Author Topic: Lightest, tastiest crust yet  (Read 21138 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2006, 08:37:23 AM »

2. I can't imagine how sifting could make the slightest difference.

Your 64% hydration also jives with recent tests I've done where going wetter than 62% has clearly helped me.  A recent 68% was too wet to handle but created a fantastic crust.  Optimal hydration may exist between 62% - 68%.

scpizza,

I would not underestimate the importance of the very small things that are happening when the the ingredients are being combined. The last batch I made followed the same procedure except for the elimination of the sifting step. The resulting crust was not as light.

Regarding hydration, I prefer to concentrate on the texture and look of the dough while it is being kneaded. Moisture in the flour and air can affect the final hydration level. The relative humidity here is very low - sometimes in the single digits - but when I made the latest batch it was snowing and the humidity was very high and I had to add more flour to reach the desired texture.

This whole thing about targeting the "feel" of the dough rather than the precise measurement of ingredients is a big deal - something I am still not very good at, but something I am increasingly coming to appreciate. Perhaps a few thousand pies from now I'll have a good handle on it.

Bill/SFNM



Offline November

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1879
  • Location: North America
  • Come for the food. Stay for the science.
    • Uncle Salmon
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2006, 09:14:24 AM »
I can't be sure which were responsible for the best crust I've made to date in terms of both texture and flavor.

1. The oven was overfired to around 1050-1100 (vs. around 950F)
2. I sifted the flour per November, Pete-zza, and pftaylor
3. All fermenting and proofing was done at room temp for a total of 16 hours vs. multi-day in the refrigerator

Just to simplify things: 1 = both, 2 = texture, 3 = flavor

Offline scpizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 317
  • Demystifying Neapolitan Pizza
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2006, 09:34:37 AM »
I would not underestimate the importance of the very small things that are happening when the the ingredients are being combined. The last batch I made followed the same procedure except for the elimination of the sifting step. The resulting crust was not as light.

Go figure.  Worth testing anyway.  Do you use one of those stainless steel cup & mesh jobbers to sift?

In the spirit of your statement, and your results, I wonder then if there is advantage to slowly sifting directly into the water while stirring.  This would seem to maximize evenness of absorption, arguably the main advantage of sifting, and many have advocated extremely slow initial mixing of flour and water.

Oddly enough you've told me in the past you just dump everything in and mix!

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2006, 09:48:39 AM »
Oddly enough you've told me in the past you just dump everything in and mix!

scpizza,

In the past, my method was to dump about 75% of the flour into the water, mix, rest, and then add in the rest of the flour. In the batch that produced such great results, I sifted 75% of the flour onto the water, mixed, rested, and then sifted in the remaining flour. I used one of sifters with a crank that turns a whisk inside a metal canister with a sieve on the bottom - the standard kind I guess.

Bill/SFNM

Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22450
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2006, 09:59:37 AM »
scpizza,

I have been doing a fair amount of experimenting with a new dough method using my basic KitchenAid stand mixer, including sifting the flour among other things. The thread where I have described my experiments is at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.msg33251.html#msg33251. I have used both a manual (crank) sifter and a regular bowl-shape sieve, with my preference to date being the bowl-shape sieve because, in my case, it sifts the flour a bit more finely than my manual (crank) sifter. In my latest experiment, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.msg36489.html#msg36489 (Reply 30), I decided to use an electric hand mixer in lieu of the KitchenAid mixer and I used a bowl sieve to sift the flour directly into the bowl with the water, which is something I cannot easily do when using my regular KitchenAid stand mixer. I ultimately finished the dough by hand kneading.

One of the interesting things to come out of the experiments is that I am able to use fairly high hydration levels (63%) without ending up with wet doughs. I attribute this to the improved hydration of the flour, due to the sifting and other measures as described in the abovereferenced posts.

I have not yet tried the above methods with 00 flour, but I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t work with that flour either. The principles should be the same.

