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Offline thomasshawn

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Newbie dough question
« on: October 10, 2005, 09:53:58 PM »
OK, My brick oven is done. I have fired it  and now done 2 batches of pizza based on instructions from PETER REINHART's book American Pie. It's a fun read and gets me the basics. I will say it leaves something to be desired for someone like me that has never handled dough of any kind before this experience.

My confusion is over his determination of whether the dough is too sticky or too dry. He basically says if it's too dry add water if it's too sticky add flour by the tablespoon. This holds true for both the Americana and Neo-napoletana recipes. SO what is TOO STICKY or TOO DRY?

I have made 6 pies now in 2 batches and in both cases the dough works in my hands well if covered in flour or water. I put them in freezer bags like he suggest and I often have to tear the bag apart and scrape it off the bag to get it all out. Last time I tore the bag open and hung it upside down, the dough SLOWLY fell out of the bag looking almost as if it were going to tear just as a little more would let loose. The best description I can give is it feels very much like a thicker version of GAK (the children's sticky goo toy.) It sticks easily to my hands but will come off with some slow efforts.

When I shape the dough, I use a fair amount of flour on the counter and on the dough it self, and it seems to shape OK. (more later) and passes the window-pane tests he describes.

The dough, I am learning I have to stretch slow and deliberately otherwise it bounces back to it's previous shape quickly.


How sticky should the dough be? Should it be just tacky? or VERY sticky? MY pizzas turn out well( I think) but I wonder what, if anything I could do better and does getting the dough drier help anything or am I accomplishing the same thing with all the flour I ad in the end when shaping it?

I know this is probably more than ONE problem but I would appreciate any help you could give me.

Thanks

Shawn


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2005, 12:45:57 AM »
Shawn,

From what you have said, I believe that your main problem was the use of too much water in the dough. This can easily happen when you are using volume measurements and have not yet developed the proper technique for preparing the dough. You will get much better with experience, I can assure you.

I will also mention that the two Reinhart recipes you mentioned are prone to the types of problems you experienced. I recently made Peter Reinhart's NY style dough and the recipe is similar to the two you mentioned. All three recipes call for the use of fair amounts of yeast, sugar (and/or honey), oil, and water. I estimate that the hydration ratio of the three recipes, that is, the ratio of the weight of water to the weight of flour, is around 62.4%. That, in itself, will produce a dough that will ferment (rise) fairly quickly and spread out within its container, even in the refrigerator. With high levels of sugar and oil also, that result is virtually guaranteed. Also, the use of the 5 minute rest period during the dough mixing/kneading cycle and the 15-minute rest period before refrigerating the dough will cause the dough to warm up and ferment (rise) faster. I suggest that next time you try the recipe, use a larger storage bag so that there is plenty of room for the dough to expand and spread out. Even if the dough is fairly soft when you are ready to use it you can at least get your hand under the dough and gently remove it from the storage bag without having to destroy the bag to get the dough out. If you go to http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,524.100.html, where I discussed my results from using the Reinhart NY style dough recipe, I think you will identify with some of the characteristics of the dough I described at that post. The difference is is that I have more experience in dough management than you do. But you will catch up soon enough.

Now, back to the dough wetness problem. Terms like "wet" and "dry" are necessarily relative terms. I tend to prefer the use of the term "tacky" because people can better relate to that term if they have ever touched drying paint. "Tacky" also falls between wet and dry by any definition. Once you learn how to make dough properly, the terms will diminish in importance. You will know by touch and feel and you will wonder what the fuss was all about. For now, I would suggest that the next time you make the Reinhart dough you use the following approach. Start by putting most of the water in your mixer bowl, reserving about a quarter of a cup. Add the salt and sugar (or honey) to the water in the mixer bowl and stir to dissolve. Combine the flour and instant dry yeast, set the mixer at stir or 1 speed, and add the flour/yeast mixture slowly to the mixer bowl. If necessary, use a spatula to help deflect the flour/yeast mixture in the direction of the dough hook. I have learned how to do this while the mixer is running but if you feel more comfortable stopping the mixer to do this, that's not a problem. And don't worry about messing up the elapsed times. Most times recited in recipes are usually wrong anyway. Continue adding the flour/yeast mixture to the mixer bowl until a rough dough mass is achieved. I don't usually use a rest period in my doughs, but if you would like to be true to the Reinhart recipe, then introduce a 5-minute rest period. It will help increase the hydration of the dough (the absorption of the water by the flour).

