Author Topic: Help: Burned topping, pale crust.  (Read 9555 times)

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Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« on: December 20, 2004, 08:11:32 PM »
I use a good dough recipe, use a pizza stone, cook at 500 degrees and it is just not working out.

On some days, things get close. On others, like this morning, I just feel like giving up.

Basically, the main problem is the bottom of my pizza does not cook -- even when I'm using a pizza stone. On a good day, the bottom is light golden, on a bad day it's just pale white blond.    Never is it a dark brown like in a pizzeria.

It seems dough risen on the day and left at room temperature generally does better and dough taken from the fridge tends to go pale (like this morning) but I can't be sure that's the reason.

I know the oven temperature is not the problem because within 4-5 minutes, the cheese starts going brown. But at the same time, the crust still is very pale. This is frustrating the hell out of me. When I take out the pizza at this stage, I can cut open the crust and see 'dark moist' parts in the middle that have yet to cook. So I mostly let the topping overcook so the pizza is edible. The result however is a rock hard crust with no hope of folding.

Could it be my pizza stone is too thin? It's about 1/2 inch thick.

But today I cooked it on the oven grille. It's more spaced apart than a real pizza mesh but I thought I'd give it a go. Crust was pale as hell.

Any help / diagnosis would be highly appreciated.

Thanks!


Offline itsinthesauce

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2004, 08:21:06 PM »
What temp are you cooling at?

Offline itsinthesauce

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2004, 08:23:11 PM »
Sorry, I saw 500, but that doesn't compute. How long are you letting the stone get up to temp? You need to let it reach the true temp, which can take 1/2 hour or longer.

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2004, 08:31:47 PM »
After I reach 500, I let it heat for at least 40 minutes before cooking.

I just can't get it to 'crust'!

Offline canadave

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2004, 08:47:20 PM »
I'm stumped on this one.  I use 1/2-inch quarry tiles, preheat them at 550 for about 30-40 minutes, and when I cook my pizza I have to be careful not to burn the bottom of it black.

What kind of stone is it?  Is it a store-bought stone, or tiles?  Where is the stone located--on the bottom of the oven where the element is, or higher up?  Can you cook at a higher temp than 500?

--Dave

Online Pete-zza

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2004, 11:02:57 PM »
I think it is either an oven problem, because the problem is persistent, or it is a dough recipe or dough management problem.  

To check the oven, I would put the stone on the lowest rack of your oven, place a good quality oven thermometer directly on the stone, heat the stone for one hour at the oven's maximum temperature, and see if the stone reaches that temperature.  Don't put the thermometer on an oven rack since that will only measure the ambient temperature rather than the stone temperature.  If you are using a standard pizza stone or tiles, the thickness is not the cause of the problem you describe.

If the problem isn't the oven, then it's possible that your dough recipe is at fault or your dough management is at fault.  It would help if you posted the exact recipe you have been using and explain in detail how you make your dough.  From my experience, the problem you have been experiencing is due either to the choice of flour (e.g., a low protein flour like a "00" flour), overfermentation of the dough (that is, letting the dough rise too long so that the natural sugars and any other added sugars are used up by the time the dough is baked), or improper proofing of the yeast so that the dough doesn't properly ferment.   What I'd be most interested in knowing is what kind of flour you are using, how long you allow the dough to ferment, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator, and whether you add any sugar or other sweetener to your dough.  If your dough is overfermenting, it will go "dead" and it won't brown up no matter how long or how hard you try.  And the crust will become hard and crackery and it won't fold.  Another sign of the dough going bad is that it will be extremely stretchy (it won't spring back) and be difficult to shape without tears or holes forming.  It will be almost impossible to toss and stretch in the air.  I'd also like to know what kind of yeast you are using in relation to the rest of the dough ingredients, how much you are using, and how you proof it (unless it is instant dry yeast).   If you have experienced the above dough problems, then this would suggest problems with the dough.

