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"Cook's Illustrated" Foolproof Pizza Crust


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2. Their measurement for flour is 1 cup = 5 1/2 ounces. Now, I've measured flour every which way (really, how many ways are there?) and no matter what I do, the flour weighs 4 1/2 ounces per cup. Peter Reinhardt, author of the seminal The Bread Baker's Apprentice, says flour weighs 4 1/2 ounces per cup. Freakin' King Arthur (A KING!) says that flour weighs 4 1/4 ounces per cup. So listen up, good people at Cook's Illustrated - take your fingers off the damn scale, willya?

My standard flour is unbleached, all-purpose flour for most things. I usually use Gold-Medal or Pillsbury or sometimes even the store brand. I keep my flour in a cannister large enough to hold a 5 lb bag. Before I measure I always stir and aerate with a rubber spatula. I then dip, and sweep. I get almost exactly 5 ounces every time. I get 4 ounces for cake flour, about 5 1/2 ounces for bread flour, but 5 ounces for unbleached, all-purpose flour. Maybe it's because I live on the coast and its pretty humid here, don't know.

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...I've never been able to get close to 5 1/2 oz., whether I dip my measuring cup or scoop into my measuring cup. Most I get is 4 3/4, and that is rare. And when tomes like KA and BBA quote the weight as 4 1/2 oz. or less, I'm just a bit suspect about the Cook's Illustrated's measurement methodology.

In Cookwise, Shirley Corriher lists 1 cup of bread flour as weighing 5.6 oz. One cup of AP flour, spooned into & leveled off in a measuring cup, is listed as 4.25 oz. For people who scoop AP flour with a measuring cup out of the bag, pressing it against the sides of the bag (a method frowned upon by experienced bakers), Corriher allots a more generous 5 oz per cup.

The few times I've bothered to weigh my own cup of flour, it's somewhere around 4.5 oz, usually under rather than over. This past weekend I attended a cooking demo given by Alice Medrich. She gave 4.5 oz/cup as her standard for AP flour measurement. So that's another prominent baker to add to the 4.5 oz list.

I've heard anecdotes about humidity affecting flour, although in the other direction--dry air (from winter houses, or living in the desert) dries out flour & (I'm guessing) makes it denser and lighter when measured by volume.

Fine Cooking also uses 1 cup AP flour as the equivalent of 4 1/2 oz.

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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I made this dough this weekend for, er, Christmas Day pizzafest. Used Italian "pizza flour" (Threw out the bags so can't remember the exact brand or name). What I liked about the dough is that it is, indeed, a long-rise dough which looks like nothing is happening while refrigerated and then springs to life at room temperature. The dough, however, didn't measure out just right (I used volume, not weight) and I had to add about 1/3 cup additional flour to make it handle-able when removing from the processor. Flattening out was a breeze - used a combination of fingers and rolling pin - and it baked up beautifully. (No photos, sorry.) The only quibble was that it really wasn't a thin enough crust for me - but it's possible that I didn't flatten the dough enough before baking. I also used parchment to facilitate moving the pizzas from peel to stone - a bit of a compromise for me but I was making 6 pizzas and was in no mood to deal with possible disaster. At any rate, the recipe will go into my keeper file - I liked it.

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I'm always on the lookout for a better pizza crust recipe/method. I like to make pizza, but I always seem to have a lot of issues making a dough that is easy to work with.

Then this is the one. And...use parchment.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I've done the parchment thing before when rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. But what I really want is to be able to easily work it with just hands.

Wet doughs definitely get easier with practice. Once upon a time, my ciabatta ran all over the counter, was the object of much cursing, etc. After about three or four abject failures, my hands seemed to learn something and it's easy now. I do subscribe to the "wet hands for wet dough" theory of shaping for loaves...

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My issue isn't really with dough sticking to the peel or to my hands. It's just stretching it out evenly without tearing. My standard dough is one that rises for 24 hours in the fridge. I do find that it's easier to work after another day, but not nearly as easy as I would see when watching a real pizza place do it on TV. Dunno if I over mix/knead or under mix/knead. It's just one of the things I kinda struggle with in the the kitchen.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I've done the parchment thing before when rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. But what I really want is to be able to easily work it with just hands.

By easy to work, are you talking about kneading or stretching/rolling (or both)? I guess they're related, but during kneading you can work through it by force (either by using a modern machine, or using the Julia Child method of beating the dough against a board as though employing a medieval flail against a belligerant Huguenot).

Chicago Deep Dish doughs are a joy to work with because you don't want to develop much, if any, gluten. Just mix to incorporate. The result is something like biscuit dough that readily mashes around in a pan. But for regular pizzas you want the gluten development.

Hydration is a factor as well. Highly hydrated doughs will be looser and seem to be easier to work, but they can be stickier - and sneakier - contracting over time (especially on an oiled surface). So that 12" round you rolled out may well be 10" by the time you check back on it.

Rest is probably the most important factor. Once a dough seems to be working against you, give it the cold shoulder and walk away for 5 minutes. It will relax. Then you can sneak up on it again and impose your will.

I think tossing probably came about as a way of coaxing the dough with minimum violence and a maximum of finesse. Although tossed pizzas aren't generally my favorites, the technique does seem sound (and is impressive when performed well). One afternoon I devoted some time to learning this technique. Just as I was starting to see some indications of success, I realized that an 8 foot ceiling just wasn't going to be sufficient.

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My pizza dough is high gluten flour 100%

h2O 62%

olive oil 4.7%

Salt 1.5%

tsp of active dry yeast

Use a pre ferment overnight of 60%of the flour and H2O/yeast

Then add rest of H2O, and stuff, and mix in stand mixer.

put it into 454gram chunks in lightly oiled plastic bags, and put em in the veg drawer in the reefer for a week or so.

Then take the bags out and flatten the dough so its in the bag about a half inch thick. then off to the freezer, until the day of use.

Take it out and put on the counter for 5 hours or so(it just starts to rise) and then cut the bag off and form it on a flowered counter. then off to a wooden peel with a light layer of corn meal on it , that you shake ocasioainly so it does not stick. put on toppings,, shake it off on to a stone or steel plate in a hot oven Done!

Bud

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I've done the parchment thing before when rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. But what I really want is to be able to easily work it with just hands.

By easy to work, are you talking about kneading or stretching/rolling (or both)? I guess they're related, but during kneading you can work through it by force (either by using a modern machine, or using the Julia Child method of beating the dough against a board as though employing a medieval flail against a belligerant Huguenot).

Chicago Deep Dish doughs are a joy to work with because you don't want to develop much, if any, gluten. Just mix to incorporate. The result is something like biscuit dough that readily mashes around in a pan. But for regular pizzas you want the gluten development.

Hydration is a factor as well. Highly hydrated doughs will be looser and seem to be easier to work, but they can be stickier - and sneakier - contracting over time (especially on an oiled surface). So that 12" round you rolled out may well be 10" by the time you check back on it.

Rest is probably the most important factor. Once a dough seems to be working against you, give it the cold shoulder and walk away for 5 minutes. It will relax. Then you can sneak up on it again and impose your will.

I think tossing probably came about as a way of coaxing the dough with minimum violence and a maximum of finesse. Although tossed pizzas aren't generally my favorites, the technique does seem sound (and is impressive when performed well). One afternoon I devoted some time to learning this technique. Just as I was starting to see some indications of success, I realized that an 8 foot ceiling just wasn't going to be sufficient.

Stretching to shape to make the actual pizza. I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer to mix/knead. Also, a food processor. I've used that before as well.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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