Author Topic: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas  (Read 5906 times)

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Offline foodblogger

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NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« on: February 13, 2006, 11:19:19 AM »
I have been experimenting with a NY style pizza that can be easily made using readily available ingredients in Kansas City, Kansas.  It is a pizza that I developed by combining the results of my own experimentation with the vast knowledge accumulated on the forums of pizzamaking.com. 

I was researching thin crust pizza when I stumbled on the pizzamaking.com site.  I realized that I could develop my thin crust pizza much faster because there are hundreds of people collaborating on making great pizza at home.  In a day or two, people on the site make as many pizzas as I would in a year.  People take trips all over the world and talk about the pizzas in each location.

I thought a lot about what I liked in a thin crust pizza.  My perfect pizza is a conglomeration of traits from different pies I have eaten all over the country.  My perfect pizza has a crust that is fairly thin.  The bottom of the crust should have a slight crispness to it and you should be able to fold it in half and eat it without the crust breaking apart.  The rim of the crust should be slightly crispy on the outside.  There should be multiple different sized bubbles, making the texture of the crust light, airy and chewy.  There are a few other key characteristics that I will describe later.


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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2006, 11:19:55 AM »
A lot of what I like in a thin crust pizza can be found in New York, but not everything.  Trying to define NY style pizza is like trying to define Chicago Style pizza, or trying to define an American hamburger.  Everyone has an opinion on the subject.  Ask pizza aficionados across the country whether New York water is necessary for NY style pizza and a heated debate will follow.  When I was making my pizza I wanted to avoid all of that baggage.  My perfect pizza is perfect for me.  I didn’t want to make something that was an imitation of someone else’s perfect pizza.

Most of my experience with thin crust pizza comes from baking DOC pizza.  There is a very good book on the subject called Pizza Napoletana.  If you read the book, you will learn all about the history of Pizza Napoletana, including the fact that in 1998 the Italian government decided to define it precisely. An organization was formed by a bunch of Naples pizza makers in the mid 1990's called Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana to defend the integrity of their product.  The VPN came up with a set of standards based on the work of Carlo Mangoni, a professor at the Second University of Naples. He made a 42 page document that outlined the historical roots of pizza and did studies on the processes and ingredients used by 40 Neapolitan pizza makers. The book Pizza Napoletana has a very in-depth presentation of the research. In Italy there is an organization that is dedicated to preserving the identity of various Italian cultural treasures. It is called the Ente Nazionale Italiano di Unificazione (UNI). UNI established a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (document of controlled origin) or DOC that defined exactly what pizza Neapolitan is. The DOC defines 2 classic pizzas, pizza marinara and pizza Margherita. The VPN publishes a recipe on its webpage for pizza Margherita.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2006, 11:20:41 AM »
I don’t know why, but there is something very attractive about making a pizza that contains only flour, water, salt and yeast.  The DOC says that you have to use Italian 00 flour. The VPN specifically recommends Caputo flour.  Another characteristic of my perfect pizza is that it is made from readily available ingredients where I live.

A readily available flour is Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour.  I have a lot of experience baking with it, so I decided to use it.

There is much debate about the water that goes into pizza.  Some people claim that NY tap water is what makes NY style pizza so special.  I don’t know.  Other people swear that you have to use bottled water to make your pizza.  Although bottled water is readily available in Kansas City, I just don’t think that it is worth the expense and trouble.

The DOC specifies sea salt is the salt to use in pizza dough.  I have a lot of experience cooking with sea salt and I really enjoy the way it tastes.  It is readily available in KC, so I decided to use it.

