Author Topic: Pizza Dough an Urban History  (Read 4359 times)

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Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Pizza Dough an Urban History
« on: May 10, 2005, 03:17:29 AM »
There was a whole nuance of each shops pizza dough being unique to each pizza  shop. This has given way over the years to repeatable results regardless of the geography of the pizza shop or its location. This became a more exportable pizza process as a high quality product reproducible at will has a particular intrinsic value.
Over the years some of the older production methods of dough storage and fermentation have been all but lost. The equipment used and knowledge of how and why to do it have long been scraped and abandon. Along with them some of the things that would lend unique flavors to the dough that would be particular to each neighborhood pizza shop.
As pizza became more popular new pizza makers wanted to spread out into the world bringing their warm bubbling cheese and sauce on a fine crust to the creating peace and harmony through out the universe. But alas as all great ideas are leveled a bit by reality, this was no exception. Low and behold we found that when we expanded into new locations, even though we used the exact same mother recipe that we were using at the original location, the dough was never quite the same. Thus the pizza was a little different from place to place. It has its own character.  This led to a lot of questions and experimentation. The answer came with time as the new pizza shop aged. After a year or two they had their own unique flavor nuance as they had come into their own. What happened? What had changed over time? Time was .
 Time and fermentation were the keys to this mystery! Yup fermentation. Ever hear of it? Of course you have. We all have at one time or another. Infecting dough with live yeast spore is a fermentation process. We call it raising the dough. Using the old style live cake yeast that were available at the time meant that you had to double raise the dough. Yeast often came free back then from large regional or even national beer brewing companies. This is no longer available and is one of the many thing lost to recreating the original old style New York Pizza. First raise was a “quick raise” that came after the dough came out of the mixer. For reference these were mostly 60 quart Hobart mixers and 50 lbs of flour or one bag mix formulas. The dough was placed in a large container in a warm area and allowed to raise letting the yeast to propagate through as much dough as possible.
Then the dough was unceremoniously dumped on a large wooden cutting table to be cut to weight and hand rolled into tight balls. These balls were then placed in wooden trays with room to raise and brushed with olive oil before being placed in the under counter open air dough cooler. This process kills any of the first raise in the dough and set up the condition for the yeast to slowly feed and re-propagate thru the dough ball in a second slow cold rise over the next 12 to 48 hours in the dough cooler. This is the last step in the recipe that actually converts the dough from just great dough into REAL PIZZA DOUGH!
After 12 hours of slow proofing you can use a dough and be sure it will brown and serve up great pizza. The dough has formed a skin on it from the olive oil and some of the natural effects of the dough air drying. After stretching the dough the dry side is presented down on to the pizza board so it came in contact directly with the oven hearth. All of that oil soaked goodness dusted in flour and slide on to a very hot brick toasting it into the perfect pizza crust.
So what the heck does fermentation and time have to do with any of this?, you may be asking by now. Well remember the 60 quart Hobart mixer? Most shops only have a 30 quart dish sink. And excessive washing of a mixing bowl will quickly ware way the tinning and allow the mixing bowl to rust. Therefore one wiped the bowl clean with a piece of the dough from that batch. This will pick up most all of the dough remnants left in the bowl from the mix but leaves a thin coating on the bowls surface. This has all of the components to keep active a strain of yeast until the next day that then CO-mingles in the mix adding its own kind of signature. This again happens in the large container used for the first raise of the dough. Also the old wooden cutting table also introduces some of the house yeast into the second raise process as would the old wooden oil baste dough drawers. Just like old French bakeries the old pizza shops developed their own unique flavor profiles due to the naturally occurring house “yeast” that tempers each kitchen and batch of dough that was made there.
Today we use a fast yeast requiring only one raise, the slow cold proofing part.
Stainless steel mixing bowls that can be washed daily with no harm done. The dough goes from the mixer right on to a clean stainless steel table for cutting and rolling. The dough balls are then dredged in flour and bagged in new food grade plastic bags for storage and cold proofing. No more oil soaked toasted crust. No more are the wooden oil trays that bathed a sweet crust in its protective pool of extra virgin goodness.
The old methods have been abandon over time at the encouragement of many local health departments insistence. Along with them some of the nuance that created some unforgettable pizzas.
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Offline Nathan

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2005, 05:05:28 AM »
Let me share my opinion about what you just said............

(http://tinyurl.com/8rnug)
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Offline Nathan

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2005, 05:11:08 AM »
Just trying to mess with ya.   ;D

Give us detailed instructions on what to do to achieve what you're talking about.   :-\
"Pizza with pineapples?  That's a cake."

Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2005, 07:51:06 AM »
Bubba:  As a brewer, I can appreciate how a "house yeast" developed over time can create a unique character in the final product.  Interesting stuff.

I wish you'd post more often on this board.  I love learning the history of an art form from someone who's been there.  If I remember correctly, you cut your teeth during a pretty legendary period of New York pizza?

