Author Topic: What can I do to improve my dough?  (Read 2168 times)

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Offline ringkingpin

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What can I do to improve my dough?
« on: September 03, 2013, 10:20:12 AM »
Hey guys, I'm curious to know what I can do to make my dough "better."  I came up with my own work flow originally because I was confused on how to work with my starter.  I used to do things by weight but then I switched to volume because it's fast and easy. I've played with hydration differences but it really doesn't tend to change the structure of the dough. 

I am using ischia starter which is about pancake batter consistency. 

What I do is get two cups of start and mix that with two cups of cold water and two table spoons of kosher salt.  I make sure that the three are well mixed and the salt is fully dissolved and then I pour that in to my Bosch mixer.  Then slowly, little by little I add 8 cups of 00 flour.  After a 15-30 minute autolyse, I mix for about three minutes and then depending on when I want to use it, I do a variety of different things.
If I'm making the dough the night before and it's hot outside, I put it in the fridge overnight and then let it sit on the counter starting early in the morning, then ball it up around noon and leave on counter for second proof in the trays and then use a 5:00pm - 7:00pm. 

Any thoughts on what I can do to make a better dough?

Thanks!

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin


Offline f.montoya

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 12:30:55 PM »
It doesn't sound like you're that far off. I would recommend bunkering down and using bakers' percents and weigh everything such as flour and water in your starter and flour and water in your dough. Get it down to the gram. If you were using an IDY, I could help you further. I can't get Ischia where I live so I've never tried it. You should try Craig's dough recipe: http://doughgenerator.allsimbaseball9.com/recipe.php?recipe_id=12

Weigh, don't measure. If you have an empty home oven, because of the insulation, it doubles as a good wine cooler, which can keep your bulk dough at what Craig recommends (60f - 65f) with frozen water bottles.

The good thing about using a starter(even if not an Ischia) is that the yeast gets started in a thinner mixture, rather than a full dough mixture. After giving the starter some time before adding to your dough mixture, you have a yeast that is not overeating and over-gassing your dough. I found this out quite by accident recently, just because I was curious about the differences in flavor. What I found was that flavor using a starter was not that different from a 48 hour dough made with IDY. The bigger difference was in the yeast activity. It appears that IDY acts like it hasn't eaten in months(and it hasn't) and tends to over-gas if not tempered using lower temps.

A starter, on the other hand, seems to distribute smaller bubbles at a slower pace, like an organism that isn't (or hasn't been) in starvation mode like IDY acts. A real plus, I think.

To go further, I experimented with a simple Cibatta dough using an IDY starter...well, what I mean is that I started the IDY about 8 hours earlier with 197 grams water, 197 grams flour and 6 grams of IDY. After foaming up and relaxing, the mixture was added to my Ciabatta dough. Over the course of 24 hours at 27c(room temp here), the dough looked VERY different from my previous doughs. Bubbles were much smaller and gas seemed much more evenly distributed, both traits desireable in NP dough.

Sorry for the rambling. I hope you get your dough the way you like. But more importantly, I hope you get your pizza to come out the way you like!! :)

Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2013, 02:04:19 PM »
Thanks for your thoughts Montoya!  If I can send you some dried starter via post, lemme know, I'd be happy to help. 

There isn't anything really "bad" about my pizza.  It's actually quite good and people seem to love it.  I'm wondering if there isn't a way to make it a little more tender.  I've been reading that the sourdough starter might actually make the dough tougher...  I need to start doing more experimenting and like you said, get my starter dialed in, down to the gram.
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin

Offline f.montoya

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2013, 01:44:52 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts Montoya!  If I can send you some dried starter via post, lemme know, I'd be happy to help. 

There isn't anything really "bad" about my pizza.  It's actually quite good and people seem to love it.  I'm wondering if there isn't a way to make it a little more tender.  I've been reading that the sourdough starter might actually make the dough tougher...  I need to start doing more experimenting and like you said, get my starter dialed in, down to the gram.

Thanks for offer! I just may take you up on that one day. :)

As far as tenderness is concerned, five things affect it, in my experience...

1. A sufficiently relaxed doughball. If you try to open a doughball too soon, it will resist you as you are pulling. What you end up doing is slapping and pulling just to get it stretched out. It may look cool and impressive to your guests but the truth is that the dough is not ready to be baked. The softer and more relaxed the dough is, the more tender it will be after baking. Depending on the season, humidity and temperature, a doughball needs anywhere from 3 or 4 hours to maybe even 12 hours sitting around so it can fully relax.

