Author Topic: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment  (Read 6709 times)

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Offline buzz

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Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« on: December 15, 2005, 01:14:16 PM »
I decided to test out my new Hamilton Beach countertop convection oven with a cracker-style experiment!

1 cup AP
.50 tsp yeast
.50 tsp. Kosher salt
.50 tsp. sugar
.75 cups water (I had to keep adding ater because it's so dry)
1 TBS canola oil

Put all in the bread machine, let it run. Then let it rise for about 8 hours in the oven, turning on the gas once in a while for a minute or so to let it warm up.

It came out superb! Outstanding texture and flavor. I've tried this basic recipe before in my Salton pizza maker, but the HB oven is much faster, especially on convection. It cooked the pizza (laden with toppings) from a cold oven to finished in lesss than 15 minutes.

I can't wait to try it again using the three-rise method!


Offline Steve

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2005, 02:17:56 PM »
Buzz... I hope Santa is bringing you a digital camera this year!  ;)
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Offline chiguy

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2005, 04:42:56 PM »
 Hey Buzz,
 I was curious about the recipe you posted. I noticed you have 1 cup AP flour which is about 120grams. You also have .75 cup of water which i assumed 3/4cup or 6oz with a weight of 175grams of water. The hydration of this dough is like 145%. No need for more water at these levels. If you can clear it up for us, what are you implying with .75 cups of water?    Thanks, Chiguy

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2005, 10:11:57 AM »
Steve--Lol! No, no camera this year--the one I need is very expensive, so I have to save up for it!

Chiguy--

I don't use percentages because hydration levels vary so much throughout the year due to age of flour, humidity, etc. When it's very dry (as now in the winter), the flour requires more liquid to hydrate. So I start with a lesser amount than I think I'll need, and keep adding until the flour has enough liquid to come together. This time it took an enormous amount of extra water--I just kept adding and adding and adding!

Obviously if you live in Florida you'll have different hydration levels than if you live in Illinois with the heat on!  Each batch is different!

Offline chiguy

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2005, 11:10:32 AM »
 Buzz,
 Whatever works for you. I think it will be difficult to pass a recipe to family or friends using this procedure. I have been asked many times  for a recipe and knowing most people are very inexperienced with dough, i personally try to be more accurate. You're recipe seem to take on more of a artisan approach. I understand you usually use a room temperature rise so the humidity/temps will be a factor for you. I lived in Chicago and Miami, and have never had to adjust the recipe by that much. I usually had too address the water temperature to keep yeast activity under control. Anyway, I am glad the recipe came out good for you.      Thanks,  Chiguy
« Last Edit: December 16, 2005, 11:12:22 AM by chiguy »

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2005, 12:15:44 PM »
Here in Chicago, I always have to adjust for humidity! Always different throughout the year. I remember once having to put almost a cup of water into 1.5 cups flour just to make the thing come together!

I would give the basic recipe a shot--start with .25 cups water and add more until it comes together. Then you can work out a formula to suit your needs.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2005, 12:34:21 PM »
Buzz,

How big a pizza, i.e., diameter, does your recipe make, and what kind of pan are you using? Also, what form of yeast are you using? Thanks.

Peter
« Last Edit: December 16, 2005, 03:07:04 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2005, 10:22:25 AM »
Ooops--mea culpa! I just glanced in the drawer where I keep my measuring equipment and I was using teaspoons to add more water, not tablespoons as I thought. Major brain freeze--seems to be happening more frequently lately (too much pizza?)! So the water was more like .50 cups--I just kept adding and adding and adding until the dough ball started to come together. The flour was very, very dry and soaked it up like a sponge.

When I roll it out, it probably about a 10-ince diameter. I used no pan at all with the new oven--just put the pizza directly on the rack, which worked just fine. I use regular garden variety dried yeast.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2005, 11:02:49 AM »
buzz,

Thanks for the information. I didn't want to be rude or impolite but I couldn't see how so much water could be used for the amount of flour you were using (I was with chiguy on that one :)). Also, in the recipe you posted on the "Cracker crust" thread, which also calls for 1 cup of flour, you said to use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water.

Often humidity is blamed for hydration problems but, in actuality, it is usually a minor factor. Protein quality and differences from batch to batch is perhaps more to blame. Some time ago, I read some stuff that Tom Lehmann wrote on the humidity issue in relation to flour. He said that the flour at the miller's location will have around 14% moisture (not humidity). By the time the flour gets to distributors, who normally don't have air-conditioned facilities, the moisture can drop to 12-13%. In a low-humidity, air-conditioned environment, the moisture can drop to around 10.5%. So, Tom L says that the flour moisture range is 10.5-14%. Of that, about 1-2% can be attributed to humidity. That means to adjust for the effects of humidity you would adjust the amount of water in a recipe by that amount. A 1/4-cup of water blows the 1-2% number away. After this analysis, I concluded that either you committed a human error or you were very generous with your flour measurement. Either way, I figured I would most likely zero in on the correct amounts by weighing the flour and water once I get around to trying your recipe.

