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Pizza crust blah


Foam Pants
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Well, I have been mulling all this great advice over and I have come to a few conclusions:

1. I need to use more water and more salt.

2. I need to acquire a stone. Please don't laugh, not everyone has one! I had a dose of luck, though. A lady at work has just donated hers to me and it is sitting in my cube as I type. Yippy!

3. I need to stop letting it rise after I punch it. I don't know what I was thinking, I was getting some lovely oven spring but it's exactly what I don't want.

4. I need to age the dough a bit in the fridge.

After making pizza twice this week, I am giving it a rest until this weekend. Plus, I have some contract work on a very tight deadline. PLUS it is sunny outside which, as Beans knows, is a reason to drop all effort and head for the woods! I will be trying pizza at least once this weekend following some of the suggestions I've been given. I'll even take pictures.

Edited by Foam Pants (log)

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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After making pizza twice this week, I am giving it a rest until this weekend...  PLUS it is sunny outside which, as Beans knows, is a reason to drop all effort and head for the woods!

Since that's the case, you should stay tuned for the eGCI article on making pizza on the grill. You can have your pizza and commune with nature!

--

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PLUS it is sunny outside which, as Beans knows, is a reason to drop all effort and head for the woods! I will be trying pizza at least once this weekend following some of the suggestions I've been given. I'll even take pictures.

Woo Hooooo!

Meet that deadline and high tail it to the great outdoors! :raz:

Pictures good! Grilled pizza good too!

I hope the SO doesn't get pizza'd out. :huh:

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I'm curious--how often do people manage to make pizza? I bake bread pretty well every day, but probably average much less than once a week for pizza.

Once a week but . . . I make a large batch of pizza dough. After it rises in the fridge, I make 4-6 "balls" of dough. One is ready to use. The others go in plastic bags (use a bit of non-stick spray on the inside) and into the freezer. They go back into a covered bowl in the fridge the night before I want to use them or defrost on the counter very quickly.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Inspired by this thread, I made some pizza last night using the last of my "tipo 00" flour. The problem I have with this, which I also had with a David Rosengarten recipe that used the AP and cake flour mix to mimic 00, is that I find ir impossible to stretch the dough without it tearing. I think it's due to the low gluten. I ended up having to roll it out, which did not get it super thin. Note that I am making a fairly large pie, which may also be part of the problem.

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I have success with Alton Brown's recipe from Good Eats on the Food TV network.

Long rise, bread flour, strech rather than roll, form it right on the peel and have a very hot baking stone in a very hot oven.

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I want a 100 pound soapstone.

Here's one idea that I haven't seen mentioned: in conjunction with a long bulk fermentation, turn the dough gently at least several times. This will help with extensibility if olive oil is anathema to you. Be sure the dough is fully rested before forming the crust.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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I brush olive oil (usually flavored with garlic or sundried tomato) with a pastry brush very lightly on the top of the surface after you are done stretching the dough and have let it rest 5 minutes. I always bake it on a stone otherwise the bottom is done well before the middle and top. Hope that your new attempts have done better! Sounds like you have a lot of ideas to pull from. Remeber salt is our friend. :cool:

Debra Diller

"Sweet dreams are made of this" - Eurithmics

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I add in Semolina flour for a crispy, yummy pie. Also I make triple the amount and freeze it.

Grilling is easy and produces a great pizza. I will grill the dough first and undercook one side and leave it till guests are ready to eat. I have all the toppings ready and then everyone can make their own combinations. Put the toppings on the done side and slide the pizza back onto the grill to cook. I also just free shape my pizza. I've never rolled it. I use a pizza stone when home in NYC (no grilling allowed).

Note: if using fresh mozz and fresh tomatoes (which I highly recommend) cut them in slices and allow some of the moisture to run off or you will have a runny mess in the oven or grill.

