Peter and I had the following conversation. Any additional insight would be appreciated.
What am I achieving by setting out the aged dough from the fridge for hours before baking it? You know letting it warm up to room temperature.
I can see letting it warm up for 1/2 hour or 1 hr. But when I let set out more it is so soft its hard to work with and I wonder if it is just a waste of time.
Is it the void production or something else?
If there is a thread that you discussed this element please direct me to it.
Thanks for your effort in clearing this up for me.
I'm sure that I have discussed this topic many times before but most probably not all in one place. So I will repeat here what I have most likely said in various threads over time.
Technically, a dough coming out of the refrigerator to be shaped should have a temperature of around 45-50 degrees F before shaping. Most professionals learn from experience how to adjust for variations in room temperature over the course of a year and how long the dough should be held at room temperature before handling. On average, I would say that the bench warm-up time is around 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If the dough is shaped too early (i.e., it is too cold), especially if the dough did not have adequate fermentation, the dough can have a tendency to form bubbles in the finished crust, which is something that some people like but professionals generally don't. That is why many professionals dock their dough skins, especially when they elect to use their doughs on the cool side (which is quite common when they are being slammed and need to get the pizzas out fast)..
Most doughs will be good for about an additional 3-4 hours after they have come up to working temperature. Some people actually let their doughs sit at room temperature for 5 or more hours before shaping because they like working with warm doughs. At that point there is little springback of the dough and is easy to stretch, even if more extensible.
In your case, if the hydration is high and you allow the dough to sit too long at room temperature, it can become more extensible. You could try lowering the hydration or else use it earlier once it comes out of the refrigerator. There are many operators who do not let the dough warm up at all after removing the dough from their coolers. So, this is one of those things that you have to experiment with to achieve the results you are looking for. Different dough formulations for different styles will also vary in this respect, so that is something to keep in mind.
Thank-you for the reply.
What I don't understand is what are we achieving with the varying times on the counter under the plastic wrap? In the home situation. I'm using 60% hydration.
What happens as the dough sits on the counter is that the yeast, which was rendered fairly inactive while it was in the refrigerator, becomes active again and produces the byproducts of fermentation, including carbon dioxide, which in turn causes the dough to rise. Enzymes also become more active. The bacteria perform well both during refrigeration and at room temperature. The longer the dough warms up, the more activity there is in the dough and the greater its expansion. Unless the yeast runs out of food, the activity continues. If the room is cold, the activity is less, and if the room is hot, the activity is more. Hydration comes into plan only to the extent that a more highly hydrated dough ferments faster than a lower hydrated dough.
I hope that this is what you meant by your question.
Ok, so what is the result of this activity in a real way that we see in our pizza? And how is that result changed by the varying time on the counter? I see the elements that you are working with and how it works but what is the real difference in the quality of the finished pizza?
All else being equal, the dough that rises the most while on the bench should have a higher volume and thicker crust. It's very similar to what some operators do with deep-dish doughs. They put the doughs in the pans and let the pans sit for about 30 minutes to an hour before dressing. They often do this in a warm, humidified environment to have better control over the process. Of course, some of the volume will usually be lost when the dough is being shaped on the bench in your example. I've never done tests on this sort of thing so I don't know the extent of the differences. I usually make only a single pizza at a time. Maybe you can make a large batch of dough, divide it into several dough balls, and run a test where the dough balls spend increasingly more time on the bench. Then finish them in the identical way. And see what results you get. It's hard to do much in the way of scientific experiments in a kitchen.
So its a higher volume and thicker crust, no effect on the flavor of the dough? So why not just increase the amount of dough per size of pizza and not concern ourselves with this extended rest period?
During the time on the bench the dough will be warming up and so there perhaps won't be enough time to have a major flavor impact. You could increase the thickness of the dough but if the dough isn't warm enough you can get bubbling in the finished crust. Some people like that but professionals tend not to. It's also possible that the density of the thicker dough will be greater than a thinner dough because of the reduced level of gasses from foregoing the warm-up. That might result in a tougher, more chewy crust and it may bake up differently than the thin dough. I usually work with consistent dough thicknesses for a particular style of pizza. Some doughs are thicker than others, however. In your case, you might want to experiment with different dough thicknesses, using the dough cold if you would like to avoid the warm-up. As I may have mentioned before, some operators use cold dough and don't have problems. Others get bubbles all over the place and have to use docking and bubble poppers. The warm-up period is SOP.
Because of your interest in this topic, you should post your questions on the forum. That way you can get the opinions of others who may have a similar interest in the topic, and possibly a lot more experience than I, especially those who make multiple pizzas at a time and have had an opportunity to see the progression of their doughs over a fairly long time period.
Anyone that has additional insight into this issue please chime in and we all can learn.