Author Topic: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help  (Read 11144 times)

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Offline jasonmolinari

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My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« on: November 18, 2006, 10:43:17 AM »
I've been making pizzas for a while now. They are tasty. One thing that i just cannot seem to have happen is for my cornicione (rim/crust) to get some browning.

I've tried many recipes, both for neopolitan, and NY style, and no matter what, my rim comes out white, WHITE, like flour white. NO BROWNING. I can't leave the pizza in the oven any longer  as the cheese is starting to brown.

Some specs.
Most of my doughs are about 60% hydration. I've used high gluten flour and Caputo pizza. Some have a tough of oil, some don't. Some same day cooks, some retarded in the fridge.
Cheese: normally preshredded low moisture part skim mozzarella
Sauce : normally Pomi' crushed with some oregano, salt and  a bit of oil

I'm using a light amount of cheese...i don't like heavy chewy cheesy top.. It is evenly over the top of the pizza, but once melted it makes maybe a 1/8"-1/4" thick cheese layer...tending towards the lower end.

Baked either on a stone in my gas oven preheated to 500 (max) for 1 hour, or on my grill preheated to way over 500. No difference. On the grill i get nice charring of the bottom of the pizza, but the top crust is totally white.

Flavor is good, i just have no crunch in my rim.

Any recommendations? Lower hydration? Adding barley malt syrup? Adding sugar?

help!!
thanks
jason


Offline pizzaisgood

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2006, 12:29:35 PM »
In my home oven at 550 degrees I found that a true neopolitan styled dough without sugar would hardly brown at all. Does your recipe call for sugar or honey? I get very good browning with my recipe at 550 degrees on a pizza screen.

My recipe is

2 1/3 cup flour to start then add flour 1 tbs at a time until the dough is just slightly tacky
1 cup water
1 tsp of yeast
2 tsp honey
3/4 tsp salt.

Thanks Adam



Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2006, 12:33:07 PM »
most/all of my recipes don't use sugar. Maybe i'll try that.

Offline November

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2006, 12:58:06 PM »
Sugar in the dough is the most common way of getting your crust to brown.  If you don't want to use sugar in the dough, you can use some in a wash on the dough.  Pour about 1/4 cup of milk and 2 teaspoons of honey into a small container and mix to create a wash for your dough rim.  Use more milk in proportion to honey if it's too sweet for you.  The milk provides additional browning as well as thinning the honey out.

- red.november
« Last Edit: November 18, 2006, 01:02:25 PM by November »

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2006, 01:06:02 PM »
I guess i'm wondering how Pete gets all the nice brown crusts in his home oven, without sugar/washes..and without browining the cheese!
thanks the tips though, i'll give them a try

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2006, 01:32:13 PM »
Jason,

I have to confess that I have been scratching my head all morning on your post.

I can understand how your crusts based on 00 flour might not achieve a great deal of browning but I am puzzled why you wouldn't get decent browning when using high gluten flour. It would take an unusual dough formulation not to get a fair amount of top crust browning when using such a flour. Would you mind posting a typical high gluten flour dough formulation you have been using that has led to the white crusts you mentioned?

Also, can you describe your oven configuration in greater detail, including where you put your stone, whether there is a broiler element and, if so, where is it located and how it can be used? In this vein, do you know what kind of temperatures you are getting above the pizza as it is baking? My oven is an electric oven, which may produce different results than your gas oven.

There are many ways of getting added crust coloration, such as noted by other posters, but it seems to me that you should be able to get decent crust browning without adding sugar, honey, malt syrup, etc. to your basic dough. You might end up resorting to use of such sweeteners, but only if there are no reasonable alternatives.