Peter

Offline nepa-pizza-snob

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 134
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2006, 09:39:46 PM »
Those pies look fantastic - does anyone else see the resemblence of these Neopolitan pies to
the Indian bread "Naan"? They too are simple high hydration doughs that
are cooked rather quickly in a very hot clay oven. It has occurred to me a number of times
how much a Neo pie resembles a Naan with tomato and cheese on top! Naan is of course a
bit more toothsome, but very close none the less. As an enthusiast of foods from every nation
its amazes me sometimes just how close foods really are to each other.

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2006, 10:20:45 PM »
Those pies look fantastic - does anyone else see the resemblence of these Neopolitan pies to
the Indian bread "Naan"?

Actually, the same dough and oven were used to make naan. See this thread

Bill/SFNM

Offline scpizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 317
  • Demystifying Neapolitan Pizza
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2006, 09:53:02 AM »
I have used both a manual (crank) sifter and a regular bowl-shape sieve, with my preference to date being the bowl-shape sieve because, in my case, it sifts the flour a bit more finely than my manual (crank) sifter.

I'm intrigued at the prospect of achieving higher hydration with still manageable dough.  I have to try this.

A bit of research reveals the sieve is the best sifting tool.  But the bowl sieves don't seem to go very fine.  The cylindrical sifting sieves do.  Kitchen store ones max out around 20 mesh, but, scientific supply places can take you to the moon on mesh fineness.  The finest sieves I've seen widely used in scientific articles on flour is 60 mesh, but there is much variation.  Anyone know to what mesh size Caputo Pizzeria is ground?

Offline November

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1879
  • Location: North America
  • Come for the food. Stay for the science.
    • Uncle Salmon
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2006, 05:23:42 PM »
scpizza,

Keep in mind you're only trying to force the flour particles to separate, not sift out the large ones, because that would be wasteful. A standard kitchen sieve should be just fine. If you want to get crazy though, you can do what my dad and I did when we panned during our gemology days a very long time ago. Build your own sieve with a wooden frame and screen-door mesh material. Use the micromesh material that's rated for biting midges (a.k.a. no-see-ums) for a really fine mesh. (It's cheaper than buying precisely calibrated sieves.)

- red.november

EDIT: Actually, there's a fun project for the technically adept person just waiting to surface here. If I were to build my own flour sifter, sparing no convenience or wattage, I would build one to fit my (your) mixer and bowl so that the flour can be sifted in without getting in the way of the planetary arm (assuming Kitchen Aid). I would also make it electric by mounting a small, cheap motor from the local Radio Shack, with an unbalanced weight attached to the motor shaft for creating vigorous vibration. The frame would be constructed as a stand that allows the sieve collar to hover above the bowl, being reenforced and weighted near the base for stability. Power it with batteries or an AC adapter, and you'll be sitting squarely in the lap of hands-free grain sifting luxury.

EDIT 2: If I can find the time soon, I'm going to build one just for the heck of it.  I just have to decide how elaborate I want to make it.  I've got aerospace materials lying around from past projects I could use, or I could take the simple road that anybody can follow.  I'll post pictures, plans, and possibly 3D CAD drawings either way.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2006, 06:13:09 PM by November »

Offline scpizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 317
  • Demystifying Neapolitan Pizza
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2007, 05:24:37 PM »
Keep in mind you're only trying to force the flour particles to separate, not sift out the large ones, because that would be wasteful.  A standard kitchen sieve should be just fine.

I don't know.  I was reading something or the other suggesting the finer ground flours...and by extension a flour with the courser particles sifted out and discarded....would produce a lighter product.  Worth experimenting with anyway.

As a first step anyway, I just did a batch sifting with only a standard 20-mesh kitchen sieve, so all flour passed through.  Dough texture was improved.  It is unclear whether this was due to the sifting itself, or the fact that the sifting process resulted in a very slow addition of flour to the water, an oft-heralded technique that I had been ignoring because my Santos has seemed to render it irrelevant.

At 64% hydration the dough handled like it was 62% hydration, requiring less bench flour and responding to stretching in a more controlled way.  That right there is a win IMO, and I'm eager to try sifting with even higher hydrations.