After the rest period, if you use one, add the rest of the flour/yeast mixture, add the oil slowly to the mixer bowl and run at 1 speed for about a couple of minutes, or until it looks like the oil has been taken up completely by the dough. It is at this stage that you want to test the dough to see if it needs more water. If the dough looks and feels really dry, then add some of the reserved water, a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time, and observe the changes as the added water is mixed in. You can use the 1 or 2 speed of the mixer. You will usually not have to add more flour since you have held back part of the water to intentionally keep the dough on the dry side. However, if you overshoot the mark with the added water, you can safely add a bit more flour. At some point, usually after about 4 or 5 minutes, the dough just won't take any more water without becoming obviously wet. It is at this point that you will want to stop adding more water. And, if you succeeded, the dough will be tacky. I will usually remove the dough from the bowl at this point and knead the dough by hand for about 30 seconds to a minute. This improves the hydration a bit more and slightly diminishes the tackiness and allows you to shape the dough into a tight, round ball. If you'd like, you can check the dough at this point to see if it passes the window-pane test. I no longer do this myself but you might want to try it just to satisfy yourself that the dough is in proper form. The dough can then be placed within a container (after lightly coating the dough ball with oil) to go into the refrigerator, either immediately after coming out of the mixer bowl (my preference) or after an additional room-temperature rest period as called for by the Reinhart recipe. BTW, there is no need to use a storage bag. If you'd like, you can use a covered container with a cover that will better contain the dough as it ferments and spreads out. I use a metal cookie tin with a snap-on lid.

I think if you try the above approach you should get better results. It is the basic approach I use for almost all my doughs made in a KitchenAid stand mixer. You will most likely end up with a dough that stretches too easily but that will not be because of the approach you used to make the dough but rather the recipe itself. But the pizza should turn out fine, especially in an oven such as yours.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 11, 2005, 12:47:43 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline pam

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2005, 01:11:28 AM »
From your description, it sounds like your dough is too sticky. You shouldn't have to scrape it out of the bag; you should be able to reach into the bag and pull it out cleanly.

Another indication that your dough is too sticky would be if you're having to work flour into the dough to keep it from sticking to the counter (and presumably, your hands). When you do that, you tighten up the gluten, which would explain why the dough shrinks back to its previous shape when you stretch it out.

Take a look at the pictures of Dankfoot's dough in post #31 of the Pizza Raquel]/url] thread. That's what your dough should look like.

Check with the pizza shops in your area to see if anyone will sell you a ball of dough. That way you can feel what properly hydrated dough feels like and how it handles.
When an eel bites your eye and the pain makes you cry, that's a Moray.

Offline chiguy

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2005, 01:46:01 AM »
 Hi, ThomasShawn
 The question of your sticky/dry dough seems to have been addressed. I would like to give you a suggestion for your sticking bags. I use canola spray in a can on my dough ball as well as a quick spray of the container i store the dough in. I would try giving the inside of the storage bag a quick squirt. I am not sure if you posted any pics of your oven, but i sure would like to see a pic of the oven and the pizza's coming out. ;)      Chiguy

Offline thomasshawn

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2005, 08:31:16 AM »
WOW!

Thanks for all the very informative responses.

I am very new to this and like most new things the learning curve is steep. Thanks everyone for their patience.

A few things, because I am new to this and just invested LOTS into the patio and oven I have yet to invest in a mixer. So I am kneeding/mixing by hand. I will still use these tips though to try and fix my problems. Second, I will  try and snap some photos of the oven and some pizzas. I am pretty happy with the results so far, as is my family. So I guess for now that is what matters most. I'm not sure they compare to many I have seen and read about on this forum, but I'll gladly post some pics here soon.

Thanks again for all the great input. I think the modifications to Reinharts dough will really, help. I'll try it later this week and get everyone and update and some pics

Shawn

Offline David

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2005, 10:52:06 AM »
Shawn,
            As you have the benefit of cooking with a Brick oven at higher temps. than most,you may want to try a classic Neapolitan Dough that leaves out the sugar and Oil?I agree with Peter that rigid containers are better options for storing your dough.As you gain confidence and experience you will be surprised at how wet a dough you can handle.My best advice to you would be to watch as many professional Pizza makers as you can,and see how they handle their Dough.Keep in mind that someone who is experienced in handling Dough can take a soft dough and make it look as though they are using Bagel dough,and equally I've seen guys in New York handle stiff Dough as though it was their First Born ! All of the finest chefs I've met have had one thing in common as i have watched them work-an apparent "Respect" for the food they were handling.Something to think about,
                                                                 David
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Offline buzz

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2005, 11:22:57 AM »
Don't forget that flour can responds measurably to environmental conditions--temperature, humidity, altitude, etc. I've experienced times when I've had to add lots of extra water to hydrate the dough, as well as the reverse. One day the same recipe can be sticky and the next too dry. This is why I recommend  kneading by hand at first, so that you can learn how a pliable dough is supposed to feel and respond.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2005, 12:40:56 PM »
Shawn,

