Author Topic: Excess flour on fingers  (Read 2527 times)

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Offline gschwim

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Excess flour on fingers
« on: July 25, 2006, 09:01:38 AM »
I am new at trying to make Neopolitan pizzas, so I need to know if the following is normal and if it's not, how to avoid the problem:  When I eat pizza in a restaurant, or in the photos on this site, where they show the bottom of a slice, I see no excess flour on the bottom of the pizza.  Certainly, when I eat a slice of (New York) pizza from any pizzeria in New York, I've never had to wipe flour dust off my fingers.  But for the pizzas I make myself, there always is flour on the bottom of the pizza that comes off on my fingers.  The last time I made a pizza, I shaped the dough on a cutting board, then picked up the disk, gave it a gentle shake to get the excess flour off, then put the disk on a completely unfloured wooden peel for transfer to the oven and still there was flour on my fingers when I ate the pizza.  So is this normal, or is there some technique for getting excess flour off the bottom of the dough?


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2006, 09:22:59 AM »
My 2 cents: Neapolitan dough has a high water content. This can result in a sticky dough the requires a larger amount of bench flour for easy handling. But the dough doesn't have to be sticky if you manage it correctly. Things I've learned from Marco on this forum, such as not adding all the flour at once to the water and allowing for a riposo at the end of the kneading have given my dough a completely different texture - not as sticky and easier to handle. I'm sure I use different ingredients, mixer, dough management, and oven than you do, but I've gone from having to use excessive amounts of bench flour to using relatively little.

Assuming the flour you are the seeing is the result of excessive bench flour, you may want to try different dough prep/management techniques to get a less sticky dough.

Bill/SFNM


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2006, 10:02:27 AM »
gschwim,

I have always been befuddled by the different approaches that people use to handle dough on the bench. Some people routinely drop a dough ball into a bowl of flour, roll it around in the bowl of flour, and then work the dough on the bench to shape into a skin. Others use the minimum amount of bench flour possible. The proponents of this approach claim that using any more than the minimum effectively lowers the hydration ratio of the dough (and possibly defeats the purpose of having a high hydration in the first place), and, moreover can produce bitterness in the crust because the flour is raw. Too much bench flour can also change the way the crust bakes up because white flour reflects heat rather than absorbing it. As an example of the approach recommended by the Caputo people in respect of using bench flour for Neapolitan doughs, you may want to note Reply 10 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,783.msg7219.html#msg7219. The highlighted portion in the middle of that post was in the original document as I received it from the importer of the Caputo flour; I did not highlight it.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, I try to keep the bench flour to an absolute minimum. I think also that because I am using a home oven rather than a very-high temperature oven, it may be possible that excessive bench flour behaves differently in my oven during baking than in a very high temperature oven. What I mean by this is that maybe a very high oven temperature "cooks" the raw bench flour more than my oven and browns it or de-natures the protein in the flour more than my oven can do.

Peter

Offline scpizza

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2006, 02:59:52 PM »
I also have problems with "too much" flour noticing the excess left on the stone in the oven as black residue.  Wood burning pizza ovens I've seen have no such black residue on the deck.  However when I use less flour on the peel, I get the dreaded peel stick and subsequent destroyed pizza.  I try to minimize skin time resting on the peel to attempt to reduce stickage risk.

To my shock, I observed at Luzzo's they dunk the dough ball in a pile of flour before stretching it out.  Go figure.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2006, 05:11:18 PM by scpizza »

Offline PizzaBrasil

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2006, 03:15:18 PM »
gschwim:

Well, I know that I have a little advantage by baking in a brick oven  :chef:
However, the use of the bench flour always worried me, and I did try, the most of the times, to use as low flour as possible, as recommended several times in this site.
Even, seeing some videos about shaping dough (from Italian pizzerias) it was a surprise to me to realize how much (and was a looot) of bench flour this ‘specialists’ used in it.
I did try, intentionally, with a few more bench flour (upper and down of the dough) when shaping the dough before baking (normally I use to spread flour along with a little cornmeal on the peel) and I did not notice big differences.
Of course, my palate is not a super trained one, and it is why I used the word ‘notice’.
Sorry, gschwim, not flour in the fingers  ;)
I had returned to shape with just the flour that I feel that is necessary, at the moment of shaping, because there is not advantage in flour waste.

