Author Topic: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?  (Read 6067 times)

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Offline Wazatron

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Hi all Ė hopefully this question wonít be too bothersome to everyone.  I have done a good bit of research through the forums on this, but havenít quite found enough answers that I feel comfortable with.

Essentially Iíve tried making NY Style pizzas about 3 times now, and have had very little success every time. When I shape the pie the dough does not stretch well and tears very easily. I end up with more of a bread bowl than a pizza.  :-D haha

I think Iíve pinpointed (well, relatively so) do actually putting together the dough. I am unable to get that nice smooth shiny dough consistency Ė when I stop kneading my dough itís always kind of stringy looking and tears pretty easy itself.

Now Iíve read that you just need to keep kneading, but I donít think thatís my problem. The last time I tried I just beat the snot out of the dough Ė in the mixer for like 30 minutes, by hand for 10 minutes, another 10 in the mixer, etc. I tried to just keep going until it looked right, and it just never looked right. So I let it sit in the fridge for a couple days and not surprisingly ended up with the same results. A bread bowl pizza.

The recipe Iím using is:

High-gluten flour, 11.80 oz. (about 2 1/2 c.) KA Bread Flour
Water, 7.70 oz. (about 1 c.) (about 65% hydration)
IDY, 0.20 oz. (1 1/2 t.)
Salt, 0.20 oz. (3/4 t.)
Olive oil (light), 0.12 oz. (3/4 t.)

I generally try to stick with recipes using IDY, as I use that all the time for another style of pizza and so I generally have a ton of it around the house.

Another potentially relevant fact is that Iím in Denver Ė so high altitude and very dry, especially in the winter. Maybe that kills my hydration and I need to add more water/oil?

Iíd love to be able to come up with just once recipe that I can make a pizza from. :) Iíll worry about the finer points of quality later, I just want a real pizza out of this! Haha.

Other baking notes: I have a pizza stone that I heat up for one hour at 550, and then cook the pie right on the stone for ~7 minutes or so. Attached are some photos of my latest catastrophe.

Any suggestions or thoughts on why I can never get a nice dough that could even come close to ďwindow-paneĒ?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 11:55:45 AM by Wazatron »


Offline pnj

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2007, 12:01:13 PM »
I can't answer your question but how does the pizza taste?

Offline Wazatron

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2007, 12:06:01 PM »
It doesnít taste *bad*, but it doesnít taste like pizza. You can see how thick it is, so it tastes like thick rustic bread-pizza. Very dense and chewy.

Offline chiguy

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2007, 12:25:33 PM »
 Hey Wazatron,
 The recipe you are using should produce a very extensible dough. Although it would not be a bad idea to increase the salt to at least 0.50%-0.75%. i am not sure if this will  give you that widow pane effect, but salt is a dough strengthener.
 Also it is possible to over mix a pizza dough, at this point you would have either a non uniform gluten structure which would make stretching difficult.
 Also overmixing can result in a tight bread like crumb. Here is a Q&A from Lehmann about mixing.  http://www.pmq.com/lehmann_winter2001.shtml
 
 One other note is that you should let dough relax for 10 minutes after mixing if you intend to stretch out for a window pane, the gluten need time to relax. Also a window pane dough is not idicitive of a great crust/crumb.  Chiguy
 
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 07:28:56 PM by chiguy »

Offline pcampbell

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2007, 01:24:56 PM »
Could it be overkneaded?

When you take it out of the fridge, are you "punching it down" - this could make it very difficult to stretch (?).
« Last Edit: May 03, 2007, 01:26:46 PM by pcampbell »
Patrick

Offline Wazatron

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2007, 01:39:00 PM »
Hi all - well, I have no doubt that this latest attempt could have been overkneaded, but I did so intentionally, trying to get "past" the horrid looking dough I always ended up with on my first couple of attempts, which were definitely not overkneaded. I should have taken a picture of the dough! haha

I've just never been able to form a dough that has that nice soft, silky look to it that could even come close to a window-pane test. I know that the window-pane test isn't the end-all be-all for a good dough, but I can't even try the test without my dough ripping to shreds. :( I'm doing something wrong, I know that. :D haha

My hope is to collect some advice here on the board and (of course) try try again! This time I plan on taking picture and keeping times if things don't go well.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2007, 01:50:45 PM »
Waz,

