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Offline done-ness

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olive oil
« on: January 27, 2010, 12:21:10 AM »
This post is about olive oil and pizza making either at home or professionally.  I am mainly interested to know how people use olive oil, they type of olive oil, and why.  The 'why' is what I'm trying to understand.  I've asked myself why I use olive oil and frankly, much of the time, I don't really know why.  I've looked through the forum for some answers and I've discovered such jewels of wisdom as 'the recipe calls for olive oil' or 'I've been told to use olive oil here'.  There are even some cases where olive oil is to be strictly avoided and these opinions are proffered with similar patter.  I've heard about smoke points and bitterness, traditions and inappropriateness for style, and even cost issues but none of these arguments convincingly answers the question 'why'.  Please don't misread my intentions here.  I'm not being judgmental, I've said all these things myself and am as guilty as the next one.  So, what I'm hoping to get started is a broad discussion regarding the topic of olive oil---all points pertinent.  I'd like to start with what I've recently learned.  I apologize in advance as what follows is a little tedious.  Here goes:

Both the US and Europe have their own grading systems for olive oil.  The US's is defined by the USDA and likewise, Europe has the International Olive Council (IOC).  The USDA definitions dates back to 1949 and the IOC 1959.  Fortunately, both sides of the pond grade olive oil by similar means.  Olive oil grading is based on taste qualities and measured chemical criteria.  Although taste criteria are well described, this part of grading is ultimately a subjective process.  Chemical criterion, on the other hand, are objective.  There is a battery of tests that are used.  One of the major chemical criteria is the percent free fatty acid (%FFA or sometimes % acidity).  The %FFA essentially correlates with the quality of the oil.  For the most part, the lower the %FFA, the higher the quality of the oil.  Oddly, the IOC grading system is most familiar in the US.  The IOC rates virgin oils from highest quality to lowest as follows: extra virgin olive oil (evoo); virgin olive oil (voo); ordinary virgin olive oil (ovoo).  The %FFA is as follows: EVOO is 0.8% FFA, voo is 2% FFA, ovoo is 3.3% FFA.

I was surprised to discover that more than half of the world's olive oil produce is of poor quality and not fit for consumption as is.  Thus, refining of olive oil is commonly needed.  There are a few things about refined olive oil that are worth noting.  First, it has a very low %FFA (0.3%).  Second, it doesn't have much taste quality and is typically blended with voo to make a palatable product.  These blended oils are labeled as 'olive oil' and are commonly referred to as standard or regular olive oil.  By IOC definition they are 1.0% FFA.  Third, refined olive oil is occasionally found in it's pure form as 'light' olive oil.  The 'light' refers to light on flavor, not light in caloric content.

Many terms that I thought were indicators of a quality oil turn out to be obsolete or misleading.  Statements commonly seen on labels including 'first press' and 'cold press' come readily to mind.  They imply a special taste and allude to higher quality.  I imagine ripe, hand picked olives whisked away and ground by ancient heirloom stones.  Only the first trickle is collected as the sublime olive essence.  It is disappointing to discover that current olive oil production just doesn't happen like this.  Such labeling is more for marketing value and does not reflect current oil production equipment or processes.  In fact, many of these terms are not recognized by either USDA or IOC.

With that, I'll open it up for discussion.  Thanks for helping me out.

Marc


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2010, 04:29:01 PM »
Marc,

I consider olive oil, and especially a young, quality olive oil, to be an elegant ingredient. It is more complex and flavorful than other oils and, as a result, is often described and defined by terms and characteristics that are similar to those used to describe and define other complex foods like wine and coffee. For example, you won't see users seeking out specific sources or characteristics of corn oil or canola oil or soybean oil around the world or waxing poetic over these oils. Olive oil also has broad utility. I recall Mario Batali once saying on one of his cable programs that he uses olive oil for just about all recipes calling for oil. I don't believe he pays any attention to smoke points or the like. He just has a love affair with olive oil. No doubt there are many others who are similarly afflicted.

I believe the uniqueness of olive oil has made it an oil of choice for pizza dough, especially where cost is not a consideration. Unless I am following a recipe or reverse engineering a dough calling for a specific type of oil, my first choice for my pizza doughs is olive oil. I generally use the best olive oil I have on hand. Since I don't usually need a lot of olive oil, cost is not a consideration. However, professional pizza operators who would prefer to use olive oil--maybe for the same reasons I do--cannot always ignore its higher cost. As a result, many pizza operators will combine a quality olive oil with another, less expensive oil, like canola oil, or they will use a lower cost pomace grade of olive oil. Some just bite the bullet and use only the best olive oil they can reasonably afford. Usually operators who do this also don't skimp on the other ingredients used to make their pizzas. On the other end of the spectrum are those operators who can only afford to use soybean oil, which is perhaps the cheapest oil, or canola oil, or a combination of those oils. They are usually not trying to make an artisan product.

