Last night was my third pizza party with my new Forno Bravo outdoor wood fired oven. In my case, the third time was definitely not a charm! The other two times, my dough was lightly charred on the outside and light and airy on the inside. This time, the dough was too dense. It was a very noticeable difference that even my wife commented on, and she isn't normally observant about these things. I'm trying to figure out where I went wrong.
Here are the differences I can come up with between last night and the other two times:
* Outside temperature: Last night was chilly and windy - around 45F. The other days were much warmer. I wouldn't think this would make a difference though - would it? Both times, the inside oven temp as measured on my IR thermometer was about the same - oven floor in the 700's, wall in the 800's and dome around 1000F.
* Yeast: After cooking the pizzas, I noticed that the yeast I used (Fleischman's ADY) was about 6 months past the expiration date on the lid. It's been refrigerated. Last week I used up another jar of yeast, I didn't look at the expiration date, but I actually think I'd bought both jars at the same time. Plus, I think I'd used some of this yeast last time, but I'm not sure. So I don't think it was the yeast, but that said - I'm going to buy some new yeast for next time.
* Dough formulas: I think this is the likely culprit. The other two times, I used the recipe on the Forno Bravo website: https://www.fornobravo.com/PDF/Using-caputo-tipo00.pdf
. This time, I used Jeff Varisano's very compelling recipe at: http://www.varasanos.com/pizzarecipe.htm
Both had about the same ingredients:
* 940g Caputo Red 00
* 565g water (60% hydration)
* 20g salt
* 5g yeast
I think I used a slightly lower hydration last time, but that wouldn't help the dough - would it?
I was very pleased with the dough after making the Varisano dough - it was smooth, and barely dry enough to form into balls. But after 24 hours in the fridge, it had risen very slightly. Varisano says that this is to be expected - he recommends no more than 50% rise. I took it out of the fridge a little late though - gave it only about an hour to warm up and rise. That might have not been enough, but the party dragged on and I was still making pizzas 3 hours later. I would think a 4 hour rise would be more than plenty.
So the main difference I can see between the two recipes is that the Forno Bravo recipe has you let the dough rise for 2 hours after making it, before punching it down and putting it in the fridge. The Varisano recipe has you ball and refrigerate it immediately. Varisano also has a 20 minute autolyse, while the FB recipe is only 10, but that would only help the Varisano dough. And Varisano has you mix only 75% of the flour for the first step. That seems better too. The whole Varisano recipe all seems better, which is why I switched to it.
Any ideas or suggestions? I'd hate for this to happen again!