Author Topic: Having trouble making good dough  (Read 3589 times)

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Offline StefanProdan

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Having trouble making good dough
« on: September 25, 2006, 11:07:49 AM »
I'm trying to get into making pizza as a hobby, but I keep failing at making good dough. 

I've been trying to use the recipe from the California Pizza Kitchen cookbook as I like their dough a lot when I go to their restaurants, but my dough never comes out anything like theirs.  Mine's always very hard, and dense, and dry, while theirs is soft and chewy.  The recipe can be found in this thread:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2069.0.html

Anyway, I have a KitchenAid mixer that I use to mix the dough.  However, I find that since I don't have a scale, a lot of times I have to add more flour in order to get the dough to pull off from the sides.  Lately I"ve noticed also that the dough likes to clump up on the paddle and I have to take it off the paddle like every 30 seconds.  Also, I can't use the dough hook at all, as the bowl just seems too big relative to the amount of dough I'm making for the dough hook to be effective at all.  I tried last night instead of adding more flour, if the dough was the wetness I wanted, just breaking off a piece and throwing it away, thinking that maybe the dough glob was just too big for it to stay on the sides of the bowl and not be pulled into the paddle.  This seemed to sort of work but by the time I got everything sorted out the dough had dried out and I had to throw it away. 

I'm considering trying using one of the NY style pizza dough recipes on here next, but I notice none of them have any sugar, and I like a sort of sweet dough. I assume I could add a little sugar if I wanted, thogh.

I do have a pizza stone, and I cook my pizzas at around 450-500 degrees in the oven, which I preheat for at least 45-60 minutes beforehand.

Once I mix the dough, I typically let it rise for about an hour or two, then punch it down and put it in the refrigerator overnight or for two days, then once the day comes to cook it, I take it out, punch it down, then let it rise again and come to room temperature so I can form it into a pizza. 


Offline varasano

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2006, 11:18:26 AM »
Hey Stefan,

The mixing problems you describe are common if you follow the simplistic recipes that seem to float around the net. But don't worry, you are in the right place. CA pizza kitchen is not my personal favorite, but I think you will learn a lot about dough mixing if you click the globe under my name and go to my recipe. If you cook at 450-500 you will probably have to add sugar in order to get any browning.

Jeff

Offline StefanProdan

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2006, 12:31:08 PM »
Thanks for the reply. 

By simplistic, do you mean not using weights and baker's percentages, or is there something else?

Offline 007bond-jb

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2006, 12:48:04 PM »
Here try this recipe I use this all the time with no scale or precentages, Mine comes out great every time I add a little more sugar & some garlic powder
http://www.pizzamaking.com/thincrust.php

Offline chiguy

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2006, 12:49:57 PM »
 Hi Stefan,
 The first thing i would suggest after mixing is too cover and put this warm dough in the refridgerator immediately after mixing. There is no need to let it rise for 2 hours, and no need to punch it down. There is alot of yeast in the recipe, offset by alot of sugar. The sugar is  a browning agent in the crust and is also food for the yeast. Without the amount of sugar you are currently adding, most likely this dough would overferment well before 48 hours. I am not sure where the finished dough temperature is on this recipe, but it is definitely higher than recommended for refridgerated doughs. A (18Fdegree) rise in finished dough temperature will double yeast activity. When using sugar in a pizza recipe its range is 0-5% for total weigh of the flour.This is plenty enough technical for now.
 As far as formulation, NEVER add flour too a recipe as this will alter the hydration/water amount in the finished dough. Especially when your reason for adding flour is only because the mixer is not mixing properly. This is most likely the cause of your tough crust problem. The water% is too low.  Because you are not weighing ingrediants, stick to the original recipe.
 
I also have a Kitchen Aid in which i often start with the paddle to pick up all the flour. I add all the dry ingrediants first, turn on the mixer and slowly add water around the outer edge of the bowl. Or water/yeast mixture in your case. After about a 1 1/2 minutes i have picked up all the flour. I would then switch to a dough hook and continue to mix for 5-7minutes.Unfortunately pulling the dough from the hook is almost always a problem. I MUST SAY I DO NOT REALLY AGREE WITH THE RECIPE AND FORMULATION. If you like it, who am i to tell you otherwise. I will say to keep reading and learning from the forum.   

                                                                                                                    Chiguy

Offline varasano

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2006, 12:53:33 PM »
> By simplistic, do you mean not using weights and baker's percentages, or is there something else?
by simplistic I mean they don't talk about the precise steps for mixing the dough and specifically the problems that come from mxing in a Kitchen Aid and how these problems can be overcome.

LOL, the rest of what I mean by simplistic you will see if you look at my tome on technique... But you will learn a lot.

Jeff

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2006, 02:15:20 PM »
StefanProdan,

If you have a food processor with an 11-cup or 14-cup capacity, you can use that to mix and knead the ingredients for the California Pizza Kitchen dough. I can give you some basic instructions on how best to use the processor if you have one. Otherwise, you can mix and knead the dough by hand.