Yeast is another subject entirely.  I decided to go with a yeast that I have a lot of experience with – Red Star Quick Rise yeast.  It is‘instant’ dry yeast that is very active.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2006, 11:21:06 AM »
Once I decided on the ingredients that I was going to use, I needed to come up with a formula.  From my experience, the home oven produces a crust that is light and airy with different sized bubbles when high hydration is used.  The recipe on the VPN site has the following baker’s formula:

00 flour 100%
water 58.8%
salt 2.5%
brewer's yeast 1.25%

I will show how to convert baker’s formulas into useable recipes later.  I have not been able to get crusts with the desired characteristics with hydration percentages that low.  I decided to start at 63%, a number that Pete-zza over at pizzamaking.com has had some luck with.  I decided that I would do a number of doughs with increasing levels of hydration.  The trick was going to be finding the right balance.  I have worked with doughs that have hydration percentages as high as 80% before, but a dough that wet would be impractical for pizza making in my hands.

The salt percentage in the VPN recipe seemed a little high to me.  Based on my experience making breads, I decided to try a salt percentage of 2.25%.  The yeast that is in the VPN recipe is brewer’s yeast.  I am more comfortable using instant dry yeast, so I decided to use that.  The trick was to choose the right percentage.  I have had very good luck in the past using cold fermentation when making bread.  I first came across this idea when I was learning to make bread from my favorite book on bread, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart.  Over the years I have found that 0.75% of Red Star Rapid Rise Yeast does the trick for cold fermentation.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2006, 11:22:01 AM »
The first pizza I made was according to this formula:

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour 100%
Water 63%
Sea Salt 2.25%
Red Star Quick Rise Yeast 0.75%

To process the dough, I decided to follow a protocol that was developed by the collaborative efforts found in this thread:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1053.0.html
I will detail the steps later.  To shape the dough into pizzas I decided to use the protocol that Patsy’s in New York uses.  It was first detailed by Pftaylor here:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1053.msg10140.html#msg10140

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2006, 11:22:33 AM »
The 63% pizza turned out very well.  It had a lot of the characteristics that I wanted, but I thought I could do better and decided to make a 65% dough:

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour 100%
Water 65%
Sea Salt 2.25%
Red Star Quick Rise Yeast 0.75%

The pizza from the 65% dough was almost perfect, but again, I thought I could do better.  I thought that going up to 67% would make a dough that was too sticky to proof in ziplock bags, so I decided to try a 66% dough.

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour 100%
Water 66%
Sea Salt 2.25%
Red Star Quick Rise Yeast 0.75%

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2006, 11:23:01 AM »
Now I will talk about how to convert baker’s formulas into useable recipes.  Here are a few formulas you will need:

1) Total Flour Weight = 100%
2) Total percent is the percentage of all ingredients added up and is always >100%.  It is expressed as a ratio of 1. For example 164% = 1.64.
3) Ingredient weight = ingredient % X total flour weight.
4) Total flour weight = total weight divided by total percent.

To decide how much dough I needed I had to decide on a couple of things.  First, I needed to decide what size of pizza I would make.  I wanted to make as big a pizza as I could fit onto my pizza stone.  After measuring, I decided on a 14 inch pizza.  The next thing I had to decide was the thickness factor.  The thickness factor is a number that was derived empirically by measuring dough weights required to make pizzas of specific thicknesses and specific diameters.  My perfect pizza has a thickness factor of 0.1, a number that is typical of NY style street pizza. 

total weight = 3.14 X R X R X thickness factor

R = radius of the pizza. For a 14 inch pizza R = 7.  The answer comes out in ounces, which needs to be converted to grams.  I work using grams because my scale is accurate to 1 gram and I hate converting 11 and 1/8th ounces to a decimal number.  For my pizza:

Total weight = 3.14 X 7 X 7 X 0.1 = 15.39 ounces.  There are 28.5 grams in an ounce, so I needed a 438.6 gram dough ball.  My scale doesn’t do fractions of a gram, so I decided I would round to the nearest gram.  A dough ball for a 14 inch pizza with a thickness factor of 0.1 should be 439 grams.

I encountered a problem when making 439 gram dough balls in my Kitchenaid mixer.  The Kitchenaid has a problem properly kneading dough balls that small.  Since I normally make 2 pizzas at once I decided to double the dough weight and divide into 2 equal balls.  Lets figure out the flour weight.  My dough ball is going to weigh 878 grams.  The first step is to figure out the total percent of my recipe.

