Author Topic: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie  (Read 27501 times)

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Offline pizzablogger

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #100 on: December 08, 2010, 06:15:44 PM »
Chau, I agree with you in trying all types of methods, etc in order to better learn the impact of each change.

There have been some interesting changes to pizzamaking over the last 10 years or so.....with "cross-over" of different breadmaking techniques being one of the major ones (stetch-and-fold, etc).

If I had more friggen time to make pizza, I might eventually get to a point where I settle on a specific routine to make a certain style. But with limited time, it will take forever before I would dare entertain that I have tinkered with enough varying techniques to put it on cruise control and stick to one thing.

As far as perfection, I do think it is possible to make one from time to time, but it is mostly a chase which cannot be duplicated consistently....and one's idea of perfection is likely to change as time goes on....more like a mile post on the road than a beacon that can be reached.

Another sick thread here. The crumb on many of your pictures here is spot on Chau. --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #101 on: December 08, 2010, 08:40:59 PM »
Kelly,

I think most of the crossover work from bread dough to pizza dough occurs on this website. Several years ago, I did extensive searching to try to find a single commercial pizza operator who used autolyse. I couldn't find a single instance. Evelyne Slomon gave riposo as a rather tepid example, which I believe she herself used at her restaurant. When I tried to find examples of starters and preferments being used commercially for making pizza, I found examples that Marco (pizzanapoletana) offered up from his Naples experience, but little else. At the PMQ Think Tank, Tom Lehmann would occasionally suggest certain uses of preferments, but those threads usually became dead ends, with little reaction by the members at that forum. When I tried to think of people who used bread making techniques to make their pizza doughs, the only examples I could come up with were Brian Spangler at Apizza Scholls, Tom Douglas at Serious Pie, Chris Bianco (with his alleged use of a biga or old dough), Anthony Mangieri, and our own Norma. To these, I would add the use of natural leavening systems by Pete Taylor and Jeff Varasano, both alumni of this forum. I am sure there are others who are doing the same kinds of things but they have not surfaced to the point where everyone knows about them.

Peter

Offline norma427

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #102 on: December 08, 2010, 08:55:16 PM »
Peter or anyone else that might be interested,

I received the PMQ magazine today.  http://pmq.com/digital/201012/   On page 16, I was surprised that Tom Lehmann had an article about Acting Poolish, explaining how to incorporate poolish or ferment into your dough.

Norma
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #103 on: December 08, 2010, 10:15:08 PM »
Wonderful pictures. Those are making my mouth watery!
A question; With the high amount of water you use, how stable and pliable is the dough when you work with it/stretch it?
From personal experience, if I use more than 50% water (in baker's percent) the dough sags/droops if I don't strictly keep it on the table. The shape turns oval once I try to hold the stretched dough in my hands longer than 1 second.



New2dough, I believe from your other thread, the flour you use is ~10% protein.  That is very similar to a pastry flour.   As you may be aware, different strengths of flours can absorb a different amount of water based on their protein content and yet still exhibit similar workability characteristics provided a similar amount of gluten has been developed into the dough.   For example, when I use AP flour vs HG flour the hydration ratio may vary from 68% to 73% (AP to HG) but yet both doughs will behave similarly provided I have adjusted the knead times accordingly.   Just for a point of reference, if I am using strictly pastry dough at around 9-10%, I may use around 63-65% hydration ratio. 

Also keep in mind that I live at high altitudes and in an arid desert climate.   My flour may very well be more dry compared to flour in a more humid environment and therefore may need more water to begin with. 

From my experience, how workable a dough is has more to do with how much  gluten has been developed into the dough and less to do with hydration ratios.  Yes hydration ratio does have an effect, mainly that the higher it is, the harder it is to develop that gluten.  But if one uses folds to develop that gluten properly, I have found that even high hydrated doughs will behave similarly to a lower hydrated dough with less gluten development. 

