Author Topic: First try NY style pizza - dough problems  (Read 2756 times)

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Offline awol567

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First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« on: June 17, 2012, 09:58:39 PM »
Hello all,

I'd like to thank you all in advance for reading my post.  I'm a beginner in the kitchen, having just moved out of my university dorms into my own apartment, but I would like to get much better.  I'm from Queens, NY originally, and I've been wanting to make my own NY style pizza since I moved out to Nebraska for college.

Today I baked my first pizza, having prepared the dough, sauce, and cheese the day before.  The end result was a misshapen, thick crust, but it had a decent feel (a bit on the hard side).  The sauce and the cheese were pretty close to what I remember from everyday street pizzerias, but I'd like to get the dough right before I tweak these.

I was encouraged by the fact that this is my very first try, but I am still somewhat disappointed at the result.  I would have included pictures, but the attachment limit is small, 128 kb, and I didn't feel like compressing the images further, it'd only reduce the image quality.  Can someone show me how to upload high-res images?

I used the Lehmann recipe, adjusting slightly for the fact that I did not have high-gluten flour (I opted for bread flour) by reducing the dough hydration.  Here is the breakdown for the dough:

    9.54 oz King Arthur Bread Flour
    5.54 oz water, purified
    0.02 oz (.18 tsp) Fleishmann instant dry yeast (bread machine)
    0.17 oz (.85 tsp) sea salt
    0.1 oz (0.6 tsp) oil, light
        0.1 oz (0.6 tsp) sugar

I used a cheap kitchen scale to do the measurements, so I expect that the heavier items (i.e. flour & water) were fairly accurate.  For the lightweight items, I estimated them by volume, so they were not EXACT, perhaps within 50% error (maybe more with the yeast). 

These measurements were taken exactly from the provided Lehmann pizza dough calculator found here:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_calculator.html

The parameters set were:

14'' pizza at 0.1'' thickness
58% hydration
0.2% instant dry yeast
1% sea salt
1% light olive oil
1% sugar

I have a few questions that came up while I was preparing the materials.

I couldn't get my dough to pass the windowpane test, even though I supplied measurements as accurately as I could.  I am mixing the ingredients by hand with a whisk & bowl ( I don't have any automated mixers yet) until it all comes together in a ball.  Then I proceed to add oil and mix it for some more.  Then I kneaded for about 10 minutes, yet I couldn't get the right consistency to pass the windowpane test.  Is there anything that I could do to remedy this problem while I knead?  Or is the problem with my initial measurements, and therefore I should buy a more accurate scale?

When coming out of the refrigerator after about 20 hours, the dough had developed a slightly hard layer on the outside.  I had placed it in a bowl covered by a towel; should I be using a more strict sealant (i.e. plastic wrap) to retain moisture? 

After sitting for about an hour at room temperature, I began to try and shape my dough, but it was awfully stubborn.  I expect this is due to my trouble with the initial development the day before, but are there any tips for technique that I might be missing? 

Thanks for all you help!  I look forward to learning more about making a better pizza.

P.S. I may have burnt some sauce on the pan, does anyone have tips for cleaning it off?


Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 10:07:07 PM »
I've compressed the images; here they are:

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2012, 12:27:51 PM »
Since no one has replied yet I'll try and see if I can give you some tips.

First of all it would make it much easier if just posted your % instead of weights. So here are some things.

You used about the minimum amount of yeast I would use (.2%) and you were using very inconsistent measuring techniques, so I would think it quite possibly you could have had even less. .18 tsp is dang hard to measure. There is no way with such low yeast and 20 hour cold rise that your dough was given enough time. To be honest I probably wouldn't ever use a 20 hour cold rise, if I only had 20 hours I would probably start with a few hours bulk warm rise, then ball and go to the fridge for ~17 and get the dough out at least 2 hours early.

To answer your questions
1. Don't worry about window pane right now.

2. You are correct in that a towel won't work for that long. Use tupperware or plastic wrap.

3. It was stubborn because the dough didn't develop enough.

Cleaning the pan? Why did you bake NY style in a pan?

Offline Jet_deck

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2012, 12:33:37 PM »
That looks very thick to me, how much dough per pizza?
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2012, 02:36:30 PM »
Jefferey and Jet_deck,

The percents were as follows:

100% KA Bread Flour
58% hydration
0.2% instant dry yeast
1% sea salt
1% light olive oil
1% sugar

The final total should have been an ounce shy of a pound of dough. 

