Having established that it was possible to use the dough warming method I previously described with the modified DKM low-hydration doughs prepared using a food processor and a stand mixer, I wondered whether it would be possible to use the same dough warming method with a low-hydration dough prepared another way—specifically, by hand. I wasn’t sure whether I could actually make such a dough by hand but having paid careful attention to the dough physics of my last several doughs discussed in this thread, I decided to attempt an experiment to see if I could replicate the dough physics in a hand kneaded dough.
For the experiment, I decided to make enough dough for a 12” pizza. For this purpose, I used the same dough formulation as the last one but entered a value of 13” for the desired pizza size into the expanded dough calculating tool. From a skin of 13” I would cut a 12” final skin. The dough formulation I used was as follows:
Vegetable (Soybean) Oil (3.5%):
|183.62 g | 6.48 oz | 0.4 lbs|
66.1 g | 2.33 oz | 0.15 lbs
1.84 g | 0.06 oz | 0 lbs | 0.61 tsp | 0.2 tbsp
3.21 g | 0.11 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.58 tsp | 0.19 tbsp
6.43 g | 0.23 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.42 tsp | 0.47 tbsp
2.2 g | 0.08 oz | 0 lbs | 0.55 tsp | 0.18 tbsp
263.41 g | 9.29 oz | 0.58 lbs | TF = 0.07
To prepare the dough, I started by sifting the flour (Harvest King), to which I added the IDY and stirred to incorporate. The formula water, at room temperature, was then placed into a large mixing bowl, and the salt and sugar were added to the water and stirred until dissolved, about 30 seconds. The flour/IDY was then added at about two tablespoons at a time into the water in the bowl, using a standard kitchen fork to incorporate the ingredients. I continued this until approximately two-thirds of the flour had been added and a fairly wet dough mass had formed around the fork. The reason I used the fork was to minimize gluten development, which could make the finished dough more difficult to roll out. I estimate that the dough mass formed around the fork had a hydration of about 52%. I then covered the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes, to allow for better hydration of the flour.
At the end of the 15-minute rest period, I added the remaining flour to the bowl, along with the oil. I combined the ingredients in the bowl as best I could by gently kneading them right in the bowl. The contents of the bowl were then emptied onto a work surface. I tried to incorporate the remaining ingredients as best I could, knowing that I would not be able to make a cohesive dough ball by hand. So, I took the dough ball as it had been formed to this point and tore it into small pieces about the size a nickel. I then spread the dough pieces and flour over the work surface into a fairly thin layer. The first photo below shows the results of that exercise. Using a simple spray bottle as shown in the second photo below, I then sprayed the dough materials on the work surface with water from the spray bottle. I estimate that it took about 20-25 sprays to cover everything.
I then gathered and pressed the dough pieces and loose flour together until I had a dough ball that held together. This turned out to be an easy task. I pressed the dough tightly between my cupped hands but I did not knead the dough ball because I did not want to overly develop the gluten structure. The third photo below shows the dough ball at this stage. I later estimated that adding the additional water by way of the spray bottle increased the hydration of the dough from its starting value of 36% to about 38.5%. So, the dough was still a low-hydration dough.
The finished dough ball then went into my proofing box for about 2 hours at a temperature of around 110-115 degrees F. The dough about doubled while in the proofing box. The fourth photo below shows the dough ball at that point. I then flattened the dough ball gently by hand and rolled it out to 13”. This was extremely easy to do—much easier than I was expecting. From the 13” skin, I cut a 12” skin using a 12” pizza screen as a template. The fifth photo below shows the 12” skin. I calculated that the thickness factor for the skin was 0.0615 based on a dough weight of 6.95 ounces. As before, I dusted the skin with a bit of flour, folded it into quarters, encased it in plastic wrap (as shown in the sixth photo below), and put it into the refrigerator. The dough remained in the refrigerator for about 2 days.
After I removed the dough skin from the refrigerator and let it warm up at room temperature for about an hour and a half, I rolled it out a bit more to compensate for minor shrinkage while the dough was in the refrigerator. After docking the 12” skin on both sides, I placed it into my 14” cutter pan that I had lightly pre-oiled. As before, the skin was then pre-baked, removed from the oven to be dressed (in this case with only sauce and cheese), and returned to the oven to complete the baking of the pizza. I estimate that the pre-bake took about 4 minutes, and the rest of the bake took about 7 minutes on the lowest oven rack position and a final 2 minutes at the topmost oven rack position, all at 475 degrees F. The photos in the next post show the pre-baked crust and the finished pizza.
The pizza was delicious, with a crispy and crackery crust. The pizza was the equal of the others in just about all respects. More importantly, the results demonstrate that it is possible to easily make a low-hydration dough by hand and, by using the dough warming method, to make a very good cracker-style pizza out of that hand kneaded dough.