Total percent = 100 + 66 + 2.25 + 0.75 = 169

The total percent is expressed as a ratio of 1, so the TP of my recipe is 1.69.

Total flour weight = dough weight / TP = 878 grams / 1.69 = 520 grams

To figure out each of the other ingredients, use the formula:
Ingredient weight = ingredient percent X total flour weight.

Water weight = .66 X 520 = 343 grams water
Salt weight = 0.025 X 520 = 13 grams
Yeast weight = 0.0075 X 520 = 4 grams
The recipe and protocol for two 14 inch pizzas:

Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour – 520 grams
Tap Water                                        - 343 grams
Sea Salt                                            - 13 grams
Red Star Quick Rise Yeast              - 4 grams

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2006, 11:23:35 AM »
Preparing the Dough
1) Stir water and salt with spoon/whisk until dissolved in stand mixer bowl.
2) Add approximately half the flour first, then the yeast. Fit stand mixer with hook attachment.
3) Mix 60 seconds on stir to incorporate yeast.
4) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.
5) Mix on stir speed for 5 minutes, adding in remaining flour gradually over the 5 minute mix.
6) Mix on 2/3 for 5 minutes.
7) Check dough temperature with digital thermometer; it should be 80 degrees at the hook.
8- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 15 more minutes.
9) Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 2 minutes on lightly floured prep area.  Divide into 2 equal balls.
10) Place dough balls into separate gallon ziplock bags. Put in fridge for 72 hours.
11) After 72 hours, remove dough bags from fridge and allow to warm for ~2 hours.  You want the dough to be around 60 degrees.

Prepare the oven after the dough has been on the counter for 1 hour.  (see below)

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2006, 11:24:40 AM »
Shaping the Dough
1) Remove dough balls from ziplock bags. Dust both sides well. Dust prep area with flour.
2) Flatten ball into a thick pancake-like shape with palm of hand, ~ 2" thick. Keep well dusted. Rest around 5 minutes.
3) Press fingertips into center and working toward the rim until skin is ~9 inches round. Keep well dusted and rest 5 minutes.
4) Place hands palm down inside rim and stretch outward while turning. Stretch to ~11 inches round. Rest around 5 minutes.
5) Place skin over knuckles (1st time dough is lifted off bench) and stretch to 14 inches.
6) Pat excess flour off skin. Place on a pizza peel dusted with corn meal and dress with favorite toppings.
7) Just before sliding off the peel and into the oven, run a piece of dental floss under the dough. That will help the pizza slide off easier.

I took me a while to come up with the optimal oven configuration, but I wanted to come as close as possible to a Neapolitan pizza oven.  They are characterized by a stone floor and a low ceiling.  To duplicate that I have the pizza stone on the bottom rack and another stone on another rack, about 7.5 inches above the first.  The top stone provides radiant heat to the top of the pizza.  The pizza is cooked directly on the bottom stone.

Preparing the Oven
1) Place a baking stone on the lowest rack in the oven.
2) Place another baking stone (or some unglazed quarry tiles) on a rack 3 notches above the first. Notches vary from oven to oven so shoot for 7.5 inches.
3) Turn the oven to the highest possible heat and preheat for 1 hour.
4) While the oven is preheating you will hear the gas turn off. When this happens open the door until the gas kicks back on.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2006, 11:25:40 AM »
You can top a pizza any way you want but I have a few suggestions to make.  The first is the sauce.  I wanted a fresh tasting sauce made from raw tomatoes.  Here is my sauce recipe:

Let 4 plum tomatoes sit on the counter for a few days ripening.

Preheat the broiler. Take the tomatoes and wash them and put them on a cookie sheet. Broil the tomatoes under the broiler for a few minutes, turning occasionally, so that the skin blackens a bit on all sides. There are usually a few spots of skin that stay red. After the tomatoes cool, peel most of the blackened skin off, leaving a little behind. Run the tomatoes through a food mill to grind them into a thick chunky sauce.

