I got lucky this afternoon and was able to locate and read the CI article at a different Barnes & Noble. Better yet, one of our members was kind enough to forward a copy of an abridged version of the article that contains the “meaty” and controversial part of the article as well as the recipe for the dough used. I have read the article several times and have the following comments to offer for those who have the article.
To begin, there is nothing particularly unique about the dough recipe set forth in the CI article. It is quite similar to those recommended over the years--particularly before 00 flours became more widely available--by Pamela Sheldon Johns, Carol Fields, and many others. As part of my ritual when I see new dough recipes, I converted the CI recipe to baker’s percents so that I could analyze it better. I also calculated the total dough weight and thickness factor (discussed more fully below). My analysis indicates the use of a high amount of instant dry yeast (the highest percent recommended for pizza dough) and a rather high hydration for an all-purpose/cake flour blend (almost 63%). Using a food processor, along with the large quantity of yeast and the warm water, will indeed speed up the dough making process and allow one to make the pizzas within 1 1/2 hours, as mentioned in the article. However, making pizzas fast and using a food processor to assist in that goal is also not new. I have used essentially the same approach described in the CI article many times before to make really speedy Neapolitan-style pizzas, which I call “Last-Minute” pizzas because they can be made entirely within an hour. I have described the processes I used, including the use of a proofing box to speed things up even faster, at Reply 12 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2250.msg19793.html#msg19793
I calculated that the recipe recited in the CI article makes two dough balls of almost 11 ounces each, for a 12-inch pizza. That translates into a thickness factor of around 0.095. That suggests a somewhat thicker crust than produced by the bulk of the Neapolitan style dough formulations on the forum but well within the range of thickness factors used in a collective sense by our members, from 0.07-0.11. What the author has come up with is a fast Neapolitan-style dough using cake flour and all-purpose flour to simulate 00 flour. Useful perhaps, and maybe worthy of making, but not particularly unique.
I think where the disconnect comes is in the author’s over reliance on the effect of the type of flour used and, in particular, in its relationship to bake time and crust texture. I also sense that the author does not fully comprehend that two different doughs/pizzas baked in two different types of ovens at two different temperatures can have significantly different heat transfer rates through the pizzas such that one pizza will take longer to bake than the other and have different finished crust characteristics. The type of flour used is indeed material and can’t be ignored because a higher protein flour will usually result in a more developed gluten structure that will be able to retain the gases of fermentation better and longer. That can result in a more risen and gassy dough that can resist heat transfer through it such that it takes longer to properly bake the pizza. But flour is only one component of the equation. By controlling the hydration, the amount of salt, the amount of yeast, and even the amount of sugar and oil (if used), it is possible to materially alter the heat transfer rate through the dough and thereby affect the bake time and finished crust characteristics (i.e., whether the crust is crispy, chewy, light, soft, tender, etc.).
Even apart from the dough formulation itself, the thickness selected for the dough, whether the dough is proofed or docked before being dressed, the size of the pizza, and the amount and types of cheeses and toppings will also influence the heat transfer rates and bake time in the oven. Finally, the oven itself introduces many aspects of thermodynamics of its own that also have to be taken into account. These include the design, size, volume and type of oven (e.g., home oven, commercial oven, convection or non-convection), stone/rack positioning, the availability of the broiler, pre-heat times, heat retentivity, etc.
Since the author does not recite the dough formulation that the pizza operator used (I assume it was the standard high-gluten dough formulation used by the operator) or the parameters of the operator’s pizzas, we can only speculate as to what factors might have influenced the results of the pizzas produced by that operator—if baked in either oven. That makes trying to compare the two different doughs baked in two different types of ovens at two different temperatures fraught with peril. To do a proper comparison, one has to know the two dough formulations and their related parameters (size, thickness, etc.) and then relate them to the particular ovens used. You can’t just take any dough and expect any given oven to bake it perfectly. And, I don’t view it as a chicken or egg sort of thing. Given a particular dough formulation, it is usually possible to determine what kind of oven is best to use with that formulation. Likewise, given a particular oven, it is usually possible to determine what kind of dough formulation will work best with that oven. It is the disconnect between the two that often leads to new oven designs or new dough formulations. But, either way, the dough formulation and the oven have to be compatible if you hope to achieve high quality results.