I think it would be prudent to buy a digital scale with high accuracy in the future, especially for measuring yeast weight.  In terms of the rise time, I could have left it in longer, but I suppose I was a little too eager to wait any longer. 

Thanks for your replies!  I will definitely incorporate your suggestions into my next batch. 

As for the pan, I am using a cast iron pan, somewhat because I saw this post by scott123

To be honest, although iron and steel have some history with pizza, 1/2" plate is an entirely new frontier.  It's all theoretical.  I stand behind the theory and the math, but, until someone actually buys a plate and starts baking with it, it's just theory. My soapstone slab gives me 4 minute pies at 525, and, with some futzing, 2.5 minute pies at 550 (the broiler keeps shutting off, but if I baby it, I can get good top browning). Since 4 minutes is my ideal bake time, I'm not running out to get steel.  Soapstone doesn't really help sub 525 oven owners, though, so I've started recommending steel.  Right now, if someone's oven doesn't go above 500, steel is their only hope.

Bolds are mine.  In re-reading the thread, I think I may have been taking the last sentence way out of context, as I'm seeing some success in other threads of people using ~500F temps on stones.  I realize that cast iron and steel are not the same, but it was most convenient at the time, and the pan was met with stellar reviews on Amazon, so I figured I'd give it a go.  I may have been too hasty, because my oven does indeed surpass 500F (I only looked at the dial, hadn't test it's capability with a thermometer), and if New York style requires a stone, I guess I'm going to have to go out and get one.  For now, I think learning how to get the dough just right is more important though. 

I'll update once I give it another try next week!

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2012, 03:28:14 PM »
I misunderstood about the pan. I thought you meant like a pan pizza, not cooking on an upside down cast iron pan as a plate. That's fine then.

buceriasdon

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2012, 06:19:58 PM »
Let the cold ferment build the gluten for you, don't worry about window pane at first, try it after the cold ferment and the dough has warmed up. Also don't get concerned about the small volume measurements, it's close enough. You are not being clear on how you baked the pizza, skillet inverted? What size skillet? 16 inch skillet? Please explain more about how you stretched the dough ball and baked it. Also the hard layer most likely made working the dough ball more difficult.
Don
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 06:27:29 PM by buceriasdon »

Offline scott123

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2012, 08:26:51 PM »
As for the pan, I am using a cast iron pan, somewhat because I saw this post by scott123


Alec, don't believe everything you read  :P

Seriously, though, that information, being a year and a half old, is a bit dated. We now have a much better idea what steel (and iron) can do.  The cutoff for 1/2" thick steel is 525.  I was pretty certain that 3/4" steel would have the thermal mass to do quick NY bake times at 500, but, so far, the one person that took that route couldn't hit the magical 4 minute mark. So, for steel, it's got to be 525 and preferably 550. The leading contender for 500 deg. NY style bakes is Silicon Carbide. I'm also keeping an open mind about aluminum plate as well.

Anyway, iron and steel have similar baking properties, and, if the cast iron pan was 1/2" thick, and you could hit 525, you'd probably be sitting pretty.  Unfortunately, most cast iron is only 1/8" thick, so to hit those magical 4 minute bakes, you're going to most likely need to hit somewhere around 625, which, for your oven, is going to be a mod.

I think you might have pulled the trigger a little early on the cast iron pan, but, rather than repeat that mistake by purchasing another stone right away, let's do some homework so the next stone purchase will be your last.

Oven: Gas or Electric?  If gas, is the broiler in the main compartment or there is a separate broiler drawer?  What's the peak temp on the dial? What are the dimensions of the shelf?

If the peak temp on the dial is 500, then your only hope is that it runs quite a bit hotter. The only way to really confirm what temps you're looking at is an IR thermometer.  Here's a reasonably priced one that has a range of NY style temps:

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/1-2-lcd-digital-infrared-thermometer-orange-black-123695?item=8

If you think you might ever build an oven and do Neapolitan pizza, then you'll want to spend the money and get a higher temp model like this:

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/gm700-1-5-lcd-non-contact-infrared-thermometer-yellow-black-1-x-9v-104614?item=32

Once you know what temp you can reach, that will dictate your stone options.