2. Oven temperature. I would normally echo that a certain recommended temperature is needed, but all wood fired ovens are not created equal. The rule is basically to get your oven as hot as possible while maintaining the ability to get an even bake. My oven works best when the floor is between 780f to 840f, the walls are 900f to 950f and the dome is 1000f+. In contrast, I think Craig mentioned his sweetspot for his Acunto oven floor is 850f or a bit higher. Materials behave differently when it comes to absorbing heat, reflecting, and radiating it so you just have to keep testing to see how hot you can get it, without compromising your ability to manage an even bake. But the main point is a hotter, faster bake equals a more tender crust because moisture is trapped and retained as the outer crust solidifies and the extreme heat causes better oven spring in the cornice, all resulting in increased tenderness.

3. Opening of the doughball and forming the disc. Technique here seems to matter as well. The more air you can push out toward the edges, the better, as this air will create more bubbles on the cornice. More bubbles on the cornice will give you less chewiness because the air pockets will expand during oven spring. Maybe we can get Craig to demonstrate in a video (*wink*) ;)

4. Don't use High Gluten flours of 14% or so. Caputo 00 is around 11.5% and, while others are having great results with other flours, Caputo gives us new guys a built in advantage of getting a tender finished pie due to the lessened gluten content, without compromising the ease of making and working with the dough. You can hydrate Caputo 00 a little more than some other flours because it is a little more absorbent, while remaining easy to work with. This added moisture will contribute to tenderness of the finished crust. But you know what? This will probably be unnoticeable to your guests. I find that I am the biggest critic of my pizza making. It seems that nobody ever notices the difference, even when I tell them something is different.  :-D

5. Finally...eat it HOT. The longer any pizza sits uneaten, the chewier it will become. Fresh out of a 900 degree oven will be as tender as tender can be!

Offline pizza dr

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2013, 11:28:55 AM »
Hey guys, I'm curious to know what I can do to make my dough "better."  I came up with my own work flow originally because I was confused on how to work with my starter.  I used to do things by weight but then I switched to volume because it's fast and easy. I've played with hydration differences but it really doesn't tend to change the structure of the dough. 


Any thoughts on what I can do to make a better dough?

Thanks!

What f.montoya mentioned in his first sentence is IMHO the first thing you should do.  Weigh everything out to the gram.  There are a lot of variables that you cannot control when making pizza such as the humidity, temp in your kitchen/backyard, condition of your flour, etc. etc. etc.  This to me is what makes pizza making fun... BUT, the more variables that you can control the better and more CONSISTENT your pizzas will be.  Once you get comfortable weighing things out, you'll wonder why you didn't do that from the beginning.  Personally, I think I can get a batch of dough mixed together much faster with a good scale than I ever could measuring it out. 

Scot


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2013, 11:51:47 AM »
Sourdough can make a tougher dough as compared to baker's yeast due to the acid tightening the gluten. I think this is really only a potential problem the way you are doing it with a large amount of starter. Using a small amount of starter and a long ferment can make a crust that is every bit as tender as baker's yeast if not more so.

Also, the fridge is not your friend. A formula we should all commit to memory is: sourdough + fridge good crust. I think this even without the heavy dose of culture, this leads to tough crust.

I agree with Fidel that a relaxed dough ball (at least 12 hours, IMO) and a gentle opening are also important for tenderness. Not too long ago, I was at a NP place in Calgary and I watched the guy beat the dough like it owed him money - guess what, there was nothing tender about it.

I'd dispense with the autolyze. If you're getting 24 hours of fermentation, it's probably not doing anything for you. It increases the logistical challenge, but 48 hours would be better for flavor and tenderness. I'd let it rest for 15 min after you take it out of the Bosch and give it a few hand kneads. It will get a lot smoother. You might ever give it a second 15 minute rest and another set of hand kneads.

Experimentation is probably most important of all. Trying to do what someone else does in your unique situation only goes so far. There is no substitute for experience.

You're using a 2stone, right? What are your bake times?
Pizza is not bread.

Offline f.montoya

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2013, 12:25:37 PM »
Not too long ago, I was at a NP place in Calgary and I watched the guy beat the dough like it owed him money - guess what, there was nothing tender about it.

I was in an NP place today for lunch. Seemed like the girl was trying hard to impress. I was impressed by her skills with slapping dough and even oven management and how she could turn a pie. However, the final product seemed to lack lift in the cornice and the tenderness was nowhere near what I had baked in my kitchen oven(@ 530f) last week using Glutenboy's recipe for NY style(Thanks GB!! It was raining outside that day and I needed a closer!). In any case, I have very little to judge by, here in Japan. The pizza was tasty and I loved the toppings but I have to say it could have been better.

Here is the video:



P.s. I have learned to slap and even flip and toss dough, just because I like all that non-sense. But I don't recommend it unless you're putting on a show or are in a hurry to feed kids who you need to entertain and could care less about a great crust.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 12:27:41 PM by f.montoya »

Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2013, 09:28:15 PM »
Thanks for the advice, criticism and encouragment guys!
Dr. Yeah, you're right and I know you're right, I've just been lazy.  I should at least regroup and start measuring to establish a bench mark. 

