Author Topic: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza  (Read 67609 times)

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Offline joeblough

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2007, 12:06:31 AM »
While this dough is worth displacing with a good NY recipe to vary the taste for those who like to enjoy the taste of a decent sized outer edge, you really need to know what you are doing to come up with a better overall experience than this dough.  Its extremely convenient and very consistent.  I've met neighbors who are unhappy with how this dough performs; but in each case, I've been able to prove that they don't know how to cook a dough, which is why in the NY Technique thread I first suggested to pick up a dough for a buck at your favorite pizzeria, or in this case, Trader Joes.

so i'm sure this is a FAQ but searching around i didnt see anything direcly applicable.

when we use this trader joe's dough, most of the time the center of the pizza is completely uncooked, about 2mm thick, and disgusting. cooking longer is not possible as the cheese is already browned at about 8-9minutes. i know we are not doing things right; our pizza stone broke long ago and we have been using cookie sheets to make the pizza. tonight i decided that the 20min rise time written on the package just couldnt  be long enough, so i let the dough rise in a 100F oven for about 35 minutes.  this did not help; the dough didnt seem to rise very much. also the label calls for 450F which seems a bit low. even when this happens the outer edges of the pizza are nicely browned and taste great.

sometimes though, the whole pizza comes out great, center to edge. so i'm kind of at a loss for what we are doing wrong. bottom line is that we definitely don't know what we are doing, and that's why i'm here  :D

any ideas? i suspect this has less to do with trader joe's dough than it does being clueless.


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2007, 10:50:40 AM »
joeblough,

Where do you live? The reason I ask this question is because the Trader Joe's dough varies from one location to another. The TJ location near where giotto lives (around San Francisco) sells one of the better doughs, made by a well known dough producer. Other TJ locations may be offering a lesser dough, produced by a different vendor. TJ does not make its own dough. It contracts the job out to others who are in near proximity to their stores.

If you can provide the list of ingredients on the dough bag, we might be able to get some clues from that. Even then, it is possible that the dough was too old or otherwise less than optimal by the time you used it. A lot of things can happen between the time that the commissary makes the dough balls and the time they get to the TJ stores and are put in the refrigerator cases.

I think you might want to consider getting a new stone, or even a pizza screen. It is possible to get a decent pizza from a pan, but it has to be the right pan, preferably a dark anodized pan or a dark, well seasoned pan. A pizza stone has an advantage in that it is hot when the pizza hits the stone and the heat is immediately transferred to the pizza crust. By contrast, a pan has to come to oven temperature before you get direct transfer of heat to the bottom of the crust, and if the pan is shiny or of a light color it can reflect too much heat rather than absorbing it. It's also possible in such a case that the top can finish before the bottom, leaving part of the crust not quite fully cooked. A pizza screen comes up to oven temperature very quickly and, because it is a screen, the pizza gets the oven heat quite quickly. When using a stone, I would preheat it for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F. For a screen, you might preheat the oven at 450-475 degrees F for about 15 minutes. The finished crust characteristics will be somewhat different in both cases, but I believe both are better than using a pan, especially the type of pan you indicate you have been using.

I personally would use more than a 20 minute counter warm-up time, notwithstanding the instructions on the packaging. I would use around 1 1/2-2 hours. Depending on whether it is warm or cold where you live, it can take less time or more time. The only reason I can think of offhand why the instructions call for a 20-minute bench time is to minimize the possibility of overfermentation, especially if the dough has been in the refrigerator for a long time before using. A long time in this case may be a day or less. This is an area where you may have to do some experimentation of your own.

Now that you have found this forum, you may even want to try making your own TJ clone dough. I worked with giotto some time ago to essentially "reverse engineer" the TJ dough sold near where giotto lives. The final dough formulation we came up with is posted at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2036.msg18064.html#msg18064 (Reply 15). For details of my efforts in using that dough formulation, see Reply 17 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2036.msg19444.html#msg19444.

Good luck.