Luis

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2006, 04:16:29 PM »
th first dip in flour is OK as all the excessive residue is eliminated during shaping.... The flour should not be left on the bench and under the pizza...

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2006, 04:20:15 PM »
To my shock, I observed at Luzzo's they dunk the dough ball in a pile of flour before stretching it out.  Go figure.

I think coating the ball with flour before stretching doesn't result in an undesirable layer of flour on the bottom of the pie. 

I proof each ball in an individual container. Before removing from the container, I sprinkle flour on the top of the ball and on the counter and on my hands. When the ball falls out of the container (with the help of fingers), I sprinkle some flour on the exposed surface. As I pat and stretch out the ball, I flip it over a few times to make sure it isn't going to stick, applying a little more flour if it feels too sticky, but only as little as possible, wiping off any excess from the counter. I also use a perforated peel for loading into the oven which allows any excess to shake off.

Bill/SFNM

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2006, 04:21:49 PM »
th first dip in flour is OK as all the excessive residue is eliminated during shaping.... The flour should not be left on the bench and under the pizza...

See, I've learned so much from Marco!  :chef:

Bill/SFNM

Offline gschwim

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2006, 05:45:30 PM »
Since my original post, I've managed to pretty much solve the problem.  The main cause of the probme was shaping the dough directly on the peel so that when I slid the pizza from the peel to the stone, a lot of the bench flour went with it.  So now I shape the dough on a separate surface (in my case, a wooden bread board) and then transferring the shaped dough to an unfloured peel.  I also realized that, with the problem with insufficiently-floured dough, not so much the dough sticking to the board as sticking to my fingers.  Once I realized that, by first rubbing a pinch of flour on my hands, I needed to sprinkle far less flour on the board.

If the dough begins, again, to stick to my fingers, rather than sprinkle additional flour on the dough, I'll just rub a little on my fingers.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2006, 05:54:01 PM by gschwim »

Offline scpizza

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2006, 01:00:21 AM »
Unfloured peel?  You must have a bunch of residual flour on the skin, or a very dry dough.  If I don't flour the peel noticably, I get stickage.


Offline gschwim

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2006, 07:07:43 AM »
There is a tiny bit of flour, but only those grains that stick directly to the dough.  As long as bottom is not sticky, I lay it on the peel gently and immediately give the peel a couple of shakes, it seems okay.  On the one occassion there was stickage, it was only a tiny part of the dough and I just lifted the edge of the dough and dabbed a very tiny amount of flour on that one spot.

For what it's worth, in the neighborhood pizza places here in NYC, they do the same thing.  Invariably, the dough is shaped on a marble counter and then transferred to the peel.

Actually, I got the idea from Pamela Sheldon Jones's Pizza Napoletana!.  On page 38, there is a photo of shaped skins lying on a marble counter.  Pages 11 and 37 show shaped skins being dressed on marble counters.  Appaently, in Italy, the practice is to shape and dress the skins completely on a marble counter and then transfer the whole thing on a peel.  So I figured (even though I'm actually in New York), "When in Rome..."   ;D

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2006, 08:57:13 AM »
gschwim,

I don't often have problems with dough sticking to the peel, but I keep a length of baker’s string (about a couple feet long) on hand to run under the dough in case it does stick to the peel for any reason. You only need to free the pizza momentarily so that it moves again. You can also use dental floss. I usually worry more about sticking when I am making the bigger pizzas, say, around 16" or more, where it may be hard to lift a fully loaded pizza to get a bit more flour under it. BTW, some pizza operators use a length of string as a matter of course for all their pizzas. For example, see Item 7 under “Stretching Didactics”, in Reply 210 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1053.msg10550.html#msg10550.

Peter

Offline gschwim

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2006, 08:36:05 PM »
The only problem with that is, at this stage in my pizza-making, the string probably would taste better than the pizza.

Gene

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2006, 09:19:41 PM »
but I keep a length of baker’s string (about a couple feet long) on hand to run under the dough in case it does stick to the peel for any reason.

Peter,

Would this be the same as butcher's twine? Great idea. Never occurred to me.

Bill/SFNM

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Re: Excess flour on fingers
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2006, 09:47:57 PM »
Bill,

Yes. What I have is wound on a cone such as shown here: http://www.instawares.com/Butchers-Twine.2.3.6957.0.0.8.htm.

Peter