If you are interested in a NY style dough recipe, you may want to take a look at this thread, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.0.html, and especially the posts starting at Reply 8. If you are interested in proceeding further after reading that thread, I can give you a NY style dough formulation for any size pizza you want. I can even add a few percent sugar if you'd like, and adapt the dough formulation for any kind of yeast you have on hand. I'll even convert the weights of flour and water to volumes to help get you started. I recommend that either bread flour or high-gluten flour be used for the NY style.

You might also want to take a look at this thread for an alternative NY style dough formulation: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2175.msg19124.html#msg19124. That formulation can be modified also.

Peter

Offline StefanProdan

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2006, 08:48:46 PM »
Hey Stefan,

The mixing problems you describe are common if you follow the simplistic recipes that seem to float around the net. But don't worry, you are in the right place. CA pizza kitchen is not my personal favorite, but I think you will learn a lot about dough mixing if you click the globe under my name and go to my recipe. If you cook at 450-500 you will probably have to add sugar in order to get any browning.

Jeff

Your page was definitely an eye-opener.  I had no idea dough was supposed to be that wet when you take it out of the mixer!  Since I don't have any sourdough yeast, I decided to just try the CPK dough again instead of trying your recipe (which I will try soon, believe me), and I have one half of it sitting in the fridge now to properly rise and another half that I've let rise for two hours out in the room just to see if it tastes okay at all.  I'm not going to judge anything by this first batch I'm about to eat, I was just hungry and decided that a five-hour old pizza crust would be better than nothing :)

Offline enchant

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2006, 09:15:07 PM »
Lately I"ve noticed also that the dough likes to clump up on the paddle and I have to take it off the paddle like every 30 seconds.  Also, I can't use the dough hook at all, as the bowl just seems too big relative to the amount of dough I'm making for the dough hook to be effective at all.
I may be completely misunderstanding you, but...

When I make my dough using a dough hook, once the flour and water have become incorporated, the dough wants to just cling onto the hook and ride around the inside of the bowl like some dough carnival ride. Is that the sort of problem you're having? To stop this from happening, I use a wooden spoon while the mixer is running to keep the dough moving in relation to the dough hook.  It's kind of tricky, and I've already broken one spoon (my wife's favorite, of course).
--pat--

Offline StefanProdan

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2006, 05:17:46 PM »
I tried the pizza I made last night using the CPK recipe and sticking to it exactly and working with the really wet dough as described earlier in varasano's recipe, and it actually turned out quite well.  It didn't taste anything like CPK dough of course (I mean it's just the CPK book, why would it :)) but it was pretty good and the first dough where I actually enjoyed eating it as opposed to eating it because I made it and didn't want to throw it out.

It was brought down by the fact that I only had some crappy sauce around, but today I bought some roma tomatoes and basil to put on it tonight to make a margherita pizza out of it.  Obviously the crust won't be as thin as in a real neapolitan pizza but I'll have the toppings mostly right.  I'm hoping it will be even better having been in the fridge all night.

One more question:  Someone above said that I don't need to punch down this dough recipe at all, or let it rise before refrigerating.  Why is that?


Offline varasano

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2006, 05:43:11 PM »
I don't know what the rationale for the punch down was, but if you want a light springy crust, it's not going to help you.

I don't let my dough rise before putting it in the fridge.  I don't what to go into my whole bubble thing again, but basically, if the dough starts to form bubbles, and is then cooled, the bubbles shrink, and if you've ever blown a bubble you'll know that bubbles are in good shape as long as they are expanding, but once they shrink they kind of loose it. So you want the dough to be constantly but very slowly expanding.

See the nice spring here. No punch down, very wet dough, 50% rise (not double in bulk), very slow 3 day cold rise, high heat:

Offline StefanProdan

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2006, 08:35:43 PM »
One thing I have a question about is:

Now that I've tried mixing the dough as wet as it's supposed to be, I can't imagine how anyone is supposed to be able to knead this by hand.  Just trying to knead it by hand a little bit and form it into a ball, I had to cover it with a decent bit of flour just so it wouldn't just stick to my hands and completely come apart when I took my hands away.  Are you supposed to just keep flouring your hands so it doesn't stick, or how do you do it if you don't have a mixer?

Offline varasano

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2006, 10:18:02 PM »
I've covered my ideas in another post, but honestly, I've not tested it. I would start in a bowl and mix as a semi-batter with a spoon. Then I'd turn it out and knead it by more or less constantly adding flour to the outside. As long as the outermost millimeter is dry, it's touchable. You don't add flour by the cup, you just keep coating the outside and it gets drier and drier.   Put down a pile of flour and then just dunk the dough, pull away and kneads some, then dunk again etc. Keep the wet side down on the counter and the dry side towards your hands to prolong how much you can knead it while it still feels dry.  If would be great if you tried this and posted up and let us know if it works. 

I can say that I knead a little bit at the end by hand and it was difficult at first, but now I'm used to it and it's easy.  It takes practice.

Jeff
« Last Edit: September 27, 2006, 10:19:52 PM by varasano »

Offline StefanProdan

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2006, 01:13:17 PM »
By the way, I also ate the dough that I had let sit in the fridge for a day, and it was easily the best dough I've ever made.   It was such a simple fix, to just make the dough really wet when I was mixing it, I can't believe that I didn't know this before.  The picture you had of the goopy dough in the bowl was really what sealed it for me.  Even if you said "It has to be pretty wet" I wouldn't have known just how wet without the picture.

