Author Topic: In search of the perfect crust  (Read 8774 times)

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Offline Amazing

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In search of the perfect crust
« on: January 02, 2007, 11:35:24 AM »
Hello,

Yet another newbie (to the forums) here.
I have been trying in vain for over 20 years to duplicate an authentic pizza crust at home. I live in Canada, and actually bought my first stone while vacationing in California, because they were not available here back then.
There is so much information on this website, that I am honestly overwhelmed by it all, and don't quite know where to begin reading. I am also relieved to see that I am not the only one obsessed by this quest.
I am trying to make a thin style airy crust at home, but always have the same problems..
1)My dough continuously tries to shrink back to it's original size as I am stretching it.
2)My pizzas end up tasting like white bread, not pizza!!
I have tried a variety, and combination of flours, but always end up with the same results.
Please help...Point me in the right direction so I may learn.
Glad to have found you all, keep up the great work!

Bob


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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2007, 12:02:05 PM »
Bob,

Can you post the dough recipe you have been using and the steps you follow to make the dough and the final pizza? I know that it is difficult for individuals to get flours in Canada that perform as well as ours in the U.S., particularly those with high protein/gluten levels, but there may be ways of achieving reasonable results nonetheless. BTW, where are you in Canada, and which brands/types of flours have you been using?

It might also be helpful if you can tell us what are some of the other characteristics in the crust that you seek beyond thinness and lightness of texture? Is it sweetness, crispness, chewiness, etc.?

Peter

Offline Amazing

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2007, 02:49:10 PM »
Thanks for your answer Peter.
I will try and give you as much information as I can.
I live in Montreal, where the old fashioned pizzarias serve some of the best tasting pizza I have ever had anywhere. I avoid the chains at all cost!!

I usually buy Five Roses AP unbleached flour, as I know that many restaurants here use this flour.†

My dough recipe begins with one packet of Fleischmann's Traditional ADY, which I mix into 1 cup of tepid water with 1 tsp. of sugar dissolved in it.
After 10 minutes proofing, I add 2 tsp. salt and then 2 more cups of cold water, and 1/4 Cup vegetable oil.
I then begin adding my flour relatively quickly into a 6 qt KA mixer with the dough hook attached (No measuring of the flour because of the humidity factors...Strictly by the feel of the dough).
I let it mix (knead) for approx. 8-10 minutes on the second lowest speed. The dough is then rounded up and placed into an oiled bowl, and covered with either a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and placed into an oven with the light on, for a touch of warmth. After 1 1/2 hours rising I punch the dough down, and give it another 45 mins. on the second rise, also in the oven.
After the second rise, I usually use the dough right away.

I stretch the dough by hand (no rolling pins here) on a well floured counter top, and then place it onto a floured peel.
I use a moderate amount of homemade sauce flavoured with oregano, basil, fresh garlic, salt and pepper, a small amount of olive oil, and a little sugar to cut the acid.
The pizza is topped with shredded mozzarella cheese (15% MF & 52% humidity) and baked on the preheated stone on the low rack in an electric oven at just over 500 degrees. I rotate the pizza once or twice during the baking to get it evenly cooked.

The pizza I am trying to duplicate at home, is the typical thin style that is cooked in the wood burning ovens at many resaurants. It has a slightly salty taste, and the outer edge has a crispy crust on the outside, but is more chewy at its centre.
The slices when picked up are soft, not rigid and require 2 hands to hold and eat.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 03:45:17 PM by Amazing »

Offline chiguy

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2007, 04:47:09 PM »
 Amazing,
 This is not a recipe/formula anyone can help you with. All i can tell is that you have 3cups water & 1/4Cup oil. How many pizzas is this suppose to make? The fact that you do not measure out flour because of weather is a big part of the inconsistencies. In fact weather apparently has little or no consequence on the dough. Here is a Lehmann Q&A about humidity/weatheryou may find of interest.
 http://www.pmq.com/mag/2006august/article.php?story=inlehmannsterms
 I hope you can take some time to measure or weigh your ingrediants so members here can better assit you. By doing this you will get on the right path to perfecting your recipe.          Chiguy

Offline November

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2007, 05:07:37 PM »
I agree that for a proper analysis, we need to know how much flour you're adding, but based on one of your goals, you need to add more salt.  Two teaspoons of salt for what could potentially be more than 1 kg of flour is not going to help you achieve saltiness.

