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Offline Iceman2000

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need help with dry crust
« on: April 12, 2010, 08:48:02 PM »
Been trying to make NY style pizza and always get a very dry crust with uncooked flour on the bottom.  I've experimented with different bake times/temps, kneading time, different recipes, and always the same results. I do use a pizza stone.  Please help.


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2010, 08:57:00 PM »
Iceman2000,

Can you give us an example of a dough recipe you have been using and the way you have been making and managing the dough for that recipe? Also, are you using a scale? And what kind of oven (electric or gas) and oven arrangement are you using (e.g., stone position, oven temperature, etc.)?

Peter

Offline Iceman2000

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2010, 09:10:52 PM »
Thank You for your reply Peter, here's the last recipe I used:
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (I add vital wheat gluten)
1 tablespoons of olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of yeast

The stone is on the bottom rack of the oven.  The last two times I've used a similar recipe I've been utilizing a cold rise for atleast a day then sit the dough out for at least 3 hours before I start to shape the pizza.  I haven't been using that much flour when shaping, only enough on the counter for it not to stick and a sprinkle of flour on the peel. I haven't been using a scale. I've tried 400, 450, 500, and 550 oven temperatures. 

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 09:25:05 PM »
Iceman2000,

Can you tell me what brand of all-purpose flour you are using and how specifically are you measuring out the flour? Maybe you can use the flour Measurement Methods defined in the Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/ to tell me which of the measurement methods in the pull-down menu comes closest to the way you have been measuring out your flour.

It might help to know how many pizzas you have been making with the dough from the recipe you posted and what size pizzas you have been making? You mentioned that you added vital wheat gluten (VWG). Can you tell me what brand of VWG you have been using and how much and is the VWG included in the 4 1/2 cups flour, or is it in addition to the 4 1/2 cups flour. Finally, at least for now, what kind of yeast are you using--active dry yeast (ADY) or instant dry yeast (IDY).

Peter
 

Offline Iceman2000

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 09:36:30 PM »
Actually, with the last pizza I used I substituted all purpose flour with GOLD medal bread flour, added 2 tsp of Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten (that's in addition to the 4.5 cups flour.  I'm using Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast.

I spoon the flour into the measuring cup. I guess my measuring method would be textbook except I don't loosen/stir the flour up before I spoon it out.

I've been making 4 12-inch pizzas with these, I try to get the dough as thin as possible without tearing it, which turns out to be very thin and transparent.

Any ideas?
Thank You again, Peter

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 10:17:25 PM »
Iceman2000,

On the assumption that you are using the Gold Medal Better for Bread flour and the Textbook flour Measurement Method, I did some calculations and used the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html to convert the recipe you used to baker's percent format, as follows:

Bread Flour (100%):
Water (63.7644%):
ADY (0.33958%):
Salt (2.50711%):
Olive Oil (2.42562%):
Total (169.03671%):
556.56 g  |  19.63 oz | 1.23 lbs
354.89 g  |  12.52 oz | 0.78 lbs
1.89 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.5 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
13.95 g | 0.49 oz | 0.03 lbs | 2.5 tsp | 0.83 tbsp
13.5 g | 0.48 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3 tsp | 1 tbsp
940.79 g | 33.18 oz | 2.07 lbs | TF = N/A

Since you have been making four 12" pizzas with the above amount of dough (33.18 ounces), each dough ball weighs about 8.3 ounces. For a 12" pizza, I calculated a corresponding thickness factor of 0.073354. This value confirms that your pizza crusts are on the very thin side. But, to be honest, I don't see anything out of order in either the recipe or how you have practiced it. Inherently, with a hydration of around 64%, the dough should not be on the dry side. And, with about 2.5% oil, the dough should be easy to handle. These values should translate into a crust with decent oven spring and a chewy crust with a soft crumb. Unless you used a lot of bench flour or a lot of flour on your peel, it is hard to see how you ended up with a very dry crust with a lot of uncooked flour.

If I were to suggest something at this point, it might be to make a few test pizzas with a thicker crust. For example, if you divided the dough batch into three, such that each dough ball weighs about 11 ounces, and make a 12" pizza with that amount of dough, the corresponding thickness factor becomes 0.089848. That value would correspond to a typical NY style crust thickness. That might yield a softer and less dry crust.

As another possible explanation for your problem, maybe you have been baking your pizzas for too long, even at the lower oven temperatures, and that has led to dry crusts as the moisture in the dough evaporates. Remember, you have been making some very thin pizzas. Given the very thin pizzas you have been making, I would think that the higher oven temperature and a short bake time would produce the best results, with a less dry crust but a reasonably soft center. If that hasn't worked, then you might try making some test pizzas with a thicker crust as mentioned above.

Peter

Offline Iceman2000

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 02:23:14 PM »
I have tried to leave the pie in longer but my toppings are way overcooked by that point...I will try what you suggested and let you know how it goes.

Thanks again Peter

Offline Iceman2000

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2010, 02:20:59 PM »
To update you, Peter, I just made a pie and it turned out fairly well, much better than the previous pies.  I made the pies a wee-bit thicker as you suggested and I also tweeked my oven arrangement. I seasoned my pizza stone and am now putting a baking sheet upside down on the top rack.  Now my crust is getting nice and brown on the buttom, however I would like my crust to brown more on top and to get the crust more moist.  I think I may try adding a little bit more sugar and water to my recipe.  I also did a five-minute autolyse after mixing and kneaded for 30 minutes with a 1 minute rest break every five minutes.  This pie wasn't top-notch but I would actually serve this to my friends, so I would call this pie a success.  More advice is needed and much appreciated if you have any,

Thanks again Peter.

Offline PizzaHog

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Re: need help with dry crust
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2010, 05:13:52 PM »
Quote
I would like my crust to brown more on top
Hey Iceman
This is an issue for most all of us with conventional home ovens where the heat is generated from the bottom.  Assuming that is your situation many have found improvement by:
Changing the rack the pizza is baked on, up or down.
Placing sheet or cookie pans and/or foil on the rack/s above the pie.
Placing a second stone, tiles, cast iron cookware, on the rack/s above the pie.
Brushing a bit of oil on top of the raw cornicione before baking.
Combination's of the above.
Every situation and oven differs so what works for one may not be the best for another but somewhere there is an improvement for you, it may just take a few tries to find it.
Quote
and to get the crust more moist
The very general equation here is:  Higher heat + less bake time = moister.  Of course it is never quite that simple but can be worth experimenting with as Peter posted.  While this may seem counter intuitive, lowering your hydration from the 64% Peter calculated may actually result in a moister final crust if it allows you to significantly shorten the bake time.  One way to approach this is to remember your oven is the limited factor here.  Once you have tweaked all the heat, top and bottom, you can out of your oven, you have hit that limit and established a constant.  Then you can tweak the variables in your dough/hydration to find that sweet spot for as much browning and moistness as your oven will allow.  Yes, it is a juggling act to balance all this and more.  The best news is it's all good and the journey is well worth the effort with lot's of experiments to eat along the way, so keep at it.