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Offline adrayic

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Help with my first pizza!
« on: June 26, 2013, 03:11:23 PM »
I found this forum a couple weeks ago and decided I needed to try to make my own pizza.  I have read through many of the threads here and while I have a pretty good understanding of the basics, my knowledge is far from complete.

I am trying to make a simple NY style pizza like the ones posted in the Tom Lehmann's NY Style Pizza thread:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.0.html

My oven will only reach 500F which I know isn't ideal but I'm hoping I can make it work (it also has a broiler).  I will also be making pizza at my parents place and they have a convection oven that can reach 550F.  My baking stone is a recently fabricated, 14" x 14" x 1/2" steel plate with the mill polished off and edges ground down smooth (friend is a fabricator).  14" squared is all that will fit in the convection oven due to the fan sticking out at the back. I do not have a mixer.

I am in Canada so my flour access is limited.  This is a list of my ingredients:

I am looking for a recipe for a 14" NY Style Pizza that uses the above ingredients.  Remember, I do not have a mixer and will be hand kneading the dough (if that matters). Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

A few notes / questions:

Earlier this week I did try making a 12" pie from Pete's recipe listed here:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg19563/topicseen.html#msg19563

I chose this recipe because Pete said it was a good recipe for beginners to start with and because he said it would be good with bread flour (which is what I have).  I followed his hand kneading directions from this post:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg5674.html#msg5674

I measured the flour and water exactly using a digital scale.  The yeast, salt and EVO were measured with measuring spoons as the scale I have cannot measure 1/4 tsp weights.

After I finished kneading the dough, I oiled the outside with a small amount of EVO (maybe 1/4 tsp but I didn't measure), stuck it in a zip lock bag and placed it in the fridge.  As per Pete's recommendation, i left the bag open for 1 hour while the dough cooled down, and then sealed it up and left it for 3 days (had planned to use it earlier but something came up and i wasn't able to use it for a few days).

When it came time to make the pizza, I moved the dough into a glass pyrex container (maybe 6" diameter by 3" high) and covered it with the lid (but did not seal).  I did not shape the dough in any way (just dumped it into the container) and I think this may have been a problem because it was kind of folded on top of itself instead of flat on the bottom of the container.  The dough felt sticky from the oil. 

I let the dough sit for ~ 1.5 - 2 hours at room temperature.  It did rise but its hard to quantify how much.  I then proceeded to try and shape the dough (I watched a few of the videos linked on this form for hand shaping the pizza).  I found this to be quite difficult because the dough wasn't a nice ball shape to begin with and I couldn't get it to stretch nicely.  It didn't feel like it stretched very easily and I kept needing to add flour to make sure it didn't stick to my counter or my hands.  After reshaping it several times (trying to get a nice circular shape), I eventually gave up and just through my pizza sauce and cheese on it and stuck it in the oven.  I didn't have a stone at the time so I used an upside down cookie sheet and parchment paper to transfer the dough.

I had the cookie sheet pre-heating for about 40 minutes (which warped the sheet).  I needed about 11 minutes bake time @ 500F to make the crust brown.  The crust tasted pretty good and the pizza was decent but I know I can do much much better.  This is my only experience with making pizza.  I'm hoping to improve.

So I guess I'm looking for some direction here.  I need a recipe for my listed ingredients, and I need to make sure I am using the proper technique when it comes to hand kneading, cold storage pie shape, bringing the pie(s) back to room temperature and shaping the crust.

Thanks so much,

Steve



Online scott123

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2013, 03:50:18 PM »
Steve, let's see what we can do here :)

No evoo in NY style pizza.  If that's a flavor you're looking for, that's fine, but if you want something authentic, you should seek out a more neutral flavored oil such as soybean.

Use the dough calculator, put .085 (a beginner's thickness that will eventually be trimmed to .075 once you master stretching), 13.5" (it's really difficult to launch 14" pies on a 14" hearth and the following percentages

water 62%
yeast .5%
salt 1.75%
oil 3%
sugar 1%

Follow the directions I have here:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20732.msg206639.html#msg206639

You can't really launch a pizza without a peel. My recipe page has a link for a decent one. You want something with a very thin blade- not a thick blade with a point on the end.