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2005, 09:58:35 AM »
Yes this was the case when I was young and used to go to the Ma and Pa tomato pie shop...They lived upstairs and ran a pizza business downstairs out the front. Coal oven, wooden trays holding the beloved dough slowly rising...a white coating of old flour all over the sides. They did'nt use IDY no way there was something else....a fantastic smell to the dough..sweet aroma with fresh dough smell that would put you in a trance... When you ripped open the baked crispy crust you did not smell yeast at all just a heavenly scent...indescribable... Thanks for sharing Bubba you have put me back to when pizza was really a artisans craft...

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2005, 11:22:44 AM »
Bubba,
Thank you for your passionate post. I really enjoyed reading it. This is a great community and I'm so proud to be a part of it. I could never have learned the things you wrote about on my own.
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
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Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2005, 02:03:15 PM »
Just trying to mess with ya.   ;D

Give us detailed instructions on what to do to achieve what you're talking about.   :-\

At a home level I do not thnk that it is possable as this is the product of a daily dough proccessing.
Unless you are making dough daily I do not think you can reproduce these effects. And it takes years for these effects to take hold. It is in some respects like working a sourdough. If not used and replenished it will die.
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Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2005, 02:18:04 PM »
Hi Bubba,
not to dumb down your thorough explanation so a single point, but just out of curiosity, you do mention the use of yeast from breweries.  I homebrew beer occasionally, and have successfully pitched multiple batches onto the same yeast cake.  Do you think using a portion of an ale yeast cake to raise pizza dough slowly would be closer to what you describe??  Or is it altogether so different as to not be worth it??

thanks!

Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2005, 02:51:05 PM »
Hi Bubba,
not to dumb down your thorough explanation so a single point, but just out of curiosity, you do mention the use of yeast from breweries.  I homebrew beer occasionally, and have successfully pitched multiple batches onto the same yeast cake.  Do you think using a portion of an ale yeast cake to raise pizza dough slowly would be closer to what you describe??  Or is it altogether so different as to not be worth it??

thanks!

Well now! Budwiser used to send our yeast to us thru the beer delivery guy. We would tell him that we needed yeast and the next delivery he would bring the blocks of yeast cake.

Remembering this when the mico brewers started up here in the northwest I had a shop in Portland OR. I brought to the attention of the brewing community that there yeasts were good for baking and that they (each yeast for each brewer) could yield unique flavor profiles in all kinds of doughs. That it could be worth something. They all laughed and thought I was a nut, but gave me a bucket of active drawn directly from their vat. That meant there was a good bit of beer mixed with the yeast. What the hell says I and without caking the yeast I used it beer and all. This was way cool.  Although it is not like using regular yeast and you cannot count on the strength of the yeast as it varied some from brew to brew. So I brought a pizza and a loaf of bread back to the brewer to show them what their yeast could do.  Boy were they surprised and for a while it became a real fad locally around the city of Portland in the better houses to find that they had turned to using local micro brew yeast in their house baking for special uses.

You can make your pizza taste to match your ale I think. If the ale yeast is a "clean dry cake" it may not taste much but use some ale in place of some the water in the recipe "cup for cup" and I think you will be suprised You can season your dough with herbs to if you want although a true NY Pizza snob will look down their noses at this practice it does keep things culinary interesting.
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Offline duckjob

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2005, 03:17:29 PM »
Bubba,  is there a particular ale, or type of ale that you think would be more suited for this than another. And also, when subbing in beer for water, should the amount of yeast used be decreased at all?


Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2005, 03:56:36 PM »
Bubba,  is there a particular ale, or type of ale that you think would be more suited for this than another. And also, when subbing in beer for water, should the amount of yeast used be decreased at all?

No yeast adjustment is needed as the yeast in the beer is probably been pasturised and has no yeast value.
As far as ale goes choose your favorite.
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Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2005, 12:24:56 PM »
cheesy..thats a nice shot..you state you "harvested" your yeast...could you explain your procedure..was this from beer you purchased or direct from the air??

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2005, 01:09:18 PM »
Cheesy,

That's a great looking pizza.

Can you tell us what recipe you used, the size of the pizza, and how much preferment you used? I assume you used no commercial yeast.

Peter

Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2005, 01:17:15 PM »
This pizza was made with wild yeast I harvested.

Great looking pie! The crust looks to have all the right stuff.
It appears to be a nice long cold proof dough instead of a hot rise. Correct? How did you harvest your wild yeast spoor and where from?  Do you find that it mutates or is in any way unstable or have you managed to keep it from changing generation to generation? And what do you feed it and how do you keep it? Potato starch or what? I have only a cursory knowladge of the mico biology it takes to make a yeast strain a pet. I would love to know how to keep one on a leash for my very own like the mico brewers do.
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Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2005, 07:01:57 PM »
Way cool!
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Offline DKM

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Re: Pizza Dough an Urban History
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2005, 12:29:03 PM »
Very nice looking pizza.

DKM
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