Upfront, this is my very first post (apart from my introduction thread) and I am sorry if it probably turns out to be the longest ever on this forum
! I have tried to include all the relevant information and appreciate any comments you may have. I am also thankful if you want to make suggestions regarding my posting style. I promise I will also start one-liner threads.
We plan on opening a small bakery and pizza-restaurant in a 150.000 city in Taiwan, where pizza is either unknown to the people, or most things offered as 'pizza' are unknown to me (me, that is someone who grew up eating pizza in Austria - which is next to Italy, and has eaten pizza around the world, I think I do know what great pizza is). Just this morning I put on the chimney on our beautifully built WFO and I cant wait to throw in the first pizzas sometime later this week.
Inpatient as I am I want to ask your thoughts on what kind of issues I can expect (and how I can approach them) when switching from the average family pizza bake to small restaurant operation, in particular regarding to dough time & (limited!) space management.
I understand that it is quite theoretical as yet, as I haven't had the chance to try my dough in the WFO (have to make up with whatever electrical mini oven one can get here in Taiwan - ovens are a rarity here) and the recipe might have to change. Obviously I will post over the next couple of weeks and adding new information, as the results from the WFO materialise - but I would still appreciate comments now not to get a massive shock experience and delaying the opening day.
I would call my pizza 'Neapolitan oriented' as this describes closest my desired outcome. However, I don't feel a need to stick to some kind of certified norm, I want to do what works for me. E.g. I do not use Caputo 00 as this is difficult to get here and very expensive, plus I am quite happy with the stuff I use at the moment.
I am very happy with my dough, which uses
flour 100% (I use a local brand with 12-13 % protein, 34.5-36.5 absorption, 0.38-0.40 ashes) (Caputo 00 Pizzeria compares to that with similar protein 12,75 much higher absorption 55-57, and higher ashes 0.50)
cold water 60%
fresh yeast 0.3 %
salt 3 %
I have read that the secret of some pizzerias is to substitute some of the water with wine - so I have experimented with that too and find that 5% of any cheap white wine will add to the flavour and homogeneity of the dough.
I do sometimes add a little olive oil at the very end (very un-Neapoliatan!), maybe 1 teaspoon or less, and also find that it helps achieving a rounder and fuller flavour.
I dissolve the fresh yeast in the cold water with my hands, put in the mixer, add the flour and mix the whole thing for a few minutes in my 20l / 3kg (4.4 gal / 106 ounces) capacity dough fork mixer (a Taiwanese brand with the name Tinso), I then add the salt. The mixer has 3 speed settings. I usually start on 1 (slow) until the ingredients come together and then go to setting 2 (medium) for the remaining time. The total mixing time I ususally somewhere around 10 minutes - not more.
Relaxing, balling, and fermenting:
I then transfer the dough into a big Tupperware container, close the lid and let it relax for about 1hr at room temperature. I then ball the dough into 160g / 5.6 ounce balls (for 9" pizzas), place in Tupperware airtight container and put in the fridge to cold ferment. I have had the best results with a 63 hrs fridge fermentation (I don't have a thermometer in my fridge, but its a 'standard' home fridge which is also used as such, i.e. frequent opening of the doors). I have also used the same dough and let ferment (in balls that is) at room temperature (which happened to be 23 C / 73F - temperatures here are mostly consistent day and night, which is convenient), which gave me a 'perfect' result after 13hrs.
My mixture was made with 1kg / 35 ounces flour. The dough was great to work with, the room temperature fermented one, the cold fermented one with and without allowing to come back to room temperature, and the dough had a nice enough spring in the crappy kitchen oven which maxes at about 230 C / 450F. I can't upload pictures at the moment, but the pizza looked like a pizza should look like and has a good taste.
The maximum amount of dough I have used so far was somewhere around 1.3kg (46 ounces). I will use the maximum capacity of my mixer 3kg / 106 ounces flour later this week when preparing dough for the first WFO fire
Now, the question is: If I plan to use this dough (and at least for a start also this mixer) to produce pizzas on a daily basis for the restaurant - what will happen? How can I make sure I have enough dough at the required time, little waste, and great taste?