Add a teaspoon of sea salt to the ground tomatoes along with 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper and a scant 1/4 t very finely ground fennel seed. After stirring for a while taste the sauce. The flavor that you will be adjusting for will be the saltiness. BE VERY CAREFUL. You don't want the salt to be too overpowering. Add just a little at a time.


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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2006, 11:27:29 AM »
You can also use whatever kind of cheese you want, but my current favorite is Stella mozzarella, readily available to me at Sam’s Club.  My final piece of advice is to not overdue it on the toppings.  You aren’t trying to make a deep dish pizza.  Use enough sauce so that it spreads out thinly and doesn’t pool in any one place.  Use just enough cheese to cover the sauce.  It is ok to have a few thin spots in the cheese that you can see sauce through.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2006, 11:28:01 AM »
I have made one variation of the recipe.  I decided to make a version that included a pre-ferment.  I have a lot of experience working with wild yeast sourdough breads, but I am currently banned from keeping a culture in the house for various reasons.  The most I could get away with was doing a pre-ferment with instant dry yeast.  I decided that I would use the same hydration percent, but use 20% of the dough weight to make a pre-ferment.  For two 14 inch pizzas the dough weight needs to be 878 grams.  20% of 878 grams is 176 grams.  The preferment needs to weigh 176 grams.  When I make preferments, I make them from 50% water and 50% flour by weight.  So for the preferment I use 88 grams of flour and 88 grams of water.  I mix that up in a bowl and add half of the yeast.  I reserve the other half to add later.  I let the preferment sit on the counter in a covered bowl for 48 hours.  After the 48 hour preferment, I add the rest of the ingredients, staying true to the original bakers formula.  For two 14 inch preferment pizzas:
Combine 88 grams Gold Medal Better for Bread flour and 88 grams of tap water in a bowl along with 2 grams of Red Star Quick Rise yeast.  Stir until well combined.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sit on the counter for 48 hours.

After 48 hours, place 255 grams water in a Kitchenaid mixer bowl.  Dissolve 13 grams of salt.  Weight out 432 grams of Gold Medal Better for Bread flour and add half of it to the mixer, along with 2 grams Red Star Quick Rise Yeast.  Mix 60 seconds on stir to incorporate yeast.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.  Mix on stir speed for 5 minutes, adding in remaining flour gradually over the 5 minute mix.  Mix on 2/3 for 5 minutes.  Check dough temperature with digital thermometer; it should be 80 degrees at the hook.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 15 more minutes.  Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 2 minutes on lightly floured prep area.  Divide into 2 equal balls.   Place dough balls into separate gallon ziplock bags. Put in fridge for 24 hours.  After 24 hours, remove dough bags from fridge and allow to warm for ~2 hours.

Shape the dough according to the instructions  above.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2006, 11:29:09 AM »
Here is a photo a slice of the preferment.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2006, 11:30:18 AM »
And another photo of a closeup of the rim of a preferment slice.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2006, 11:33:35 AM »
Last night I made one preferment pie and one regular.  Both were excellent.  My wife and a guest preferred the preferment pie in a blinded taste test.  They didn't know which pie was which and both of them chose the preferment because it had a more complex taste.  I'll probably just make the preferment in the future.  Thanks to everyone on the board for helping me.  My pizzas have gone to the next level.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2006, 11:42:06 AM »
I almost forgot.  Here is a photo of a slice of the regular 66% recipe (no preferment.)

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2006, 02:35:13 PM »
foodblogger,

Very nice job with your presentation. I know how much time and effort it takes to do such a presentation and, hence, appreciate your going through all the work to do it.

I'd like to make a few comments and observations.

The high amount of salt you noted is typical of Neapolitan style pizzas--and somewhat unique to that style. In Naples, in fact, salt content is often used to control the fermentation process, to either speed it up or to slow it down. This is almost always done in the context of a room-temperature fermented dough. For the NY style, salt levels are usually considerably less. I have found the amount specified by Tom Lehmann--1.75%--to be just about right for my palate and also a good number for a cold fermented dough because at that level it more or less insures that the dough won't ferment too quickly while under refrigeration.