Peter

Offline joeblough

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2007, 02:07:06 PM »
joeblough,

Where do you live? The reason I ask this question is because the Trader Joe's dough varies from one location to another. The TJ location near where giotto lives (around San Francisco) sells one of the better doughs, made by a well known dough producer. Other TJ locations may be offering a lesser dough, produced by a different vendor. TJ does not make its own dough. It contracts the job out to others who are in near proximity to their stores.

we live in oakland, CA and the dough was bought at the emeryville, CA store. the dough sat in our refrigerator for maybe 4 days, so that might have been a factor.

Quote
If you can provide the list of ingredients on the dough bag, we might be able to get some clues from that. Even then, it is possible that the dough was too old or otherwise less than optimal by the time you used it. A lot of things can happen between the time that the commissary makes the dough balls and the time they get to the TJ stores and are put in the refrigerator cases.

here are the ingredients:

Code: [Select]
    Enriched Unbleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niascin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
    Water
    Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
    Canola Oil
    Salt
    Vegetable Shortening (Non Hydrogenated Palm Oil)
    Yeast

Quote
I think you might want to consider getting a new stone, or even a pizza screen. It is possible to get a decent pizza from a pan, but it has to be the right pan, preferably a dark anodized pan or a dark, well seasoned pan. A pizza stone has an advantage in that it is hot when the pizza hits the stone and the heat is immediately transferred to the pizza crust. By contrast, a pan has to come to oven temperature before you get direct transfer of heat to the bottom of the crust, and if the pan is shiny or of a light color it can reflect too much heat rather than absorbing it. It's also possible in such a case that the top can finish before the bottom, leaving part of the crust not quite fully cooked. A pizza screen comes up to oven temperature very quickly and, because it is a screen, the pizza gets the oven heat quite quickly. When using a stone, I would preheat it for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F. For a screen, you might preheat the oven at 450-475 degrees F for about 15 minutes. The finished crust characteristics will be somewhat different in both cases, but I believe both are better than using a pan, especially the type of pan you indicate you have been using.

I personally would use more than a 20 minute counter warm-up time, notwithstanding the instructions on the packaging. I would use around 1 1/2-2 hours. Depending on whether it is warm or cold where you live, it can take less time or more time. The only reason I can think of offhand why the instructions call for a 20-minute bench time is to minimize the possibility of overfermentation, especially if the dough has been in the refrigerator for a long time before using. A long time in this case may be a day or less. This is an area where you may have to do some experimentation of your own.

i think our problem is the cookie sheet. one of them seems to have an insulating layer of air between the top and bottom surfaces, which must be intended to keep the cookies from burning. the other does not, but they are both light-colored. either way, heat transfer is probably poor. we'll try again with a pizza screen. also it sounds like maybe we should have the rack further toward the bottom of the oven. also i didnt let the dough rise long enough.

Quote
Now that you have found this forum, you may even want to try making your own TJ clone dough. I worked with giotto some time ago to essentially "reverse engineer" the TJ dough sold near where giotto lives. The final dough formulation we came up with is posted at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2036.msg18064.html#msg18064 (Reply 15). For details of my efforts in using that dough formulation, see Reply 17 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2036.msg19444.html#msg19444.

Good luck.

Peter

 ;) i think i'll get a pizza screen first and try to eliminate that variable and if we still have problems then i'll make fresh dough and see if that is the key.

thanks very much for your reply.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2007, 02:39:35 PM »
joeblough,

I think you have zeroed in on the potential sources of the problem.

The TJ dough formulation you have been using looks to be a good one. You will note, for example, that the sequencing of ingredients, by their predominance (by weight) in the formulation, is the same as the one I posted, except that the TJ formulation apparently uses a bit more olive oil than the clone formulation I posted. But those differences are likely to be inconsequential. If you decide to try the clone formulation I posted, and if you decide to use bread flour, the King Arthur brand should be a good choice. The KA bread flour has the same profile (list and ordering of ingredients, including the barley flour) as the flour used in the PJ dough. 

