Author Topic: dough trouble-shooting  (Read 1666 times)

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Offline Tristan

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dough trouble-shooting
« on: May 06, 2005, 01:31:38 PM »
I'm fairly new to home pizza-making and I've been trying out various dough recipes as I find them, just to find one that works consistently (which I haven't---probably my fault more than the recipe's). I'm not yet working with accurate measurements (just plastic measuring cups and my Pyrex liquid measure) and am still using supermarket yeast and flour. I prefer overnight refrigerator rises since I don't have much time for anything more involved and hands-on. So this recipe from the New York Times, an adaptation of a recipe by Andrew Feinberg of Franny's fame, appealed to me:

1 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for coating dough
1 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups bread flour.
1. Put 1 cups warm water in a mixing bowl, add yeast and stir until it dissolves. Add oil, salt and sugar, and mix well. Stir in flour. Knead either in mixer using dough hook or by hand on a floured surface, until dough comes together. Cover, and let rest 20 minutes.
 2. Knead dough until it is springy, about 5 minutes in mixer or 10 minutes by hand. Form into a ball, coat with oil and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight.
3. Remove dough from refrigerator, and let it come to room temperature (about 4 hours) before proceeding. Press dough down, and knead briefly. Divide into 4 pieces, flatten into disks and cover with cloth towels until ready to use.

I followed the recipe exactly and still wasn't quite happy with the results. Honestly, I'm not precisely sure when to stop kneading. I have some sort of non-stick kneading mat so I don't have to add too much flour. I did knead until the dough achieved a certain springiness and I reached a point where the dough stopped sticking even without the further addition of flour. Was this too much kneading? I always knead by hand and I hate following time suggestions---I'm more interested in knowing what I'm looking for than being told to "knead for 10 minutes".

At any rate, when I attempted to stretch out the dough, it proved most uncooperative. I just couldn't seem to get it thin enough until I cheated and squirted some olive oil on the surface to make it a bit more wet. Still, that wasn't even enough and I ended up with a pie that was too thick and puffed all over. Has anyone attempted this particular recipe yet? I'm sure someone reading this will know what I did wrong.


Online Pete-zza

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Re: dough trouble-shooting
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2005, 04:24:13 PM »
Tristan,

I'm away from my home base and don't have access to a digital scale to do some weighing, but from what I know from memory, I think the problem is that the recipe is a faulty one because of one or two reasons that I can think of just looking at the recipe.

First, the salt level seems to be far too high. Assuming that the flour weighs around 23-24 oz., 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt yields a baker's percent of about 3.7%. That is in the danger zone (above about 2.5%). Salt serves several purposes, among which is to control the fermentation process, including enzymatic activity. One of the enzymes, protease, is responsible for softening the gluten. Excessive salt can be hell on the protease and prevent it from doing its job adequately and completely. So, I suspect that is one of the reasons you had trouble stretching the dough--the gluten was probably too tough. On top of that, salt serves under even normal circumstances to toughen gluten, so having an excess of it is not good.

Second, is the likelihood that the overnight fermentation was inadequate, again because the excessive salt levels slows down the fermentation process. I suspect you could have used several hours more of fermentation in and out of the refrigerator to have overcome the harmful effects on fermentation of the excessive salt.

I think your kneading was OK. It is almost impossible to overknead a dough by hand, and especially one based on bread flour. I think also you stopped at the right time, while the dough was still a bit tacky. Looking at the rest of the ingredients and my estimates of their respective baker's percents, they look to be in balance. The hydration level (I estimate that it is around 60-62%) looks OK. The olive oil is a bit high (over 4% by my rough calculation), and I suspect that it also contributed to the puffiness of the dough. I estimate that the total dough weight for the recipe is around 40 ounces or so, or enough for four 12-inch thin pizzas, with each dough ball weighing around 10 oz. I assume you made four pizzas from the recipe and didn't double up or otherwise use a different amount of dough.

If I calculated things right, I think the problem was excessive salt and insufficient fermentation because of it. I even wondered whether the recipe should have been 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt rather than 1 1/2 tablespoons. At 1 1/2 teaspoons, the salt would have been in the proper range. I'm curious to know whether the crust tasted very salty. The answer to that question may also tell us whether the salt was responsible for the results you got.

Peter

Offline WOMBAT

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Re: dough trouble-shooting
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2005, 04:39:55 PM »
sounds correct
I have used a recipe similar to that 1 but it calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons not tablespoons of salt might be a easy fix
good luck

Offline Tristan

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Re: dough trouble-shooting
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2005, 05:29:49 PM »
Thanks for the thorough speculation, and the lesson, Peter.  I don't really know much about baking on a technical level (if anyone could suggest a good primer, that'd be great), but the crust did turn out salty, and I imagine you might be right in guessing that it was an impediment.  I'm anxious to make a decent pizza again, so I'll be trying this again tonight, with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt instead (The New York Times is often issuing corrections regarding their recipes---perhaps it was a typographical error).  Perhaps I'll cut back on the oil as well.  I'll let you know how it turned out.  Thanks.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: dough trouble-shooting
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2005, 10:20:09 AM »
Tristan,

It's hard to find good material on the technical aspects of pizza making without doing a lot of online research or reading a lot of books on baking. Most pizza cookbooks barely touch the subject because there is little interest in it by home pizza makers. Some of the best material on the technical aspects of pizza making is on this site but it may take a lot of work to hunt it all down and piece it together. One of my favorite sites for learning about dough is the Progressive Baker online course at http://www.progressivebaker.com/class/outline.htm. The course material is with respect to bread dough rather than pizza dough, but the technical discussions pretty much apply to pizza dough too. King Arthur also has some materials that cover different aspects of dough ingredients, usually in a one-page pdf file format. If you do a Google search, you should be able to locate them. An example of one such file, on salt, is at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/4a1eb4311b0be08b2b590b39ac3f2c77/download/KAF-04-009%20Salt.pdf. Another good King Arthur site for learning about dough ingredients and their use is at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/48464#8.

BTW, when I revisited the NYT recipe you tried, I noticed that it called for letting the dough come to room temperature. I don't think that is good advice. For example, what if the room temperature is 85 degrees F? Do you wait, possibly for hours, for the dough that was in the refrigerator at around 40 degrees F to get to 85 degrees? The better approach is to wait for the dough to get to around 60-65 degrees F. Of course, to know this, you will need to use an instant-read thermometer. When I do this, I just stick the probe of the thermometer into the belly of the dough ball and wait for the temperature to rise to around 60-65 degrees F, whatever amount of time that will take (it will, of course, get there faster in the summertime than the wintertime). Technically you should be OK with the dough when it gets to around 55 degrees F. Below that you might expect to get bubbling in the crust (which may require docking the dough).

Peter

EDIT (3/15/13): For the Wayback Machine link to the King Arthur article on salt, see http://web.archive.org/web/20051027064437/http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/4a1eb4311b0be08b2b590b39ac3f2c77/download/KAF-04-009%20Salt.pdf

« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 05:40:31 PM by Pete-zza »