I wouldnít become overly preoccupied with trying to achieve the gluten window test for the dough as it comes out of the bowl. Admittedly, the literature is rife with references to using that technique, and there are notables such as Peter Reinhart, Alton Brown and Jeffrey Steingarten who have advocated that test, but with all due respect to these individuals the test seems to be more applicable to making bread dough rather than pizza dough. With bread dough, the physical development of the gluten network is a critical element to achieving success. With pizza dough, greater reliance is placed in the biochemical development of the gluten structure. So, the prevailing wisdom on this point, which is shared by such knowledgeable professionals as Tom Lehmann and Evelyne Slomon, is to slightly underknead the dough and rely more on biochemical gluten development. You will note in this regard to the reference by Tom Lehmann to slightly undermixing the dough in the last paragraph of the item referenced by chiguy. If you want to use the gluten window test, the more meaningful time to do it is after the dough had undergone fermentation and is at the stage of being shaped and stretched. Itís too late at that point to correct any flaws in the dough but the test may be instructive in future dough preparation efforts.

Tom Lehmann has elaborated on the above subject, including a simple test of the dough in the bowl, in the quote in this post: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3560.msg30582.html#msg30582 (Reply 7). Also, you will see that same general concepts explained by Evelyne Slomon at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg28773/topicseen.html#msg28773 (Reply 455).

In terms of dough preparation using a stand mixer, the method I used for a long time is the one described in Reply 8 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg19563.html#msg19563. Further elaboration is provided in successive posts in the same thread. Although there is nothing wrong with the methods described in these posts, more recently I have been using a significantly different approach to making the dough in an effort to coax better performance out of my basic KitchenAid machine that uses the C-hook as opposed to the much more effective spiral hook of the better KitchenAid mixers. The new dough preparation method is described at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.msg33251.html#msg33251. I have incorporated the Lehmann/Slomon recommendations in the new method plus a lot more, with improved performance over my previous methods.

As for the particular dough formulation you are using, you shouldnít have a problem with extensibility with 65% hydration. I have been able to easily achieve that degree of hydration without getting an overly wet dough when using the new method referenced above. If anything, you might want to reduce the hydration percent to about 62%, which would be more consistent with the bread flour you are using. Itís possible that chiguy may have misread the amount of salt, since, at 0.20 ounces, that translates to about 1.7% by weight of flour, which is plenty enough for the dough batch size you are making. You didnít indicate whether you have been relying on a room-temperature fermentation or cold fermentation, but the IDY, at about 1.7% of the weight of flour, is high even for a room-temperature fermentation, where 1% IDY is considered to be the maximum recommended amount. For a cold fermentation, you could get by with a fraction of that amount of IDY. It might be helpful if you elaborate more on how you made and managed the dough since there may be some additional clues hidden in the detail.

If you adopt the above principles and suggestions in making your next batch of dough, I think you will achieve much better results. If not, take good notes of your procedures and come back to us with the details of your methods for further advice and recommendations. I might add that the recommendations donít take into consideration the fact that you are at a high elevation. But, before addressing that issue, I would like to see what results you achieve from your next dough batch.

Peter

Offline Wazatron

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2007, 02:24:19 PM »
Let's see - for the rest of the dough management:

When I get done forming the dough, I put it in a stainless steel bowl and swirl it in some olive oil to coat and top it with plastic wrap. I believe this procedure needs some correction as well, since I still seem to get a rough "skin" on some of the dough after 2 days.

I do cold ferment it for 2 days in the fridge. I've been bad about timing exact hours, as by the that third day rolls around it just gets eaten when I'm ready to cook it. :)

I do take it out and put it on the counter when I turn the oven on and let it sit for an hour. At the hour mark is when I try forming the skin, and then from there top & bake.

Thanks for all this info guys - everyone here is so great at helping and sharing! This is a wonderful site!