No bags for fermenting- just containers. These work well for beginners

http://www.amazon.com/Pyrex-Storage-7-Cup-Round-Plastic/dp/B000LOWN3C/?tag=pizzamaking-20

After you've been doing this a while, you might want to add a re-ball, but, for now, you make the dough, immediately ball it, then it goes straight into your oiled round container, then into the fridge.  After two days, remove 3 hours prior to baking, then gently drop the dough on the floured bench.  From the moment you finish balling it, to the moment you start stretching it, the dough never leaves the round covered container. You want to use just enough oil to coat the glass container (about a dimes worth) to make sure the dough doesn't stick, but not too much- excess oil tends to make the dough a bit sticky on the peel. When it comes time to stretch, if you turn the container over, it might stick a bit, but eventually the dough will drop to the bench- in the right shape.  Never re-shape a dough ball.

Make the recipe, gauge the yeast content and see how much the dough rises and, if necessary, adjust the yeast on the next round.  It'll be a while before you master stretching and launching, but, if you keep making pizza, you'll get there.

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 04:35:37 PM »
This is exactly what I was looking for.  Thank you Scott.

Using the dough calculator, this is what I come up with:

Flour (100%):
Water (62%):
IDY (0.5%):
Salt (1.75%):
Oil (3%):
Sugar (1%):
Total (168.25%):
205.01 g  |  7.23 oz | 0.45 lbs
127.11 g  |  4.48 oz | 0.28 lbs
1.03 g | 0.04 oz | 0 lbs | 0.34 tsp | 0.11 tbsp
3.59 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.64 tsp | 0.21 tbsp
6.15 g | 0.22 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.37 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
2.05 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.51 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
344.93 g | 12.17 oz | 0.76 lbs | TF = 0.085

* I chose regular/fine sea salt.  I'm assuming this is ok with the table salt I linked?
** I don't have any reliable way of measuring small smounts like 0.64 tsp (digital scale does not measure that accurately).  Do I just eyeball a little more than 0.5 tsp?

Now let me make sure I understand the process as per your instructions:
  • Measure the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) and place them together in a bowl.
  • Measure the wet ingredients (water, oil) and place them together in a separate bowl.  Measure and add the yeast to the wet ingredients.
    • Seems weird to add the oil to the water... is this correct?
    • Does the water temperature matter?
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a metal spoon until too stiff to stir.
  • Hand knead until very well mixed (3-4 minutes).
    • Do I hand knead this in the bowl or on a countertop?  Do I add flour in order to prevent the dough from sticking to my hands / countertop?
  • Scale
    • Does this mean weigh the dough ball?
  • Ball and place into container. Container should be oiled with dime size amount of oil spread throughout the container.
    • Ball as in shape it into a spherical ball before placing it into the container?
    • On my previous attempt, I oiled the dough and not the container.  With your method, I place one dime size amount of oil into the container and spread it around the bottom / walls of the container before putting the dough ball in, correct?
  • Refrigerate for 2 days.

Forgive me for all the questions -- just trying to make sure I understand what I'm doing.  Thank you very much for the help.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 04:38:48 PM by adrayic »

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2013, 05:03:45 PM »
Steve;
Don't forget when you turn the dough ball out of the bowl to allow it to drop into a container of dusting flour, which can also serve as a peel dust to facilitate transferring the dressed pizza skin from the peel to the oven for baking. While there are as many different opinions as to what constitutes a good dusting flour/peel dust as there are people making pizzas, my own personal favorite is made from equal parts/volumes of flour, semolina flour, and fine grind corn meal, placed into a bread bag and shaken (never stirred), and used as needed. I like to open the dough most of the way on the bench/counter top and then pick it up and transfer it to the peel (with some dusting flour/peel dust) where I finish bringing the pizza skin out to finished diameter. Be sure to give the peel a shake occasionally to make sure it remains free from the peel. Once you get a feel for it you won't need to shake it as often. Better to shake it once too many times than once not enough. As for "round" who ever said that pizza had to be round? We make what we call free form pizzas all the time. The irregular shape give it a more rustic look, and it tastes just as good. As for getting the dough skin stretched into a round circle, with practice it will come much easier. Until then, enjoy your pizza making experiences.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Online scott123

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2013, 05:09:32 PM »
Combining water and oil- I just noticed that I omitted the part where I add yeast to the water first, then the oil.  It's not the end of the world- the other day I reversed them and it made no difference.  But, if you can, add yeast to water, then oil.

Oil into water (rather than adding oil later) is a 3% and under NY style thing.  For oilier American style doughs, oil goes in later because that quantity of oil can mess with the gluten development.