Here is my dough recipe:

1 Tbs. Active dry yeast

1 Tbs. Sugar

¾ cup plus 2 Tbs. Lukewarm water (7 fl. Oz./ 105 F)

1 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus ½ cup for kneading

1 ¼ cup semolina flour

1 tsp. Salt

1 Tbs. Olive oil

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water and let stand until slightly foamy on top (10 minutes)

2. In a large bowl stir together 1 ½ cups all purpose flour and 1 ¼ cup semolina flour or put in food processor with metal blade. Add all dry ingredients. With machine running slowly pour the yeast mixture through feed tube and continue processing just until the mixture forms a ball of dough that rides around the blade. [if you don't have a food processor, do this in a bowl and then knead dough for 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes]

3. Knead dough on floured surface for 2 minutes

4. Lightly coat a bowl with the oil. Gather the dough into a ball, place in bowl, turn and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature to rise until doubled in bulk (1-2 hours)

5. Before shaping punch down dough on a lightly floured work surface. Proceed with shaping.

**You may freeze dough for another time up to 3 months. When ready to use defrost thoroughly. And shape.

Cheers

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Hello all,

An excellent resource on pizza and pizza making is Edward Behr’s quarterly “The Art of Eating” no. 22 on Pizza in Naples. In it he gives a simple dough recipe and instructions for home cooks.

The basics for pizza dough are the same for almost all good rustic breads: small quantity of yeast, long fermentation, and high hydration. A long fermentation will result in better flavor and aroma and more water in your dough will make for an open, irregular hole-y interior. This is especially nice in the outer ring of crust. The long fermentation also develops the dough so that the initial mixing is less critical, this is helpful as wet doughs are harder to handle and home mixers are not as effective as professional ones.

Some tips:

re-hydrate your yeast in at least 4 times its weight in water temperature between 100- 112 degrees. You do not need to add sugar or honey to activate yeast this will only help to produce faster results, not better results. Simply make the dough at least 8-12 hours before you are going to bake it (or more if you park the dough in your refrigerator. It’s better to leave yourself more time than less.).

I don’t use high gluten or bread flour, as typical Italian pizza flour type 00 has less protein, less than even all purpose flour, but AP works fine and most people have it their house, so why bother clogging your shelves with nine different types of flour when one will do. That said, you can achieve good results with nearly any kind of flour.

According to Magee the addition of fat to a bread dough may increase loaf volume and aid in preservation qualities, both of which are not so relevant for pizza. At any rate in such small quantities it’s unclear what if any effect olive oil has. Without personally having done any taste tests I go the lazy route and don’t bother with it in the dough.

The number one mistake that people make with bread doughs in general is not adding enough water to their doughs. For pizza start with at least 70% water weight to flour weight, (that is for 1000gr flour, 700gr water, and 20 gr salt, this simple formula plus yeast, will work for pizza, baguettes, and simple rustic breads) as you get more accustomed to sticky doughs try adding more and more water. Bear in mind that the flour you use and the humidity in the environment will have an impact on how much water you should add. This is why there is no such thing as a strict bread recipe, as you gain experience you will learn to make better adjustments to produce consistent results in varying conditions.

Ideally after mixing, your dough will be no hotter than 75 degrees. You can add hotter or colder water depending on your environment and mixing method. A kitchen-aid type mixer will heat up the dough more than hand kneading. In very hot climates it may be a good idea to refrigerate your flour in addition to using cold water. Don’t stress so much about this as pizza dough is pretty forgiving and you’ll have oppurtunity to make corrections later on in the process.

Knead the dough in a kitchen aid if you have one (and are lazy like me) for 5-7 minutes or so on first speed or by hand 5-10 minutes, maybe more by hand if the dough is extremely wet. The dough will probably be sticky, not shiny and smooth, as the gluten will not be fully developed. You can use a dough scraper or bench knife in one hand if the dough is sticky, to help in kneading. Also dust with some extra flour, but be wary of adding too much flour during kneading. If you want to get fancy you can add the salt toward the end of the kneading, this will shorten the kneading time, but then you run the risk of forgetting the salt entirely. If you want to get even more fancy you can use an autolyse to shorten kneading times even more, but this is not necessary.

Afterwards put the dough in a bowl covered and let it rise in a cool place. Here’s where you can compensate for your mixing and kneading. If the dough is really wet, sticky and underdeveloped you can fold the dough every 15-20 minutes for the first hour and again after four or five hours. This will give a slack dough force. If the dough is too firm do not fold the dough or only do one turn after four hours. If you are making the dough the night before for the next days lunch do not worry about the turn mid way. Let the dough rise in a cool place, if it’s rising too fast you can park the dough in the fridge, if you are making the dough far in advance you can put it directly in fridge to slow the process, if the dough temperature after kneading was way too hot you can also use the fridge (you can also freeze the dough directly after kneading, like others have mentioned, let it thaw in the fridge and then rise slowly outside. If you plan on freezing the dough for a long period of time you may want to make the dough less wet and develop the gluten more during kneading as the gassing power of the yeast may be lessened by the freezing). The fridge is your friend, it helps you to adapt the dough to your schedule and not the other way around.

