Author Topic: Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza  (Read 6030 times)

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Offline scpizza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2006, 10:13:39 PM »
I left the AC blasting in my bedroom for a day to achieve 75 degrees.  At this temperature, I did a 20 hour rise with "punchdown" after the first 12 hours.   At that point, volume had hardly budged, but I cut and reformed the balls anyway (290g balls for a 12" pizza).  At the end of the 20 hours, I was at 50% above initial volume.

My hydration was about 55%.  Prior problems with overly wet dough and poor gluten structure have gradually disappeared as I've been more carefully allowing for longer rest periods at various stages of mixing, giving the dough a thorough kneading, and stopping the dough at lower rise volumes.

I also removed the pizza from the oven after 6 minutes @ 650deg minding some of Peter's comments to the effect that whether or not the crust was brown, cooking over 6 minutes is bad.

The results of all these changes was a noticeable improvement.  The oven spring was better and crumb was more open than before.  I still have this odd problem of a few huge bubbles and many smaller bubbles, also evidenced as the bottom of the crust slightly separating from the rest.  Not sure what's causing that.  (pic below)  However the outside crust texture was pleasantly softer on the outside, and not as dense on the inside.  Moreover the flavor of the dough was much improved.

Overall, the crust has taken a real step forward.  Thanks to everyone for your helpful comments.

My conclusions:
- Less starter, longer rise does produce better crust flavor and texture
- Rise temperature matters, a shorter rise at higher temps is not the same
- Get it out of the oven in under 6 minutes or eat cardboard
- 50% over initial volume is a decent guideline for a dough rise that's "done"


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2006, 10:52:06 PM »
scpizza,

Through your attention to detail and persistence, I can see that you are getting your arms around the process: the dough formulation, the dough management, and the oven. All three have to be in balance to get the best results. With practice and experience your pizzas will only get better. And don't be afraid to gradually up the hydration. The results will tell you when you have gone too far.

Peter

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2006, 04:38:31 AM »
I would start with an 8-12 hours dough and slightly higher hydration.... Leave the starter aside.... First get the basic right and then you can move on a make the things more complicated...

Ciao

Offline scpizza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2006, 04:03:22 PM »
Leave the starter aside?  Make dough with no yeast?  Wouldn't that dough be flat?

I did try the higher hydration - 61%.  I also bit the bullet and bought a Santos.  I skipped the autolyse, just dumped everything in the bowl and let the Santos wail away on it.

Results are below, lightest crust I've ever produced.  Unsure if it's the higher hydration or the Santos to thank - probably both.  As you can see, great crumb structure.  Another big step forward.

Fermentation was 14 hours @ 75deg with reshape after 8 hours.  Surprisingly dough was threatening to overblow, was 100% of initial size.  Perhaps the lack of autolyse or Santos kneading freed up more sugars producing a faster rise than my last batch where 20 hours only produced a 50% increase.  Also the flavor was not as good as the 20 hour rise.  My conclusion - longer, cooler rise is better!

Also, got oven up to 700deg.  Ahhh, that's getting there.  Cooked for 3.5 minutes.


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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2006, 04:26:55 PM »
scpizza,

Very nice job. The only way you will be able to tell whether the hydration or the Santos mixer was behind the improved results is to try the 61% hydration with your prior hand kneading approach. Or possibly try the lower hydration with the Santos mixer.

I am pretty certain that Marco meant that you should start with commercial yeast until you figured things out.

Peter

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2006, 11:39:01 AM »
scpizza,


I am pretty certain that Marco meant that you should start with commercial yeast until you figured things out.

Peter

Indeed.....

Offline scott r

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2006, 12:22:49 PM »
scpizza, that is a beautiful crumb structure.  You were able to achieve that much faster than I was.  You are definitely doing something right! 

Was this pizza cooked with your crazy stove top oven idea?

Offline scpizza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2006, 07:21:23 PM »
Thanks Scott.  I feel like a blind man looking for a black cat in a dark room, but with the kind suggestions of everyone here and enough trial and error, eventually I'll get that cat.  Once I do, I intend to write up a summary of everything I've learned to share with others chasing their own cats.

Unfortunately this pizza was not cooked with my crazy stove top oven idea because I still can't find the beast nor convince anyone to make one for me, but I continue to look.  It's a good idea.  Instead, this was a conventional oven that I cajoled into getting a little hotter than usual.

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2006, 07:46:03 PM »
scpizza,

Can you tell us in a bit more detail how you cajoled your oven to get more heat? I know that in some ovens there is an adjustment that can get maybe another 25-50 degrees F above about 500 degrees F, but not to 700 degrees F.

Peter

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2006, 09:08:54 PM »
Impressive progress! You are probably already doing this and this is probably intuitively obvious, but you would be well-served to change only one parameter at a time.

Except for your oven temp, we have pretty similar ingredients and equipment. I use 10% starter as a percent of total weight and a 64% hydration including starter. My dough doubles at room temp after about 8 hours and then it goes into the fridge for a day. I've tried using less starter and longer fermentation and, for my tastes, the result is just not as good.

You may want to try NOT dumping everything at once into the Santos. Also, a final 20-minute riposo makes a big difference in the final texture.

Keep us informed of your efforts!

Bill/SFNM


Offline scpizza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2006, 09:00:32 PM »
Progress update:

I've been running more experiments.  Had some suprising failures.  For example did one batch with 76% hydration and an 18 hour rise @ 70 degrees which should have been killer...yet crust was awful.  Dense with a few huge bubbles.  Go figure.

I had a very good batch today (picture below) and attribute it to a few changes in technique I'd like to share with the group.

