I was at a homebrew club meeting on Tuesday night and then on Wednesday realized I didn't have enough KABF to make the dough I would need, so I didn't get to mixing the dough until yesterday afternoon. I made three balls: one KABF ball hydrated at 62%, one Caputo hydrated at 58%, and one 50-50 hybrid hydrated at 60%. All three balls received the same 2% salt, oil, and sugar. Since I was going to be forced to do a shorter ferment (tonight was the only available night I had to make pizza this week), I decided to step up the IDY from .1% to .15%. However, a typo meant I actually stepped it up to a whopping 1.5%. I have a picture from when I took the dough out of the refrigerator after nearly 24 hours of fermenting. I balled it up and put it in bowls to proof at room temperature for about 4 hours, the reasoning being that even with the massive dose of yeast the fermentation might benefit from some warmer temps to speed along toward something a bit more complete.Dough
The fermentation for this batch was definitely out of whack. The doughs were stiff coming out of the fridge. Not unusual for a cold dough, though it was definitely stiffer than previous doughs of mine (those were 65% hydration, but also usually fermented for about 4 days, which I suspect made a big difference). I opened up the Caputo dough first, which seemed both extensible and elastic. I don't quite remember what might've gone wrong, but the skin somehow ended up with a big hole in it. It seemed to come off the peel pretty easily, so I suspect it had just stretched thin in the middle (which I didn't remember happening) and then maybe snagged during the launch.Caputo pie
I was pretty pleased with the crumb, though it was a little soft for my taste - maybe too much oil. The bottom side cooked up terrifically, with a nice bit of crispness and char. The crust had good flavor despite the fermentation woes. The top side was pretty pale, mostly because I didn't get a chance to turn on the broiler while scrambling to open up windows and doors and turn on fans, fervently hoping my smoke alarm wouldn't go off as mozz melted into the hole in the skin and started to burn to my steel. Fortunately the smoke alarm remained mum. I've set it off enough times that I don't mind sacrificing a bit of browning to keep it quiet.
The hybrid pie was pretty similar, except that this time the broiler simply didn't ignite when I turned it on. This one had a different stretching problem. The dough was easy to handle, although it felt a little weak and had a big thin bubble on top when I took it out of the bowl. The problem was that despite only using my hands and knuckles just inside the cornicione, the outside was still too thick when the inside started to get too thin. It's possible that the dough balls were just too big for these skins. Otherwise, it was very similar to the Caputo pie.Hybrid pie
By the time I put in the KABF pie, I had some handle on the broiler and also had realized I could probably keep the pies in for a bit longer, so I got more color on the top and the bottom. I still got relatively little color on the top, which surprised me. I feel pretty confident that at least with my oven and steel, one could make a Caputo pie with plenty of color so long as sugar and oil is used with an adequate fermentation. Another surprise (to me at least) was that this pie had the least oven spring of the three. It might've just been that the steel had cooled down, but in the past I've never had a decrease in oven spring over time. I think more likely it was that this dough had weakened too much while sitting at room temperature. When I removed it from the bowl, it had a layer of thin large bubbles on top and felt very weak. By that time it had probably sat for an extra hour compared to the Caputo pies.KABF pie
So all in all:
-The bench flour on a plate idea worked fantastically. No pie ended up with excess flour on the finished product. Thank you, Nate.
-I've still got problems with dough handling. I suspect this is a matter of many factors, but that fermentation is probably at the heart of the matter.
-The texture still isn't quite where I want it. I think in another thread Bob suggested I just lower my oven temp and lengthen my bake time, but I felt like to some degree that defeated the purpose of me obtaining a steel in the first place. I'm starting to think this might just be the right approach, especially if I can't get the broiler to correctly balance the top with the bottom.
-I have heard that it is very difficult to get Caputo to take color compared to other flours, but my experience indicates that this may not be the case. To really seal the deal I'd have to be more consistent with my broiler work.
I'd like to repeat this test next week, but sadly I'm not sure I can take the heat of the oven in this apartment in the summer, especially while I'm trying to keep fermenting beer and mead cool. I'll probably be starting to make pies in a skillet, and I'm not sure it would necessarily present ideal conditions for this kind of an experiment with Caputo, although certainly it will allow me to continue improving my dough handling technique.
P.S. I didn't time any of the bakes, and have not been in the habit of timing my bakes. I glanced at the clock while the KABF was baking and it was in the oven for somewhere between 4 and 5 minutes. I run the oven at 550 F with the steel on the 2nd to top shelf. For the KABF pie I turned on the broiler after about 1.5 minutes, but I think that was still too slow. In the past, however, that would have been too fast. It seems like many of the variables in the dough depend sensitively on one another and it makes things hard to guess for those of us with relatively little experience.