There's one aspect of the water temp that's critical- that it's as close to the same every time you make it, and that you record it in your notes so that you can use it for reference for how long your dough took to ferment, with how much yeast and what temperature water. Other than that, the water can be anywhere between 55 and 70 degrees.

Kneading in the bowl/Flouring the bench- As you stir the dough (use a very sturdy large metal spoon), it will become too stiff to stir.  Flour it a bit and then knead it, in the bowl, with your hand.  At this point, there's very little you can do to prevent dough from sticking to your hand- you don't want to add too much flour to keep your hands clean because the dough won't be balled yet and there will be loose bits.  After you've kneaded it for about 30 seconds and picked up all the dry bits of flour on the bottom, wash and dry your hands. Once you've reached that point, you can knead without getting your hands dirty.  Just flick a liberal amount of dough onto the bench (a sideways motion, like throwing dice), dump the dough onto it and then flick more flour on top.  You should start developing a rhythm of kneading for about 15 seconds, then tossing a good covering of flour, then kneading more- using just enough flour so the dough isn't sticky, but not too much.  Gluten traps water, so, as you knead the dough, you'll need slightly less flour as you go along.

Kneading by hand can get a bit tiring.  If you need to take a break, go ahead, but bear in mind that, during the break, gluten is being formed, so you should knead it a little less overall.

Speaking of taking notes, weigh the dough post kneading to see how much flour you've added to get a final hydration amount.

Scaling = slicing and weighing the dough, yes.

The gluten in dough forms in thin-ish sheets.  When you divide the dough to scale it, you're cutting into these sheets and creating gashes where gasses could theoretically leak out.  When you ball, the goal is to pull the smooth top of the ball over the gash a couple of times and then pinch it shut on the bottom.  I have a very complex approach to balling that you might want to wait on, but there are plenty of videos that should help.  You should get to the point where you're only pulling the top of the dough to the bottom 2 or 3 times max.  If you keep pulling and pulling, the outer gluten layer will tear.

Dime size oil, coat the bottom and sides of the container. I use a sandwich bag, but sometimes that can be unwieldy.  I've been meaning to order plastic (not latex or vinyl) disposable gloves for this purpose. A paper towel is a bit cleaner but you risk soaking up too much of the oil.

Another beginner tip that just occurred to me- mix/knead for 6 minutes total. Robin Hood better for bread is 13%- and that quantity of protein is very difficult to overknead.  It should make your life a bit easier to knead it a bit more.

Just make pizza- 2 or 3 times a week, post your results here, and you'll master this in a few weeks.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2013, 05:12:14 PM by scott123 »

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 06:16:54 PM »
Thanks very much for the help guys, I really appreciate it.

I still need to pickup my steel plate and a pizza peel (probably tomorrow) but I do hope to try this out over the weekend.  I'm sure I will have more questions but I think I have enough now to get a confident start.  I will try to document the process as best I can (hopefully with pictures).  Thanks again!

Steve


Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 11:59:15 PM »
UPDATE:

I followed Scott's instructions as best I could and everything seemed to go smoothly.  The dough felt better to handle this time and I was surprised at how easily I was able to form the ball (hopefully I did that right).

Weight of the ball after mixing the ingredients together with a large spoon but before kneading was 343g.  The recipe calls for a dough ball that is 344.93g so its pretty close.  Factor in some of the dough that stuck to the spoon and the error of the scale and its pretty much bang on.  Unfortunately, I forgot to weigh the ball after kneading (will remember that for next time).  I used a bit of flower in the kneading process but not all that much.  Worked pretty much how you described it Scott -- I needed less as the kneading process went on.

After kneading the dough for exactly 6 minutes, I shaped the ball via three stretches and then a pinch at the bottom.  I loosely followed the following youtube video:
Balling pizza dough


Here are some pictures of the finished ball:
http://i.imgur.com/u6gqxcV.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/U676tzJ.jpg

I know the container is kind of big but that is all I had.  Hopefully things work out.

Quick question.  I may not get my plate until saturday / sunday.  Will the dough ball be ok in the fridge for 3-4 days or should I be looking to use it after 2 days as Scott said in his instructions?

Thanks!

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2013, 08:54:58 AM »
Steve;
From the looks of your dough ball it should be just fine out at 3 to 4-days. If it begins looking a bit too over fermented, you can always re-round the dough ball(s), then wait a few hours for them to loosen up before opening them into pizza skins. If you can, get yourself a wood prep peel and a metal blade oven peel. If you research back through the archives here you will find some excellent posts on home made wood peels.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2013, 11:51:47 AM »
Thanks for the info Tom.  I am going to try and get to a restaraunt supplier today in my lunch hour to look at a peel.  The guy on the phone said they had a bunch, one of which was 16" x 14" x 42" (wood) for $13.  He said they also had a few metal ones so I'll check that out.

