My latest experiment with the San Felice flour is more about technique and procedure than anything else. If the dough isn’t right before going into an oven, it may not matter that you have the best possible oven available to you. So, with this thought in mind, for the most recent iteration of the San Felice pizza I tried to improve upon the dough preparation and management. For the latest experiment, I used the following formulation:
100%, San Felice pizza flour, 7.08 oz. (200.72 g.), 1 1/2 c. + 2 T. + 1t. (spoon and level technique)
63%, Water (warm, about 90 degrees F), 4.46 oz. (126.36 g.), a bit over 1/2 c.
2.7%, Sea salt, 0.19 oz. (5.52 g.), 1 t.
3.1%, Preferment (Ischia), 0.22 oz. (6.22 g.), about 1 t.
Total dough weight = 11.95 oz. (338.67 g.)
Thickness Factor (TF) = 0.09
Pizza size = about 13 inches
Note: All measurements U.S./metric standard
I should mention a few things about the above formulation. First, the hydration, at 63%, was selected to be as high as possible and consistent with the apparent capability of the San Felice flour to handle that level of hydration. Second, the preferment was in solid form, as often recommended by Marco (pizzanapoletana), and based on the Ischia starter. It was about 5% by weight of water, the upper end of the 1-5% range that Marco has often mentioned. The preferment had been refreshed and allowed to sit for a few hours at room temperature before using. Third, the thickness factor selected, 0.09, was quite a bit higher than normally used for authentic Neapolitan pizzas. I chose the higher level because I was using a home oven and did not want to end up with a cracker-like crust. Fourth, the formulation does not call for any oil. I elected to omit it on the theory that the thicker dough would render it unnecessary. I had done this recently with a Caputo-based pie and found that it worked nicely.
The procedure I followed to make the dough was similar to what I recently used to make a Caputo based dough (see Reply 94 at page 5 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,986.msg25807.html#msg25807
), and is as follows. I started by placing the warm water in the bowl of my standard KitchenAid stand mixer. I then added the salt and stirred it into the water until completely dissolved, about 30 seconds. I added the preferment and, using my fingers, I dissolved the preferment into the “brine”. I then added about 2/3 to 3/4 of the flour to the bowl, by about a tablespoon at a time, and mixed everything together. I used only the “stir” speed of the mixer and, as the ingredients were mixing, I used a long thin-bladed plastic spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and move the ingredients into the path of the dough hook. Once the flour was absorbed, but without creating a glutinous structure (which I did not want at this stage), I continued to add the remaining flour, continuously but gradually, until it was absorbed into the dough mass. Again, using only the “stir” speed of my mixer, I kneaded just until the dough cleared the sides of the bowl with a bit of the dough sticking to the round convex protrusion at the center of the mixing bowl. To get the dough to this exact stage, I made slight adjustments to the amounts of flour and water. I have found this to be a reliable way of getting the dough consistency I am after, in this case, a slightly wet and tacky dough that just wants to stick to your fingers and not pull away.
Once the dough was finished, I subjected it to a 15-minute riposo
(rest) within the bowl itself (covered to prevent a crust from forming). At the end of the riposo
, I put the dough on a lightly-floured work surface and used the standard punch and fold technique (recommended by pieguy and others on other threads) in order to get better dough strength to retain the gases of yeast fermentation. Because the dough was still sticky and wanting to stick to the work surface, I used a bench knife to manipulate the dough, as is often done with high-hydration bread doughs (ciabatta dough being a good example). After about a couple of minutes of doing this, I put the dough in a container that was minimally oiled just at the bottom and sides to keep the dough from sticking and to facilitate its later removal from the container. Normally, I would have put the container directly into the temperature-controlled wine unit I have been using to create a good fermentation environment for dough. But from recent experiments using the wine unit, I have tentatively come to the conclusion that it may be a bit on the cool side. So, for the most recent San Felice pie, I left the dough at room temperature for about 2 hours to warm up and thereby ferment a bit faster before placing it into the wine unit. In addition, to further speed up the fermentation, I put the container into a second container (also covered), so as to create a greater thermal mass to the wine unit environment. That way, I wouldn’t have to change the operating temperature of the wine unit (about 55-65 degrees F, or roughly within the ideal 64.4-68 degrees F range, or 18-20 degrees C, recommended by Marco).
While the dough was in the wine unit, I periodically watched its development. I was especially mindful of the rise of the dough. Marco had on several occasions mentioned that during the first stage of fermentation the dough should not rise noticeably, and that after reshaping and dividing the dough it should rise but not double or triple in volume during the second stage of fermentation. For the recent experiment, it took around 16 hours for the dough to start to rise. I then reshaped the dough and let it ferment/ripen for about another 6 hours. During that 6 hours, the dough rose by about 25%. A telltale sign that the dough was most likely ready to be used was the presence of large numbers of gas bubbles that had formed at the bottom and sides of the container (I was using a translucent Rubbermaid container). I experienced the same phenomenon recently when I made the Caputo-based dough referenced above, so I believe it to be a reliable indicator that one can safely rely on.
The dough was shaped into a roughly 13” round on a very lightly floured work surface. The dough was wet and sticky to the touch and I preferred to keep it that way as much as possible and not to add too much bench flour, since that would defeat the purpose of using high hydration in the first place and it could contribute to bitterness in the finished crust. I was able to lift the dough and stretch it to the 13-inch size even though it was highly extensible, and to get it onto a lightly dusted peel. After dressing the skin, I deposited it onto a pizza stone (on the lowest oven rack position) that I had preheated for about an hour at around 500-550 degrees F. After about 5-6 minutes on the stone, I then transferred it to the top oven rack position and exposed the pizza to about 1 to 2 minutes of direct heat from the broiler element, which I had turned on during the final minute or two on the stone.
The photos below show the finished product. The pizza (a cheese pizza) was first rate, with a soft and chewy crust with superior crust flavor. The oven spring was less than what I am usually accustomed to, even with a Neapolitan-style crust, but the crust was not cracker-y in any respect and the part of the crust away from the rim was actually quite soft with good oven spring. It did not have the bread-like texture that Marco finds uncharacteristic of authentic Neapolitan crusts.
It might also be noted from the photos that the sauce is bright red. The sauce was put on the pie uncooked, but since cooking in a home oven for 7-8 minutes--as opposed to a minute or so in an authentic Neapolitan oven--takes away some of the freshness and brightness of the sauce, I added a bit of fresh sauce to the pizza as soon as it came out of the oven. The “new” sauce warms from the heat of the pie itself but remains remarkably fresh tasting and with a bright red color. I found doing this, along with having a very tasty crust, to provide an overall exceptional pizza, especially for a home oven environment. I am sure that the high quality of the San Felice flour also had something to do with it.