Peter

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2006, 01:51:54 PM »
Pete, sure here are some more specs.
The latest batch, i made using your Lehman calculator with high gluten flour the recipe was somethign close to this:
Flour (100%):         361.61 g  |  12.76 oz | 0.8 lbs
Water (63%):          227.81 g  |  8.04 oz | 0.5 lbs
Oil (1.5%):               5.42 g | 0.19 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.16 tsp | 0.39 tbsp
Salt (1.75%):          6.33 g | 0.22 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.13 tsp | 0.38 tbsp
IDY (0.25%):          0.9 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.3 tsp | 0.1 tbsp
Sugar (0%):            0 g | 0 oz | 0 lbs | 0 tsp | 0 tbsp
Total (166.5%):       602.07 g | 21.24 oz | 1.33 lbs | TF = 0.08
Single Ball:             301.04 g | 10.62 oz | 0.66 lbs

stretched to about 13-14 inches.

Last week i had the stone as close to the broiler as possible, preheated to 500 for 1 hour, then broiled the stone alone to get it even hotter. Put the pizza in with the broiler off. After about 5 minute, turned on the broiler, and let it got for a minute, until the cheese started browning...but not the dough. The stone temp was about 500 deg. based on infrared thermo reading.

Just this lunch, i put the stone on the bottom of the oven...2 stones in fact, stacked. HEated for about 1.5 hours at 500. Stone got to 547 deg.F. Put the pizza on. LEt it go 5 minutes. Cheese looked good, crust white. 2 more minutes, cheese a bit dry now, but bottom of crust quite nice, with a few brown spots and crunchy, but rim had barely any coloration..mostly white with just a little crunch. The cheese was overcooked though.

Would a lower hydration dough help with browning?

jason

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2006, 01:53:34 PM »
Oh, if i do it on a stone on my grill, i can get a fantastic bottom crust, but the rim is still white.

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2006, 01:55:11 PM »
I've also tried to use Sorrento and polly-o full fat mozzarella grated or slices...and it is pretty much the same issue.

Offline November

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2006, 02:00:46 PM »
Jason,

Are you using tap water?


Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2006, 02:16:43 PM »
yes, but i have tried Brita water, and i don't remember tasting/seeing a difference

Offline November

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2006, 02:37:26 PM »
Brita water filters don't filter everything, and as far as I know, don't filter fluoride out at all.  The chemicals that could potentially be at fault are high levels of chlorine, fluorine, and sulfur in your water; or really low pH levels in your dough.  Does your dough smell very acidic (vinegar)?

- red.november

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2006, 02:49:34 PM »
Jason,

I think I would try putting the stone (just one) at the bottom of the oven, near the heating source, preheat it for about and hour at around 475 degrees F, and bake the pizza on the stone for a longer period of time than you have been using. Your crust is thin (10.62 oz. of dough for a 13" pizza), and I believe the pizza has been cooking too fast--before the oven heat has had a chance to sufficiently denature the protein in the dough to achieve a decent color at the rim. If the bottom of the crust achieves the desired color before the top, you can try moving the pizza off of the stone to a higher oven rack position and let it bake there for a while until the top crust develops more color. If that doesn't happen fast enough, you can turn on the broiler for a short while and see if that does the trick.

I don't believe your problem is hydration related. At least I don't recall reading anything to suggest a direct correlation between hydration and crust color.

Peter

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2006, 02:54:07 PM »
November, no, the dough does not smell as if it has a low pH. Brita does filter chlorine. I guess i can buy some spring water just for a trial though.

Peter, thanks for the tips. I'll try that. Do you think the cheese will brown less at a lower temp?
That goes against everything i've been trying to do...get the oven as high as possible!

Offline November

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2006, 03:09:07 PM »
Peter,

I suspect it's chemical rather than thermal related.  If the cheese is browning, so should the crust.  Mozzarella cheese browns at around 266 F and glucose/glutamic acid browns at around 302 F.  The Maillard reaction is what you're going for to turn the color of the crust into a caramel color.  Unless Jason has some freaky sensitive cheese, I'm almost positive it's what's in the dough.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction

- red.november

EDIT: That's not to say if Jason can get the top of his pizza hotter than the bottom he won't get a browned crust.  He just might, but there's something in the dough preventing a normal reaction.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2006, 03:11:53 PM by November »

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2006, 03:27:33 PM »
November, i like your chemical/scientific reasoning. I do bake bread often and that browns up fine though. Granted, that bakes for much longer, as there is no cheese to overcook.