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2007, 05:26:54 PM »
Bob,

Thank you for the added information. I was planning to ask you if you have a scale to use the next time to weigh the flour and water but I see that chiguy and Novermber have already asked. Having that information would enable us to better analyze the total dough formulation and make more concrete recommendations. Knowing a typical dough ball weight and corresponding pizza size will also help, since that information will give us a better idea as to how thick your crusts are. If you don't have a scale, then if you can provide the volume measurement for the flour, that will help. In that case, please tell us how you measured out the flour. For example, my technique is to stir the flour in the bag, spoon the flour into my measuring cup(s)/spoon(s) to slightly overflowing, and then level off the top with a flat edge. Having accurate volume measurements will help get us into the ballpark.

As best I can tell, the 5 Roses all-purpose flour you are using has a rated protein content of about 12%. I estimate that the hydration figure (absorption rate) for that flour is around 61%. However, that number may not mean as much as it ordinarily would because you are using 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of oil, which contributes to the overall "wetness" of the dough. I estimate that you are using something like 7% oil, by weight of flour. If that number is anywhere near correct, that amount of oil will create a soft and tender crumb. That may be the "bread-like" quality that you mentioned that you would like to avoid. So, one recommendation that I would make is to lower the amount of oil considerably. I would use about 1 1/2 tablepoons to start, and experiment from there until you are satisfied with the results. If you can provide reasonably accurate measurements for the flour, it will be possible to fine tune that number.

Another possibility for improving your results is to use cold fermentation. I don't know what percent ADY you are using (because I don't know how much flour you are using), but I think you can cut back on the amount to the point where the dough can cold ferment in the refrigerator for at least a day and possibly 2-3 days. You will get better dough development and texture as a result, as well as better crust flavors and aromas.

I also agree with November that your salt may be on the low side. I estimated less than 1%. If you are looking for saltiness, as you indicated in your last post, you will want to use more than 2 teaspoons.

You also mentioned that you have been having problems with elasticity of the dough and its tendency to spring back when being shaped. I don't see anything in your description to suggest why that should be the case. However, if you have been re-shaping or re-kneading or re-balling the dough just prior to shaping and stretching, that will tighten up the gluten structure and make the dough difficult to handle. It will exhibit strong springback action.

If you can provide additional information as noted above, I'm fairly confident that we can get you headed in the right direction, or at least give you some food for thought.

Peter

« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 05:29:36 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline SemperFi

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2007, 04:00:46 PM »
Wow,

Pete-zza recommened I try posting my recipe in here. It does make an excellent dough, and is loosely based on Jeff Varasano's NY style pizza recipe.  Currently measurements are by volume, going to buy a scale to get true readings so will repost soon I hope. Flour is scooped from bag, leveled off.

Poolish:
12 oz filtered H20  rm temp
1 cp   Bread flour
Mixed well, allowed to sit for 3 hours to hydrate(too eager to use to let it sit)

Dough:
5 cps    Bread flour plus 1 cp flour
2.5 cps H20, rm temp and filtered plus 2/3 cp cold filtered H20
1 Tbs    Salt
1 pkg    Fleischmann's ADY

1.  Mixed all of poolish, 1st flour, 1st water and yeast in KA for about 3 min.
2.  Wrapped and allowed to sit 30 min.
3.  Added 2nd flour, salt, 2nd water, mixed for 15 min on low speed.  Dough was very wet.  Not a batter but not a dough.
4.  Bulk wrapped in lightly oiled bowl, retarded for 3 hrs in cooler. Doubled in size. 
5.  Removed, punched down, portioned into 4 balls. Wrapped and frozen.
6.  Allowed 2 balls to defrost and come to rm temp.
7.  Heated oven to 500 deg for 1.5 hrs.
8.  Topped and baked about 10 min.

Pete - you may notice that I corrected yeast amount.  Also lowered 1st flour amount by 1 cp.

I think that you will like this crust Bob.  Any suggestions or comments, please feel free.

