Author Topic: Another new member . . .  (Read 3002 times)

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Offline Dave

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Another new member . . .
« on: September 25, 2005, 02:02:38 PM »
Hi,

This is my first post. I've been a fan of pizza since . . . forever. Actually, that's not true. I think I didn't really like it until I was 8 or 9 years old. But since then, it's been my favorite food for over 20 years.

I hope to learn from the experienced and not-so-experienced cooks, alike. I'm on a never-ending quest for pizza perfection. I also hope to be able to contribute and possibly help someone else make a better pie.

I used to have the most impossible time getting good dough results from bread baking cookbooks. I'd tried probably at least 10 different recipes over the years, and even though the pizzas looked good when they came out of the oven, they never tasted as good (and, ideally, better) as pizzas that I got from good pizzerias. They always turned out too heavy or too yeasty or too . . . something . . . but never good.

Then, only within the past year and a half or so, I found a book with some good recipes and good techniques, a good quality mixer with a dough hook, and I haven't looked back. Pizzas that I make have been about the best I've eaten, and I can make them any time I want. :)

Here are some pictures of the last pizza I made. I don't usually take pictures of dinner, but my camera was sitting on the counter, and I thought it'd be fun to take a few. Lo and behold, it gave me some material to post for my initial thread on Pizzamaking.com. I put it in the New York Style section since that's the type of pie it is. Sorry if it's out of place.

Looking forward to talking with you all. :)


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2005, 03:03:51 PM »
Dave,

Welcome to the forum, and nice job with the pizza.

Would you mind sharing the recipe you used, including the type of flour and the baking process followed?

Peter

Offline Dave

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2005, 11:17:38 PM »
Be glad to!† ;D

Iíd probably be violating the copyright of Peter Reinhart by posting his recipe online. In which case, I'll play it safe and say that I'm simply using his recipe (from American Pie, of course) for New York Style dough on page 114. (If someone knows it to be legally okay for me to post the recipe, please let me know and I'll do it.)

When I first bought the book, I knew that NY style was the recipe I was going to make; it's my favorite style of pizza. Initially reading it, I had low expectations because I've read many other recipes that were similar in their ingredients and execution--with one notable exception: there was an option to use either solid vegetable shortening or olive oil. As I had never used vegetable shortening (always extra-virgin OO) in my doughs of the past, I figured that if this recipe were going to work out to be ďthe oneĒ good dough recipe for me, it had better be made differently than my lackluster doughs of the past. Actually there are other aspects of this recipe that I hadnít encountered in the past (the short mixing times, the cold rise), but the shortening stood out as particularly odd to me. I had to try it.

Maybe the best way to do thisóinstead of listing Reinhartís recipe verbatimówould be simply to tell you that I start by using the exact quantities he specifies, and as I hinted at before, I choose to use the shortening rather than olive oil. I havenít even tried this recipe using OO because Iíve been too happy with the results of the shortening.

Back to the prep . . .†

I use room temperature water. What kind of water? Well, lately, Iíve been using water from a Brita purified water tank, but thatís not because Iím looking to use filtered water; itís merely because we keep the tank on our kitchen counter and itís already room temperature. The water from the tap seems a bit cooler so I donít use it. Thatís not to say I never have though. I donít remember the recipe coming out any better/worse when using tap water.

I then dissolve 1.5 tsp. of Fleischmannís rapid rise yeast into the water. (I canít speak for Red Star or other brands; Iíve not experimented with them, and I somewhat doubt Iíd be able to taste any kind of difference using another brand/type of yeast unless perhaps I had two pizzas side by side to compare.) I then add sugar (arbitrarily opting to use it instead of the honey that Reinhart also recommends could be used) to the yeast/water mixture and wait for a bloom before I go any further.

I then add the shortening and salt to the other ingredients (except the flour) into the bowl of my DeLonghi/Kenwood 800 watt mixer and lightly mix it with the wire wisp for a few seconds. I snap in the dough hook and put the mixer on a low speed while gradually introducing the flour* to the liquid. In well under a minute, the flour and liquid is a coarse mixture, and I immediately let it rest as per the recipe for 5 minutes or so.

