In a recent post, at Reply 389 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg26720.html#msg26720
), I described my efforts to make a “summertime” version of the Lehmann dough and pizza, using a pizza screen only and a short baking time (about a half hour total). Based on what I learned from that effort, I made some adjustments in an attempt to improve upon my last results. What I was especially hoping to achieve is a greater degree of crispiness in the bottom crust. Even Tom Lehmann in some of his writings says that this is not a particularly easy thing to do when using a pizza screen. Usually, such comments are made in the context of a commercial setting where operators are reluctant to reduce the bake temperature and use a longer bake time in their conveyor ovens to produce a drier and, therefore, more crispy, finished crust. This is not an issue for most of us on the forum, and it was with that thought in mind that I acted to improve upon my last effort.
The dough formulation I used was essentially the same as recited in Reply 389 except that I eliminated the sugar and reduced the thickness factor a bit (from 0.105 to 0.10) in order to achieve a slightly thinner dough that I hoped would result in a thinner, and more crispy crust. For convenience, I have recited the formulation here:
100%, High-gluten flour (KASL), 12.12 oz. (343.38 g.), 2 3/4 c. + 2 T. (stir, spoon and level technique)
63%, Water, 7.63 oz. (216.33 g.), between 7/8 and 1 c.
1%, Oil (extra virgin olive oil), 0.12 oz. (3.43 g.), 3/4 t.
1.75%, Salt, 0.21 oz. (6.01 g.), a bit over 1 t.
0.25%, Instant dry yeast (IDY), 0.03 oz. (0.86 g.), a bit over 1/4 t.
Total dough weight = 20.11 oz. (570.01 g.)
Thickness factor (TF) = 0.10
Pizza size = 16”
Note: all measurements are U.S./metric standard
The dough was prepared following the basic procedures outlined in Reply 8 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg19563.html#msg19563
, and placed in the refrigerator (in a metal, lidded container) for just over 48 hours. When I was ready to use the dough, I brought it out of the refrigerator and let it rise, covered, on my kitchen counter for about 2 hours. The remaining steps I used to get the results I was looking for were as follows:
1) I shaped and stretched the dough out to a 16” “skin” and placed it on a floured round cardboard form. I covered the skin with plastic wrap and allowed it to proof for about 20 minutes. The proofing was for the purpose of increasing the gas in the dough to make it a better “insulator”. In theory, by so doing, the heat transfer through the skin would be reduced and permit a longer bake time and, hence, a drier and crispier crust.
2) After the 20-minute proofing of the skin, I docked it using a docking tool (as previously shown in Reply 389 referenced above). The docking was done on the cardboard form rather than on the screen in order to prevent the dough from being forced into the crevices of the screen and becoming permanently lodged to it. I used the docking tool because I have it but I could have just as well used a simple kitchen fork.
3) I transferred the docked skin to a 16” pizza screen and placed the skin in the oven on the lowest oven rack position. The oven had been turned on about half way through the 20-minute proof period and preheated to about 500-550 degrees F. The skin was allowed to pre-bake only until the dough set and the rim of the dough rose to its normal size, about 2 minutes. There were a few bubbles that formed in the dough during the pre-bake, which I poked with a skewer to deflate. (Docking tools are not 100% effective, especially during pre-bakes with nothing on the skin). As might be expected, there was some oven heat loss from the in-and-out pre-bake step. It was to compensate for this loss that I had preheated the oven to 500-550 degrees to begin with. The final bake temperature I was aiming for was 450 degrees F.
4) I removed the pre-baked skin from the oven, dressed it (in a simple pepperoni style), and returned it to the oven, without the screen, to finish baking. This time, I lowered the oven temperature to about 450 degrees F and placed the pizza on the middle oven rack position so that it would bake more slowly, but longer--without overbaking--and create greater crispiness in the finished crust. The pizza baked on the middle oven rack position for about 8 minutes, or until the crust was a nice color and the cheeses were starting to turn brown in spots. There was no need to use the broiler element, as I often do in order to get greater crust coloration.
5) Once the pizza was done baking, I removed it from the oven and placed it back on the cardboard form (unfloured). The cardboard form was used since it acts as an insulator and helps keep the moisture in the crust from escaping and turning the bottom crust soft and soggy. (This was a tip from one of Tom Lehmann’s writings.)
The photos below show the finished product. I thought the pizza turned out very well. As hoped, it had a nice crispy, browned bottom crust, a chewy rim, and a soft and open interior crumb. After a bit more than 2 days of dough fermentation, and because of the longer and slower bake, which intensifies crust flavors (through de-naturing of the protein in the flour), the crust was very flavorful and with a pleasant aroma. Just as importantly for me is that I learned a few more things about oven management in making this particular pizza--especially how to use oven temperatures and bake times and rack positioning and pre-bake techniques to achieve the desired results, particularly when using a pizza screen rather than a stone or tiles. I was also pleased that I was able to produce a good pizza without overheating my kitchen. As with my recent summer pizza making efforts, the total elapsed oven time was around a half-hour.