Looks like my plate is almost ready.  Fabricator just sent me a quick picture of it (buffed with mill scale removed and edges smoothed):
(http://i.imgur.com/xPMNMK1.jpg)

Excited to try it out.

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2013, 04:52:00 PM »
UPDATE:

Plate is finished!
(http://i.imgur.com/jxvlmKc.jpg)

A few questions:

Do I have to do anything to this before I use it?  What about rust?



Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2013, 05:00:46 PM »
Like a good cast iron pan I would suggest seasoning it first.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2013, 05:01:11 PM »
Steve, some people like to season steel.  I'm not a big believer in seasoning.  First, you don't need it.  Stone works fine without seasoning- nothing sticks to it, so why should anything stick to steel? Second, seasoning may end up breaking down at pizzamaking temps- so why smoke up the house for no reason?

Wash it with soap and water and use it.

Btw, are you sure it's 1/2"? From the photos, it looks a bit thinner.

Also, you're going to get a few different opinions on this, but there are some members of the forum who believe that the window where a dough is at it's best is as little as 3 hours.  For me, I'm in about about a 24 hour range (12 hours before peak and 12 hours after). A dough that's perfect in 48 hours will not be perfect in 72- and, if you're going to put this much effort into pizza, you should be striving for perfection, imo.

A big part of your learning process will be tracking yeast activity in relation to time and temperature.  A 2 day dough taken to 3 days won't necessarily be inedible, but it won't be the best it can be, and that won't help you learn how to be a better fermenter.

Edit: As I look at the photo, the surface your fabricator gave you is a bit rough.  When cheese gets on my soapstone, I just sand it with a sanding sponge, but it looks like you might have grooves deep enough for food to get into. You might wan to give it some fine sanding to take the grooves down.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2013, 05:17:26 PM by scott123 »

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2013, 01:23:24 AM »
Thanks for the info guys.

I still haven't picked up the plate yet so I don't know about the thickness.  It does look a little thin in the pictures but it could just be the bevel he put on it when grinding down the edges.  I'll check this out when I get it (should be tomorrow).

With regard to the dough -- totally understand.  Ideally I would want to use it tomorrow night (2 days) but I don't think that's going to work.  Nevertheless, I will record my findings when I do use it so I'll have a reference for next time.

Offline The Dough Doctor

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2013, 08:45:59 AM »
The biggest problem I had with my steel plate was rusting, especially if I didn't use it for a week or so,  until my wife suggested that I season it like her cast iron frying pan. When the steel rusted, even after I scrubbed it well to remove all traces of the rust I still got something of a metallic taste imparted to the crust with the first pizza I baked on it, all was good after that. I even use mine for baking bread on (round loaves/cannon balls) and it even works well in that application.
BTW: Your steel plate will become naturally seasoned over time due to the natural oils in  the materials (flour, corn meal, etc.) coming into contact with it, but I didn't want to wait a couple years for that to happen, besides the rust issue was killing me.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2013, 02:36:48 PM »
So far, the only forum members who've had problems with rust live near salt water. I'll concede that my issues with seasoning have been based on the theory that seasoning shouldn't survive pizza baking temperatures, but, the real world evidence seems to be mounting that, at 550, seasoning might be perfectly fine, and, if you're seeing rust in Kansas, alright, I'll shift from an anti-seasoning stance to a pro one :)

I would probably approach seasoning very casually, though- wiping on an extremely thin layer of oil the first couple times you bake pizza on it, rather than any kind of seasoning regime.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2013, 02:42:59 PM by scott123 »

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2013, 06:21:35 PM »
UPDATE:  My first pizza on the plate!

