Author Topic: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly  (Read 8909 times)

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Offline NDL

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Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« on: October 21, 2006, 01:51:03 PM »
Every time I make pizza, I screw up the cooking time, without fail.

I use one pound of bakery bought dough, spread over a cookie sheet. And when I bake it, it's never perfect; either undercooked, or burnt.

The dough that I purchase, is ready to use. Therefore, there's no need for me to do any further prep work (with respect to the dough).

Here's what I am doing:

After oiling the cookie sheet liberally with olive oil, I kneed the dough out first with my hands, and then with a rolling pin.

Here's the only problem I am having: I wind up cooking the top too fast (sauce, cheese, and toppings), and the dough not enough. By time the dough cooks through, the top half is too well done. I cook in an electric oven, which seems to work well with other meals.

I preheat the oven for a good 15 minutes before putting the pie in. Last night, for example, I set the oven at 400 degrees, and baked the pie for 20 minutes. The top was cooked through; the dough was half-cooked, so it went back in for 12-15 minutes (which cooked the dough, but made the top a little too well done). One pound of dough is spread over a large cookie sheet, so the dough really isn't any thicker (if at all), than a store bought pie.

Would a lower temperature/longer duration help? This is the third pie I've made, and aside from this, they come out great.

Thanks in advance, for everyone's time and helpful suggestions!


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2006, 02:52:44 PM »
NDL,

Of all the baking methods I have used, I consider the one you are using to be the least effective, particularly to get the top and bottom of the pizza done at the same time with good bottom crust browning. The fact that you are rolling out the dough with a rolling pin is also contributing to your problems, I believe.

You didn't say much about the type of pan you are using in terms of its color and composition. If it is a light colored pan, like a bright or dull aluminum pan, it will not work as well as a dark anodized pan or a seasoned pan. A light colored pan will reflect oven heat whereas a dark colored pan will absorb it. An example of a good dark pan is shown here at pizzatools.com: http://www.pizzatools.com/productdisplay.aspx?catid=158&c=SQUARE_. I didn't provide this link to encourage you to rush out and buy a new pan such as the dark anodized pans shown at pizzatools.com but rather to show you what I am talking about.

If you are using a Teflon- or similar-coated pan, my experience is that they do not produce results that are as good as using the dark or seasoned pans mentioned above. Also, such pans can emit potentially toxic fumes at high oven temperatures.

A problem with pans in general is that when the pizza is put into the oven the pan is cold and has to get up to temperature. That can take a while. In the meantime, the top of the pizza is being cooked by the heat above the pizza. Some of this might be alleviated by putting the pizza on the lowest oven rack position nearest the bottom heating element so that the bottom of the pizza gets more direct heat. If perchance the bottom of the pizza starts to cook too fast, perhaps because of the "frying" effects of the oil, you can then try moving the pizza up a notch in the oven. Each oven behaves differently so you may have to experiment with this, as well as oven temperatures.

I also recommend that you not roll out the dough using a rolling pin. Doing that forces the gases out of the dough and allows the heat of the oven to penetrate the thin dough and cook whatever is on top of the dough. If the gases are retained in the dough, the dough acts more like an insulator and offers a better barrier to heat transfer. So the bottom will be able to cook longer. If you insist on rolling out the dough with a rolling pin, for whatever reasons you have for doing so, I would let the dough sit on the pan for about 30-60 minutes. If there is enough yeast left in the dough, the dough should rise and behave more like an insulator as I mentioned above.

You didn't indicate but if you are using a lot of toppings and cheese, and especially high-moisture toppings like veggies, that can sometimes affect the bake and result in a doughy crust. If you are using a lot of toppings, you might want to try a pizza with just pizza sauce and cheese to see if the problems reoccur. I would also implement one or more of the above suggestions to the extent they apply to your particular situation. At the end of the day, there has to be a proper balance between the pizza and its toppings, the pan, and your oven thermodynamics.