So you may discover with time, that if you develop the gluten more in your dough, even a higher hydrated dough will act very similarly to a lower hydration dough given the same flour.   If your dough is drooping too much, falling apart in your hand, or losing it's shape when you jiggle the open skin on the peel, it may mean that you don't have enough gluten developed into the dough.  You can fix this by doing several folds prior to and as you are balling the dough up before it gets proofed.

Here is a post I made about working with high hydration doughs.   Again, a nice and airy crumb is a balanced one.  It is the proper balance of hydration (relative to the protein content of the flour), the amount of gluten built into the dough, and the bake  temperature and time.  Reply #134
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11962.120.html

Chau
« Last Edit: December 08, 2010, 10:17:10 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #104 on: December 08, 2010, 10:32:22 PM »
new2dough,

When I have made my Papa John clone doughs, which contain a lot of oil, I have used a hydration in the range of about 55-58%. However, my dough balls can't compete in terms of quality and robustness with a dough ball that is made in the highly commercialized equipment that Papa John's uses in its commissaries (Quality Control Centers) under tightly-controlled, laboratory-like conditions. I would have to lower the hydration and/or amount of oil to be able to have a fighting chance.

I'm not sure whether Chau does any tossing or spinning of his dough skins in search of that elusive "perfect" pizza. I am sure his doughs are more robust than mine because of the dough regimen he uses, which has to be better than what my KitchenAid mixer can produce, but it is quite possible that he could toss and spin his dough skins if he so wanted.

Peter


New2dough and Peter.   Even with my high hydration doughs, if there is sufficient gluten developed into the dough, it is easily tossable.  Although to be honest, I haven't been able to spin it on 1 finger like basketball players do.  :-D

Again, I feel like high hydration is often blamed for poor workability of a dough when we should really be looking at dough strength or lack of it.  IMO, tossability and workability of a dough has more to do with the strength of a dough and less to do with it's overall hydration.  The hydration (oil included) definitely plays a role but a more indirect one.  The effects of high hydration can be mitigated by increasing the strength of the gluten matrix. 

Personally for my preferred pizza dough, the dough itself has just enough strength but not too much.  Hard to describe but when I open up the dough, gravity along with very little coaxing will open up the dough easily.   The dough doesn't fall apart in my hands but I don't have to work at it to stretch it out.   When I an open skin on the peel, it exhibits just a bit of retraction.  Not too much.   
At this strength the dough is not strong enough to toss, but if I wanted to toss a dough or to have to work harder to open it, I just develop the gluten a bit more.  This would be done prior to proofing during the balling stage. 

With this particular and limited strength that I have built into the dough, along with proofing the dough well, gentle handling during opening, and a bake time of around 3-4 min (and this gives an idea of bake temp as well), I am able to get that nice puffy crumb.  But again, it's a balance of several factors.   

Chau

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #105 on: December 08, 2010, 10:41:50 PM »


Hi Peter, I didn't realize that the equipment itself could have such crucial impact on the result. I don't even own a KitcheAid, just a very simple kneading machine...
I guess I have to accept that it's going to be very difficult to achieve a similar result the professional kitchens have.

Me, I have to make the best out of a basic kneading machine, low-temperature oven and low protein flour. :-P

(I'm feeling like I'm hijacking this thread)

N2D, you are not hijacking this thread.  You are initiating a good exchange of info here.   I would agree that it can be rather difficult for a home pizza making hobbyist to emulate commercial pizzas without the commercial grade equipment and ingredients.  If anything, commercial pizza is definitely more consistent than home made pies.   I wouldn't say that commercial pizzas are usually better than home made pies though.   I guess that depends subjectively on taste and the skill of the hobbyist. 

I would also say that if you spend enough time in this forum learning from the many experts here, you will be able to make fantastic pizzas with no mixer, a few quality ingredients, and your home oven.