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2007, 03:11:38 PM »
Waz,

I thought the dough formulation you posted looked awfully familiar but it took a forum search for me to find that it was the original formulation that I posted in the first post in the Lehmann thread, way back in September 2004 when I first started reporting on the Lehmann NY style dough formulation. As you may have noted, I edited the post to indicate that I had used about 10 times the amount of IDY I should have, as a result of a mathematical error. Over time, I have done away with the window-pane test (albeit somewhat begrudgingly) and I no longer use high mixer speeds (like the 3 speed) for mixing and kneading the dough, even though I didn't materially overknead the dough. As it so happened, the excessive yeast worked out well even though the dough rose a lot more in the refrigerator than I originally intended and orders of magnitude more than my experimental doughs before I started posting on the subject. In my case, I used the dough after 24 hours and, even then, it was quite extensible, as I noted in the original post. If you let the same dough go out to 2-3 days with all that yeast, I can see how you might have had problems with the dough. Unless you made the dough using cold water and kept the dough really cold in the refrigerator, it is possible that your dough may have been on the verge of overfermenting after 2-3 days and difficult to handle. If the dough was wet or slack, those would be good signs of actual or incipient overfermentation. Trying to re-knead or re-ball or reshape the dough won't help it at that point, and you can easily get tearing of the dough as a result. Also, when baked, if you can get the dough to that point, the crust coloration will usually be on the light side.

If you intend to use cold fermentation next time, I would drastically cut back on the amount of IDY.

Peter

Offline Jack

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2007, 03:19:00 PM »
If your dough is still cold to the touch after one hour, try allowing more time for it to come up to temperature.  I find that I need almost 2.5 hours for my 17 inch (over 20 oz) NY Style dough balls.

Also, treat the fermented dough ball like it is an explosive.  Gently pull it out of the container, trying to keep it round.  Shape it gently, but firmly, into a flatter shape while it is sitting on a surface.  I'll press down pretty firmly on what will be the flat part of the crust,while leaving the outer rim, less than an inch wide, alone.  Don't even pick it up for shaping until it's at least half to three quarters of the final size (diameter).

Lastly, don't knead it once it's been cold fermented.  If for some reason you have to, like you yanked it out of the bowl and it's 2 feet long and 6 inches wide, then reball it and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Good luck.  You'll get it soon.

Jack


Offline BenLee

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2007, 06:24:05 PM »
I can get a superwindowpane effect when I use the foodprocessor.  It's easier to get window pane if you make a high hydration dough (hard to knead by hand).  When I pour it out of the processor, it stretches forever.  I get even more a windowpane with a high gluten dough.

Offline chiguy

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2007, 07:27:55 PM »
 W
Itís possible that chiguy may have misread the amount of salt, since, at 0.20 ounces, that translates to about 1.7% by weight of flour, which is plenty enough for the dough batch size you are making.
Thanks Peter, yes that was a misread by me on the weight of the salt, my apologly Wazatron. The salt % is fine but as Peter mentioned the Yeast% is much too high for longer holding periods.
 
If your dough is still cold to the touch after one hour, try allowing more time for it to come up to temperature.  I find that I need almost 2.5 hours for my 17 inch (over 20 oz) NY Style dough balls.
This has been my experience as well with cold dough, 1 hour is not long enough. Also i have read where Lehmann mentions that a cold dough does not open up well upon baking.
 At the very least a warmer dough ball can make stretching much easier.I don't know if you want a widow pane at this point, just a nice thin tapered crust.
                                                                       Chiguy
                                                           
« Last Edit: May 04, 2007, 02:00:58 AM by chiguy »

Offline BenLee

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2007, 02:44:58 PM »
Windowpane is not important for pizza making.  You can get a nice thin crust and great bubbles without it.  It is useful though if you like to violently throw your dough around to stretch out the dough.  I won't break.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2007, 03:15:05 PM »
I pay very close attention to windowpaning of the dough on the bench during shaping because it is one of the few indicators that tells me whether the particular dough making method(s) I used was a good one and should be used again. What I look for is uniformity of the dough thickness, without irregularities such as thick and thin areas, or a mottled effect, and the ability to stretch the dough out to almost any desired size (and beyond) with impunity. It's too late to correct any irregularities in the dough at this point. Yet my observation is that the finished crust of a perfectly made dough skin is not necessarily any better than one made from a less than perfect skin. A "perfect" skin is something that matters more to people who make a lot of pizzas, like professional pizza operators who have their prep people shape and stretch a couple hundred dough skins a day. Some of the best crusts I have made came from skins that were less than optimal.

Peter

Offline ManChicken

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2007, 12:13:52 AM »
Hey Waz; any new developments/sucess to report?  I am a bit west of Denver and haven't had the problems you describe so it's not altitude-related.

