Laura, where do I start?
I guess, since I didn't get a chance to comment on your first round of pies, let me just say that they look stunning. No offense to other parts of the nation/globe, but I've noticed that NYers/ex-NYers tend to have a sixth sense about pizzamaking and pick it up a little quicker than most. You are definitely a textbook example of this phenomenon.
I've got a lot of ground to cover, so I'm breaking it up into sections:Protein and hydration
Wheat protein, when wet and agitated (kneading) forms gluten. Gluten traps water. Higher protein flours, generally speaking, make higher gluten doughs, which, in turn can hold more water. It would be nice to just say "xxx amount of water for every test," but, you should, to an extent, try to match your hydration to your protein. This is an extremely rough guesstimate, but I would think that for every protein percentage point change, you should probably go with a 4% water adjustment.
Every flour is going to have a sweet spot when it comes to hydration, but, I've found that if you miss the mark, it's not really the end of the world. If, for instance, a flour works best at 63% hydration, if you go with 60% or 66%, it will still function very well. Right now, it's more about finding the right flour than nailing the perfect water ratio.
I picked 60% because Morgan was complaining a lot about wet doughs and I was concerned that the protein specs for Finnish flours might not be entirely reliable.
What's the protein content on the Nikkilä Luomu Hieno vehnäjauho?Containers
No bags, no non-round containers, and no containers that don't comfortably fit at least 4x the volume of the original dough. You want to start with a smooth, clear bottomed container like this:http://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-Storage-7-Cup-Round-Plastic/dp/B000LOWN3C/?tag=pizzamaking-20
And then, once you're a bit more comfortable detecting proper fermentation, you can graduate up to one of these:http://www.bakedeco.com/a/plastic-dough-pan-s-12232.htm#.UWFXsGoub0lhttp://www.bakedeco.com/a/channel-pizza-dough--1494.htm#.UWFYLWoub0k
Always lightly oil the container so the dough comes out easily, without being mangled.Peels
It's time to go shopping for a wood peel
You always want to launch with wood, retrieve with metal, as metal tends to be too sticky for launching.
By the fact that it warped, it sounds like you might have gotten your peel wet. Never get a wood peel wet. If you get sauce or cheese on it, just give it a light sanding with fine to medium grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge. Also, I'm not sure if you're doing this, but never place the cooked pizza on the launching peel, as you don't want to get the peel dirty or get raw flour on the pizza. You'll want a pizza pan for cutting.
A proper wood peel goes a long way in making for an easier launch. Make sure the peel starts tapering all the way back at the handle, and not just an inch or so away from the edge. The whole blade (the area where the pizza sits on) needs to be very thin.Launching
Calzones are good learning experiences
The best way to learn how to launch is by doing. Make a throwaway skin, stretch it, top it with beans, launch it on the counter, pull it back on the peel, then launch it again, over and over again.
Another crutch for the beginning launcher is going a bit heavier with the flour on the peel.Stretching
Stretching is another area where practice tends to make perfect. Here's a couple videos to get you started (ignore the rolling pin stuff, the tossing and any references to pizza pans).
Pay close attention to the edge stretch, as that's critical for preventing a bowl shaped pizza that most beginners tend to be plagued with.
A good way to practice stretching is to make an extra dough and stretch it as far as you possibly can.Natural light photography
This isn't a huge deal, but the color of the dough is a part of the process of determining if the flour is right. Quite a few of your photos have a yellow hue from fluorescent lighting. If, at all possible, try to take photos using natural light.Diastatic malt
I briefly spoke about this before, but you have to start sourcing D.M. D.M. is malt with active enzymes- these enzymes are critical for producing sugar/browning, but, more importantly for helping degrade the gluten for a more tender end product. You might be able to mirror the effects of D.M. by pushing the fermentation times, perhaps to 4 days or longer, but D.M would make the process easier.
Oil is another method for making non malted flours a bit more tender. Increase your oil to 3%. You also definitely want to add a little sugar, even if you're getting pretty good browning with convection. 1% sugar should do it.
The recipe, as I've mentioned before is not a huge part of the equation, but, as far as recipes, go, the ones you find on this site are a bit more authentic than seriouseats. At some point, you might want to give mine a shot, adjusting the hydration for the protein content of your flour:http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20732.msg206639.html#msg206639
Pay close to the appearance I'm describing for determining how much to knead. For a multi-day cold fermented dough, you don't want to be anywhere near windowpane.Cheese
I'm not sure why this is, but European fresh mozzarella tends to melt a bit better than domestic. You can help it along with some fat. I don't think olive oil belongs on NY style pizza, but you can get fat from meat. Can you score some pepperoni and/or some sopressata?Oven set up
Between the convection setting, the peak temp you're able to hit, and the transfer rate of your stone, I don't think you have to fuss with steel- yet. You will hit a point, though, where your pizza will hit a plateau, and if you want to kick it up one more notch, it will be time for steel shopping.Predicting yeast activity
For every dough you make, record ambient/flour temp, water temp, and, if user a mixer, post kneading dough temp. Try, if possible, to work with the same temps every time.
Pick a yeast quantity and a target time based upon a recipe you see here and then see how much volume is achieved by the time it's supposed to be ready. If the volume is low, next time, adjust the yeast up, if it's to high, adjust the yeast down. For now, flexibile scheduling is ideal. Don't plan a big party for a particular day. Make your dough with the kind of mentality whereby it would be nice to have dough on x day, but, if, it's ready the day before or after, then you can work with that.Yeast measurement
Unless you have a jewelers scale, you want to measure yeast volumetrically, not by weight. Everything else can be measured by weight, though.
You're not cooking your sauce right? Uncooked tomatoes, straight from the can and hand blended a bit, are the core ingredient of pizza sauce. If you cook the sauce prior to baking, it will lose all it's brightness.
d) I'm worried about the protein percentage in this flour. The farmer couldn't tell me exactly what wheat he uses (other than that is was a Spring Wheat) or his protein content (as that varies a lot depending on the year/season, he said).
Uh oh, that's not instilling a great deal of confidence. Still, though, the Nikkilä Luomu Hieno vehnäjauho seems to be the most promising. For your next experiment, this is what I'd try:
1 x 12" doughball, 3 day cold ferment
IDY 0.25% (measuring by volume-use the dough calculator)
You might want to double this and make one on day 3 and one on day 4.
Cold-ish dough can be a bit easier to work with, especially if it's a bit slack, but tempering (allow the dough to warm up a bit prior to stretching) is critical for oven spring.