The approach I described in my last post can also be used with a hand kneading procedure. You can use either a work-surface approach, where everything is combined and kneaded on a work surface (starting out with a mound of flour with a depression in the middle and gradually adding the liquids), or a bowl approach, where a good part of the mixing of ingredients is done in a large bowl. I personally prefer the bowl approach because it is less messy. I usually use a strong wooden spoon to do the initial combining of the water and flour/yeast mixture and switch to kneading by hand on a lightly floured work surface once the dough comes together and can be handled without sticking to your fingers all over the place. You didn't indicate whether you were using bread flour or high-gluten flour, but it will be harder to hand knead a dough made using high-gluten flour because of the higher gluten content. In fact, King Arthur discourages hand kneading high-gluten doughs.

BTW, you can also use a food processor or bread making machine to make the Reinhart doughs. You will, however, have to make some adjustments to the way the dough is made to minimize heat buildup in the dough. If either of those options is available to you, I think I can walk you through the processes that I use when using a food processor or bread machine.

Peter

Offline thomasshawn

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2005, 11:55:10 AM »
I am using KA unbleached bread flour, b/c other than Gold Medal unleached flour (and all purpose unbleached also KA) that is all that is avail to me without ordering online which I have not done yet.

I am also weighing my dry ingredianets per reinharts #s. not weighing fluids though.

I have access to a food processor but had not used it yet for the heat issue with the dough. I know reinhart gives suggestions for using it but I wanted to stick with mixing in bowl and kneeding on the counter at least at first, to get the "feel" of the dough.

Can I OVER KNEED the dough. I have read conflicting things about this

thanks

Shawn
« Last Edit: October 15, 2005, 12:11:05 PM by thomasshawn »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2005, 12:33:01 PM »
Shawn,

Yes, it is possible to overknead a dough, although it will be very difficult to do so kneading by hand.

Dough actually goes through a bell shape type of process. Once the dough comes together into a rough dough mass and is kneaded, it will be soft and supple and fairly extensible (stretchy). The more you knead it, the tougher the gluten structure will become and the less supple the dough will become and it will be more elastic. At some point on the steep part of the bell part of the curve, the dough crosses over from being underkneaded to overkneaded. If you continue to knead beyond that point, interestingly the dough starts to get soft and more supple again. That is because the gluten structure is being dismantled by the additional kneading. Unless you have the arms of Popeye, usually it will take a machine to do this. With continued kneading, the dough can actually go through what is called a letdown stage where it completely falls apart and gets very soft and super sticky. Sometimes the heat of kneading can get so high as to actually kill the yeast (above about 140 degrees F). Then the dough is, in effect, dead and cannot be resurrected. The best way to see the entire process unfold before your eyes is to use a food processor because it does everything at super speed and produces enormous amount of heat. Most pizza operators try to stay on the underkneaded part of the bell curve. It's better for the dough, it saves time, and it saves wear and tear on their mixers.

Peter


Offline thomasshawn

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Dough Update
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2005, 10:06:47 PM »
OK, I tried the Reinhart "New York Style" recipe just as you suggested and I will say that it worked wonderfully.
Well, the technique worked well, but the dough was not to my liking. It handled well, easily stretched and formed, no problems with bounce back line I mentioned with he other dough. It formed easily and cooked up nicely for what it was.

The crown was full and thick and the nose of the slice drooped just enough. But the flavor was way too doughy and thick, not nearly as light and airy as the neo-Neapolitan(pg 112) that I made before. That dough (neo-Neapolitan)while only slightly different in sugar/oil and yeast amounts came out very light with very crispy, airy crown that was overall very pleasing to all who tried it (despite being VERY wet and hard to handle, as A first time dough, which is why I wrote the original thread)

So now I think I am going back to that dough and trimming the water content back as directed hoping for a manageable version of that dough that retains its light airy qualities. he does mention in his description of the Neo-Neapolitan dough that it is very sticky and challenging to handle so it may be that I just learn to manage it because I liked it so much better than this "New York" style.

Funny, I also considerred myself a fan of that style too. Guess tastes change.