After the rest, I put the mixer on a medium-low speed for anywhere from 2 Ė 5 minutes. (The beauty of this recipe is that thereís so little mixing involved!) After 2 Ė 5 minutes, the dough is usually sticky, but not wet. Itís sticky to the point that it sticks a bit to the bottom of the bowl when mixing and itíll slightly stick to your fingertips if youíre not ďworking it.Ē By ďworking it,Ē I mean that if you manipulate the dough quickly in your hands to shape it into a ball, it wonít stick; but if you were to hold it and slowly work with it, itíd probably be too sticky. (Itís so hard to explain the feel. I have no idea what % hydration the dough is.) When the dough is at this point, I remove it from the mixer, place it on a lightly floured surface and form it into a log. I then cut it into 3 approximately equal pieces and shape each one quickly into a ball ensuring that there are neither wrinkles nor seams anywhere on the perfectly smooth skin. The three dough balls go right into zippered freezer bags coated with cooking spray and sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. I then place them immediately in the freezer (again, as per recipe) or into the fridge for 24 hours (sometimes less, sometimes more).

*I use with King Arthurís bread flour (the highest gluten content I can find in my local stores) and stir it up a bit in the canister in which I keep it to incorporate a bit of air into it. I guess my old crusts turned out too dense, which I attributed to too much flour, so I try to play it safe by aerating it a bit. I then spoon the flour out into the measuring cup and level off the top, rather than cramming the cup into the flour which would pack it too densely.

The next day, I take the dough out of the fridge anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes before I want to bake it. I also fire up the oven to 500F and heat up the pizza stone (some rectangular thing from Williams Sonoma) for at least an hour. When the dough has been out of the fridge for at least 90 minutes, I go to work shaping it. It is VERY relaxed, but not so much that itís hard to work with. I can shape it merely by letting it drape over the back of my hands in under 30 seconds. Itís quite extensible and has nearly no elasticity whatsoever. I think that (if I knew how to throw dough), I might find it too relaxed and be tempted to knead it for a few seconds to get the glutens to tighten up. As it happens, itís perfect for how I shape dough. As I said, I drape it over my well-floured hands and continue letting it stretch itself by gravity. In no time at all, itís probably 15 or so inches in size and I lay it on the counter to form a small raised edge around the perimeter. The dough typically has some big and some moderate sized gas bubbles throughout, and I work gently with it to preserve them. I donít dock the dough.

For toppings, I lightly coat the whole dough with good olive oil. I then sprinkle some grated Romano cheese across it. Next I add (if Iím making a white pizza) a fairly uniform coating of roasted garlic. I spread it around in a thin layer; itís like paste. I then add varying amounts of oregano and basil. I canít say how much as Iíve never measured it. (I actually donít measure any of my toppings, come to think of it. I just know when thereís enough for me.) If I was too lazy to have made roasted garlic earlier, I just substitute garlic powder and a little garlic salt. Itís nothing like the roasted garlic, but itís pretty good in its own way. I add a pinch of salt and pepper. I also put the smallest sprinkling of red pepper flakes on it. If I had to guess the amount, I'd say probably 1/8 of a teaspoon if not less. Finally I add cheese and top it with plum tomatoes. Iíve put many different kinds of cheeses on top. Sometimes a cheddar and mozzarella mixture, other times just cheddar. Iíve never put *only* mozzarella on my pizzas. It seems too bland by itself. I've found that sharp cheddar works really well. It has a lot of flavor, but it's not overpowering. By the way, I always dry my ingredients (tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc.) by laying them on a paper towel before putting them on the pizza. I think that too much water makes things soggy. My pizzas seem better when doing this.

As for a peel, I donít have one. The pizza is prepared on a large cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper underneath. It works beautifully. When the pizza is ready to go in, I just slide the dough and parchment directly onto the stone. I also back the oven down to 450F just before baking. Iíve found that it works best for me. I leave it in the oven for only about 7 Ė 8 minutes or when the cheese just begins to get a slight char here and there and the crust is browned on the edges and underneath. When I take it out, I let it rest for a minute or two, pull out the pizza wheel and enjoy. The texture is usually exactly how I like it: chewy, thin, and light with some nice air pockets in it. My old pizza doughs used to come out like crackers or like bread. This dough is neither. It just tastes like . . . pizza!  :P

One day Iíd like to try other cheeses. Maybe a buffalo milk type of cheese or something. I just can never bring myself to buy the good stuff. Iím a cheapskate, I guess!