The crust was definitely light and fluffy, however, I did not notice a lighter, fluffier crust than I normally am able to produce.  Maybe my crust was just too close to perfect to start with.  ;)

I have ordered a 60-mesh sieve which should let me do some "extreme sifting" and hopefully more pronounced results.  I'm now very much eager to see how that will affect max hydration/dough handling and crust texture and may run side-by-side batches to really nail it down.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2007, 05:27:48 PM by scpizza »


Online Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22450
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2007, 05:45:54 PM »
scpizza,

I think the differences would be more pronounced if you were using a simple stand mixer like a KitchenAid. In my mind, a major weakness of the KitchenAid, and a major strength of your Santos, is the kneading. That is one of the reasons I have been playing around with the whisk (or electric hand mixer) and the flat paddle to see if I can make a better dough than my C-hook is able to produce. Whatever it is, along with the sifting, I have been able to get hydrations of 65-66% (with high-gluten flour) that feel several percentage points lower, and I believe that I can get above 66% without a problem if I want to do that. And I think I can now safely say that the dough quality is better than what I have been able to achieve before I started modifying the dough making processes.

I'll be interested in seeing the results you get from further testing.

Peter


Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2007, 02:07:34 PM »
Do you have a picure of the bottom or side view?

As requested here are side and bottom views. Santa got me a new close-up lens and I'm trying to learn how to best use it for photos to be uploaded to the web.


Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2007, 10:43:24 AM »
The original premise of this thread was, in achieving the best crust I've ever made, that I changed three factors: sifting, fermenting, and oven temp. I've done several more batches to see what made the most difference:

1. Sifting. It helps, but it definitely impacts other variables. I disabled the interlock cover on my mixer so I could slowly sift the flour into the mixer while it was turning rather than dump the sifted flour in in 75% and 25% amounts. This clearly gave a much softer dough that required less kneading. As noted by others, this approach allows for higher hydrations. It has been very humid here lately so I need to play around much more to see how much moisture I can get into the dough and still be able to work with it.

2. Fermenting. The room temp fermentation vs. room temp + refrigeration was a red herring. I did a batch with a room temp rise and then placed it in the refrigerator for 2 days. It was just as soft and more flavorful.

3. The oven temp was clearly that critical factor. Unfortunately, this is the hardest variable to control, but no matter what I did with #1 and #2 above, the doughs baked at temps  at 1000F - 1050F (floor temp) for about 50-55 seconds had the best flavor and texture.

Still much more testing to do (for the rest of my life!), but the direction is clear to increase hydration and temperature and see what happens.

Bill/SFNM

Offline scpizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 317
  • Demystifying Neapolitan Pizza
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #33 on: January 06, 2007, 11:45:49 AM »
Still much more testing to do (for the rest of my life!), but the direction is clear to increase hydration and temperature and see what happens.

Bill, keep up the great work.  This is intensely interesting stuff.  You are truly pushing the envelope of our knowledge around what factors improve pizza.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2007, 12:00:26 PM by scpizza »

Offline scpizza

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 317
  • Demystifying Neapolitan Pizza
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2007, 09:05:41 PM »
I just did another batch sifting.  Got it sky high - up to 70% hydration, though added back enough bench flower subsequently to bring it back down to 66%.  Superior results, extremely light crust (baked at 900).

Note I was also trying All Trump instead of Caputo on a lark.  I was surprised to find it went through the fermentation and high heat baking perfectly.  The dough handled extremely well, probably better than Caputo.  The taste was only a whisker behind that of Caputo.

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2007, 02:32:54 PM »
Emblazoned on my family's coat of arms is the motto "If a little bit is good, a lot is better". Well, in line with my observations in this thread, I decided to crank up the hydration from 64% to 67%, leaving everything else the same. As you can see from the pictures below, the pies look good, but in reality, they were heavy - not as light and fluffy as before - maybe a little gummy. I think the additional moisture bound up in the dough may have not completely cooked out by the time the outside was cooked (about 55 seconds). I'm cranking it back down to 64% and see if I can consistently reproduce the "best" results before I head out on future experiments.

