Is it just me, or are your recent pies noticeably more spotted? Could this be because of the fairly old dough?
Dear Hotsawce, you asked, "Is it just me, or are your recent pies noticeably more spotted?" Indeed, my recent pizzas have been exhibiting, unfortunately, more charred blisters than usual. I believe this is mainly symptomatic of (1) the way I manage my Forno Piccolo oven and (2) the acidity level of my pizza dough. With respect to the former, first, I would like to invite your attention to Reply #2038, 2039, and 2045 in this thread:
Reply #2038: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14506.msg248959.html#msg248959
Reply #2039: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14506.msg248964.html#msg248964
Reply #2045: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14506.msg249076.html#msg249076
I have repeatedly baked the same type of pizza dough in both the Ferrara oven at Bruno Pizzeria and in my Forno Piccolo at home, and I have repeatedly noticed that the pizzas baked in the Piccolo were usually burdened more with charred blisters than the same baked in the Ferrara. At this point in time, my repeated experiments compel me to hypothesize that this phenomenon is partly due to the more direct onslaught of heat energy in the Piccolo since it is a much smaller oven than the Ferrara and because I run the Piccolo really hot in order to compensate for the oven's non-Neapolitan dome height and door size. If I run the oven dome and walls cooler, the blisters will reduce in number and size, but the bake time will be adversely effected. I think I have a solution to this problem, but I have not tried it yet.
With respect to the acidity level of dough, my repeated experiments (which are exclusive of cold-fermented doughs) have shown me, if I am not mistaken, that the acidity level of pizza dough is correlated
with the appearance of charred blisters. (Please, keep in mind that by "correlation" I do not mean "causation".) To be more particular, I assert or hypothesize that the higher the level of acidity, the more will be the quantity of the blisters and the larger their size under the right oven conditions. Also, it is said that the generation of organic acids improves the flavor and dough strength when dough is properly developed and under the right conditions. Moreover, it is generally believed that long initial fermentation in bulk, as opposed to short initial fermentation, contributes to faster acidification of dough.
Using old dough seems to be one way of increasing the level of acidity in the final dough. Recently, I have been doing a lot of experiments with old dough (which I, for certain reasons, pressurize, akin to a legato
, in a partial vacuum for few hours after the initial fermentation is over) solely for the sake of dough strength and flavor—not for the sake of the blisters.
In conclusion, I tentatively think that the excessive appearance of the blisters on my recent pizzas is due to the way I managed my Forno Piccolo oven and the acidity level of my doughs, which underwent long initial fermentation and contained a percentage of old dough. After all said and done, it appears to me that using the "straight dough" method is the safest course of action; however, sometimes risky actions can bear exceptional results when calculatedly done. Good day!