I do think I could have cooked it a little longer, I put it in for 3 minutes at an oven that was heated to 550 for an hour.  It didn't really char on the bottom, but it was pretty crispy.  I put sliced tomatoes on top, and mozzarella, and basil and cracked pepper and it was awesome.   I'm wondering if that final charring level that you get from a wood burning oven though is something I'm just not going to be able to replicate in an oven.

Is it possible to cook pizza on like a normal grill outside?  How would you do it?  I think if you just put the pizza on it would obviously just fall through the cracks, but if you put the whole stone on, it might get the whole oven not very hot with the stone blocking the heat, so I dunno.

Offline varasano

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2006, 01:38:23 PM »
There's a lot of info on this site about how to do the grill. the problem is that the bottom gets hotter than the top, whereas with a brick oven it's the other way around.You have to shield the stone with foil underneath it and if the grill is large enough try to use foil to redirect radiant heat from the bottom to the top. search for threads on this.

Offline anthony2173

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2006, 11:07:40 AM »
Is it possible to cook pizza on like a normal grill outside?  How would you do it?  I think if you just put the pizza on it would obviously just fall through the cracks, but if you put the whole stone on, it might get the whole oven not very hot with the stone blocking the heat, so I dunno.
I started cooking with a grill (Big Green Egg) at the start of summer. I have found that placing the stone on the metal grate with ceramic briquettes or lava rock directly under it keeps the stone from getting too hot. I thought that using the grill would simply be a way to continue working out my pizza recipes until the 110 degree days of Sacramento summers was over, however, after experimenting with the grill I will continue to use it all winter long. The results are far superior to what I get out of the oven. Next summer is all about the wood fired brick oven ;D
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Offline StefanProdan

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2006, 11:47:41 PM »
So, I've tried 3 different recipes now, the CPK recipe, Randy's American recipe, and a Lehmann NY street dough recipe that pete-zza posted to someone else for a 12-inch pizza.

The weird thing is, to me, they all taste VERY similar, more similar than they do different.  They all smell the same coming out of my oven, and they all have a similar taste, one I don't especially like.  I mean, it's okay and I'm at least producing edible pizzas now that I'm leaving the dough a lot wetter, but they don't taste like any restaurant pizza I've ever had (that is, good).  I'm wondering, is it because of the limitations of my oven and the pizza stone that I'm using that's holding it back?  I see people post with nice brown crusts and stuff but mine always stay very white-ish on top even as they begin to burn on the bottom.  I know for the style of dough varasano makes it's supposed to be charred on the bottom, and while I like that sometimes, it's not necessarily what I'm after if I try to make like the NY street style pizza or the American style pizza which was supposed to be somewhat similar to Papa John's.

As an experiment, I put some olive oil on part of the dough, and noted that the crust around those parts seemed tastier.  Should I start putting oil on my dough before it goes in the oven?  I normally have just been using tomato sauce and cheese to keep it simple for now, though I'll try other things later.

I'm using a crappy store-bought tomato sauce while I wait for my 6 in 1 tomatos to get here, but I don't think that's why the pizzas are tasting the same to me.  Could it be because I'm using the same flour, yeast, etc, even though in different amounts?  I'm using pillsbury bread flour and Dr. Oetker's brand instant yeast.  Also this last time I forgot to use filtered water, I don't know how much of a difference that makes. 

It doesn't make any sense to me why they should all smell/taste the same unless the yeast has a much bigger effect than I thought. 

I wish I could describe they way it smells/tastes coming out of the oven, but I could say it almost tastes sort of bitter.  I dunno if that's the right word, but like restaurant pizza always tastes more moist and sweeter, even though I think they probably use less sugar.  Could this be because I'm putting too much flour on the bottom of the pizza?  I'm having to flour the bottom very thoroughly to make sure it doesn't get dried out and stick to the peel, perhaps I have too much on there?
« Last Edit: October 25, 2006, 11:53:34 PM by StefanProdan »

Offline fabio

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Re: Having trouble making good dough
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2006, 02:09:31 AM »
Stefan,

You are following Jeff's suggestion of keeping the dough very wet, but you aren't using his recipe. You should give it a try. If the reason you haven't is because you don't have sourdough starter, you can still make it without it. I did a few times with good results. Basically, for the recipe he gives of 1000g of water, use 10-15 grams of instant yeast. You will also use less flour than the recipe suggests to keep the dough wet. Don't go by the recipe, go by feel.

That said, get yourself some sourdough starter. It will give you the most flavorful crust you've ever had.

As far as the charring and high heat: some suggest adding some sugar to create browning/charring at lower (500F) temps. I can attest that charring is only one small benefit of high heat. High heat (750F+) will give you a springier, lighter crust and means that your fresh mozzarella will be in the oven for less time, which makes it less likely to break apart. I would say that high heat is probably the single most important factor in neapolitan pizza (if that's what you're after), followed by sourdough starter, followed by mixing technique. Good luck!


 

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