First off, let me say that this forum has been an amazing source of pizza making information. Although my pizzas are still far from perfect, my skills would have never progressed this far without the insights of helpful members here like Pete-zza.
For my latest experiment, here is the recipe I used for a 12.5" pie, which ended up stretching out to 14". I used Pete-zza's recipe posted here (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg19563.html#msg19563
) as a starting point:
Flour (100%): 219.09 g | 7.73 oz | 0.48 lbs
Water (63%): 138.03 g | 4.87 oz | 0.3 lbs
IDY (0.4%): 0.88 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.29 tsp | 0.1 tbsp
Salt (2%): 4.38 g | 0.15 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.29 tsp | 0.43 tbsp
Oil (2%): 4.38 g | 0.15 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.97 tsp | 0.32 tbsp
Sugar (1%): 2.19 g | 0.08 oz | 0 lbs | 0.55 tsp | 0.18 tbsp
Total (168.4%): 368.96 g | 13.01 oz | 0.81 lbs | TF = 0.10605
The main changes I made to my dough was the additional of extra oil (for flavor) and sugar to help promote browning. Additionally I upped my usual .25% of IDY to 0.4% to account for the cold weather. Also used slightly warm water (100 deg F) for the same reason.
I've always had a problem with my dough tearing when being stretched or being difficult to stretch. Many pizza recipes I've seen call for mixing at medium or high speeds for 5-6 minutes until the dough comes together then throw it in the fridge to let it ferment. But I suspect that by following this advise, my dough was being underkneaded. So this time I decided to go slow and long.
I mixed the flour (KABF), IDY, and sugar in a container and set it aside. Then I added the lukewarm water to the mixer bowl along with salt and gave it a stir. With the KitchenAid set to 1 and dough hook attached, I started mixing while gradually adding the dry ingredients. Once a rough mixture was formed, I added the oil. Normally I use EVOO but on a whim, I decided to use canola instead. I continued mixing until a smooth dough ball had formed, eventually bumping up the speed to 2 and never going beyond that. Due to the slow speeds, it took about 20 mins or so for everything to come together.
At this point I would normally just stick the dough in the fridge for a day or 2 but I was determined to make sure my dough had been properly kneaded this time so I decided to tear off a small piece of dough and do the windowpane test. The dough didn't stretch easily so I hand kneaded for a while, window pane tested again, and head kneaded for a second time. I did one last test where it sort of seemed to windowpane (I've never done a windowpane test before), decided it was good enough and gave it one final knead before placing in a lightly oiled bowl. Drizzled a small amount of olive oil on top of the dough ball to coat, then covered and stuck in the fridge.
Most of the time my dough tends to be wet and somewhat sticky. This time though, the dough was neither wet nor dry. It was smooth, elasticy, had a nice yeasty smell, and didn't stick at all.
After a 60 hour cold ferment, the dough was taken out of the fridge. It had increased in size, about 50% or so likely due to the increased yeast used.
In the past, I would let the dough rest maybe an hour while the pizza stone was warming up and then proceed to assembling the pizza. This time I decided to follow Pete-zza's advice about letting the dough rest longer in cold weather. Temperature of the dough out of the fridge was about 40 deg. I let it rest outside for 3 hours. In this time, it finished proofing expanding to nearly twice it's original size. The dough came to room temperature in about an hour and it's final temperature was about 80 degrees.
The dough was then hand stretched with a little bench flour on a large pizza pan. Usually I would do this on my pizza peel but I didn't have it on me that day. Though the original recipe was for a 12.5" pie, the dough stretched to 14". The dough was very pliable, stretchy, and easy to work with. This one did not tear at all when stretching.
Sauce was La Bella San Marzano strained tomato puree mixed with dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, salt, and black pepper and marinated for a couple of hours. Although the tomatoes were a bit acidic, the sauce tasted much better after sticking it in the fridge to let the flavors meld. Usually I would throw the sauce on the pizza right after mixing it. Marination definitely made a difference here.
Cheese used was Trader Joe's whole milk, low moisture mozzarella. Again, a departure from what I've been doing before. I had been using fresh mozzarella on my pies, both the packaged kind and the ones sitting in water. Even though I would remove as much water as I could, the cheese was bland once cooked on the pie. The taste of the cheese was excellent, both by itself and on the pie. It was firm, creamy not mushy like the fresh mozz previously used. I used about 4 oz of shredded cheese on the pizza. This was fine but pizza could have used a little more. Next time I'd use slightly more, like 5-6 oz of cheese.
Sauce was spooned on the pizza following by a sprinkling of grano padano cheese. Then added the shredded mozz and a light drizzle of evoo.
Placed on a stone preheated to 550 for approx 45 minutes on the lowest rack of my oven. The pizza cooked in about 6 minutes. The cheese was beginning to turn a bit yellow in the middle. Don't know if this was due to the cheese itself or the EVOO burning. Next time I'll top it with oil after it finishes cooking.
The bottom of the pizza had nice charring thanks to the sugar. On my cheapo 3/8" stone, that's probably the only way I can get any browning. Previously I had problems with my sauce drying up and turning into a paste. This time pizza sauce did not turn into paste and remained nice and saucy. Best tasting uncooked pizza sauce so far.
The pizza was nice and superthin in the center and tapered to thicker crust towards the ends. The end crust was a bit tougher though than the inner part of the pie which had been stretched thinner.
Overall, while not perfect this pizza was a marked improvement over my past attempts. Most importantly I made some breakthroughs in my technique and ingredients which will help a lot going forward. A lot of the mistakes I had been making were elementary - should have caught them sooner - but hopefully this will help someone else to avoid the same pitfalls. Below are the some pics of the pie I made.