My experience in using autolyse with a basic NY style Lehmann dough leavened with commercial yeast is that it produces a more breadlike character to the crumb than I prefer. However, when I have used a preferment (my own home-make natural preferment) with the basic Lehmann formulation (as adjusted to allow for the preferment), the results I have achieved are much better. The texture and character of the crumb is just better. I know you have been using pftaylor's protocol, as I have done from time to time myself, but I would venture to say that the preferment version is better than the all-commercial-yeast version. I have found preferment versions of doughs to be better than commercial yeast versions in virtually every dough I have made using a preferment. I have even found them to be better than preferments combined with commercial yeast.

I have frequently noticed the comment that the finished dough temperature should be 80 degrees F. However, how to achieve this in an autolysed dough is never mentioned. It's fairly easy to do this for a dough that does not undergo an autolyse, but far more difficult to do with an autolysed dough. The reason is that during the autolyse--or two rest periods with your dough--the dough either warms up or cools down because of the warming or cooling effects of room temperature. The only way I know to compensate for this effect is to use even colder or warmer water, respectively, than a mathematical calculation would suggest.

Finally, I believe I caught a typo in the number of grams in an ounce. The number I use is 28.35 g./oz.

Peter
« Last Edit: February 13, 2006, 06:05:49 PM by Pete-zza »

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2006, 03:32:36 PM »
Pete-zza:
Thanks for your observations/comments about preferments and salt content.  They were very enlightening.  You're also absolutely right about the 28.5 grams/ounce typo.  A complete brain-fart on my part.  I don't know how that happened.  You're also right about preferment doughs tasting better.  My wife and guest were blinded as to which pizza was which, and both preferred the preferment hands down.  In fact, neither of them knew that there was any difference in the processing of the doughs.  It was unusual because the non-preferment was a pepperoni pizza, and both of them are HUGE fans of pepperoni.  I sometimes can't trust my own preferences because I tend to be biased, but I'll have to accept their blinded opinions - the preferment version IS better. 

When I have done prefermented breads in the past I have had a little better luck saving back a portion of the yeast to add later.  The goal with breads is a little different than for pizza.  Maybe one of these times I will try a preferment with no added yeast.  I'll have to make the recipe as is a few more times just to be sure that it is reproduceable.

Finally on the 80 degree dough temperature - I don't know why I put that in there.  I cut and pasted it from pftaylor's posts.  I personally haven't found dough temperature to be all that useful an indicator of proper kneading in the small batches that make.  Your point about room temperature warming the dough with all the rests is certainly valid.  Room temperature for me is 62 degrees right now.  Natural gas is expensive and sweaters are cheap.   ;)

Anyway thanks again for the pointers.

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2006, 06:17:25 PM »
foodblogger,
I could tell from your articulate writing that your pizza efforts would look outstanding. You did not let me down.

To answer the question about 80 degrees I will quote one of the greatest pizzaiolo's in this country, ilpizzaiolo:
"if the dough is going to be fermented under refrigeration, it needs to come off the hook at 80 degrees
if the dough is going to be fermented at room temperature, i would suggest 75-77 degrees

to get the light crust and proper cooking, the dough must be at room temperature prior to baking."


Raquel dough is destined for the cooler, hence the 80 degree requirement.
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com

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Re: NY style pizza in Kansas City, Kansas
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2006, 01:07:10 PM »
Pftaylor:
Thank you for the history note.  At some point I will have to look at the dough weight at the hook variable and see if I can detect a difference.

I put together a spread sheet to figure out all of the ingredients weights (rounded to the nearest gram) for two pizzas of a given diameter.  I did one for the regular method and one for the pre-ferment method.  I am planning on doing further experimentation on the pre-ferment version.  I'll make the pre-ferment version on several different occasions to make sure it is reproducible before I change anything. 