Re; thickness factor. .1 is way too thick to mimic the thickness of a Two Bros. pizza.  It's going to be hard to stretch if you're not used to it, but you should be shooting for a thickness factor of .075.  There's no substitution for practice.  The more you stretch dough, the better you get. Make an extra dough ball and stretch it as far as you possibly can, fixing any holes that develop.  Proper fermentation will go a very long way in helping you stretch a thinner dough. It depends on the containers you're using, but I think a minimum of 3 hours out of fridge is a good idea.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2012, 08:48:17 PM »
Forget the oil and the sugar to start, add them back later if you want them.

Flour, water, salt and yeast.  Aim for around 60-65% hydration, hand mix, let double for an hour or 2 (if it doesn't double you need more yeast) at 70-80 degrees, then dump it onto a heavily floured surface to work.

Punch it out, fold it 6 or seven times, then form into a big ball.  Divide the ball by what you want, I use 280 grams for a 14" NY, then ball each portion.  Generously oil (there is your oil) a plastic container at least twice the size of your dough ball.  Refrigerate for 24-36 hours, at which point it should have doubled in size, more or less.

Do your oven hoodo and prep and then take the ball out of the fridge.  Form it without removing it from the (floured) surface other than to flip it once or twice.  Just press it out, rotating it 45 degrees each time.  Leave a small island in the center when you begin, so that as it expands the dough will thin out evenly.  Press it out to within a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the edge but do not touch that edge.

Use a pan to begin, and oil it well.  After it cooks for a couple of minutes (grab the pan and shake it, if the pizza moves around easily it is ready), you can use the pan as a peel and place the pizza on your cooking surface.  If required, finish with a blast from the broiler for 30 or 40 seconds to brown the crust.

Offline franko9752

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2012, 12:00:20 AM »
A light coating of oil on the doughball before putting them in the cooler will work. And for sure get a good stone. And practice, practice and practice. :pizza:


Offline theppgcowboy

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2012, 12:38:22 PM »
Try thinking ahead even further and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days, even three.  As mentioned it looks thick, you gave a .1 thickness value try to achieve that.  Try to keep the moisture in the bowl, cellophane will work great, just punch a very small hole in it to allow gases to escape. The best thing you can get is a digital scale so you can duplicate everything to the gram.  Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 12:40:21 PM by theppgcowboy »

Offline anton-luigi

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 01:19:49 PM »
I'm certainly no expert,  but my take on your window paning issue,  is that you are likely trying to window pane immediately following your kneading,  which wont work.  There needs to be a rest period before your dough will window pane,  the structure needs to relax.  but as already stated,  window paning is not a crucial step for you at this point.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 01:32:38 PM by anton-luigi »

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2012, 10:21:12 PM »
Wow I am amazed at your quick replies!  This seems to be a really tight community, and I like that.  I appreciate all of your feedback!

Scott123:

By my best measurements, the lip of the cast iron pan is ~1/2'' above the cooking surface, and the whole pan is ~11/16'' in height. So, this puts me at a cooking surface thickness of about 1/8''.  At this thickness, you mentioned that my oven would need to be hotter for a NY style 4 minute bake.  Please excuse my ignorance for a moment, but is it a matter of baking time?  If so, I'm alright with baking it longer if it would compensate for a thinner pan.  In any case, I'll have to move to a stone eventually, so here's the requested information.

My oven is electric, with a separate broiler compartment below the main oven space.  The dimensions of the shelf are 16'' x 23''.

That is quite a good deal for the IR thermometer, I thought they'd have run more expensive than that.  Good to know!  Once I get it, I'll post up the max temperature, but for now I've reached approximately 550F oven air temperature.  It will take some time though, so do you think you could provide the optimal stone for various temps within a range of 500-600F, so I can reference them later?

I used to go to Two Bros all the time with my friends!  Can't beat $2.75 two slices and a drink  ;D  I'd love to emulate something like that, so I'm glad you brought it up!

Tscarborough:

Thanks for your advice. I'm just starting out in the kitchen (having a great time so far!), and baking is a whole new field to me, so I was quite surprised at the long rise times advised at first.  I'll make another batch Thursday afternoon or so, so that it'll be ready by the weekend to shape.  