IMO, you can make really good pizza by hand in your home oven.   The only thing holding you back is the low protein flour.  Get your hands on some bread flour, a decent stone, and keep learning and practicing. 

Good luck,
Chau

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #106 on: December 08, 2010, 10:43:18 PM »
Chau, I agree with you in trying all types of methods, etc in order to better learn the impact of each change.

There have been some interesting changes to pizzamaking over the last 10 years or so.....with "cross-over" of different breadmaking techniques being one of the major ones (stetch-and-fold, etc).

If I had more friggen time to make pizza, I might eventually get to a point where I settle on a specific routine to make a certain style. But with limited time, it will take forever before I would dare entertain that I have tinkered with enough varying techniques to put it on cruise control and stick to one thing.

As far as perfection, I do think it is possible to make one from time to time, but it is mostly a chase which cannot be duplicated consistently....and one's idea of perfection is likely to change as time goes on....more like a mile post on the road than a beacon that can be reached.

Another sick thread here. The crumb on many of your pictures here is spot on Chau. --K

Thanks Kev, I agree.   8)


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #107 on: December 09, 2010, 07:52:09 AM »
Chau,

Maybe you have addressed this before but have you been able to get your Bosch machine to yield a comparable dough in terms of gluten development with different types of flours and hydration values as you can get by hand kneading with the same flours, or do you find that you have to "manipulate" the Bosch to get the same results?

I was also curious to know if you have ever made doughs at lower elevations and less dry conditions and, if so, with what results and differences. Maybe I can answer my own question by standiing on a chair the next time I make some dough and see if I can detect a difference  :-D.

Peter

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #108 on: December 09, 2010, 08:19:18 AM »
Thanks Kev, I agree.   8)



You are welcome...but who the heck is Kev? Lol... :D
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Offline norma427

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #109 on: December 09, 2010, 08:51:16 AM »
Chau,

You have always made great strides in your methods and also using different flours and hydrations.   ;D I recently have been learning about using higher hydration in regular NY style pies and can now see how right you are in watching the dough and reballing or doing folds.  I never thought I could work with high hydrations, in NY style, until I read the Tartine book and then tried those methods in high hydration doughs.  I had only tried high hydrations in Sicilian pies before and those didnít need to be opened.

Thanks for helping me learn.  :)

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!


Offline new2dough

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #110 on: December 09, 2010, 09:06:23 AM »
New2dough, I believe from your other thread, the flour you use is ~10% protein.  That is very similar to a pastry flour.   As you may be aware, different strengths of flours can absorb a different amount of water based on their protein content and yet still exhibit similar workability characteristics provided a similar amount of gluten has been developed into the dough.   For example, when I use AP flour vs HG flour the hydration ratio may vary from 68% to 73% (AP to HG) but yet both doughs will behave similarly provided I have adjusted the knead times accordingly.   Just for a point of reference, if I am using strictly pastry dough at around 9-10%, I may use around 63-65% hydration ratio. 

Also keep in mind that I live at high altitudes and in an arid desert climate.   My flour may very well be more dry compared to flour in a more humid environment and therefore may need more water to begin with. 

From my experience, how workable a dough is has more to do with how much  gluten has been developed into the dough and less to do with hydration ratios.  Yes hydration ratio does have an effect, mainly that the higher it is, the harder it is to develop that gluten.  But if one uses folds to develop that gluten properly, I have found that even high hydrated doughs will behave similarly to a lower hydrated dough with less gluten development. 

So you may discover with time, that if you develop the gluten more in your dough, even a higher hydrated dough will act very similarly to a lower hydration dough given the same flour.   If your dough is drooping too much, falling apart in your hand, or losing it's shape when you jiggle the open skin on the peel, it may mean that you don't have enough gluten developed into the dough.  You can fix this by doing several folds prior to and as you are balling the dough up before it gets proofed.