I took a few hours to carefully read the summarized works of our learned brethren on the other side of the kitchen making sourdough.  About 75% of the sourdough faq is directly applicable to our work with pizza.  This should be required reading for anyone using starters with pizza:  http://www.faqs.org/faqs/food/sourdough/faq/  (note, this page also gave me an ah-ha on the effects of hydration: http://www.artisanbakers.com/crumb.html)

I made two key changes to this latest batch:

1) Added yeast only after autolyse, and added salt only at very end of kneading.  The sourdough faq says that salt messes up the gluten structure, so adding it early can cause probelms.  And of course the acidity from the starter may interfere with the autolyse process.

2) Took from starter at peak of yeast activity.  Up until now I had been using starter without regard for the time since the last feeding.  It could have been 2 hours, could have been 36 hours.  Turns out by 36 hours most of your starter is dead and the bacteria concentration is abnormally higher than yeast.  The time to take it is just before its peak, which can vary by starter culture but is probably sometime between 4-12 hours since the last feeding.  You can time it fairly exactly if you use a 50% water, 50% flour by weight refresh mix, then observe the yeast activity via bubbles and height in the jar.

For this batch I did a 67% hydration dough, 21 hour rise @ 75 degrees.  The dough felt just right.  It was a coherent, jiggly, stretchable pillow of air.  It stuck to things, but then un-adhered by slowly stretching then detaching by glutenous strands.   I didn't overhandle it, but it was not averse to handling and did not disintegrate.  It almost stretched itself out when lifted.  I confess it was about 80%-90% of initial volume and could not have taken much more rise time before overblowing.

It turned out fantastic.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2006, 09:06:05 PM by scpizza »

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2006, 09:11:35 PM »
and added salt only at very end of kneading.  The sourdough faq says that salt messes up the gluten structure, so adding it early can cause problems. 

Turns out this week I have been experimenting with exactly this point - when to add the salt. I have done two batches so far: one with dissolving the salt in the water at the very start of the mixing and one with the salted mixed in near the end of kneading. I want to do a few more tests, but so far, I haven't been able to detect any difference. I see no indication of anything blocking the formation of gluten.

Bill/SFNM

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #32 on: August 09, 2006, 09:48:06 PM »
scpizza,

I think there is such a thing as too high a hydration. I liken it to a sponge saturated with water. To get that type of structure to rise would take a lot of leavening power. I'm not sure that can be done easily in a highly hydrated dough with a preferment, even a virile one. By analogy, a properly made ciabatta bread with its high hydration will usually be quite flat. In fact, the Italian word "ciabatta" translates into "slipper".

The autolyse you used is the classic one as devised by Professor Raymond Calvel in the 70s. Much has been written on this forum about autolyse (the term is even in the Pizza Glossary), but one of my favorite threads on the subject is this one: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2632.msg22758.html#msg22758. You should particularly note cocoabean's post at Reply 9. BTW, in Italy, a rest period called a riposo is sometimes used with doughs. Apparently it can be used like an autolyse or at the end of a knead.

I have read both of the references you cited, and agree that they are good sources of information on starters. However, there is so much contradictory information on preferments on the internet I don't know what is fact and what is fiction. This is an area rife with opinion and anecdotal evidence.

Peter

Offline scpizza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #33 on: October 19, 2006, 08:37:45 PM »
I made an interesting discovery.  It turns out one should never attempt to reshape a dough ball after it has risen - for neither high temp nor low temp ovens.  For low temp, you'll destroy the rise (see my prior post - and independent confirmation from scott r comments).  For high temp, you'll destroy the stretchability of the dough!

I put too many doughballs in a bin and had to separate them and extract them as separate gobs as they had risen into each other.  As I removed each one, I dutifully reshaped it back into a pretty ball.   However when I went to flatten the ball into a skin, I encountered a most curious problem - excessive elasticity.  I couldn't stretch my dough out!  The dough was like Stretch Armstrong, it would just keep coming back into a ball.   Only after 5 minutes of forceful stretching and holding would the dough begin to flatten, but even then would want to clump into thick spots and tear in thin spots.

This was with proper yeast, rise, temp, kneading, etc. and producing beautiful crust --- just way too thick.

On a lark I took one of the blobs and did not reshape it, but just pulled it straight out into a skin and viola - it stretched beautifully and evenly.

I speculate this phenomenon has something to do with how the gluten strands are chemically altered and cross linked during the rise while in certain orientation.  If you scramble that alignment after this process, the resulting dough can't be stretched properly.

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2006, 09:17:35 PM »
scpizza,

You learned a lesson that all of us have learned at some point in our pizza making careers. Tom Lehmann describes the dough tightening phenomenon as follows:

When you knock down the dough balls and re-round them you are really toughening the gluten...and it can then take several more hours before you can shape the dough ball into a pizza skin. This is the nature of wheat based doughs, the gluten just doesn't like to be stretched, and formed back into a ball. It gets tough and very difficult to manage. We call this "bucky".

Peter

Offline scpizza

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Re: Problems with Neapolitan-Style Pizza
« Reply #35 on: December 29, 2006, 11:36:20 AM »
If a shaped ball needs time for the gluten to adjust to its new arrangement, then does the technique used to shape a ball matter?

I use this technique, which is a sort of rolling on the side while pressing in with the thumbs in the middle.  It seems to cycle the dough up in through the center and out down the sides into a toroidal shape.  I envision this aligning the gluten strands in a radially symmetrical form that would make for even stretching when forming the skin.  But this is speculation.  Any thoughts on ball shaping techniques and what works well?