Franko:

I will definitely!  I plan to make a pie every weekend, so that I'll be at least a little decent when my parents visit in August, and hopefully have it much better once school starts again in the fall.  

theppgcowboy

Okay, I'll be making a batch Thursday afternoon for the weekend.  I'll do my best, thanks!

anton-luigi

Got it  :)!  I'm aiming for 24-36 hours, like others have said.  

Thanks again everyone!  I'll keep you all posted.

P.S. Pete-zza used KA Bread Flour in the past, and supplemented separate vital wheat gluten in the dough recipe.  Is this necessary or recommended?  I didn't see high-gluten flour in the local food markets, and I'm pretty sure I didn't see wheat gluten anywhere.  I'll have to order it, although there's a pizza shop right next to me...maybe I'll ask them to purchase their ingredients lol.  (They don't make NY style...I don't really know what style it is, but it's Valentino's pizza, all the Lincoln NE people love it for some reason)


Offline scott123

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2012, 11:42:02 AM »
Alec, does the main oven compartment have a broiler (top) element in it?

The single most important factor separating mediocre NY pizza from great NY pizza is bake time.  Fast bakes produce the characteristic puffiness/oven spring of great NY pizza, while slower bakes produce dense and lifeless crusts. Everything else is secondary. You can have the best recipe, the best ingredients, the best pie forming skills, but if you don't have an oven that can make a 4 minute pie, your pizza will be garbage. At least from a Queens/NY perspective. As you move into other styles (American, Chicago Thin Crust) longer bakes are more beneficial, but if your goal is NY, you need to set your eyes on that 4 minute prize and achieve it, by any means necessary.

Right now, there is no established 'best stone' for a 500 deg. oven.  It could be 3/4" silicon carbide, but that's still relatively untested. For a 550 deg. oven the hands down winner is 1/2" steel.  A 550 air temp isn't necessarily a 550 deg. oven, though.  All ovens cycle at least 25 degrees above the temps on their dials.  There's a also a chance your thermometer might be imprecise.  If the highest temp on your oven dial is 500, then before you go shopping for steel plate, I'd really like to see you pre-heat your cast iron pan for an hour on the highest setting and then get a shot of it with the IR thermometer. That will tell us exactly what we need to know in order to proceed.

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2012, 07:21:40 PM »
Hello all!

I want to update everyone  on my progress.  First, scott123, I do have a top broiler element.  Also, I just found my IR thermometer in the mail today, as I was prepping the pizza, so I haven't had a chance to test it out (runs on 9V, which I currently lack...)

My most recent pizza came out much better than expected.  I'll post pictures below shortly, but the overall quality was pretty decent.  I followed Tscarborough's procedure for the dough (THANKS!!), using the following dough formulation:

100% Flour (198g)
62% water (123g)
0.4% yeast (1g)
1% salt (2.0g)
2% sugar (4.0g)

The difference this time, from the first and second tries, is that I have an accurate  digital scale to work with (1 gram increments), so all my measurements are precise to the recipe. 

I mixed all the dry ingredients together, then added the water to the mixture and hand mixed until the dough formed a coherent mass.  I then let it double for 2 hours (and double it did) at which point I put it onto a floured surface to begin a little knead-work.  I made sure not to over-knead it, only folding it about 6-7 times.  After I finished, I placed the dough in an oiled 1 qt. plastic container and let it sit in the refrigerator.

After about 30-36 hours, I removed the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for an hour.  I then floured my working surface and began to press out the dough (which was extremely easy to work with) into a 13''-13.5'' circle.  As I was preparing the dough, I preheated my oven as hot as it would go, reaching around 600F air temp at one point.  Unfortunately, as stated before, I had already gotten everything going by the time I received my thermometer, but I'll have the temp to you guys once i pick up some 9v batteries. 

After preheating for about an hour, I used flour on my pizza peel to facilitate the sliding, and popped the pizza into the oven.  After exactly 4 minutes, I checked on the pizza, and decided to leave it in for another half minute.  After pulling it out, the result is what you see.

One mistake I made was to over-flour my peel.  This resulted in a dusty crust; while it was not extremely irritating, it distracted from the rest of the pizza.  In baking some bread, I found that I have much more success using flour on the peel for launch onto the pan than I do with corn meal; I.  Another slight problem would be the crispiness of the crust, which was more on the soft & chewy side.  I like it a bit crispier, and I expect this is due to temperature limitations, but I would appreciate your thoughts.  While I was satisfied with the cheese and the sauce, I think the cheese could have browned a little more, again probably due to insufficient temperatures.

