My plan of attack to improve upon my Mexican all-purpose Lehmann NY style dough was fourfold. I would use a basic Lehmann dough recipe (in this case, for a 12-inch test pizza) but (1) I would use all-purpose flour (Mexican), (2) a lower hydration level, (3) vital wheat gluten, and (4) dried dairy whey. I have written before on using vital wheat gluten to increase the protein content of bread flour, and I have written before on using dairy whey to improve the coloration of crusts based on using Italian 00 flours, which tend naturally to be quite light in color. But, until the most recent experiment, I had not before used either vital wheat gluten or dairy whey with all-purpose flour in a Lehmann dough recipe. I will hasten to point out that neither is original with me. Both vital wheat gluten and dairy whey are used from time to time by professional pizza operators to achieve the unique qualities offered by these ingredients. The finished crust will not absolutely mimic one based on using a high-gluten flour, but the crust will be denser, chewier and crunchier than a crust based only on all-purpose flour and with a more pronounced degree of coloration. Both vital wheat gluten and dried dairy whey are relatively inexpensive ingredients and fairly widely available (I found both at Whole Foods).
The recipe I created to perform the most recent experiment was as follows (together with baker’s percents):
100%, All-purpose flour (I used Mexican but U.S. all-purpose flour can be used as well), 7.15 oz. (1 3/4 c. plus 4 t.)
60%, water (temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F), 4.29 oz. (a bit more than 1/2 c.)
1.75%, Salt, 0.13 oz. (a bit more than 5/8 t.)
1%, Oil, 0.07 oz. (a bit less than 1/2 t.)
0.25%, IDY, 0.018 oz. (1/6 t.)
3%, Dairy whey, 0.22 oz. (a bit more than 1 t.)
Thickness factor (TF) = 0.105
It will be noted that the above formulation does not reflect the use of vital wheat gluten. For those who are interested in these sorts of things, in order to make the all-purpose flour behave more like high-gluten flour from a protein standpoint (once enhanced with the vital wheat gluten), it is necessary to first determine the difference in protein content between the two flours. Using 14.2% as the benchmark for the high-gluten flour (the protein level of the King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour), I subtracted the protein content of the all-purpose flour, 11.5%, from 14.2%. This yielded a difference of 2.7%. Each 1% of vital wheat gluten, by weight of flour, added to the all-purpose flour increases the protein content by 0.6%. In our case, the percent of vital wheat gluten that is required to be added to the all-purpose flour is equal to 2.7 divided by 0.6 (4.5%) times the weight of flour in the above recipe (7.15 oz.), or about 0.32 oz. Using the conversion data on the package of vital wheat gluten, this translates to a bit more than 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten. Because the vital wheat gluten is dry, it is also necessary to compensate for this by increasing the amount of water in the recipe by 1.5 times the weight of the vital wheat gluten added. This is about 1 tablespoon. For all intents and purposes, it will be sufficient to just add about a tablespoon or more of vital wheat gluten for a 12-inch size pizza and increase it proportionately for larger sizes. Likewise with the dairy whey. Absolute precision is not necessary. What is especially nice for me is that the vital wheat gluten and dairy whey are lightweight and only small amounts are necessary. This means I can easily bring these ingredients with me to Mexico on future trips.
The dough was prepared in a straightforward manner. The salt was dissolved in the water (at about 74 degrees F), and the flour, yeast, vital wheat gluten and dairy whey were combined and gradually added to the water/salt mixture and mixed at speed 1 of my KitchenAid mixer, for about 2 minutes. The oil was then added and kneaded into the dough, and the kneading continued for about another 6-7 minutes at speed 2. After about 30 seconds of final hand kneading and shaping, the finished dough ball was coated lightly with oil and placed in the refrigerator in a covered container. The finished dough weight was 12.40 ounces, and the finished dough temperature was 80 degrees F. The dough remained in the refrigerator for about 26 hours, following which it was brought to room temperature for about 2 hours in preparation for shaping. The dough handled extremely well, with a nice balance between extensibility (stretchiness) and elasticity (springback). I attribute the good handing qualities of the dough to the addition of the dairy whey. This is a quality I previously noted and reported on when I used dairy whey in experiments with the Italian Caputo 00 flour.
Once the dough was stretched out to 12 inches, it was placed on a 12-inch pizza screen and dressed in a standard pepperoni style. The pizza was baked on the lowest oven rack position of the oven, which had been preheated for about 10 minutes at 500-550 degrees F. No pizza stone was used at all. The total bake time was about 8 minutes. The photos below show the finished product.
The pizza was very good, and one that, after many prior unsuccessful attempts, am prepared to recommend to those who wish to try out a Lehmann dough recipe but do not have access to high-gluten flour. The crust was chewy, crunchy, yet it was light in texture with a nice crumb structure with holes of random sizes. The crust was also considerably darker than those I made in Mexico. There’s no doubt in my mind that the vital wheat gluten and the dairy whey were responsible for the improvements. I don’t want to suggest that the results will be indistinguishable from a crust made with high-gluten flour. What I am prepared to say is that the pizza will be considerably better than one using only all-purpose flour—in just about all respects--to the point where many may not notice the difference. I also hope that fellow member jeancarlo, who recently opened a pizzeria in El Grullo, Mexico will read this post and test out the above recipe (if he can locate supplies of vital wheat gluten and dairy whey) to see if it is suitable for Mexicans craving a NY style pizza.