Great response David. I myself have only very recently use the term "bready" to describe a heavy or dense textured crust. But I absolutely agree with you in that bready may not be an accurate description as there are so many different kinds of breads with so many different textures.
I absolutely love a light texture bread or pastry. Take a good croissant that is airy and melts in the mouth. Or a really great and light baguette. That to me is good bread, so if I can describe my ideal texture for pizza crust it would be the same. Like a good light bread. So in this sense, bready can be good thing.
When members describe a crust as bready, I think they are referring to the dense sourdough types of breads. And a crust doesn't even have to be that dense for me to say that it is on the bready side. It's just not light and airy.
Yes, I agree with you that a typical NY slice I would not say it is like bread in any way for the most part, BUT i have had a NY crust recently that was bready. The crumb was tight celled and it was on the bready side. Although I have also had different breads and pizza crust that have had a tight celled crumb (not open) that were also light in texture, so a tight celled or dense "looking" crumb isn't always heavy either. And while we are talking about textures, it can be rather subjective as well, so this further complicates the task of describing ideal textures. After all, what is bready to me may not be bready to someone else.
You make a good point about high heat and fast bakes going either way. My example above is one of the first and few that I have seen that on, so it definitely holds true there. I have only typically seen it go one way where by a fast bake will mask toughness in the dough, just the same way a warm crust will mask toughness that is apparent when the crust cools.
About having a strong gluten matrix, I was using that as an general example to discuss the differences between a weak and strong matrix. Truth be told, I am more of a subscriber to this nebulous idea of balance in the gluten matrix. Not too weak, but also not too strong. Too strong and it's impossible to open the dough without risk of tearing and we end up with too much crust. We can see this in the first pie in the above example. B/c I had reballed it and built in extra strength it was harder to open and thus I ended up with a smaller pizza and a bigger cornice. So by reballing, I restore the balance of the gluten strength back into a well fermented and well digested dough. I used IDY, so there were no obvious acids that I could taste, so I would say the softening effect is mostly or all enzyme activity related. Acids on the other hand, tend to toughen up the crumb and give a more dryness to the texture.
I am not sure I agree about high heat searing and locking in spring or moisture. I mean, I may agree, but from what I have seen oven spring in the crust is more so affected by the amount of water in the dough, balanced with sufficient gluten strength, sufficient amount of yeast in the dough, and high heat. When I make the dough properly, even baking at 950F+ produces great oven spring. I have yet to note that the high heat is a limiting factor. But if the gluten strength is not there, as in the above example, high heat or high moisture content will not cause that explosion in the crust.
On the other hand, if you have moisture in the dough, proper gluten strength, enough yeast in the dough, even a lower temperature will cause great oven spring. We see this in the pie that was baked at 725F compared to 850F. Take a loaf of bread as another example. Baked initially at a hearth temp of 500F, a moist, well developed and well yeasted loaf will more than double it's size in the oven. Oven spring happens so quickly in a very high heat environment that a dough will often reach it's maximal spring before it will be set.
Come to think of it, I have seen the very opposite, that is lower oven heat will prevent maximal spring and cause the crust to set. I see this in the wfo when baking NY style pies at lower temps of 600-650F. Because I have the fire or heat source to one side, the crust that is closest to the coals (about 2" away) will spring up higher than the opposite side (closer to the wall). I typically have to turn the pie as soon as I can (or as soon as the bottom crust sets enough to turn the pie without tearing a hole) to even out the spring on the other side before it sets from the heat surround the pie. An extreme example of this is if I bake a NY pie at these temps and not turn it at all for the entirety of the bake. You will definitely see a lopsided crust and difference in oven spring due to heat alone.
I also see this very same effect in my LBE where the heat source is coming up from the back and over the pie. By the time I can turn the pie, the side furthest from the heat source never gets the same amount of oven spring. You can see this in many of my LBE and MBE pies.
reply #140 in the LBEhttp://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13036.140.html