Iím sorry that I donít have more specific details about the preparation. Iíve been browsing this site and I notice that there are some *extremely* detailed preparation directionsódown to the nano-ounce of flour. I donít have a kitchen scale (yet) so I still measure by volume. I also donít have the patience to attempt to experiment (much) with this recipe. I have found that it makes great pizzas, and any time I think about making a batch of dough, I tend to go with what has worked in the past rather than risk being dissatisfied by an experiment gone awry. ;)

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2005, 12:00:06 AM »
Dave,

Thank you for the literate discussion of how you make your NY style pizza.

Many of us have Peter Reinhart's book American Pie and have access to the recipe you referenced. However, I have discovered that it can sometimes be found by doing a Google search. When Reinhart was promoting his book, it was common for writers and interviewers to publish one or two of his recipes from the book, usually one for a pizza dough and one for a pizza sauce. Over time, a recipe similar to the recipe you referenced has made its way across the internet. A typical example can be found at http://www.food-lists.com/lists/archives/clipping-cooking/2004/03/1080604688.php.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 28, 2005, 10:05:29 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline scott r

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2005, 11:56:07 PM »
Dave, I think your pies, and recipe/preparation procedures look absolutely amazing.† I too am a transplanted Pittsburgher, and I sure do miss the pies of my youth.† Every now and then I get to go back there to visit my brother and mom and have some of the best pies in the US.† I feel like Pittsburgh is a pizza wonderland, with so many different and amazing styles to be had.† Great thin and crispy, great stuffed pizza, the best Sicilian I have ever had, damn authentic NY style, and now we even have what is possibly the best Neapolitan pizzeria in the country.† I have yet to make it to Il Pizzaiolo, but my brother did send me on of their shirts!

Anyhow, I was just wondering what you miss from back home.† I know the usual suspects Mineo's, Vincent's etc., but what are your favorites?
« Last Edit: September 26, 2005, 11:58:44 PM by scott r »

Offline giotto

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2005, 02:39:45 AM »
Good stuff, Dave.

Your willingness to give the dough a rest is something that can benefit many people† Some things are not to be copied from Pros.† We are not working with 50lbs of flour and the incredibly slow speed of Hobarts, so your form of intermittent mixing helps reduce heat, friction, etc., to maintain the pigmentation for taste (good pro dough is often an off color due to retention of pigmentation). In addition, you're slight under kneading avoids too much density in the crust.† Most hooks that are out there just wrap the dough around the hooks, so you need to intermittently stop them anyways... your processor helps reduce that problem.† There is a reason why some of the better pizzerias work mostly by hand (e.g., A16, Bianco's).†

You're propensity to turn the oven down to 450F makes sense.† We don't have wood or coal ovens that are going to cook the pizzas in under 2 minutes.† Sauce and cheese require very little time.† At 600F, 6 minutes seems unncessary for even fresh or whole milk cheeses.† I tend to hold off until the end point of cooking on various toppings to maintain freshness and keep the weight down.

I like your experimentation with cheeses as well.† In the NY toppings and techniques, cheese is what started it out.† When Reinhart mentioned that DiFara's uses 75% buffalo along with Grana Padano, I was not surprised to see the need to offset the somewhat boring 25% Grande mozzarella, which really doesn't have much taste by itself in either the fresh or whole milk version (but it does have a great high heat handling needed by Pros).† I've found a good Asiago can displace the need for my often favorite Pecorino.† People would be amazed at what really exists in their own neighborhood Italian stores, or even Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, to complement just about any whole milk mozzarella. Recently, I found doplets of a fresh local garlic cheese is a far better choice than Ricotta recipes.

