I tried out the formula that you provided for me in post #131 of this thread for 2 14" pizza's. I let one dough ball ferment in the fridge for 2 days and the other ball for 4 days. Unfortunately, I found the resulting crusts of both pizzas to be rather bland in flavor. When I removed the 4 day old dough from the fridge, the top of it had tiny, tiny, bubbles on top of it and a series of 1/4" and 1/2" bubbles at the bottom which I viewed from the glass bowl it was fermenting in. It had a nice sweet, yeasty aroma to it, yet baked into a bland-tasting crust even though the color of it was a light gold with a few brown spots. The 2 day old dough also had a nice aroma to it, yet yielded the same blandness. Also, in both, I thought the crusts were a bit too chewy for my taste, so I made one 14" dough recipe in which I tripled the amount of oil from 1/2 tsp. to 1 1/2 tsp. Was better, but still a bit too chewy for me.
I figured, at this point, that I would play around with the recipe by adjusting water temperature and then yeast quantity, if need be.
Before doing this, however, I happened to be in the bookstore and came across a book about no-knead bread-baking titled "Kneadlessly Simple" by Nancy Baggett. I've heard about this revolutionary way of preparing bread dough, and after thumbing through it's pages and seeing that it also contained a no-knead pizza dough recipe, I decided to purchase it.
Well let me tell you, using the book's recipe, I ended up with the best-tasting pizza crust I ever made in my 6 years of making pizza's! Definitely better than my previous favorite recipe, Peter Reinhart's N.Y. Style pizza dough from "American Pie".
Baggett cites her inspiration for the use of ice-water in the dough recipe from Philippe Gosselin's Pain a`l' Ancienne method which she read about in Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". Also, the mixed final dough, before fermentation, resembles Reinhart's 'Pizza Dough 1' recipe from his book "Crust & Crumb", in that the dough's hydration is so high (15 oz AP flour to 12 oz water) that it must be spread out on oiled parchment with oiled fingertips into a pizza shape. (I like this because no need of messing up the counter top with extra flour).
Also, there's no sugar in the recipe, yet because of the long, cool fermentation at around 68 degrees, the flour's natural sugars are drawn out resulting in great crust-color and subtle sweet flavor. Another reason for the great crust-color is the wetness of the dough which allows for additional baking in the oven without drying out the inside of the crust.
The recipe called for a 25-45 min. rest of the stretched out pie before baking. I had let mine rest for 25 min. which resulted in a medium-thin crust similar to what tsmys displayed in post #149 on this thread. Being a native New Yorker, next time I'm going to try a 5 min. rest before baking in order to get a thinner crust.
Baggett recommended a 500 degree oven that's been preheated for only 20 min before baking, however, my instincts told me to preheat for the usual 1 hour instead, with a pizza stone of the bottom rack. Also, my oven goes up to 525 degrees, so that's what I had set it to and I enjoyed great results.
My wife, who routinely discards her pizza crusts, ate every bit of it with this recipe as the inside was like Italian bread and the outside had a slight crunch to it along with it's great flavor.
At this point, I have no need to experiment with other pizza dough recipes, rather, I'll be trying out the muffin, dinner rolls, and bread recipes from this fabulous book.
Here's the no-knead pizza dough recipe:
Ingredients - 15 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more if needed) (I used KA All Purpose Flour)
generous 1 1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
scant 1 1/2 cups ice-water (about 50 degrees according to book) plus more if needed.
1 TBLS olive oil
In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt, and yeast with a wooden spoon. (Can also use a mixer with paddle attachment, which I did). Vigorously stir in the water, scraping down the sides, just until thoroughly blended. Stir in the olive oil until evenly incorporated. After a minute or two of stirring, should end up with a single, sticky, yet firm mass, (just past the point of being a thick batter). There should be no clumps of wet dough on the sides of the bowl; add a little more flour if there is. If the mass of sticky dough is too difficult to stir, add a little more ice-water to facilitate mixing.
At this point, the book says to brush the mass of dough with olive oil and divide in half after the first rise, since this recipe makes two pizzas. (However, I though it best to divide in half right away and then let it rise so that the stretching out later would be easier, the same as you always recommend Pete-zza.)
Brush top of dough (or doughs) with olive oil and cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap.
Let the first rising take place at cool room temperature, (68-70 degrees) No Higher. for 4-12 hours. (For best flavor and/or convenience, the dough can be refrigerated for 3-10 hours BEFORE the 4-12 hours cool room temperature rising. I refrigerated mine for 8 hours before the cool room temp rise.
After the first rising at cool room temp, stir the dough ball in their bowls to deflate them, then transfer each to a piece of 14" oiled parchment paper. Drizzle the top each dough with a little olive oil, oil your fingertips, then gently stretch out dough to desired pie thickness. I pretty much stretched it out as far as I could with out tearing the dough and leaving the edges slightly thicker. Your instincts will likely guide you with this process.
Tent each formed pie with non-stick spray-coated foil or oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 25-45 min. depending how thick you want your finished crust. I found that a 25 min. rise yields a med-thin crust and like I said above, I'll be trying out a 5 min. rise to get it a little thinner.
For baking, the book says to preheat oven for 20 min at 500 degrees with a rimless baking sheet, or an upside-down rimmed sheet on the lowest rack, and transferring the pizza (with no toppings) and parchment (or the pizza on a lightly-oiled pizza pan) onto the baking sheet to cook for 7-10 min until firm and puffed up. Then to take it out of the oven to spread on your sauce, add cheese and/or other toppings then returning to oven for additional 10 min or until nicely browned.
What I did instead, was to preheat my 14 by 16 inch pizza stone on the bottom rack at 525 degrees for one hour, place all my toppings on the pizza, and baked it on the stone. It took about 10 min, instead of the usual 6-7 min to cook it to the proper crust color. The parchment turned a light brown during baking, without burning. What I neglected to do was to place the finished pie on a cooling rack after removing from oven to retain crispness. I'll definitely try that the next time.