It's important to keep in mind that not all pizza doughs benefit from using olive oil, especially if too much of it is used. Deep-dish doughs, for example, can use from about 8-25+% oil (by weight of flour). Using all olive oil in such doughs does not necessarily lead to the best eating experience because the olive oil flavor overdominates the crust because of its potent flavor. However, a combination of olive oil and, say, corn oil or canola oil for deep-dish doughs is a big improvement and a common and popular combination. There are also some doughs, especially those with large amounts of yeast that can itself impart a unique flavor to the finished crust, where an oil like olive oil can get lost in the flavor profile. For such doughs, it might be better to use a cheaper oil. There are also doughs that call for no oil whatsoever, such as the classic Neapolitan style dough. However, it is common to drizzle a quality olive oil on the baked Neapolitan pizzas, either before baking or after. One of the benefits of using olive oil this way is that it captures the flavors of the sauces, cheeses and toppings as they bake.

Up to this point I have not mentioned the physical role of oils in pizza doughs. Oil, whether olive oil or some other type of oil, will help coat the gluten structure of the dough and make the dough more plastic and malleable with good rheology characteristics. It will also help produce a greater rise in the dough. When used at high levels and especially if combined with sugar, it will produce a more tender crust and crumb. It will also reduce the likelihood of staling of the crust, although this is usually not an issue with pizza crusts. Oils used in or on doughs can also contribute to crust coloration because of its good heat transfer characteristics.

Different oils are also used to coat pizza pans used to make pan pizzas of various types. Olive oil is often recommended for this purpose, although I am not sure that I would use my very best olive oil for this purpose. I also would not use olive oil to season a pan, mainly because of its low smoke point.

Peter




Offline done-ness

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2010, 01:08:21 AM »
Hi Peter,

     Many thanks for your thoughtful reply.  The sense I get is that your primary consideration with regards to using olive oil is taste.  What I mean is how the taste of the oil works in combination with the other ingredients to produce something pleasing to eat.  If this is true, there is no specific reason to avoid using olive oil save one:  if you don't like the taste.  I find this good news because I too am quite fond of olive oil, especially extra virgin oils.  I would very much like to hear about the experiences forum readers have had with olive oil experimentation-both good and bad outcomes.

     The olive oil smoke point question is problematic.  What in oil actually burns to cause the smoke point?  It's a difficult question to get answered.  The best information I could find is that the oil's smoke point is related to the %free fatty acid.  The lower the %FFA, the higher the smoke point.  As mentioned in my first post, the %FFA is related to the quality of olive oil.  Therefore, the higher the grade of oil, the higher the smoke point.  This puts evoo's as oils with reasonably high smoke points since they are only 0.8%FFA.  This is not what I was expecting based on 'common knowledge'.  It would be great to know if any forum readers can shed more light on this.

Marc

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 09:47:15 AM »
Here's what I learned from painful experience. You want light, relatively flavorless olive oil in pizza. If it's green, it's likely to make the pizza taste like cardboard. For rolls, I like the green stuff.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2010, 11:32:22 AM »
Marc,

I select my olive oils for taste but mainly for use at the table, not specifically for pizza dough. For cooking purposes, I tend to use a lower grade, but still good, olive oil. Texas has been developing an olive oil industry and I would like to sample a few of its olive oils but haven't delved into the matter in any great detail. As you might know, Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix has for several years been using an Arizona olive oil blend that was developed exclusively for him (at least as of the time I learned of this). So, he obviously places a lot of value in having a very high quality of oil for his business. I don't recall offhand whether he uses any oil in his doughs.

Peter

Offline Crider

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2010, 01:45:57 PM »
I don't use oil in my dough or sauce. I drizzle olive oil as the final topping before putting the pizza in the oven.

For spaghetti sauce (actually a ragu) I saute the onions and other things in a small amount of cooking oil. I add olive oil to the sauce after I've added the tomatoes. That way, it never gets very hot.

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2010, 06:52:05 PM »
I don't put oil in my pizza dough, but I like it in roll dough. Go figure.

