Author Topic: For those of us without those big mixers...  (Read 2818 times)

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Randy G

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For those of us without those big mixers...
« on: August 18, 2004, 02:01:42 PM »
...is it still possible for us to hand mix a good crust? What style crust and cooking techniques would you guys recommend for those of us without pizza stones, ultra high temp ovens and big mixers? Should we be going with pizza screens, or even a pan? Can we still get a NY style crust with these items?


Offline Foccaciaman

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2004, 02:56:59 PM »
No need for  a big mixer, hand kneading is the true way to make pizza anyway.  It is just far easier with a mixer.  I mixed and kneaded all my doughs by hand for years before I bought my KitchenAid mixer. And I still knead for a short while after taking it from the mixer to get a feel for the dough.

As for oven temp, we all crave the ability to turn our home ovens higher (by the way Steve started a new thread on this the other day about fooling the oven into higher temps), but your home oven will cook very good pizzas anyway. I actually have decreased my temp to 525 to cook my New York Style.

Pizza screens vs. stones; In my experience this is a matter of personal opinion, I use both pizza stones and screens for different pizzas. Some will argue that one is much better than the other, however I have never noticed that much of a difference between the two, to conclude that one is far superior.

So rest assured that you probably already have all the tools you need to make great pizza. ;D
« Last Edit: August 18, 2004, 02:59:46 PM by Foccaciaman »
Ahhh, Pizza The Fifth Food Group

Offline giotto

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2004, 03:42:56 PM »
Randy:

If pros like Chris Bianco can mix 100 lbs of flour daily by hand, and reach national levels that others marvel at, you too can reach great results without an expensive mixer.  As for me, I can't reach consistency on an ongoing basis without a mixer, especially when working with a higher gluten flour.

I used to hand mix, then moved to a simple $30 Oster hand mixer (with dough hooks, not blades that will cut the dough)to increase the consistency of my mix, and finally to a kitchenaid mixer as I started to increase the frequency and protein (glutency) of the flour.  And I have never run the setting over 2 with either mixer.

The open design of what you place your pizza on is key though.  A screen is an open design with a flat surface with plenty of holes at the bottom to provide consistent cooking, and is the only thing I use. Pans with holes can work as well, but even metal ones often have lips around the end which cause problems in heating around the lower parts of the outer crust-- this can easily be resolved by placing your pizza directly on the bottom rack for the last minute.  The screen can also be a great compliment to pizza stones or tiles.

Flour, quality ingredients and various techniques are other key things to consider, which you'll find throughout this message board.  Protein in flour, for example, determines the gluten level of a flour when mixed with water.  All Purpose has a protein level of 9% - 12%.  You may want to try a higher gluten level found in bread flours, such as Gold Medal Specialty flour (12.7% protein, available in yellow bag just about anywhere) or King Arthur's bread flour (12.7%).  There are also flours stated as High-Gluten, which you can read a summary on by clicking on this discussion, and scrolling toward the bottom: http://www.pizzamaking.com/yabbse/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=524
« Last Edit: August 18, 2004, 06:08:54 PM by giotto »

Randy G

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2004, 03:48:09 PM »
Well I'll keep plugging at it. I'm trying to get a NY crust going. I tried one experiment by putting the dough on a wire rack, and then throwing that into the oven when it was at max temp. The crust was rock hard for this. Is there a difference in heat from a stone, or direct heat from the electrical elements? Of course air is a poor conductor of heat so maybe there is.

The only other thing I can think to try is to put this big 19 inch restaurant style pan I have in as my "stone", and throw the pizza in on that when the oven reaches 500 degrees. The only problem I can think might crop up is the pan might warp or something.

If anyone can outline a NY formula for us with the basic cooking stuff (hand mix, typical pizza pan), it would be appreciated.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2004, 03:58:34 PM »
Randy G.,

What kind of dough and in what quantity will pretty much govern whether you can make the dough by hand.  On the low end of the protein/gluten scale, from cake flour, 00 flour, pastry flour, and combinations of such flours, up to and including all-purpose flour, you should have no problem mixing and kneading by hand, even for fairly large amounts of dough.  When you move up the next notch--to bread flour--the kneading will get a bit more difficult to do by hand, but you should still be able to do it with a little more effort, and especially so if you aren't planning to make a huge quantity of dough at one time.  When you get to the upper end of the protein/gluten scale--to high-gluten flour such as King Arthur's Sir Lancelot flour or its equivalent--kneading gets more difficult and especially so if you plan to make a huge quantity of dough at one time.  Since I have several machines at my disposal, I have not tried kneading a dough using the high-gluten flour entirely by hand.  In fact, King Arthur says the Sir Lancelot flour should be kneaded only by a mixer, processor, or bread machine to develop the flour's gluten.  Unfortunately, some of the best styles of pizza, such as the New York style, call for high-gluten flour.  However, many of the recipes for New York style doughs (and others as well), often call for bread flour as an alternative to high-gluten flour, and in such case you should be able to knead the dough by hand.  It will just take a little work.  My best advice is to try making doughs using bread and high-gluten flours and see what results you get.  What is key is getting the proper gluten development.

The two usual methods to knead dough by hand is to do it in a bowl or on a work surface.  In the bowl approach, the  dough ingredients are placed into a bowl (sometimes in a specific sequence) and, using a spoon or your hands, the dough is mixed and kneaded in a rotating (usually clockwise) manner while turning the bowl.  This action in effect simulates the action of the dough hook of a stand mixer or the blade of a food processor (both of which operate much faster, of course, than your hands).  The kneading continues until you get a dough ball that is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test.  Quite often, the kneading will be interrupted to make minor adjustments to the flour and water used, and also by a period of rest, which allows the flour to more fully absorb the water.