Bill/SFNM


Offline Jack

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 404
  • Location: WA
  • Pizza; it's what's for dinner, breakfast........
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2007, 05:50:51 PM »
EDIT: Actually, there's a fun project for the technically adept person just waiting to surface here.  If I were to build my own flour sifter, sparing no convenience or wattage, I would build one to fit my (your) mixer and bowl so that the flour can be sifted in without getting in the way of the planetary arm (assuming Kitchen Aid).  I would also make it electric by mounting a small, cheap motor from the local Radio Shack, with an unbalanced weight attached to the motor shaft for creating vigorous vibration.  The frame would be constructed as a stand that allows the sieve collar to hover above the bowl, being reenforced and weighted near the base for stability.  Power it with batteries or an AC adapter, and you'll be sitting squarely in the lap of hands-free grain sifting luxury.

Red Nov.,

You just had to throw down the gauntlet didnt you. . . .

OK, this is easy. 
   Fashion a sieve (yes, collar shaped) to fit on the KA mixing bowl, but be sure to leave a little slop, i.e. a loose fit around the edge, perhaps 1/8 inch, so the sieve can rattle around just a little.
   Cut out the interior of the sieve in the shape of a cam, i.e. completely round, except for two small bumps inward, on opposite sides of the inner edge of the sieve, which will act like the cam. 
   Every time the planetary shaft comes around, it will bump the cam, rattling the sieve first one way, then the other.  This will cause a small amount of flour to drop into the bowl on each revolution.
   A little Teflon slider on that cam will insure that there will be no issue with the KA shaft.

This is what I call an eloquent engineered solution, because it works well on two separate levels.  We get the free mechanism to run the sieve, and it adds the flour to the water slowly, like its supposed to.  Bonus feature, no moving parts!

Unfortunately, Im going to have to add this project behind the design of a gas fired, smoldering wood, temperature controlled horizontal smoker Im currently working on.  I do like the sieve idea though.

jack
 
Edit:  if this does not add flour fast enough, we can easily add a few more cams, or just run the mixer on setting 8 instead. <kidding>
« Last Edit: January 19, 2007, 05:53:01 PM by Jack »

Offline Jack

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 404
  • Location: WA
  • Pizza; it's what's for dinner, breakfast........
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #37 on: January 19, 2007, 05:56:21 PM »
Is there something lost if you sift into another bowl and spoon the flour into the mixing bowl or is it better to sift directly in to the mixing bowl?

jib

Offline November

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1879
  • Location: North America
  • Come for the food. Stay for the science.
    • Uncle Salmon
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2007, 06:24:57 PM »
Jack,

I like your cam idea a lot.  There's just one hitch: I don't own a KitchenAid or any other brand of planetary mixer, and I suspect that may be the case with a lot of people.  I think it might be a good idea to mention it to KitchenAid though.  They seem to like coming up with all kinds of attachments for their mixers.  I was thinking of something that could be used for more than one size bowl (telescoping for different heights and protractible for different diameters).  It could be versatile enough to be used for visual effect shots in home videos too.  Imagine filming a scale model city and needing to depict a blizzard.  You have it covered.

I would sift directly into the mixing bowl, although pouring the flour from one bowl to another would have minimal effect.

- red.november

Offline Bill/SFNM

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4042
  • Location: Santa Fe, NM
Re: Lightest, tastiest crust yet
« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2007, 02:27:50 PM »
The advantage of taking good notes (especially if you're getting old!) is that it is easy to backtrack after disappointing results. Today I backed down the hydration and eliminated the sifting and was able to reproduce previous results that I enjoyed greatly.

Below are photos of the oven right before baking and some pies. The last picture taken after baking was done seems to indicate my oven is possessed. You can see on the floor of the oven the image of, perhaps, an alien, or as one family member said, Mickey Mouse. Disney is gonna pay me big bucks for this hidden Mickey :-D

Bill/SFNM



 

pizzapan