Offline done-ness

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2010, 02:52:29 PM »
Hi everyone,

     It's been a few days since I followed up on this topic.  Thank you all for replying, it is greatly appreciated.  Given the strong feelings I've noticed about the use of olive oil in pizza making, I was hoping for an even greater response.  However, I suspect the broad topic of 'olive oil' is simply too large.  It may be better to pare the subject down to just extra virgin olive oil (evoo) in order to get more forum readers involved.

I typically use a 4% evoo in my Neapolitan dough.  The evoo presence is subtly there after baking and all seem to enjoy it.  Also, this dough handles very well to make a pie that will bake directly on the stone.  It seems the oil not only adds pleasing flavor but also improves the dough handling characteristics.

There seem to be some pluses for why one might add evoo into dough.  But yet, I get the sense that evoo is given special consideration compared to other oils and it is typically used very sparingly or as an accent.  This treatment of evoo seems a little too 'kid-glove' to me.  Maybe my initial question needs to be reworded.  Perhaps the question should be why not use evoo in dough?  I am very interested to know when and why forum readers would not use evoo in dough.

Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2010, 06:49:05 PM »
done-ness,  besides tradition,  there are other reasons to not use extra virgin olive oil in certain doughs.  Neapolitan pizzas baked at a minute or so certaintly do not benefit from the addition,  even very high heat NY elite styles can and should go without.  Deep dish pizzas using 100% evoo as the formulas oil would taste of it too much and throw off the flavor profile of the entire pizza.  Thats all I got for now.  -marc

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2010, 08:13:36 PM »
Bake a pie with no oil in the dough and see why other people like it. This will explain things better than we ever could.


Offline AKSteve

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2010, 03:36:14 AM »
I started off putting a lot of extra virgin olive oil in my dough. I figured since I love olive oil, the more the better. But I really didn't know what I was doing in the beginning. My process lately has been to try balance things out. I've been using less oil and less honey in my dough. I've also been cooking my pizzas at a higher temperature, where the addition of those two ingredients isn't needed as much to get a good result. Actually, I'm not sure oil is needed at all in pizza dough. And the honey is only necessary because I like to have some food for my yeast as it ferments slowly in the refrigerator for a period of 3-5 days. When I do use olive oil in my dough these days, I like to just use Bertolli regular olive oil, rather than any fancy EVOO. Light olive oil has no flavor at all. EVOO isn't good at high temps. Regular olive oil seems like the best choice for me.

I will sometimes use one of my bigger dough balls to make a thick, pan pizza. For this, I'll use a regular olive oil (not EVOO) to oil the pan before I bake the pizza at around 450į. I mostly use EVOO on my pizzas as a replacement for tomato sauce or maybe to drizzle over a finished pizza for a little extra flavor.  I like to make a "sauce" of EVOO, diced garlic, greek oregano, sea salt & fresh ground pepper. My current extra virgin olive oil of choice is Mythology brand Greek EVOO from Crete.

Offline norma427

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2010, 07:22:48 AM »
I use Filippo Berio Olive Oil in most of my cooking and baking, except when a recipe specifically calls for another kind of oil. The only other time I use another oil is when deep frying.  I have used this Brand of olive oil for years.  Sometimes I used the Extra light Filippo Berio because it has a high smoke-point when frying or baking.  Even when baking cakes I like this olive oil.
In my opinion the Extra Light Filippo Berio olive oil is ideal for basting, grilling and for pasta dishes.

http://www.filippoberio.com/Products/ExtraLight.asp

I also use the regular Filippo Berio for making pizza at home and at the market.  Since I have most of the time used this brand and like the flavor it imparts to foods, I just naturally use this in my pizza dough. Since I use a Lehmann dough and at home use different kinds of doughs, this is always my choice.  It never gives a bad taste to the dough, and I believe gives my dough a special taste.  Although many would disagree on using this olive oil in pizza dough, I have done a comparison with cheaper oil and I really donít like the taste they impart. Some people would say it doesnít make a difference in what kind of oil you use in your dough, but for me it does. I know it is more expensive to use this olive oil in my pizza dough, but I feel my customers should have the best ingredients I can afford in making my pizzas.  I donít use olive oil for coating my dough balls. I also used this regular Olive Oil in my pizza sauces and spaghetti sauces.  I have received many favorable comments from customers on how fresh the pizza sauce tastes.

http://www.filippoberio.com/Products/OliveOil.asp

Their tradition

http://www.filippoberio.com/Tradition/


This is how they make the Filippo Berio olive oil

http://www.filippoberio.com/Tradition/HowWeMake.asp

Since I don't have a high temperature oven or a WFO and haven't made any Neapolitan pizzas, I can't say anything about using oil in the Neapolitan pizzas.
                        
All these ideas are only my opinion.