Here is a post I made about working with high hydration doughs.   Again, a nice and airy crumb is a balanced one.  It is the proper balance of hydration (relative to the protein content of the flour), the amount of gluten built into the dough, and the bake  temperature and time.  Reply #134
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11962.120.html

Chau


Hi Chau,

Thanks for your post with advise.
I've looked at the link you provided and found it interesting. I kind of knew more gluten would absorb more water, but when you say high hydration + high gluten and a good gluten network development all combined still could (and should?) render a good dough with good and strong characteristics, I told myself I gotta try this one day.
When you fold the dough, do you mean the way the French bakery people do it by throwing the dough on the table, fold it, pick it up and repeat it?

Offline new2dough

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #111 on: December 09, 2010, 09:16:20 AM »
N2D, you are not hijacking this thread.  You are initiating a good exchange of info here.   I would agree that it can be rather difficult for a home pizza making hobbyist to emulate commercial pizzas without the commercial grade equipment and ingredients.  If anything, commercial pizza is definitely more consistent than home made pies.   I wouldn't say that commercial pizzas are usually better than home made pies though.   I guess that depends subjectively on taste and the skill of the hobbyist. 

I would also say that if you spend enough time in this forum learning from the many experts here, you will be able to make fantastic pizzas with no mixer, a few quality ingredients, and your home oven.

IMO, you can make really good pizza by hand in your home oven.   The only thing holding you back is the low protein flour.  Get your hands on some bread flour, a decent stone, and keep learning and practicing. 

Good luck,
Chau


Hi agian Chau,
When I visited the US (mainly California) I had some time to go shopping and had an opportunity to buy a oven stone at some chain store called Kitchen---something. I figured this would help me a lot with my home pizza making but I found it very awkward to use. It disturbed my work flow in a way that frustrated me which at some point I stopped using it. I guess what i'm trying to say is that once you get used to your own kitchen stuff at home, you could get pretty good results by trying to make the best out of the situation. Expensive (and heavy) stones, high wattage ovens, mixers probably can help you come out with good results, but in the end, I think it must feel comfortable and not disturb the work flow. So yes, I agree with you.

Offline c0mpl3x

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #112 on: December 09, 2010, 09:58:50 AM »
In Reply 9 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10449.msg92753/topicseen.html#msg92753, I quoted Tom Lehmann on the matter of spinning pizza skins. He often refers to himself as "toss-spin challenged" when it comes to spinning pizza skins. Even he knows that it takes a lot of practice to be able to open up and spin and toss skins.

If the hydration of my dough permits tossing and spinning pizza skins, I do it, just for fun and personal enjoyment and to keep from getting too rusty on the routine. However, when I have watched pizza makers in NYC make their pizzas, there was no tossing and spinning. I have seen it in places like Papa John's but the workers don't go overboard in the routine and try to show off, like the PJ worker in the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPm8aHvpjE8.

Peter


its PJ corporate policy to NOT 'toss' the dough.  it is slapped.  and only slapped.

but, what employees listen to and do is two different things.  i one hand toss all the time if i make them
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Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #113 on: December 09, 2010, 09:59:57 AM »
You are welcome...but who the heck is Kev? Lol... :D

You've always seem like a Kev to me.  :-D  Just kidding.  Sorry about that PB.  :-[  It was late last night.  

Chau


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #114 on: December 09, 2010, 10:08:43 AM »
Hi Chau,

Thanks for your post with advise.
I've looked at the link you provided and found it interesting. I kind of knew more gluten would absorb more water, but when you say high hydration + high gluten and a good gluten network development all combined still could (and should?) render a good dough with good and strong characteristics, I told myself I gotta try this one day.
When you fold the dough, do you mean the way the French bakery people do it by throwing the dough on the table, fold it, pick it up and repeat it?

No, when I fold the dough, I just fold it in the hand or on the bench.  BUT the example you listed is a great experiment.  I have been trying to get members to do just that to show how easy it is to over develop gluten by kneading, even high hydration doughs. 