If you took ounces of water and divided by flour weight, you're probably at about 63% hydration.† Bread flour has some advantages over high gluten.  You're only about .8% off with KA bread flour (12.7%). By the way, what size is that pizza?†

« Last Edit: September 27, 2005, 03:20:52 AM by giotto »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2005, 09:12:36 AM »
Giotto,

I always enjoy your posts because of the insights you bring to the process as an obviously experienced home pizza maker who has given a lot of thought to how and why different things work or do not work in a home environment as contrasted with a professional pizza making environment. And how to adapt your equipment and processes to produce high quality results in the home.

On the matter of bread flour protein, you are correct that the King Arthur bread flour is just 0.8% away from the lower end of the range of protein for high-gluten flour. As you know, the KASL is at 14.2% protein which, along with the All Trumps flour (which is the high-gluten flour DiFara's uses), is at the uppermost end of the high-gluten range. I believe it was fellow member Randy who suggested combining bread flour with the KASL to cut costs yet still retain most of the benefits of high gluten, and, along the same lines, it was fellow member scott who indicated that there is a pizza operator near him in the Boston area who actually does combine the two types of flours.

As we've also discussed many times in the past (I can still remember your detailed calculations), you can also add vital wheat gluten to the bread flour if you have it available and feel you need a gluten boost. It won't produce results identical to using pure KASL, but it will produce a chewier crust than using the KA bread flour alone. I have done this several times when I had KA bread flour but no KASL flour on hand. I personally liked the results enough to use the vital wheat gluten whenever I use the KA bread flour to make NY style pizzas. It also satisfies my natural urge to experiment with ingredients to see if I can improve the results of the doughs and pizzas I make.

Peter

Offline giotto

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2005, 09:35:36 PM »
It's always a pleasure working with you, Pete-zza.† It sort of reminds me of the old Celtics/Lakers games, when guys like Bird and Magic with different angles and yet similar passions brought each other up a notch... good to be on this team together.

Imagine my surprise when I found that a World Pizza Acrobatic champion uses 13.5% protein.† Believe me, he can't afford a rip.† 13% is the low end of high protein. The enzymes and other ingredients in his dough make a big difference.†

It's a misconception that only high protein flours will give you a no rip chewy texture.† Not only have threads been created in the past on our surprises of low protein flours in certain Pro applications; but I suppose that I was equally surprised to find some fine NY pizza locally using All Purpose flours, as discussed under NY Techniques. Finding a wonderful chew and amazing char from high heat char ovens, and discovering that they are using a low protein flour is an amazing experience... Even Albatardi was surprised to find a wonderfully charred higher-end NY style pizza sitting in front him once that employed an all purpose flour.† The pizzaiolo tosses it like it's a high protein dough.† In another case, I witnessed a small pizzeria owner stretching a 16+" dough in the air into a beautiful silken web, never causing a rip with his All Purpose protein flour. In this case, however, I did find that enzymes were employed in the flour by the manufacturer to increase the strength of the gluten structure.

This leads me to another revelation that needs to be compensated in our efforts at times, as we try different flours.† The actual ingredients of the flour makes a big difference and this is often glossed over by protein levels.† When I once worked with a 13.5% flour that has certain enzymes in it to strengthen the gluten level, I felt like I had added too much vital gluten in it, and needed to tame it's toughness with additional fats.† Whereas, when I worked with Giusto's 13.5%, I felt like I was working with a whole different flour.† The ash levels were different, the way the flour was manufactured was different (one was organic with minimal processing, while the other had 2 other ingredients in it that strengthened the gluten structure when mixed).† The same is true with other factors... When I work with a bread flour that has malted barley in it, my need for sugar is reduced significantly for obvious reasons.

Pros order their flours and adjust accordingly; and in some cases, ingredients are added to alter the chemistry of the dough.† I noticed that Pizza Hut once listed Datem in their dough to ensure consistency regardless of amount of kneading.† Consistency will vary based on the chemistry that is added into American flours, by both manufacturers, and in some cases, Pros.†

So just as ingredients that we normally add can impact the outcome (e.g., salt impacts elasticity of a dough, fats add to the softening, hydration can vary widely to achieve NY vs. Neapolitan styles, etc.), the ingredients incorporated into flours by American manufacturers take equal par, and then some. Hey Dave... see what a new member can do?
« Last Edit: September 27, 2005, 10:45:31 PM by giotto »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2005, 10:35:16 PM »
giotto,

