Author Topic: Many Techniques Needing Improvement  (Read 1058 times)

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Offline McCoy

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Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« on: May 16, 2013, 02:52:55 PM »
I've been baking pies for about 8 months. I started out baking on pans and baking sheets with a same-day dough and sauce made from pre-crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and I was plenty satisfied. However, I started learning more on sites like this and became more ambitious. About 2 months ago I started using 3-5 day cold ferments and baking on quarry tiles at the maximum temperature my oven would allow (550 F) and making my own sauce from whole tomatoes. I have been using KABF and Muir Glen tomatoes (my girlfriend is BPA-phobic).

Last night I made some pizza with a 50/50 mix of KABF and Caputo. I didn't use any sugar or oil, and I did a 24 hour room-temperature ferment (inspired by http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=7225.0). I used 58% hydration and .05% IDY because of my flour and my fermentation temperature would be more around 75 F than 80 F. After 18 hours of bulk rising, I divided the dough into three balls (I simply tear it, and don't weigh the resultant balls). The top had dried out a bit, so I tried to knead it back into the moist dough to rehydrate it. I let the balls rise for another 4 hours.

When I would open them up, I would cover a baking sheet in quite a bit of a 50/50 mix of KABF and cornmeal. I'd place the ball on top, and press into it with my fingers about 3/4" from the rim to define a cornicione, flipped over the ball, repeated the pressing, flipped it over again and started to stretch out this rim, rotating the ball. After a bit I put it on my fists and just passed from one fist to another to rotate it while gravity stretched the dough. I'd then put this back on the baking sheet, flour my peel with a light coating of the KABF & cornmeal, and then pick up the dough and put it on the peel, adjusting it into the right shape.

Then it was just saucing and topping and onto a steel that'd preheated at 550 F for 45 minutes. I'm not sure how long the pies stayed in the oven for, but the baking was limited by the time it took the cheese to start browning. Using the broiler only made the cheese brown faster. The pies came out pale regardless of use of the broiler (I tried it with turning on the broiler as I put in the pie, adding a delay, and not using the broiler). This was expected due to the lack of oil and sugar (which I plan to go back to using), the use of Caputo (which I plan to continue using until I get rid of it), and maybe even due to the fermentation. The dough was easy to handle, both extensible and elastic.

Here were the issues I wasn't pleased by:

1) Way too much bench flour on the pizza. While the dough was elastic and extensible for stretching, I'm not sure I could "slap" the flour off. How do I avoid getting a mound of flour left behind on my steel/cutting board/dinner plate? This is by far what bothers me the most. I know the obvious answer is "use less flour", but I see in videos of pizzerias a huge amount of bench flour being used, so I suspect that something else is really the problem.

2) The crust was a little tough. I like a chewy crust, but in some spots the crumb was rather dense. There was not much crunch or crisp to the exterior, more a tough/hard/leatheriness.

3) In the past I've had problems with dough that is too easy to stretch and lacks strength, so I sometimes get tears or overly thin spots by accident. I suspect this is due to my hydration (usually around 65% for KABF along with some oil) and fermentation (usually 3 to 5 days cold).

I guess I'm searching for a middle ground between the overly extensible dough and the dense/tough crumb in this crust. I'm not particularly interested in 24 hour ferments - that was just convenient for this particular day. I get the sense that a lot of my technique is lacking, which is why I tried to include full detail on what I did. I'm a little cash-strapped and lacking space so any equipment recommendations should keep that mind. What could I be doing that would most improve my pizza?
Finding my way in homebrewing and pizza making: http://pizzabeerblog.wordpress.com/


Offline pythonic

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2013, 04:27:35 PM »
Why did you make the switch to 50% caputo?  Was it because you were unsatisfied with your KABF pies?  What % hydration were you using with your KABF bakes and do you have pics of those pies?

High hydration = less crispy outer crust unless you have super high bake temps especially with 00 flour.
No oil = less tenderness in your crust

Nate
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.