Thanks again Pete for re-directing me and for your insight.
Adam

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2007, 04:54:16 PM »
SemperFi,

My first instinct when I see a new dough recipe is to convert the volume measurements to weight measurements and baker's percents format so that I can better see what is happening with the recipe and to analyze it better. When I tried doing this with your recipe, the numbers don't seem to compute. For example, for a cup of flour measured out as you say you do (scooping flour out of the bag and leveling), I get 5.15 ounces. At a total of 7 cups, that comes to 36.05 ounces. For total water, I get about 35.7 ounces (12 fluid ounces for the "poolish", plus 2.5 c., plus 2/3 c.). On a hydration basis, that is about 99%. Even if I add back the cup of flour you removed from your recipe, I get a hydration of about 86.6%. Am I missing something or did I misread your recipe in some way?

Peter

Offline SemperFi

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2007, 05:06:57 PM »
Peter,

Now that is an odd one.  Flour bag says 3 1/3 cups per pound, so that would put it at just under 5 oz per cup and 6 cps 30 oz, so there's that #, water is a standard...so that is 22oz.

The poolish is 12 oz H20 and 10 oz of flour.

So that is 40 oz flour
                32 oz  H20

Yeah, if I just did it right it is 80%.  My measuring of the flour has got to be off Peter.  Please excuse my measurements or just remove the recipe post.  There is enough bad info out there, no need for me to contribute.  I will repost once I get my scale.

My apologies.
Adam

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2007, 05:32:55 PM »
SemperFi,

It is up to you if you want to delete your own post, however it does point out some of the challenges in analyzing recipes stated in volumes. It wouldn't be as much as a problem if everyone measured out flour in exactly the same way, using the exact same measuring cups and measuring spoons. But that never happens. The ways of measuring out flour, and the measuring cups and spoons to do so, vary all over the place. The way that King Arthur recommends measuring flour is to stir the flour in the bag, spoon the flour from the bag into a measuring cup to the point of just overflowing, and then leveling the top. I do it that way, but I have been told that I use too "light" a hand doing so, i.e., my measurements are on the low side. Weight is always weight and doesn't vary, although there may be slight differences from one scale to another and from one type of scale to another. BTW, the same problem exists with water also. Different cups produce different weights of water when scaled.

Peter


Offline SemperFi

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2007, 09:44:41 AM »
Peter,

After what you said, I had to go digging to find out what am I doing wrong, other than measuring by volume vice weight.  So I got out my measuring cups and spoons.  What my metal measuring cup said was .5 cups, my Pyrex one said well below .5 cups.  The trend continued with my spoons, not as large of a discrepancy, but still enough to make it matter once compounded for upscaling.  Couple the inaccuracies with personal measurement style, and you have a very doughy, wet paper weight.  Thank you for bringing light to this subject.  I plan to buy a scale in the next week or so, hopefully then I can contribute accurately to this forum.  But a question for you.  After the knead, does it matter if I immediately portion and freeze before the initial rise?  Is it the same if I defrost in the cooler for 3 days and then use, or are results better to do an initial rise, then freeze the portions?  Thanks again for all your direction and insight.
Adam

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2007, 10:39:22 AM »
SemperFi,

I am not a big fan of making frozen dough but have done some limited experimentation along those lines. I described some of my efforts at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg17428/topicseen.html#msg17428 (Reply 272). I think you will find the answers to your questions, plus more, in that post. There is also some good information on frozen doughs elsewhere on the forum, including the article on frozen dough at http://www.lesaffre.fr/Eng/default.asp?cible=Services/s_Ressources.htm. As you will see from reading the above items, it is hard to achieve the "perfect crust" using frozen dough.

Peter

Offline Amazing

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2007, 10:52:20 AM »
Thank you all for your helpful tips! I have been reading many posts all over the board here and have found them very informative.
They also keep me from duplicating someone elseís mistakes.
As I do not have a kitchen scale, I will definitely have to start measuring my flour, and not adding it by feel.
One thing I would like to mention, and I donít know if it has been pointed out before, is that there are different types of measuring cups. One kind is designed to measure wet ingredients, like water or oil, and the other kind that is for measuring dry ingredients like flour.
If you are not using the right type of measuring cup, it doesnít matter if you stir your flour in the bag first and then and spoon it into the cup, or not.
Thanks Adam for your post.. Just wondering about your poolish, no mention of a starter or yeast in there.. Just flour and water..Is that right? Can you, or someone else explain what that does?
I am also curious about anyone's thoughts on autolyzing (sp)?
Thanks again for your guidance!
Bob

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2007, 12:05:40 PM »
Robert,

Measuring cups and spoons, whether from different manufacturers or even from the same manufacturer, can and will produce different measurements, not only because of differences in the ways people measure out ingredients, but because of such factors as accuracy of manufacture, and the shape and depth of measuring cups/spoons and their impact on compaction dynamics, especially with flour, which is the most basic component of dough. It was such factors, and possibly others, that I believe led member November to devise the tool at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/ (on the left-hand side).