If you use that method of kneading and knead as such for 20m, you are guaranteed a dry and leathery crumb post bake provided you haven't used a high % of oil in the dough.    For fun, you can take any typical pizza dough recipe, omit oil, and knead using this fashion for 20 min.  Bake and enjoy a very chewy and dry pizza. 

As another test to show how folding dough can really strengthen and sometimes over strengthen dough (even high hydration doughs).  Take any doughball you typically make.  After the bulk rest and during balling, add an extra 10-15 folds.  Simply flatten the doughball in hand and fold like a taco.  Now fold the other 2 ends together always keeping the outside of the dough, the outside.  Repeat this until the dough won't fold anymore.  This is extreme but you can practically see how strength is added by folding.   

Now let that dough proof up for several hours and then try to open it.  It will resist opening and will tear  if you force it b/c too much gluten has been put into the dough.  This works with high or low hydration doughs, it just happens faster in low hydrated doughs.   Pizza making is all about gluten development, fermentation, and the bake.

Chau

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #115 on: December 09, 2010, 10:13:10 AM »

Hi agian Chau,
When I visited the US (mainly California) I had some time to go shopping and had an opportunity to buy a oven stone at some chain store called Kitchen---something. I figured this would help me a lot with my home pizza making but I found it very awkward to use. It disturbed my work flow in a way that frustrated me which at some point I stopped using it. I guess what i'm trying to say is that once you get used to your own kitchen stuff at home, you could get pretty good results by trying to make the best out of the situation. Expensive (and heavy) stones, high wattage ovens, mixers probably can help you come out with good results, but in the end, I think it must feel comfortable and not disturb the work flow. So yes, I agree with you.

N2D, I'm curious as to how this pizza stone disturbed your workflow?  In what way?  Can you clarify?  I understand your point here but I offer a couple of points to consider. 

1) a good pizza stone that can retain and give off heat well is essential to achieving a good oven spring.
2) I wouldn't push anyone to do anything uncomfortable but keep in mind that often times when we experiment outside of our comfort zone, it can be very rewarding.  We can discover new techniques, learn about ourselves, and achieve improve outcomes.

Can you post a picture of your stone.  Member Scott123, is a stone expert and can help you learn how to use the stone properly if you so desire.   

Chau
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 10:14:44 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #116 on: December 09, 2010, 10:18:32 AM »
Chau,

You have always made great strides in your methods and also using different flours and hydrations.   ;D I recently have been learning about using higher hydration in regular NY style pies and can now see how right you are in watching the dough and reballing or doing folds.  I never thought I could work with high hydrations, in NY style, until I read the Tartine book and then tried those methods in high hydration doughs.  I had only tried high hydrations in Sicilian pies before and those didnít need to be opened.

Thanks for helping me learn.  :)

Norma

Thanks Norma.  I always appreciate your comments and I'm glad I was able to help in someway.  I'm also glad you are experimenting with higher hydration doughs and hope that it can improve your pizza.   Just keep in mind that at some point, high hydration becomes undesireable creating a dough that is too wet.   An overly wet dough is hard to develop gluten and even resists it.  This actually prevents oven spring if there is not enough strength in the dough to tent up or hold up those air bubbles.

Chau
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 10:31:48 AM by Jackie Tran »

Offline norma427

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #117 on: December 09, 2010, 10:30:21 AM »
Thanks Norma.  I always appreciate your comments.  I'm glad you are experimenting with higher hydration doughs and hope that it can improve your pizza.   Just keep in mind that at some point, high hydration becomes undesirable creating a dough that is too wet.   An overly wet dough is hard and resist developing gluten.  This actually prevents oven spring if there is not enough strength in the dough to tent up or hold up those air bubbles.

