I feel your pain in a visceral way. I spent a lifetime trying to figure it out before it finally revealed itself to me.
The recommended mixing and stretching guidelines for Pizza Raquel have been proven to be effective for over a hundred pies. Each and every time, the results speak for themselves. Let me know the exact steps you are following and I may be able to help. One question: Have you followed the Raquel steps exactly?
Let me know...
I tried your recipe yesterday. Here is what I did:
- 1 cup of water
- 3 cups of regular flour, 11% protein (I haven't found high-gluten in Australia yet)
- 1/4 tsp IDY (no preferment available)
- 2 tsp regular salt (no seasalt at home)
So ingredience wise, it's really quite off already. I'm not sure how much of a big deal
the salt is but I think the flour is more critical.
I followed your instructions except for one accident -- I put the yeast after I disolved
the salt. Then I added the flour. Not sure how much of an effect this had.
Another thing I should mention is that I have no flour mixer. So all the mixing and
kneading was done manually. I added half the flour first then stirred in a spiral fashion
using a wooden spoon. I did this until the end. I used both of your autolyse periods.
I was very hungry so I had to do a quick rise. The dough was placed in a warm area
above my oven and took about 3-4 hours to rise.
So now comes the critical part: shapping without punching down on the newly risen
dough. I let the dough rise to about 170%, so not 2x. I'm not sure what your recipe
calls for. But from the pictures I've seen of the dough balls made using Raquel, they
all seemed very tightly formed and not 'molten'.
From the pictures below, you can see that my dough ball just collapsed itself on the board.
It was as I felt before -- a totally totally relaxed dough ball with zero handling ability.
It also meant it was easy to shape via slapping. A few slaps here and then and it was
spead to a disc. But I couldn't pick it up and work with my knuckles -- it would have just
The resulting pizza had a very little puffing. The crust was very pale but the bottom was
nicely charred thanks to the two stone arrangment. I cooked it for 3min on the bottom
stone and 2min on top with broil. Cheese was burning but crust wasn't.
So that's the first pizza. I took a picture of the second pizza as it was being removed from
the bowl. Maybe it'll help in the diagnosis. As you can see the base of the second pizza is
nicely charred. But once again the rim is pretty pale. I did notice the half the of pizza that
was on the 'inside' of the oven received better browning. A picture of Pizza 1 and 2 is also
below, which shows the second one doing better. I don't know why this is. My oven was
preheated for like 3 hours for pizza 1. Finally a picture shows a slice of pizza 2 bent over
itself to contrast the base and crust.
My question remains, how do you guys manage to let the dough rise and double yet still retain
strength in the dough ball for immediate shaping?