Just finished making my first pie and I was really happy with how it turned out.  A few details:
  • Steel plate measures 14" x 14" x 0.47" (just shy of half inch thick but pretty close
  • Refrigeration time was 38 hours
  • Total time the dough ball was out of the fridge before launch: 3h 45m
  • Tried to follow Scott's instructions for baking.  Roughly, I did the following:
    • Preheat oven @ 550F convection bake for 1 hour
    • Launch pie
    • Wait 1m 30s then hit the broiler
    • Wait 1m then rotate the pizza 180 degrees
    • With the broiler still on, wait another 1m 30s and then take out and allow to cool for 10m
  • Total bake time was right around 4m

Some observations:
  • Dough was very easy to shape (100x better than my last batch).  It was stretchy and I had no trouble tossing it from hand to hand to stretch it out.  Very easy to work with.
  • Crust is slightly burned on the outside but the center and bottom were good. Maybe the broiler was on too long?
  • Taste was great although next time I would like to shoot for a little bit more fluff in the crust.  I'm not sure if this is due to my baking method, dough shaping or the actual dough ingredient ratios

Pictures:

Dough:
(http://i.imgur.com/VB1fmob.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/ml35u90.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/Xt4jPnV.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/hm1qABf.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/l4isnQj.jpg)

Cooked Pizza:
(http://i.imgur.com/PzLcxXc.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/j0cqg11.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/c2CQ4S0.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/2KRvCXA.jpg)

Great experience but looking to get better.  What changes should I make?  Thanks!

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2013, 06:26:00 PM »
Well done! I'll let scott continue to guide you here.

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2013, 08:49:36 PM »
Steve, that's a really nice pie for your first pizza on steel.

Although I'm happy to hear that the dough was easy to work with, I think you could take it a bit further in terms of fermentation.  What was your water temp? Remember our conversation about 48 hour dough not being perfect at 36?  Well... I'm pretty sure, based on what I see, that this dough would have been perfect at 48.  I know that schedules aren't always accommodating, but, during your learning phase, try, if possible, to make dough when you know you'll have time to bake in the allotted fermentation time.

For authentic NY style pizza, there's nothing, imo, harder than stretching- and stretching is entirely contingent on perfectly fermented dough.  I really want you to nail the dough aspect asap so that you can get down to the brass tacks of stretching.

On the next dough, try to get an undershot of the dough ball post fermentation.

As you stretch dough, it's critical that it never leaves your hands.  First you poke/press out a small (1/4"ish) rim, then, still on the bench, you edge stretch the area just inside that rim, going counterclockwise and making sure that the dough is well floured, then you knuckle stretch, making sure the dough never leaves your knuckles or that your knuckles ever come close to the center of the dough.

There's nothing wrong with making what appears to be a 12"ish pie, but it's important that you incorporate that into the calculator.  If you use 13.5" for the calculator and choose .085 for the TF, but only stretch the pizza to 12", the actual thickness factor ends up being .1, which is a bit high for NY.

12" is easier to launch, so you might want to stick with that.  Next time, plug in 12" and .08.

The broiler instructions, as I stated in my recipe, are rough guidelines. You're going to need to see how much top browning you get with how much broiler time you give the pizza and adjust it to personal taste. If the top of the pizza browned a bit too much for you, give it less broiler time next time.

What kind of cheese is that?  Whatever brand it is, replace it.  If it's not mozzarella, use mozzarella, and if it is, make sure it's whole milk, not part skim.

For one of your first pies (and your very first pie on steel), that pizza looks phenomenal.  Tweak a few things, and stretch about 10 pies, and you'll be making pizzas like a pro.

Offline adrayic

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Re: Help with my first pizza!
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2013, 11:02:01 AM »
Hi Scott!

First, I'd like to thank you for taking me this far -- I have learned so much and really appreciate all the advice.  Now, back to the pizza making.

I did not have a thermometer to measure the water so I let some tap water sit at room temperature for 2 hours.  My thermostat in the kitchen read 23c (73F) and the water was probably about the same.  With regard to fermentation time -- I will plan my next ball for 48 hours and make sure I can stick to it.

As for stretching the dough -- I probably used a little more flour/semolina (50/50) then normal because I was practicing with the peel (first time).  I'm not sure what affect that will have on the crust.  Also, this was the first time I stretched a pie so I didn't really know what I was doing.  I watched the video you linked (as well as a few others) and tried to follow it as best I could.  I stretched it on the bench after pressing out / beading an area for the crust.  After that I kind of tossed it from hand to hand (I did not do the knuckle stretch).  I did stay away from the center of the dough.

I didn't measure the final baked diameter of the pizza but it was probably a little less than 13" (I calculated for 13.5).  I will be more diligent about that next time and I will probably change the recipe so that I get a slightly smaller size like you suggested.

I'm not at home right now so I can't check what brand of cheese I used.  I picked it up from a local Italian Center and do remember reading part skim on the package.  I will replace it with whole milk one and try again.  Is there any particular brand of cheese I should be looking for? 

Thanks!