For two pizzas of the following diameters, regular version:

                 6 inch    9 inch    10 inch    12 inch    14 inch    16 inch    18 inch   
Flour         95 g         213 g     263 g      379 g      516 g      674 g       853 g 
Water       63 g         141 g     174 g      250 g      341 g      445 g       563 g
Salt           2 g           5 g         6 g          9 g          12 g        15 g         19 g
Yeast        1 g           2 g         2 g          3 g           4 g          5 g           6 g

Process and shape according to above instructions.

For two pizzas of the following diameters, pre-ferment version:

Part 1

              6 inch    9 inch    10 inch    12 inch    14 inch    16 inch    18 inch   
Flour      16 g         36 g       45 g        64 g        87 g         114 g      144 g
Water    16 g         36 g       45 g        64 g        87 g         114 g      144 g
Yeast     .5 g           .5 g        1 g         1 g          2 g            3 g          3 g

Part 2

              6 inch    9 inch    10 inch    12 inch    14 inch    16 inch    18 inch   
Flour      79 g         177 g     219 g      315 g      429 g       560 g      709 g
Water    47 g         105 g     129 g      186 g      253 g       331 g      419 g
Salt        2 g           5 g         6 g          9 g          12 g         15 g        19 g
Yeast     .5 g           1 g         1 g          1 g          2 g           3 g          3 g

Directions

Combine ingredients from part 1 in a bowl and stir.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for 48 hours.

After 48 hours -
1) Stir water and salt from part 2 with spoon/whisk until dissolved in stand mixer bowl.
2) Add approximately half the flour first, then the yeast. Fit stand mixer with hook attachment.
3) Mix 60 seconds on stir to incorporate yeast.
4) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.
5) Add preferment to bowl.  Mix on stir speed for 5 minutes, adding in remaining flour gradually over the 5 minute mix.
6) Mix on 2/3 for 5 minutes.
7) Check dough temperature with digital thermometer; it should be 80 degrees at the hook. (I actually don't do this)
8- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 15 more minutes.
9) Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 2 minutes on lightly floured prep area.  Divide into 2 equal balls.
10) Place dough balls into separate gallon ziplock bags. Put in fridge for 24 hours.
11) After 24 hours, remove dough bags from fridge and allow to warm for ~2 hours.  You want the dough to be around 60 degrees.

Prepare the oven after the dough has been on the counter for 1 hour.  (see below)

Shaping the Dough (for 14 inch pizzas)
1) Remove dough balls from ziplock bags. Dust both sides well. Dust prep area with flour.
2) Flatten ball into a thick pancake-like shape with palm of hand, ~ 2" thick. Keep well dusted. Rest around 5 minutes.
3) Press fingertips into center and working toward the rim until skin is ~9 inches round. Keep well dusted and rest 5 minutes.
4) Place hands palm down inside rim and stretch outward while turning. Stretch to ~11 inches round. Rest around 5 minutes.
5) Place skin over knuckles (1st time dough is lifted off bench) and stretch to 14 inches.
6) Pat excess flour off skin. Place on a pizza peel dusted with corn meal and dress with favorite toppings.
7) Just before sliding off the peel and into the oven, run a piece of dental floss under the dough. That will help the pizza slide off easier.

Preparing the Oven
1) Place a baking stone on the lowest rack in the oven.
2) Place another baking stone (or some unglazed quarry tiles) on a rack 3 notches above the first. Notches vary from oven to oven so shoot for 7.5 inches.
3) Turn the oven to the highest possible heat and preheat for 1 hour.
4) While the oven is preheating you will hear the gas turn off. When this happens open the door until the gas kicks back on.

You may have a problem properly mixing the doughs from the smaller pies above.  You'll have to really watch the Kitchenaid to be sure that it is kneading the dough instead of just pushing it around.  Also, weighing .5 grams on my scale is impossible, so for those amounts of yeast I would weigh out 1 gram and dump half of it.