Chau

Chau,

I haven't gotten to the point when experimenting with high hydration doughs, of creating undesirable dough that is too wet.  I probably will find out though experimenting about that.  When I used Paul's flour at a high hydration and kept folding like you and something like the Tartine bread books teaches, I saw how much more bubbles were in the dough while bulk fermenting and even on the skin the next day. The dough kept getting slack or just sticky, but with each reballing or folding the dough became more manageable.  Then I cold fermented the dough until the next day.  That pizza was the best pizza I have made up to this point, as far as moistness in the rim and also a nice airy rim.  I am sure I will learn more as I continue and also have flops.  :-D

Thanks again,  ;D

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #118 on: December 09, 2010, 11:22:46 AM »
Chau,

I haven't gotten to the point when experimenting with high hydration doughs, of creating undesirable dough that is too wet.  I probably will find out though experimenting about that.  When I used Paul's flour at a high hydration and kept folding like you and something like the Tartine bread books teaches, I saw how much more bubbles were in the dough while bulk fermenting and even on the skin the next day. The dough kept getting slack or just sticky, but with each reballing or folding the dough became more manageable.  Then I cold fermented the dough until the next day.  That pizza was the best pizza I have made up to this point, as far as moistness in the rim and also a nice airy rim.  I am sure I will learn more as I continue and also have flops.  :-D

Thanks again,  ;D

Norma

Norma, I'm glad you posted this as this is partly how I got into working with high hydration doughs a year ago.   I started out kneading dough by hand using the french method of kneading as mentioned above by New2dough.   Not having a mixer I dedicated myself to learning how to knead dough.  Naturally I looked at different kneading methods for breads and settled on this french method.  Base on other members long knead times, I ended up with tough and leathery crumbs.   To fix this I naturally increase my hydration levels, which made the dough slack.

I began adding the folds in to mitigate this slackness.  I also noted that it trapped air bubbles that would seemingly show up in the end crust.  Using common sense, I figured more folds would naturally trap more bubbles.  This is how I learned that I could over fold a dough and have a hard time opening it.   The posts I've been making lately about how to work with high hydration doughs and gluten development have been the result of a year's worth of active experimenting.   The Tartine book, with it's great pictures, have really help me tie this all together and confirm a lot of what I've been learning in the past year.   Without the forum, I would not have been able to make near the progress that I have.  I'm not there yet, but definitely enjoying the ride. 

Chau

Offline new2dough

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Re: That elusive yet "Perfect" pie
« Reply #119 on: December 09, 2010, 12:07:23 PM »
No, when I fold the dough, I just fold it in the hand or on the bench.  BUT the example you listed is a great experiment.  I have been trying to get members to do just that to show how easy it is to over develop gluten by kneading, even high hydration doughs. 

If you use that method of kneading and knead as such for 20m, you are guaranteed a dry and leathery crumb post bake provided you haven't used a high % of oil in the dough.    For fun, you can take any typical pizza dough recipe, omit oil, and knead using this fashion for 20 min.  Bake and enjoy a very chewy and dry pizza. 

As another test to show how folding dough can really strengthen and sometimes over strengthen dough (even high hydration doughs).  Take any doughball you typically make.  After the bulk rest and during balling, add an extra 10-15 folds.  Simply flatten the doughball in hand and fold like a taco.  Now fold the other 2 ends together always keeping the outside of the dough, the outside.  Repeat this until the dough won't fold anymore.  This is extreme but you can practically see how strength is added by folding.   

Now let that dough proof up for several hours and then try to open it.  It will resist opening and will tear  if you force it b/c too much gluten has been put into the dough.  This works with high or low hydration doughs, it just happens faster in low hydrated doughs.   Pizza making is all about gluten development, fermentation, and the bake.

Chau

Thanks for explaining the folding procedure. I will keep this in mind and try this out when my wife isn't looking. ^^
I saw on YouTube how a French guy went through the throw-fold-throw method, and I believe it took him couple of hundred times to get the result he wanted.
I can say he looked pretty exhausted in the end - you could hear him sweating and gasping for air.