There are a couple of interesting elements playing their part, e.g. how do I estimate the number of pizzas I will have to make and sell (any comments on this are also welcome). Recently a pizza place opened nearby and they had an introductory offer, the first two days the first 100 customers at each lunch and dinner time got a 12" salami pizza for 1 Taiwandollar (3 US cent!!!) (400 pizzas in total). Surely enough the place was packed, I went 3 times and never got one. I was willing to buy a pizza at the regular price just to try it out but the owner told us that they had only prepared 100 doughs for each set. There were a few other customers who would have also paid for pizza. Our impression is just that, as a new business, attracting customers on the opening day, we don't want to send anyone home empty handed. Should we do anything similar I will surely prepare 100+ doughs!
While I feel confident preparing almost any number of pizzas for one single day the whole thing gets a lot more complex when I want to make pizzas every day. I have 1 fridge that will hold up to around 80 dough balls (I just bought new dough storage containers and don't know yet exactly how many balls I can place in there - but the number should be somewhere around the 80 I imagine). With my old method and the 63 hours cold fermentation I can sell pizza every 4th day
The 13hr room temperature fermentation is already a little while ago, but I generally trust my notes which say the result was perfect. I will need to try this out again because thinking back of my very first pizza dough experiments a few years ago following a Jamie Oliver recipe, and advice that I may also use a fresh yeast dough straight away (it did surely work in that it produced something that looked a little bit like a pizza but I was also thirsty like a camel afterwards for one thing and my yeast blown stomach isn't something I would want my customers to experience either!), I want to be careful on the yeast-effect that a relatively short fermentation period leaves (even though the drastic cutting down of the amount of yeast I use has helped this tremendously - I still see recipes today (mainly in Europe) that call for a cube of fresh yeast per kg, i.e. 42g per kg / 1.5 ounces per 35 ounces or even more - do they want people to fly to the moon with that
So, my thinking leads me to somewhere near the idea of making dough every day and using the 13hr room temperature fermentation. The 80 or so dough balls in the fridge would serve as a backup, routinely replacing them every 3 days. Do you guys see that work out? What's your experience and/or opinion on selling different doughs?
How often will I have to make dough? Can I make the lunchtime and dinner dough at the same time? Anyone ever made a lot of dough using a tiny mixer such as mine? My 106 ounce mixer gives me 30 5.6 ounce dough balls (106 ounces flour plus other ingredients) at a time, so I plan on using it at least 3 times in a row.
I guess the exact quantities I will have to figure out over time, when my place is either packed (
) or empty (
). What I want to avoid obviously is running out of dough (I am not too concerned about the other possibility, the one that I am left with too many dough balls; in that case I plan to just bake little breads with it and sell them in the small bakery that we also run). My rough estimate as a normal pizza guy is that a place such as mine will sell somewhere around 100 pizzas per day (although my business plan has a much much lower number for survival).
Taking 100 pizzas per day as an estimate, anyone with an idea how 100 doughs could be prepared for each day? How do other pizzerias do that, or some of you who celebrate huge pizza parties over several days in a row!
My wife has come up with the idea of bulk fermenting in the fridge first, as this will save space - I haven't thought that through yet but I can imagine it may be a great idea. I also have never made dough with a preferment which, as I understand it, allows one to make dough in shorter time. Ideally I want to stick to my current dough and preparation method as much as possible - but I understand that my knowledge is limited, that's why I am posting here
, so if it doesn't make sense to you please tell me!
I would appreciate that if you have any suggestions to alter the fermentation time or technique that you include information on whether or not my flour can cope with that or if I would have to change something along that line as well.
I will also experiment with another local flour I have just found out about which is only slightly more expensive and which claims to be specifically for stone oven and pizza use. It is lower in protein (11.1 - 12 %), but that's all I know about it for now. I will get my first bag this week, hopefully there is more info on the pack!
Are there any important back up strategies that I may want to consider should something really go wrong with either the room temperature dough or the fridge?
I admire every honored forum member who worked him/herself through this long post and truly look forward to any comments you may have! It will help make pizza known to these people here behind the mountain!
PS: While writing this I noticed that most of you are from the US and that you measure in ounces and gallons
, so I have tried to provide the proper units. If any amount seems ridiculous to you please ask and I will confirm whether or not its a mistake!