Craig, I think my bake times are around two minutes, I haven't timed one.  I will.  I see around 720 degrees up front, 820 in the back and 950ish on the upper stone.  I'm going to follow your suggestion and start experimenting a lot more.  I'm going to do some work before, during and after the weekend and will report back.  Thanks
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2013, 10:12:30 PM »
Thanks for the advice, criticism and encouragment guys!
Dr. Yeah, you're right and I know you're right, I've just been lazy.  I should at least regroup and start measuring to establish a bench mark. 

Craig, I think my bake times are around two minutes, I haven't timed one.  I will.  I see around 720 degrees up front, 820 in the back and 950ish on the upper stone.  I'm going to follow your suggestion and start experimenting a lot more.  I'm going to do some work before, during and after the weekend and will report back.  Thanks

Ringkingpin,

I am hopefully getting a 2stone in the near future so maybe we can compare notes. For now, get a scale and measure!

If nothing else, weight-based cooking gives you a fairly precise foundation upon which you can build.... "Oh I really liked bakeshack's dough but instead of 62% HR I tried 58%." Or, "TxCraig's Ischia-based recipe is great but tonight I'm going to try using 5.2% starter instead of 1.3%"

There's no right and no wrong. Just your craft. And unless you can define what your craft is, you will be all over the place. Which may, come to think of it, be the style you are going for! :chef:

John K
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Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2013, 10:50:33 PM »
You're going to love your two stone.  I've had mine for almost three years and it hasn't skipped a beat.  You can't beat the heavy duty construction and functionality IMO. 
I'm not a stranger to measuring.  My wife and I met in Paris where we both got our grand diplome from LCB.  I worked for years as a pastry chef and from time to time as a baker.  Proabably the most interesting thing I did with bread was a course at Le Notre which was taught by an MOF. 
But yeah, I should establish a benchmark by weighing.  Honestly, I'm more intrigued with paying with ratios of starter / dough. 
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin


Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2013, 01:50:25 PM »
Hey guys, I've been experimenting with my ratio of starters.  I have done two batches where I decreased the amount of my start by 50% and increased the time of my ferment by 50%.  The result was a lighter, less chewy crust!  Thank you for your tips and thoughts!
Also, I have converted my old wine 'fridge to a cool proofing box, at least something where I can control the temps from 50% to 65%.  I'll keep you guys posted of my findings as I continue to experiment.  thanks again!
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin

Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2013, 08:59:55 AM »
i've made three batches of dough since my call for help and each batch has been better than the last.  Here are some pics from last night.  I used about 35% of the amount of starter I used to use and did a bulk ferment @ 60 degrees in my new wine cellar proofing box and then balled them up.  The dough was a high hydration than I have been doing using and it baked a lot less chewy and had a more delicate, airy structure.  I'm still working on it but there is a marked difference between this dough and what I was making.  Also, the level of acidity, taste wise is way down from where it was.
The only problem I was having was that I pushed the burner on the 2stone back ALL the way, I was probably about 85% of the way back before.  I was trying to get it hotter up top but need to pull it closer to the front a little bit.  The flames were wicking past the edge of the stone and causing the crown of the pizza to sometimes burn.  So once I get my balance of heat back, I think I'll be in action.

« Last Edit: September 16, 2013, 09:03:29 AM by ringkingpin »
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2013, 12:23:00 PM »
Well from an appearance standpoint those pies are looking GREAT!

And if you are pleased with the taste aspect then congrats!

Now, if you're like the rest of us the real struggle is with consistency from one bake to the next.

So GOOD LUCK!

John K
I'm not wearing hockey pads!

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2013, 12:33:14 PM »
Pies look good - crumb structure is nice. It looks like you could pull the dough balls a little tighter when you make them.

Pizza is not bread.

Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2013, 01:49:55 PM »
Well from an appearance standpoint those pies are looking GREAT!

And if you are pleased with the taste aspect then congrats!

Now, if you're like the rest of us the real struggle is with consistency from one bake to the next.

So GOOD LUCK!

John K

Thanks John!

Yes, I was quite happy with them.  The thing that bugged me the most was that I had adjusted the burner and pushed it back further.  I think using my "new" wine fridge proofing box will help eliminate one of the many variables and hopefully lead to more consistant results. 
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin

Offline ringkingpin

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Re: What can I do to improve my dough?
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2013, 01:51:23 PM »
Pies look good - crumb structure is nice. It looks like you could pull the dough balls a little tighter when you make them.

Thanks Craig.  yeah, I'll have to blame that on my better half. :)  She was given the duty of balling the dough while we were out dirtbiking and it was a lot more slack than the dough she usually balls up.  I'm looking forward to more experimenting!
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are."
 Brillat-Savarin