After the fermentation, at least a half hour before baking (longer if it’s coming directly from the fridge) deflate the risen dough, divide it if necesary and form it into a ball. This is another opportunity to make adjustments. If the dough is very firm be gentle and do not form it into a ball. Let it rest for a longer period of time. If you find that you are having problems stretching out your dough, if it springs back too much, it is because it’s too firm, hasn’t rested long enough or was balled too tightly. This can also be a problem from using high gluten flour. Conversely if the dough feels too slack you can ball it more tightly, to give it some force.

Use a pizza stone, preheat your oven at least an hour in advance and get it as hot as possible (bearing in mind that wood and coal burning pizza ovens are heated past 750 degrees). When stretching out your dough take care to not completely flatten and deflate the dough, particularly around the edges, you want irregular holes in the crust, if the interior is all small tight holes like wonderbread (or like most new york city slices) than the dough was too firm and/or too degassed. Because such a large part of the dough comes into immediate contact with the intense heat of the pizza stone, weak, overly wet or slightly over proofed doughs will still spring up well.

If your having trouble with your wet doughs sticking to the peel you can dust the peel with corn meal or best yet a fine dusting of rice flour in place of regular flour.

Roger

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I think all the suggestions about using different flours will give you greatly improved results, isn't Gold Medal bleached? Bleaching takes a lot of the wheaty goodness out of flour.

To make sure mine doesn't stick to the peel, I shape the crust on the floured wooden peel, shake to make sure it's loose, top it, and shake again. Usually it takes a shake or two, but that's something you don't want to be fighting with in the oven.

We just use whatever dough we have hanging around the house for our pizza, and it always comes out great, regardless of what my inspiration may be that day. Homemade pizza is so much better that pizza parlor pizzas. My daughter judges it the best she's ever had, every time she eats it, and she spent a summer working in an upscale pizza restaurant, so she's got some experience there.

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Found a better one *I think*, but I have a stone from pamperedchef and love that.  I would love one of those hearth inserts.

Soapstone website

Here is the hearth if you really want to spend some bucks!

Hearth

Much better and cheaper to go to your local purveyor of building stone and get a piece of one inch thick soapstone custom cut slightly smaller than the size of your oven floor.

--

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After a long wait... I am baking pizza tonight. I am combining a bunch of suggestions I have been given. I have lowered the protein content of my flour by adding some whole wheat cake flour to my unbleached bread flour, I am aging the dough overnight in the fridge, I am not letting it rise after rolled out, and I am baking it super thin on a hot stone.

The stone I have is a freebie and it is not very thick but I think anything will be an improvement. I am taking a suggestion from a cookbook and rolling it out on parchment which will go into the oven with it as I don't have a peel. I'll take a photo although I have been having a heck of a time posting pics. Hopefully it'll be a pretty one!

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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I was flipping through the Rogers/Gray The Cafe Cookbook last night and they use a pizza dough they say is from Chez Panisse which incorporates some rye flour. I think this is another way to lower the gluten content of the dough with a different flavor than using cake flour.

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My favorite is Cornmeal Crust for pizza:

1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup warm water (120-130 degrees F)

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup yellow cornmeal

Cornmeal for sprinkling

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, the yeast, and salt. Add warm water and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the 1 cup cornmeal and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total). Divide in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease two 11-13 inch pizza pans or large baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll each half of the dough into an 11-13 inch circle or a 15x10-inch rectangle. Transfer to prepared pans. Build up edges of dough slightly. Do not let rise.

Prick dough with a fork. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 7-9 minutes, or till golden brown on edges

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In my years of experience of trying to find the best recipe/techniques for different pizza styles, i've decided that one must answer a few questions about what they expect out of a pizza before they begin the quest to discover the recipe/technique that will deliver.... After all, there are many styles of pizzas, all of which can be excellent in their own way when done right.