Offline McCoy

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2013, 04:45:28 PM »
I switched to 50% Caputo out of curiosity, really. I had some dissatisfactions with my KABF pies, but they were similar to my concerns with these pies - texture wasn't where I want it (though definitely closer to where I like it) and too much flour left on the crust. I was just curious to see what working with Caputo was like, so I bought a little (just four 1kg bags, so it'll be gone soon enough). I'm not really satisfied with what I know I like - I have to experiment and tinker.

For my KABF bakes I was using somewhere around 65% hydration, which I think was just too high for me. The dough would stretch so easily that I often felt in danger of tearing it. At the same time, I would get great oven spring and was concerned about sacrificing that by going to lower hydration.

Below are links to some pics of my KABF pies.

Baked on steel at 550 F with broiler after a couple minutes:
http://pizzabeerblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/pizza1.jpg
http://pizzabeerblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/combo.jpg

Baked on quarry tiles at 550 F:
http://pizzabeerblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/pizza1.jpg
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 04:49:08 PM by McCoy »
Finding my way in homebrewing and pizza making: http://pizzabeerblog.wordpress.com/

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2013, 07:56:19 PM »
 :o  Those pies look awesome dude...is this a joke thread?!!  :-D

At any rate; sounds like you have a firm grasp of the mechanics here and I actually believe you are answering your own questions(a very good thing). Deal the hydration back some and you should be able to handle the dough a bit more aggressively during your fist stretching. That will allow you to shake off more flour. But honestly; I would keep what you have and use less flour. Maybe a slight reball when you first bring dough ball out to rest on counter.
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Offline pythonic

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2013, 10:27:36 PM »
Those pies look decent.  Dial the hydration back to 62% with straight KABF.   Try 2% olive oil, 2% salt, 2% sugar and do a 48hr cold ferment.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  Your next step up would be hi gluten flour.

As far as too much excess flour.  Once my dough gets to room temp I lightly put onto paper plate with only flour and coat both sides.  Do not press down while in flour.  Move ball to counter and form edges then proceed to slap around.  If not all most of the flour should be gone after that.  Flour on paper plate easily goes back into bag of flour.

Nate

« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 10:30:34 PM by pythonic »
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2013, 10:34:19 PM »
Those pies look decent.  Dial the hydration back to 62% with straight KABF.   Try 2% olive oil, 2% salt, 2% sugar and do a 48hr cold ferment.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  Your next step up would be hi gluten flour.

As far as too much excess flour.  Once my dough gets to room temp I lightly put onto paper plate with only flour and coat both sides.  Do not press down while in flour.  Move ball to counter and form edges then proceed to slap around.  If not all most of the flour should be gone after that.  Flour on paper plate easily goes back into bag of flour.

Nate
I like that tip.  8)
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline pythonic

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2013, 10:58:50 PM »
I like that tip.  8)

I was using the counter forever and was wasting so much flour plus the extra mess.  Paper plate was a god send.  LOL.

Nate
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.

Offline McCoy

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2013, 08:00:12 AM »
Those pies look decent.  Dial the hydration back to 62% with straight KABF.   Try 2% olive oil, 2% salt, 2% sugar and do a 48hr cold ferment.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  Your next step up would be hi gluten flour.

As far as too much excess flour.  Once my dough gets to room temp I lightly put onto paper plate with only flour and coat both sides.  Do not press down while in flour.  Move ball to counter and form edges then proceed to slap around.  If not all most of the flour should be gone after that.  Flour on paper plate easily goes back into bag of flour.

Nate

About .1% IDY? The paper plate idea sounds great. I think it will help a lot. Thanks for the advice Nate and Bob. I'll post an update next week on how it goes.
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Offline pythonic

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2013, 08:13:26 AM »
About .1% IDY? The paper plate idea sounds great. I think it will help a lot. Thanks for the advice Nate and Bob. I'll post an update next week on how it goes.

Yes go with .1% for the IDY.
If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.

Offline McCoy

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Re: Many Techniques Needing Improvement
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2013, 12:21:05 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2013, 12:26:08 AM by McCoy »
Finding my way in homebrewing and pizza making: http://pizzabeerblog.wordpress.com/


 

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