Norma
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 07:29:39 AM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Frankie G

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2010, 10:59:42 AM »
I love Olive Oil and grew up on it.

Although my family used straight olive oil (not extra virgin) and we used it to saute but never to fry.

Now-a-days, we pretty much do the same thing, with the exception of the addition of extra-virgin Olive Oil.  This I consider a topping if you will.  to dress a salad, pasta, pizza, veggies.  I do not use oil or fat in my pizza dough that I cook in the wood fired oven... but i use a ton of it with Chicago pizza.

One should examine the oil that they buy to see its olive origin and get to know the flavor/taste that they appreciate.  Good EVOO should have a"lot" and "use-by" on the container.  This shows the company's dedication to quality.  I have been very happy with an Olive Oil that I buy from Trader Joe's.  It's a rather small bottle, it has their private-label on it, and it's a California Extra Virgin Olive oil.  Sells for about $6.  I know this may sound trite, but every time I serve it on a plate for dipping, I get comments.



Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2010, 11:04:26 AM »
Frankie,  thanks for the tip. I have never had domestic olive oil.  I'll look for it.  -marc

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2010, 04:12:27 PM »
Marc (done-ness),

Here are some opinions from the past on olive oil: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2318.msg20286.html#msg20286.

Peter

Offline Puzzolento

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2010, 07:33:12 PM »
One weird thing I've noticed: I only use a little oil on the outside of my thin pizza, but it seems like it's almost impossible to pour too much in a pan when making Sicilian.

Offline dms

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2010, 03:46:32 PM »
Bake a pie with no oil in the dough and see why other people like it. This will explain things better than we ever could.

I make lots of pizza with no oil.  No oil in the dough, and never any in the sauce.   works just fine; tastes great.  On the other hand, I make a deep dish dough that's 20% oil (by weight of flour.  11.5% by mass of all ingredients.); for that, I typically use a quarter olive oil, and three quarters corn or canola. 

What Peter said above is pretty much my opinion about olive oil as well.  One place we disagree is cooking with the oil.  I use a decent Spanish oil for most of my cooking use; i use better stuff for salads and at the table.  (I like the one I use because it comes in a one litre tetra pak, which can be kept on the counter.)   

Offline done-ness

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2010, 11:34:10 PM »
Hi Everyone,

     Thank you all so much for keeping this topic alive and making great contributions.  I'm very glad to see the commercial view point as well.  The discussion Peter points out from 2006 would suggest that olive oils were extensively used in pizza dough making not too long ago.  It seems some people moved away from olive oil---seeking different flavor.  This is quite interesting!

To summarize the reasons from all posts so far (not in any particular order):

1)   oo in dough for flavor is done done both commercially and privately
2)   oo in dough can be helpful to improve dough characteristics (other than flavor)
3)   oo in dough may not be traditional in some pizza styles, by current thinking
4)   oo may not be used because of cost
5)   oo is used as a sauce ingredient

It is mentioned by widespreadpizza that Neapolitan style "certainly does not benefit from the addition (of olive oil)" and that NY elite styles "can and should go without (olive oil)".  I do not wish to put anyone on the spot and apologize ahead of time but a more detailed explanation of these comments would be greatly appreciated.  I suspect this is getting very close to the original thoughts as to why I started this thread.  A humble pie maker,

Marc

Offline AZ-Buckeye

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2010, 09:35:36 AM »
I live in Arizona and get my evoo from Queen Creek Olive Mill (which I believe is where Chris Bianco gets his special blend).  I use a little in my sauce (just because I love the flavor) but never in my dough because I cook my pies in a wood oven and the crust would burn too quickly.  My absolute favorite use for pizza is to drizzle a little lemon flavored olive oil on a steaming Margarita pizza right out of the oven.  The aroma (and subtle flavor) is to die for.  See www.queencreekolivemill.com for their very good lemon flavored evoo.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: olive oil
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2010, 11:53:41 AM »
It is mentioned by widespreadpizza that Neapolitan style "certainly does not benefit from the addition (of olive oil)" and that NY elite styles "can and should go without (olive oil)".  I do not wish to put anyone on the spot and apologize ahead of time but a more detailed explanation of these comments would be greatly appreciated.  I suspect this is getting very close to the original thoughts as to why I started this thread.  A humble pie maker,


Marc,

The way that oil (and sugar as well) came to be used in pizza dough is rooted in pizza history and lore. Some of this is explained by Ron Molinaro, a pizza operator who specializes in the Neapolitan style, in Reply 3 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1053.msg9384/topicseen.html#msg9384.

Peter


 

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