First and foremost, what style of pizza are you trying to reproduce??..... Most everyone has had a pizza somewhere/someplace that they consider to be "the best", and I'm not talking in terms of toppings, but crust texture, crumb structure, crust thickness, etc... Once you answer this question, you at least know what you are shooting towards... and I can help you further...

In the mean time...

After skimming through the posts, I do concur with much of the advice/tips already given.... High gluten flour, which happens to work well for one of my favorite styles of pizza (with a high rising/low density outer crust, and thin crispy inner crust), usually has anywhere from a 2-4% higher gluten content than 'bread flour', which is typically slightly higher than "all-purpose flour". Its high gluten content will form a stronger gluten 'network' which during fermentation/baking will allow for more rise in the crust (more volume). At the same time, however, it makes the dough more difficult to work with as it can have more elasiticity, but as already mentioned by many, thats nothing that time in the refrigerator cannot fix. I've found 24 hrs to be the optimal time in the refrigerator for high gluten dough.. One note, especially with high gluten doughs, after 24 hrs in the refrigerator, I usually find it necessary to 'destroy' some of the excessively large 'bubble pockets' that have formed. These are the things that if not destroyed, will develop into those massive 'bubbles when your pizza is baking, and over-take your pizza. some people may like these, but they can be destroy a pizza if they become large and high enough and all the toppings start sliding off the pizza.. The best technique for destroying these is very difficult to describe but essentially involves pushing on the dough(one area at a time) until you see an air pocket forming, then pinching it until you flatten it. Another technique that I use right before streching (not rolling) to the crust to shape, and learned from other pizza professionals, involves forming a ball with the dough, and rolling it under itself as you rotate the dough. Again, hard to explain, but it ends up creating a texture/crumb structure that is more uniform throughout the crust. The one attribute that always seems to coinside with a quality high-gluten crust (for my particular favorite pizza style), and as already mentioned by others, is the formation of what i call "tiny crust bubbles". You may not notice them unless you are looking closely, but they are tiny bubbles that form all over the crust surface anywhere that it's not covered by toppings (ie bottom of crust, and outter crust). These "tiny crust bubbles" create a texture on the surface of the crust that I can only describe as a combination of crispy and flaky at the same time. Perhaps some pictures would greatly help... I see what i can do!

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OK, I am post-pizza and here is what I have to report:

1. I put the pizza stone in the heating to 500 degree oven and left for the grocery store to get stuff for tomorrow night's meal. Got back and the thing was smelling up the kitchen. It must have been dressed with something in the factory which, when heated, let off a horrid chemical stench! No wonder it was a freebie. Let the oven cool back down and took the stone out. Flipped my heaviest jelly roll pan over and put it in the bottom. It would have to do.

2. I rolled the dough out between parchment and plastic wrap. this worked well. The dough was very cold from the fridge but very flexible. I dressed it with some sauce, parm, bleu cheese, and mozz and slid it into the oven on its parchment.

3. About 7 minutes later I had pizza. The crust tasted much richer than those I have made in the past. It was crispy although I think it really suffered from the lack of a stone. The bottom would have crisped up much faster with one. For what it is worth, I think it's the best pizza I have ever made and there is plenty of room for improvement.

I only used half the dough. The other half is sitting in the fridge until tomorrow. I can't wait! Thanks, everyone, for your great advice. I'll be trying some other methods suggested here next time and comparing.

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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I put the pizza stone in the heating to 500 degree oven and left for the grocery store to get stuff for tomorrow night's meal. Got back and the thing was smelling up the kitchen. It must have been dressed with something in the factory which, when heated, let off a horrid chemical stench! No wonder it was a freebie. Let the oven cool back down and took the stone out.

Give the stone another try. Much like a new oven or a new car, new pizza stones can sometimes have some funny smells the first time they're heated up. You can wash the stone off, if you like. But make sure you let it dry out for several days before you put it back in the oven or it may crack.

Other advice: If your oven goes up to 550F, turn it up to 550F. Also, if it's a gas oven, make sure you put the stone on the floor of the oven so the oven burner fires directly into the stone.

--

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Also, if it's a gas oven, make sure you put the stone on the floor of the oven so the oven burner fires directly into the stone.

Be very careful doing this. When I did it in my oven I wasn't gentle enough with placing it on the bottom. I ended up cracking the ceramic starter underneath and the oven stopped working. It cost $175 to replace it. :sad:

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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