Thanks for clearing things up.

Peter

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2005, 11:28:20 AM »
I'm laughing at myself right now!

I do find, however, a surprising difference in pizza-making between the summer months and winter months in terms of hydration needed.


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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2005, 10:30:58 PM »
buzz,

With the water issue clarified, I decided to give your recipe a try.

I started with about 1/4 cup water in the bread pan of my automatic bread machine. As I saw that the dough mixture was too dry once the mixing cycle began, I added more water, a bit at a time. Then it appeared that the dough was hydrating too much, so I added a bit more flour. Now I know why I like baker's percents and weighing flour and water. I allowed the dough to go through the full dough cycle and to rise within the bread machine. I knocked the dough down and let it rise again, three more times, at room temperature. I estimate that the total fermentation time was about 6 to 7 hours.

I then rolled the dough out as thinly as possible, adding bench flour to the surface of the dough as I rolled it out. I was able to get the skin to 14 inches, the size of my cutter pan--a dark PSTK cutter pan from pizzatools.com. I docked the skin using my docking tool, placed it in the cutter pan, which I had lightly oiled, and pre-baked the skin for about 3 minutes or so at the lowest oven rack position in a roughly 475 degrees F preheated oven. I then removed the pre-baked skin, dressed it, and returned the pizza to the oven to finish baking. I would estimate that I let the pizza bake for about 5 or 6 minutes. When I saw that the bottom of the crust was still fairly light, I removed the pizza from the cutter pan and placed it directly on the lowest oven rack position. About 3 or 4 minutes later, I removed the pizza from the oven.

The photos below show the finished product. While I thought the taste of the pizza was very good, and while I enjoyed eating it very much, I did not sense that I had the proper amount of cracker quality. The rim was cracker-like but most of the rest of the slices were on the semi-chewy side. I think it would help if you can tell me what the texture of the dough should be when it comes out of the bread machine and, later, after the final rise. That is, should it be dry, soft, dense, or whatever? I found the dough to be soft as it went through its multiple rises, and it about doubled in volume after each rise. FYI, I used IDY at 3/4 teaspoon, which certainly contributed to the rapid volume expansion, even in a fairly cool kitchen. In rolling out the dough, I did not fold it in quarters, re-roll it or do anything else like that. It was just a straight roll and I had no problem with it. In fact, if I had a larger cutter pan I am sure that I could have rolled out the dough even further than 14 inches.

I think I have described all the symptoms of the patient. Now, maybe you can provide a diagnosis.

Peter

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2005, 11:40:28 AM »
It looks very cracker-like! I'm glad you liked it--I find it to be a very tasty crust!

Funny--the reason I don't like baker's percents is that--for me, anyway--it takes all the fun out of playing with the dough!

The state of the finished varies a bit with humidity, but I would describe it as "medium"--that is, neither overly wet or intensely dry and scrappy. Not heavy or dense, but very pliable. I don't roll this dough in quarters or anything else, just roll it out as thinlly as I can.

I'm not sure how to reply, except to keep experimenting! Mine comes out very crisp and cracker-like, both in my Salton machine and in the new convection oven. The Salton gets very hot and is a tightly enclosed space, and with the convection oven I used no pan at all--maybe these are the reasons mine is more cracker-like. No par-baking is necessary with either of these machines.

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2005, 12:05:28 PM »
buzz,

Thanks for your reply.

I did not sense that I was way off the mark, and I think the answer lies in using a bit more flour relative to the water. I thought the docking helped a lot because I didn't get any bubbles to speak of. I don't know if it is possible to get around using a pan and just depositing the dressed pizza directly on a rack, as you are apparently able to do with your new convection oven. I was also hoping to avoid using a pizza stone, and I would prefer to avoid pre-baking if possible. Like you say, I will have to experiment.

I might add that my preference for, and reliance upon, baker's percents is not to take away the enjoyment or fun of handling the dough. Actually, I think I have more fun with the dough when its formulation is right because that means that I don't have to fiddle around with the flour and water hoping that what I end up will work, and work consistently. I only need to get the recipe right once, and tweak it thereafter to compensate for humidity and other variables. The other value of the baker's percents is that I am able to make any size of the same pizza and have them all have the same characteristics. My experience from all the time I have been on the forum is that people want explicit recipes with good instructions that they can rely upon to give consistent results time after time.

Peter


« Last Edit: December 18, 2005, 12:09:54 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2005, 12:30:30 PM »
I was surprised that i could cook directly on the rack, but it worked like a charm. i really like the convection feature--first time I've ever used one! I've never liked pizza stones because they take a long time to heat up, but maybe I'll try one in the new oven, since it it's a lot faster.