I can measure the pH of my water if that would help the determination... or i could try spring water.

thanks
jason

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2006, 03:45:00 PM »
November,

My initial reaction is that it wasn't the dough formulation because it is the basic Lehmann dough formulation that almost always produces a decent color in the rim (although it might be lighter for certain brands of high gluten flour). Since you singled out the cheese as a possible villain (although the cheese brands mentioned seem to be quite normal), do you think that Justin is using too little and that it is cooking to the desired color before the crust has had a chance to develop its own color? In re-reading Justin's post, he mentions that he uses little cheese. If too little cheese is the problem, Justin could pre-bake the crust until it is a light brown, remove the crust from the oven, add sauce, cheese, etc., and finish baking.

The suggestion I offered earlier is a fairly common one and intended to complement the Maillard reactions and the effects of sugar caramelization (where sugar is added to the dough). Some operators also bake at 450-475 degrees F in deck ovens, even though that is not as common as using higher deck oven temperatures.

Jason,

Can you tell us which brand of high-gluten flour you are using?

Peter

Offline November

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2006, 03:49:36 PM »
Just a general FYI to everyone about chemicals in tap water, sometimes when there's a break in a water main, municipalities dump extra chlorine into the system to compensate for reverse-seepage, and a lot of times it doesn't make the news.  Brita water filters can only filter so much.  If extra chlorine, fluorine, or sulfides are in your tap water, use bottled (spring) water for better results.

Jason,

Changing what water you use is only part of it.  I do recommend that, and checking the pH of your dough (not your water) if you have the capability.  Other aspects of your ingredients may need to be reconsidered too.  How fresh the flour is, the age of the yeast, the length of fermentation time, how airtight the retarding container is, how long does the dough sit in an aerobic environment before being placed in an anaerobic environment, are all things that determine acidity, alcohol levels, sugar levels, and amino acid levels which in the end affect browning.

- red.november

Offline jasonmolinari

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2006, 03:56:31 PM »
Peter, who is this Justin guy, sound slike he has the same problem i do :) j/k.

This batch of high gluten flour is actually unknown brand. I bought it in bulk at a market. I do have a bag of KASL in the pantry i'm going to try next time.

Prebaking the crust is something i'm also going to experiment with.

Red: this batch of flour is actually quite old. The yeast is old-ish, but kept in a vacuum container in the fridge, and i use it for bread. I've tried many methods of aerobic and anaerobic rising of the dough, and the crust color has not changed.

Offline November

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Re: My pizza crust is WHITE. No browning at all. Help
« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2006, 04:09:40 PM »
Since you singled out the cheese as a possible villain (although the cheese brands mentioned seem to be quite normal), do you think that [Jason] is using too little and that it is cooking to the desired color before the crust has had a chance to develop its own color?

No.  The very top of the cheese browns about the same no matter how much you put on.

The suggestion I offered earlier is a fairly common one and intended to complement the Maillard reactions and the effects of sugar caramelization (where sugar is added to the dough). Some operators also bake at 450-475 degrees F in deck ovens, even though that is not as common as using higher deck oven temperatures.

Please don't take this the wrong way, Peter, but your suggestion isn't remedying the problem any more than adding something extra to the dough is.  If the dough formula is supposed to work at a certain temperature, and Jason has confirmed that the temperature was reached, the problem is in the dough.  The only temperature fixation I could see useful in this case is with the temperature of the dough before it goes into the oven.  Perhaps Jason's kitchen is really cold (mine is and I have to be careful otherwise I get albino crusts) or he's not letting it set at room temperature long enough after refrigeration.

- red.novmber


 

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