Thanks for all your help everyone, I think with a little more practice I can have it mastered by the end of the summer. 

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2012, 07:23:50 PM »
Pictures here

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2012, 07:24:24 PM »
And the last two.  The final picture shows a bit of the dusty result of too much flour on the peel.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 07:26:21 PM by awol567 »

Offline scott123

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2012, 08:40:30 PM »
Alec, that is definitely a step in the right direction.

That's great news about the IR thermometer and the digital scale. The thermometer will go a long way in determining how to get the best baking time from your oven and the scale will provide consistency.

Remember our little chat about thickness factor?  ;D  For NY style, you're still using too much dough. Like I said before, for NY/2 Bros, you should be shooting for .075.  For a 13" pizza, you should be using numbers closer to these:

Flour (100%):
Water (62%):
IDY (.4%):
Salt (1.75%):
Oil (2%):
Sugar (2%):
Total (168.15%):
167.84 g  |  5.92 oz | 0.37 lbs
104.06 g  |  3.67 oz | 0.23 lbs
0.67 g | 0.02 oz | 0 lbs | 0.22 tsp | 0.07 tbsp
2.94 g | 0.1 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.53 tsp | 0.18 tbsp
3.36 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.75 tsp | 0.25 tbsp
3.36 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.84 tsp | 0.28 tbsp
282.22 g | 9.95 oz | 0.62 lbs | TF = 0.075

2 Bros, btw, like almost all NY pizzerias, has some oil in their dough.  I can't tell you exactly how much, but I think 2% is a good jumping off point.  Also, for NY, 1% salt is a bit low.  1.5% to 2% is closer to the norm.

The flour on the undercrust doesn't seem to be glaringly excessive, but I am noticing something else.  Is your dough container air tight? Was this dough left uncovered for a bit?  As you were forming it did you leave it on the counter for a while?  The reason I bring this up is that it kind of looks like parts of the undercrust had skinned over from prolonged exposure to air.

From what I can see, you basically took a crust that would have been golden brown and crispy after 6 minutes and baked it 4.5 minutes. Ultimately, you will want to strive for the kind of heat transfer that gives you crispy at 5 minutes, but there's nothing wrong with leaving the pizza for another minute and a half.  The correct thickness factor will help with crispiness as well. You also will want to start incorporating some broiling into the bake. Position the pan about 6" from the broiler and pre-heat as you normally would.  During the bake, play around with turning the broiler on for part of the time to brown the top a bit more.  Until you get a better stone, I'd recommend turning the broiler on during the last two minutes of the 5-6 minute bake.  Watch the broiler and see if it stays on for the whole time.

Overall, that's a really nice looking pie.  A few tweaks here and there and you should have it mastered.

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2012, 01:36:05 AM »
Hello all!  Another update.  This will be my fifth attempt, and I think I have good consistency with all the steps right now. 

Scott123:  Heating up my oven as far as it would go, I registered a maximum of 580F on the cast iron.  My IR thermometer is generally accurate when measuring body temperature (37C) to 2C or so. 

This time, I used Scott123's last recipe layout exactly, as well as incorporating it into my previous 100% = 198g formulation.  This was for ease of measurement when it came to the yeast; my digital scale is in 1g increments, and so .67 would be difficult to do.  In any case, I wanted to see how each would turn out. 

I must say that the added salt and oil made a huge difference for the taste of the crust.  It's definitely closer, if not exactly, to what I remember.

So, procedures were as described earlier.  The cast iron clocked in at 580F the first time around, and so I put the pizza in for 4 minutes, with a 2 minute broiler assist.  Pictures to follow.

The extra two minutes helped a lot.  The cheese was browned well, and the crust developed a slightly ashy taste.  The texture of the base was also much different than before; it had a finer, smoother surface, which I liked better. 

The second pizza went in at around 550C, for the same time sequences.  As far as I saw, they were exactly the same, except the second one (100% = 168g) was indeed thinner.  I don't have pictures for individual slices here, because I saved it to eat the next day.

Overall, I'm very pleased with how it's coming out, and I owe the success to you guys!  I wonder how it will be different with the use of a stone...

Offline awol567

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Re: First try NY style pizza - dough problems
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2012, 01:42:15 AM »
First Pie