Peter

Offline chiguy

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2006, 09:31:38 PM »
 NDL,
 I was curious if the dough you are using from the bakery is refridgerated? And if so are you baking the dough cold out of the fridge?         Chiguy
 

Offline NDL

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2006, 12:29:06 PM »
Pete-zza, why did I not think of the baking sheet that I was using!?

Actually, I am new to this; with most of my pizza making 'knowledge', coming from childhood memories of helping Nonna...

A chef by no means, I one day decided to whip up my own Pizza's - which are actually quite good, sans the dough cooking problem.  Until your post, I never gave too much thought to the cookie sheet.  But now that you mention it, the cookie sheet must surely be the problem - for the sheet that I am using, is a hollow thin gauge aluminum baking sheet - which is to say, that the baking sheet is two thin gauge sheets of aluminum, pressed together, with a space left in between.

I pretty conservative with the toppings (cheese, or cheese plus mushroom or green peppers), although your suggestion about not using a rolling pin, makes sense.

And Chiguy, your post was helpful, in that it made me more aware of the temperature of the dough.  Because while I do not use the dough right out-of-the-fridge, I would say it is a little colder than room temperature.

Thank you both, for your extremely helpful replies!





Online Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2006, 02:36:32 PM »
NDL,

There is such a thing as an insulated-air pizza pan. They usually are perforated and are made of aluminum although I have seen one, also perforated, made of steel and with a slightly dark surface (non-stick, good up to 500 degrees F). I haven't tried either design so I can't comment on them. Since I discovered dark anodized pans (such as sold at pizzatools.com), that is the only type pan I now used. I recently purchased, but have not yet tried, a perforated cutter pan, a perforated disk, and a "Sicilian" pan, all dark anodized.

You situation reminded me of a member who once sent me a personal message seeking help with a dough recipe that he believed he had perfected but was having problems getting decent color on the bottom of his crusts. Solving this problem was important to him because he was planning to start a pizzeria and was apparently going to use his dough formulation in the pizzeria if only he could solve the problem. I automatically assumed that he was using a pizza stone. The member was nice enough to share his dough recipe with me to analyze, which I did and led to several suggestions for changing his dough formulation. He implemented the recommendations but he still wasn't getting good bottom crust coloration. It wasn't until I asked him to describe how he was baking his pizzas, oven temperatures, oven levels, etc., that I learned for the first time that he was using a pan. He did not have a pizza stone. At my suggestion he went out and bought one. The next message I got was that he bought and tried out the stone and that solved his problem.

Mind you, I think that pans can be made to work, and quite nicely, but you have to use the right pans. Had I known more about dark anodized pans and disks when I counseled the member mentioned above, I might have given him a few possible pan/disk options. But even then, the pans/disks and the pizza styles should go together for best results.

Peter

Offline Scagnetti

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2006, 12:27:48 PM »
Peter,

Isn't it common for some pizzerias to partially cook the crust for thick, square, Sicilian style pizza before putting the toppings on?  Would this help with this problem?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2006, 12:57:30 PM »
Scagnetti,

That's a good point. You are correct that often Sicilian pies are baked in stages. But it is also possible to do this with a thinner pie. For example, the skin can be docked and pre-baked without sauce, cheese and toppings and, once the pre-baked crust is lightly browned, the sauce, cheese and toppings can be added. Particularly if the oven temperature is lowered a bit, the pie can continue to bake, at a slower pace, and develop better crust browning without fear that the cheese will burn or that the toppings will overcook. To minimize this possibility, it is even possible to put the sauce, cheese and toppings on the pizza while they are cold.

Not too long ago, I described the above and other techniques for achieving many of the same objectives as mentioned above, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg27372.html#msg27372 (Reply 424). I was using a pizza screen, but the principles should still apply to a pan of the proper type and with proper oven management.

Peter

Offline NDL

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Re: Pizza Dough Not Cooking Through Properly
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2006, 05:50:45 PM »
Scagnetti and Pete-zza:  I apologize for not replying sooner, and for the short response that I am about to write, but things have been crazy at work...

I appreciate tremendously, your replies.  I am going to try something different next time I make a pie, and will keep you updated on how it turns out.

Thanks again!


 

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