Offline chiguy

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2005, 11:06:26 PM »
 Hi, ThomasShawn
 It would be nice if you had some High Gluten flour on hand but you can get a great N.Y.style from a good Bread flour/KA. I noticed in reply #8 of this thread that you were not weighing your water. This could be a problem in your consistency,WEIGHING THE WATER IS A MUST. I do not have this book but will assume the Dough recipe probably calls for at  least 60% hydration on the N.Y. style.It's possible, you may have been too low on you water level.A higher hydration level adds to a more open airy crust. I also suspect because you and your oven are just getting acquainted it may take some time getting use to it. A pizza must hit a really hot stone deck to achieve that extra airness. Give that oven ample time to warm up. I let my stone in my home oven warm up for 1 hour at 550degrees. It makes all the difference. The hotter your deck the better you will achieve an open crust.      Goodluck, chiguy
 
                                               How about a pic sometime ;)

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2005, 11:54:31 PM »
American Pie recites dough recipes by volumes, except for the flour, which is given by both weight and volume. So, there would be no point in weighing the water, except perhaps to note its value in case adjustments have to be made in a later effort. Now that Shawn knows the differences between the two doughs using the two methods, he should be able to repeat his earlier effort with a greater degree of understanding and confidence. Using a high-gluten flour (the recipes recite high-gluten or bread flour) would take up a bit of the excess water because it has a higher absorption rate than the bread flour. It would also have a more developed gluten structure that can hold more gas to help produce a more open and airy crumb. But using bread flour should also work well, as chiguy has noted. BTW, the recipes in American Pie do not recite a hydration level, but I estimate it to be around 62%. That should be adequate for either flour.

Shawn is doing the right thing by trying to produce a dough that he likes. It will be interesting to see if he succeeds the next time, and I hope he will report back to us on his results. That way, we all learn something.

Peter

Offline thomasshawn

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2005, 07:21:52 AM »
Thanks for all the info.

As for heat of the deck, I am using a brick oven and the deck temp runs about 700-750F. Ambient temp is actualy much higher than that, simply becuase of the large amount of coals still putting off heat. So I don't think it is a heat issue. I will say there is a noticable difference when I let the oven deck cool to 540-550. The pizzas do come out chewier with a much thicker less airy consistency. They also go from taking ~3 mins, to almost 5 minutes. (seems like an eternity)

As for pics, I had every intention of pics this last time but I got distracted  when the crusts started coming out different than expected.
I will post some pics on this next time.

Offline chiguy

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2005, 12:58:56 PM »
 Hi ThomasShawn
 A brick oven fired with coal!! :o You are a lucky man to be able to bake at those high temps. I would keep cooking them pizza's at the higher temp range.I recommended weighing the water which if you have a scale i still recommend.Even if the book calls for volumes in the recipe go ahead and convert them to weight%. I cannot imagine you fire this oven to make just one pizza? If you wanted to make a certain amount of dough it is easier to have a formula than a recipe. It is also a little work but maybe then write in the back of your book the per% you use for any given crust you make.If you then on any given day  make that perfect crust, you can easily go back and refer to the formula you used. I am sure you getting great results i just wanted to give you some ideas. I have been curious how easy/hard is it to get the coal burning??          Chiguy

Offline thomasshawn

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Correction on the "COALS"
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2005, 02:03:56 PM »
When I said "coals" I was referring to the charred remains of the oak/apple logs that I use to fire the oven.

Deck temp usually runs around 750F after about 45 mins of intense fire. The ambient temp usually is around 100F higher (until I leave the door open then it rapidly drops). The coals runs white-hot for a good 45 minutes-hour and I usually plan for 3-4 pizzas in a firing. I usually make 4 dough balls assuming one will be sacrificed in some way or another. I usually net 3 pies a firing.

Last night I made 4 dough balls and my first 3 pies survived, so I never made the 4th pie and it became a "test dough" to play with.

Usually by that time, I'm letting the oven cool and playing with bread recipes once the oven gets to ~400-450 degrees. (anyone have any good bread recipes for the brick oven?)

I Have not tried actual coal firings but I may experiment one day. I have had reasonable success with the wood thus far.

Thanks for the input, I may look into weight% once I get some handle on the basics a little better. I appreciate all the feeback and I will posts pics soon.

Shawn

Offline bruce

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2005, 11:22:28 PM »
Hi Everyone ;D

New here. Just wanted to ask about the pictures ThomasShawn was talking about as I didn't see them posted.
BTW, GREAT forum! I've been looking for this kind of info for about 4 yrs. I almost gave up looking for the perfect dough. Gotta go, lots of reading to do.

Thanks,
Bruce.

Offline thomasshawn

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Re: Newbie dough question
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2005, 07:30:43 AM »
I have to admit with the holidays approaching, I made a few REALLY good batches that I forgot to photograph.

I think I'm getting the hang of this finally!!!

The problem is now I have ventured into Breads using Crust & Crumb, first few loaves, needed some work so I'm set on making it work too. Plan is to do fire the oven do a bunch of pizzas, then  as the oven cools, fill it with bread and finish off the day baking.

I will post some pics here in the next two weeks, it's been sorta hectic lately but I'm shooting for maybe the next week sometime

Shawn


 

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