You raise very valid points. Two flours from two different millers with the identical protein levels can be quite different. A Caputo 00 flour with 11.5-12.5% protein will be remarkably different from an all-purpose flour in the same range. And different millers can use different protein ranges to describe their flours. One miller's bread flour is another miller's high-gluten flour. Some flours, called H&R (hotel and restaurant), are often so unreliable as to protein content that you don't want to rely upon them in certain applications. The flours can also change by the time they get to the end consumer. An example of this is moisture content. The government prescribes specific moisture content for flours. I believe it is around 12% but, to be on the safe side, millers use 14%. But by the time the flour reaches bakers and home users, or the flour sits around in storage somewhere, the moisture content can drop to 10-12%. As you noted, different flours can contain many other ingredients than flour, such as malted barley, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and fungal and other forms of amylase (plus several B vitamins, which are in virtually all flours and, in some cases, bromate compounds).

I think our standard home stand mixers are also at fault in our inability to make doughs with the handling qualities of a professional's dough. A high-end KitchenAid mixer will do a better job than a low-end KitchenAid unit, but, according to our members who have an Electrolux DLX, it will do a better job than a KitchenAid unit. A Santos unit may be better than both the KitchenAid units and the Electrolux unit. Some of our members have been able to finesse some very good doughs out of these machines but I suspect they are in the minority. And, if your inquired, I suspect you would learn that they have made a ton of dough in their pizza making careers and mastered how to make a high quality dough. Generally speaking, high-gluten flours tend to produce better overall results in a home setting for most pizza styles, but some of our members, such as Jeff Varasano, have been able to make very good doughs with bread and all-purpose flours (using his Electrolux unit).

You are also correct about the role of ovens in the quality of finished pizzas. A high temperature oven, such as a wood-fired oven, will make up for a lot of deficiencies in the flours used. An ordinary all-purpose flour can be used to make a dough that will yield a crust with qualities than cannot be matched in a standard home oven. That doesn't mean that the pizzas baked in a home oven won't be good or satisfying. It only means that certain qualities in a crust baked in a high-temperature oven can't be achieved in a home oven.

Peter
« Last Edit: September 27, 2005, 11:27:54 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline giotto

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2005, 11:34:59 PM »
I actually found that the lower-end Classic kitchen aid ran slower than the higher powered machines, and this was key to me.  However, I also prefer to switch back and forth between hand and machine during the mixing process, which offsets any weaknesses such as heat. 

Poor high-protein flour is likely to produce bad results at home just as poor low-protein flours can do likewise. One of my worst experiences was with a bleached high protein flour at Smart & Final a long time ago, and I've seen others make that mistake because they just want a high gluten flour. 

No matter how high the quality of flour though, we have to offset it accordingly to compensate for the manufacturer's ingredients and it's purpose to meet our own preferences, such as taste, presentation, and certainly texture. 


Offline giotto

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Re: Another new member . . .
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2005, 03:54:52 AM »
Dave:

I was thinking about your comment regarding the desire to not deviate from your recipe, in an effort not to mess up a good thing.  There's some interesting discretion to that point and something to enjoy while it lasts... Because in time, we can be assured that our ol' American individuality seems to kick in, and we start experimenting... and before we know it, we need to leave popcorn along the trail so we can find our way back at times.  on the other hand, I remember reading that when Benjamin Franklin's work structure burnt down, along with all his notes, he commented that he had been wanting to start out fresh again. 

Funny enough, this afternoon I returned to a method of cooking a pizza that I found truly inspiring, remembering the experience from a friend's Kamato.  In the same vain, I followed a recipe from an old book of mine for roasting a TJ Kosher chicken.  It came out perfect, and I mean perfect, the 1st time that I ever tried roasting a whole chicken on its sides first.  Some natural stock was not added under the rack until l layed it on its back as the last step. I still can't believe the way the flavors of the lemon wedges and fresh herbs from my garden permeated the meat while sitting inside the chicken for the duration of its cooking.  It was crispy; yet every bit as juicy as any other style (e.g., rotisserie, beer butt).  The texture was perfect.  I think I'll be following this technique for a very long time, just so I don't screw it up. 


 

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