As for the baker's percents--since I get consistent results without using them, and since personally I find it more fun to play with the dough, i don't have any interest in getting a scale. You obviously have a more scientific turn of mind, which is excellent and good news for this forum, since obviously there are people here with the same mindset. Everybody's different--that's the way the world works! Nobody's right and nobody's wrong--the whole goal is to mak great pizzas at home, no matter how you get there!

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2005, 01:16:06 PM »
In order to use up some leftover pizza ingredients before heading out of town for the holidays, I decided to take another stab at buzz's cracker crust recipe.

This time, I made a few changes. First, I used my food processor because it works better for me for small quantities of dough (in this case, 7.70 ounces) and I find it a bit easier to control the amounts of water and flour to get the desired finished dough consistency. Second, I dispensed with the docking of the skin and pre-baking it. Third, I baked the dressed pizza, in my 14-inch cutter pan, for about 4 minutes on the top oven rack and then shifted it onto my pizza stone which I had preheated for about an hour to 450 degrees F. The idea of using the lower oven temperature comes from Tom Lehmann, who suggests using a lower oven temperature and a longer bake time in order to increase the crispiness in the crust. I estimate that the pizza was on the stone for about 7 minutes or so. To keep the top of the pizza from cooking too fast, I placed the empty cutter pan above the pizza, on the top oven rack, to shield the pizza from direct top heat. That seemed to help. In fact, I am sure that I could have left the pizza on the stone for several more minutes without the crust overbaking.

The photos below show the results. The crust was certainly crispier than the last one but since I have never had a cracker-pizza before (other than my own attempts), I don't exactly know how "crackery" the crust should be. In any event, I think I am heading in the right direction and am starting to better understand the pizza and oven thermodynamics for the cracker style in my oven. Maybe a few more tries will get me even closer to what I think a cracker type pizza should be based on what I have read on this forum.

Peter
« Last Edit: December 21, 2005, 01:21:18 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2005, 01:50:34 PM »
Fun, isn't it?

With your turn of mind, you might want to investigate a countertop convection oven to experiment with. Not very expensive and works like a charm (so far, anyway!). I haven't tried deep dish in it yet, but I reheated some refrigerated leftover deep dish and it crisped up very nicely and very quickly--done in maybe 10 minutes.

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2005, 02:07:32 PM »
buzz,

I'd like to figure out how to make the cracker-type pizzas in my oven with what I now have, but might consider a tabletop convection oven at some time to replace my aging toaster oven. How big a pizza can your Hamilton Beach unit handle? And can you use a stone or tiles in it, as I can now do with my toaster oven?

I think my next attempt with your recipe may be to use an even drier dough, and I may even try a pizza screen in conjunction with my stone. Have you ever used a screen for any of your thin pizzas, especially since there is no need for a long oven preheat as there is with a stone?

Peter

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2005, 02:59:30 PM »
The interior space of the HB oven measures about 12"x12"x12", so it is big for a countertop model. It advertises that it can cook two pizzas at once, which it certainly could, and the convection feature is fast, producing a very crisp crust.

I just bought a screen and can't wait to use it!

Offline chiguy

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2005, 05:51:09 PM »
 Hi Pete-zza and fellow members,
 I have a recipe for cracker crust i got from General Mills and it is in Bakers % which i know you like to work with.
 Cracker Crust
 100% AP flour
 50% Water 
 2% Salt
 4% Sugar
 2% Oil
 3/4% IDY
 I have tried this recipe. I think i may give it another shot in case i had made a possible error the first time. I baked it on a perforated pan and felt it was not cracker enough. If you try it on a screen it may come out better. I am not sure why the higher amount of sugar. Of all the styles of pizza's from General Mills i have recipes for, this had the most sugar?I am also sure you could get away with considerable less yeast if you would like. I do not have a specific optimum time for the dough and would suggest to
follow a standard retarded dough process(12-72hrs) in the fridge. The hard part for me is to consistently achieve the desired thickness without the use of a sheeter.  Chiguy

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2005, 07:14:44 PM »
buzz,

The percent of sugar is just below the level where it will be detected by most people as sweetness in the crust. So, it's quite possible that that amount of sugar is used to get better crust browning, especially if the time of fermentation too short for the enzymes to extract sugars from the flour to contribute to crust browning.

Did the instructions for the formulation you posted say how much dough (weight) is needed for a single pizza and how big (diameter) that pizza is? That's the missing link to being able to use the baker's percents to make pizzas of different sizes. Since baker's percents are by weight of flour, I am also curious to know how you practiced the recipe in the absence of a scale.

Peter
« Last Edit: December 21, 2005, 07:21:11 PM by Pete-zza »


 

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