappo (brake) + tAGLIO (cut) = STAGLIO.
When you shape the dough mass into the Panetti, you are not cutting, neither you are breaking, but you are doing something in between. With the dough cutter aid, the dough is cut into strips from which pieces are broken off and then shaped into balls (Panetti). The formation of the Panetti must be done by hand (even if many machines provide a great result).
This technique is known as “STAGLIO a mano” (dough cut/shaped by hand). It is reminiscent of the technique used in the preparation of mozzarella, which is called MOZZATURA, also done by hand.

Staglio pizza traditional
Staglio for Traditional pizza

In short

Staglio is the creation of the dough ball.

If a pizzaiolo says something like:
“My dough has 2 hours Puntata at RT, then Staglio and CF.”
It means
“I let the dough rest (covered) for 2 hours at room temperature; then, I cut it into pieces and shaped them before storing them in a refrigerator.”

Appretto

I do not know how to translate Appretto. Probably starch, or stiff, someone may say polish (I am brainstorming!).
Appretto is the substance used on fabrics to give them certain properties, softness, thickness, impermeability, etc. It is the starch you spray on your shirt collar to make it rigid. (if you have a good translation for it, let me know in the comments, and I will use it. Thx in advance).

So, what this item has to do with dough?
Once again, I need you to use your imagination.
As I said, Appretto is the spray you put on your shirt collar when you iron it. Then you move your shirt in your wardrobe until the day you will wear it.
In the pizza business (baking too), Appretto is the Panetti resting time in the pizza dough container. This time starts at the end of the Staglio, and it will finish when the pizza dough ball meets its destiny!

During the puntata, the pizza dough ball grows in volume. The yeast produces gas, and the gas is trapped in the gluten network.

Appretto pizza dough NeoNeapolitan
NeoNeapolitan dough appretto

In short

Appretto is the final resting time of the dough.

If a pizzaiolo says something like:
“My dough has 1-hour Puntata at RT, then Staglio at 250g and Appretto 24 hours at CF + 3 RT”.
It means
“I let the whole dough mass rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Then, I cut it into pieces, 250 g each, and shaped them. Next, I store them in a refrigerator for 24 hours, and I took them off, at room temperature, 3 hours before starting to work.”