The work surface approach usually calls for combining the dry ingredients on a work surface, making a well in the center, and gradually adding the water into the well while combining it with the dry ingredients, using either a fork or your fingers, being careful not to let the water escape from the well and make a mess of things.  Once the ingredients have been combined into a rough ball, then the rest of the kneading is done by hand, until the final dough ball is smooth and elastic and passes the windowpane test.  Again, the kneading process may be interrupted to make adjustments to the flour and water used and by a period of rest.

If you don't have a pizza stone, or you want to keep your costs down, then you can always use inexpensive unglazed tiles.  There is a fair amount of material on both stones and tiles at this site at your disposal if that is the way you want to go.  Just use the search feature.  As alternatives to pizza stones or tiles, you can also use pans and screens.  Again, there is a fair amount of information on this site as to the use of both pans and screens.  Pizza stones, tiles, pans and screens all produce good pizzas, even great ones.  Just start somewhere, get the feel for what you are doing, and, with time, you should do just fine.  Remember, Confucius reminded us that a ten thousand mile journey begins with a single step  :).

Peter

Offline Foccaciaman

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2004, 04:18:37 PM »
Randy:
 
When I first got my screen and started cooking with it I was using it on the lowest rack just like my stone, I was getting inconsistant results until I lowered the temp about 25 degrees and moved the rack up one setting from the bottom.
That has made all the difference in my pizzas cooked on the screen. I can now easily regulate my crusts progress without over or under cooking it.

What recipe are you currently using for your dough?
Ahhh, Pizza The Fifth Food Group

Randy G

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2004, 04:26:50 PM »
Well my standard method was to proof yeast in 3/4 cup of warm sugared water, and while this is happening, mix up in a bowl a cup of bread flour, add about 2 tbsp oil, some salt and sugar. I then added the yeast, and beat it with a spoon till the mixture was as unclumped as possible. Since at this point it's kind of soupy, I'd start adding in flour slowly until I got a dough ball. I let it sit for an hour, then put it in the fridge overnight.

Then the next day I let it warm up, then spread it out on my pan, and let it rise about 1/2 hour.  I parbaked it for 4 minutes at 400 degrees, then add the sauce and toping, bake for about 5 min, then add then cheese and bake till melted.

I've tried low and high temps, short and long times, and my edges still are hard (wheter it's in a flat pizza pan or a deep dish pan), enough that I don't eat them. I've made bread with the same flour (for longer times), and that doesn't get hard. So why only does my pizza dough edges get hard?

Offline Randy

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2004, 04:59:59 PM »
This is the book you need.  All of his directions use hand mixing and kneading and the recipes are some of the best.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1580084222/qid=1092862705/?tag=pizzamaking-20

Offline Pete-zza

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2004, 05:27:16 PM »
Randy G.,

Without knowing exactly the amounts of the ingredients you have been using (including the type of yeast), it's hard to say exactly why your recipe isn't working.  I echo Randy's suggestion that you get Peter Reinhart's book.  Reinhart does a good job laying out the steps for making dough and has a basic collection of dough recipes that are easy to follow and make use of easy to find ingredients.

In the meantime, if you can post the exact ingredients you used, and the precise steps followed, I think we might be able to detect the problem areas and offer possible solutions.  That way, you may be able to make a few pizzas before you get and read the Reinhart book.  I would also suggest that you search this forum for some recipes.  Even if you just read the recipes you will get a very good feel for many of the things you should be doing or should not be doing.

Peter

Offline giotto

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Re:For those of us without those big mixers...
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2004, 06:56:28 PM »
Randy G:

It does not sound like you are kneading the dough after it comes together.  

* Try setting your formula to include 1/3 cup of fluid per cup of flour, and feel comfortable to proof your active yeast in an additional small amount of warm water (110 F).  

* Try kneading it for 5 - 10 minutes after it comes together; let it rest for 15 minutes and put it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours; let it sit for 30 minutes after you take it out; then lay it out and put it in the oven.  

* The other URL that I gave you earlier has received new postings that provide suggestions for adding milk and retaining moisture that will be of help to you: http://www.pizzamaking.com/yabbse/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=524;start=msg4561#msg4561

BUT before you do this, beware that you can be blaming your dough and spending endless hours inefficiently, when the problem is related to your oven.

I'd definitely recommend that you take another route that will pay off many times over.  Go to a pro who makes a crust that you like, and ask to buy their dough (usually a buck for a 14").  If you have a Trader Joes, get their normal dough for 99 cents.  See how these doughs feel and handle compared to your dough. Weigh them as well.  Try cooking them with your toppings and temperatures.  If it does not work; it ain't the dough.  But remember, it can be done with home-based conventions, as discussed here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/yabbse/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=523;start=msg4572#msg4572

Some recommendations when placing dough into an oven:  start at the bottom for 1 1/2 minutes at 515 F; then move it to 6" from the top, same temp for 6 1/2 to 7 minutes.  Additional tips for oven handling can be found here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/yabbse/index.php?board=5;action=display;threadid=389;start=msg4518#msg4518

You should get a nice browning effect like this:

(http://home.comcast.net/~keck-foundation1/pizza3a.jpg)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2004, 05:09:43 AM by giotto »