Are you mixing/kneading by hand completely or using a mixer?

Offline Wazatron

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2007, 05:27:47 PM »
Unfortunately I've not had time to try an NY style pizza lately. Although I'm wrapping up a rather large project this weekend which should, by and large, give me a lot more free time so I plan on trying this out again relatively soon (next couple of weeks or so).

But I have been mixing with a KitchenAid stand mixer. And as for the whole window-pane thing, it's not so much that I feel I have to acheive that, but I'm just not getting any dough that's remotely close to it. All my doughs so far have been very... what's the word... shredable :) You just pull it and it tears really easy. I'm sure there's some fundamental problem with my dough (recipe probably) but I'm excited to try a lot of the information here and try and straighten it out!

I will certainly post my next 'try'.  :chef:

Offline abatardi

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2007, 09:07:44 PM »
I'd have to say that maybe you just aren't doing the windowpane right.  All things being equal, that sounds more likely... more likely than kneading for 30 mins and still not having developed gluten, anyway. 

Try doing an autolyse and see if that helps.  Just combine the flour and water only in rough dough and let it sit for 20-30 mins, then just mix it on like speed 2 for a few minutes.  It should windowpane.  Any pictures of the dough?

- aba
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 09:10:47 PM by abatardi »
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Offline Grog

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2007, 08:42:20 AM »
I spent last Christmas vacation in Highlands Ranch (suburb of Denver) and made several pizzas with King Arthur bread flour.  I live in Brazil at an altitude of 2,800 ft.  I did not notice any difference that I could attribute to being at 6,000 ft.

The recipe I used is similar to yours, but I with only 1/2 tsp of salt and IDY, and no oil.  After getting all the ingredients mixed into a consistent ball, I let it rest for about 30 min in the fridge, then kneaded by hand for about 5 minutes.  At this point, the dough was completely uniform but not perfectly smooth.  I let the dough rise overnight in the garage, where it was 40-50 degrees.  The following day, when I divided the dough into balls, it was perfectly smooth and I got nice windowpaning.  It was probably the most extensible dough I ever made.  I wish I could get King Arthur flour here in Brazil. 

Knowing when the dough is properly kneaded is something that I learned by feel, and it took me 3 months of daily experimentation to pick it up.  Obsessive behavior produces results, so keep at it!

Offline ratana

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2007, 11:42:06 AM »
I seem to remember having a similar problem when I started, I think I approached it the same way, too, to overmix the dough.  It is better to underknead than to overknead.  Try to mix it for just 10 minutes or so, maybe a max of 12.  With an autolyse for about 15 minutes after just stirring the ingredients for 1 minute at at the beginning.  It should behave much better.  But don't expect a windowpane until the dough is at room temperature before you are going to use it.  What I learned is that its much less important for pizza dough.

Offline Wazatron

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Re: Can't get "Window-pane" or anything close. :( Any help with my za?
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2007, 01:59:53 PM »
Hello all - I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post again here but I've finally been able to try some NY style 'zas again and I've had great success thanks to all of you! I followed Pete's method he references in a post above and also fixed my recipe. For my first pie I used:

KASL Flour (100%):         
190.85 g  |  6.73 oz | 0.42 lbs

Water (65%):                   
124.05 g  |  4.38 oz | 0.27 lbs

Oil (1%):                         
 1.91 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.41 tsp | 0.14 tbsp

Salt (1.75%):                   
3.34 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.6 tsp | 0.2 tbsp

IDY (0.25%):                     
0.48 g | 0.02 oz | 0 lbs | 0.16 tsp | 0.05 tbsp

Sugar (0%):                     
0 g | 0 oz | 0 lbs | 0 tsp | 0 tbsp

Total (168%):                   
320.63 g | 11.31 oz | 0.71 lbs | TF = 0.1

It turned out great! on this I just used the standard tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil (picture below).

I then tried adding a bit of sugar to the recipe just to see what would happen. It didn't turn out nearly as good - it lost a lot of the "chew" and was overly crisp - but it was still good, and still light years better from where I started (pictures 2 and 3 are of this attempt)

At any rate, thanks everyone for helping me out. I feel I'm now on a good track to make some really good NY style pizzas!