As for autolyse, it is a method favored by many of our members, maybe the majority of those who regularly post on this forum. If you use the forumís search feature you will find many threads that do a nice job of discussing autolyse. My personal favorite is this thread, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2632.msg22758.html#msg22758, and particularly cocoabeanís post at Reply 9.

The mixture of flour and water used by Adam (SemperFi) is technically not a poolish, as you have apparently noted. Technically, a poolish is a mixture of flour, water and yeast, and the amounts of flour and water are the same by weight, giving a hydration of 100%. I believe Adam uses the mixture of flour and water mainly to achieve improved hydration of the flour.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 09:04:02 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline SemperFi

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2007, 01:41:04 PM »
Robert,

Pete-zza is an amazing library of knowledge, where was he years ago when I first tried mimicking my moms doughs.  He could have saved me hundreds of dollars in flour costs and in all of the Tums I ate for my frustrations.  He is right, my "poolish" is far from the correct term, and I am like you, in search for the correct crust, so its probably best not to replicate my procedures.  I will try any combination of ideas, just to see where it will lead.  And it seems the Peter does the same, but with much greater control factors and documentation.  You can spend the afternoon tinkering around your kitchen, searching for the Holy Grail of correct ingredient amounts, or take 5 min and research Peters advice, and nail it on the head.  The Leahman dough calculator is wonderful (still need my scale though) and I can't wait to trying out different hydration percentages...that is truly the only way to learn, by doing, tasting, and documenting, either in a forum like this or in our own recipe books.  I definitely plan on bouncing my ideas off of him and others until they scream "ENOUGH".   :-D  Adam
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Offline chewie

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2007, 04:58:53 PM »
I think it's time I broke down and bought a kitchen scale.  They are cheap and too useful not to have one.

I finally realized this the other day when I made my dough and kept having to add either more water or more dough.  Oops, crud. Too much water.  Crud.  Gotta add more flour.  The final result suffered for it too. 

My biggest cooking problem is trying to eyeball things.  Works fine with making potatoes, but with baking, this just isn't a good idea.

Offline SemperFi

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2007, 05:31:56 PM »
I think it's time I broke down and bought a kitchen scale.† They are cheap and too useful not to have one.

I finally realized this the other day when I made my dough and kept having to add either more water or more dough.† Oops, crud. Too much water.† Crud.† Gotta add more flour.† The final result suffered for it too.†

My biggest cooking problem is trying to eyeball things.† Works fine with making potatoes, but with baking, this just isn't a good idea.

I agree, I am researching digital scales now, and I've looked on this forum, but there are only 2 other posts about scales, and the hyperlinks in both of them are old.  It seemd that its basically the Salton brand out there only.

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=13970270
Adam

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2007, 06:01:21 PM »
Adam and Chewie,

You might want to check out this thread, which includes links to other threads/posts on digital scales, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4005.msg33452.html#msg33452. You might also take a close look at November's post at Reply 3 in the abovereferenced thread.

Peter

Offline November

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2007, 07:33:46 PM »
It remains to be seen if the following blog is biased with regard to product reviews, but the reviewer ("blogger") makes very good points about using a scale to weight ingredients rather than measuring by volume.  Of particular interest is this entry about the KD-7000, and one of its features that alleviates the annoyance which I noticed one member was complaining about.

"the automatic power-off can be disabled so that it doesnít inconveniently time-out when youíre in the middle of weighing and got distracted for a few minutes (donít you just HATE when that happens!)" - http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2006/02/weigh_to_bake_revisitedthe_per.html

- red.november

Offline SemperFi

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Re: In search of the perfect crust
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2007, 07:58:15 PM »
November,

I just checked that link.  Awesome scale, and its actually cheaper than the low class one I was looking at at Bed Bath and Beyond.  At first it looked huge, like a 12x12 at least, but with a footprint of 7x7, I can leave it on my kitchen counter.  Accuracy looked good too, within .1 oz.  Thanks for the post, and thanks Peter for the friendly re-direct.  Adam
Adam