I think the age of the dough may have been a factor in the results you achieved, but now that I know what kind of pans you have been using, I think you definitely want to get away from them. I have seen ads for insulated air pans for baking pizzas, even ones with a dull finish, but my recollection is that they are primarily for reheating frozen pizzas. I would avoid them. Given a choice, the only pans I would use for pizzas, other than old, dark, well seasoned ones, are the dark anodized ones, including the cutter pans and the perforated pans/disks, as sold by pizzatools.com. At least with the solid pans, you can oil them and get very good bottom crust browning.

If you decide to go with a pizza screen, I would put it on the lowest oven rack position, but be prepared to move it up toward the middle or top if the bottom crust browns too quickly. If you like a crispier crust, you can proof the dough before dressing (to let it rise) and use a lower oven temperature (e.g., around 435-450 degrees F) and let the pizza bake a bit longer than normal. Each oven is different, so you may have to do some experimenting.

Maybe sometime you can try the TJ clone formulation and compare the results with the dough you have been buying from TJ.

Peter


Offline joeblough

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2007, 09:14:14 PM »
joeblough,

I think you have zeroed in on the potential sources of the problem.

Peter



alright! thanks to your help, we managed to make some really good pizzas from the trader joe's dough. the #1 problem was definitely the cookie sheets. we got some pizza screens at sur la table and made 5 pizzas tonight (sort of a family party.) we bought the dough today, and i let the dough rise for 2+ hours.

i moved the oven rack to the next-to-lowest position, and ended up cooking at 450F for about 10-11 minutes. the first two turned out great and the last 3 were a little worse - i had some problems stretching the dough and had some extremely thin spots where the dough eventually tore. but even those cooked well and were very edible. the crust was cooked all the way to the center.

next stop, homemade dough. thanks very much for your help.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2007, 09:23:18 PM »
joeblough,

I'm glad that things are looking up. Please let us know how the dough/pizzas work out if you decide to make your own, and how they compare with what you have been using.

Peter

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2007, 01:36:27 AM »
Wow!  Talk about running it to the .nth!  God love ya Pete-zza!

 Before I discovered this place, I found "Tiseo's"  One nice supermarket pizza dough.  Always reliable and always tasty.  Louis Tiseo makes a great dough.  I looked at the ingredients and figured I could copy it.  NOPE! 
I don't have the huge mixers, scalers, ballers, reefers, or packagers.  Or access to his resources.
Maybe I'll just try to make a pretty good dough on my own. 

Flour Water Salt Yeast.  Hmmph!!..  20 years ago, I would have called anyone crazy.  There must be a SECRET ingredient.


NOPE...  Technique and variations of the theme.  Just like Red-Yellow-Blue.  Black & White.  Mix them to your liking.

Jeff Varasano has been chasing this formula (preferment - variations of the theme and technique - HOT oven ) and has been rewarded with his PERFECT dough.   

It really is just that.  If I can do it, JoeBlough, anyone can.  Just watch, listen and experiment.  These guys on the forum are the real deal.  I ain't goin' back.
Good Luck!



Offline David

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2007, 10:19:36 AM »


  NOPE! 
I don't have the huge mixers, scalers, ballers, reefers, or packagers. 

Yes reefers...........These have been instrumental in both my failures and successes.They must be the secret ingredient. ;)
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline November

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2007, 12:33:19 PM »
Although I'm sure David is just joking, I suspect "reefer" is jargon for refrigerator.  "Reefer" is also a transportation industry specific term that means "refrigerated trailer."

- red.november

EDIT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reefer_%28container%29
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 12:36:41 PM by November »

Offline chiguy

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2007, 12:53:28 PM »
 
 Although you are probably right in this case here is another definition i found for reefer.
 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reefer
                            chiguy
 


Offline November

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2007, 01:28:54 PM »

 Although you are probably right in this case here is another definition i found for reefer.
 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=reefer
                            chiguy

That's what David was joking about.

Offline chiguy

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2007, 01:38:29 PM »
That's what David was joking about.

 Yes i know, best laugh i had in a week.
 Although not sure how much the Urban Dictionary is recognized in the literary world.  Chiguy

Offline PizzaPolice

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Re: Trader Joe's Homemade Pizza
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2007, 03:05:00 PM »
REEFER MADNESS!  No wonder I always craved Doritos after using that dough.