I'm fairly confident that we can diagnose your problem if you provide enough detail.  

Peter
« Last Edit: December 20, 2004, 11:03:54 PM by Pete-zza »

spruce877

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2004, 11:31:43 PM »
Are you adding sugar to your dough? Sugar and powdered milk/malted milk will brown your crust at the lower temps found in most ovens.

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2004, 03:31:42 AM »
Firstly,

I love you guys.  ;D

I've been lurking on this forum for a few times and I just love the community feel here. Thanks for the welcoming posts.  :)

Okay, the details.

I've never measured my stuff per se, I try to get a feel for what works or not and adjust accordingly. I will be more strict in the future.

Stone:
My stone is a round 1/2 inch pizza stone bought fairly cheaply at a local store. It's made from from natural clay / terracota if I recall correctly.

Oven / position:
I have a fairly new electric Botch oven. I've tried locating the stone on the very bottom all the way up to the very top, with and without grill turned on with inconsistent results. In other words, none of those positions worked much better than the rest. I have no access to thermometer, but polenta grains goes black in seconds when it's pre-heated well.

Flour:
In the past I've used "00" italian flour. (Peter, why would 00 dough be bad? I read they use it in Brandi, that famous pizzeria in Naples?) Now I'm using a Pizza flour called "farina per pizza" by "molini pizzuti" I think it may be graded TIPO "0".

Dough management:
I use about half a packet of instant yeast to 500grams of flour. I use enough water to make the dough elastic. I hand knead the whole process for about 15-20 minutes. 1-2 spoons of olive oil and 1 spoon of salt is added as well. I've yet to try adding sugar.

I normally let it rise in a warm spot or low heated oven for 2-3 hours. Punch down, and re-shape to a ball. After maybe an hour of resting, I work it by hand to form a pizza. I generally know the dough is ready if the pizza is stretchable to a thin membrane state by hand. I have tried a refrigerated overnight rise but didn't notice too much difference.

Peter, reading what you wrote, I think overfermentation may be the cause. The picture I posted was the last peice of dough of used in batch I made for five smallish pizzas. It had been out in the kitchen, back to the fridge maybe twice. When I took it out of the fridge, it had a lot of small catacome looking holes lined up across the glad wrap. But after returning to room temp, it was extremely easy to shape and toss by hand to form a pizza. The texture however was very 'slack' and perhaps toward 'drippy'. In the oven, it was stubborn in never browning at all, remaining a white-blond all the way.

I will create a new batch of dough tonight. Other than adding a spoon of sugar (haven't got milk powder yet), is there anything else I should be more careful with? More yeast perhaps?

Thanks!

Offline canadave

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2004, 04:29:33 AM »
Hmmmmm....interesting!

Say, I just thought of something else you could try--how about just baking the dough (untopped) for a while, until it's closer to "done", then pull it out, add the toppings (sauce, cheese, etc), and try it that way?  Seems to me that would be the easiest way to eliminate the problem (that way, the dough has to burn at SOME point, right?) ;)

Offline Randy

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2004, 08:20:09 AM »
It would really help us help you if we knew the style of pizza you were trying to bake.  Putting that aside here is the best advice I can offer.
If you are hand kneading then this is the book you need.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1580084222/qid=1103634586/?tag=pizzamaking-20

Other comments
1.Add a tablespoon of suagr or honey.
2.The dough should be very sticky, and will slump more than make a ball before you turn it out on the floured board to knead.  Your dough sounds dry.
3.Use a pizza screen without the stone.
4.Use highgluten flour.
Hope this helps.
 8)
Randy


Offline itsinthesauce

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2004, 10:14:57 AM »
Alright, enough is enough.  We'll all be over tomorrow night at 7:00 and we'll figure this out. You got beer?

What a picture that would make!

Offline Foccaciaman

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2004, 11:16:12 AM »
As has been said, add sugar or honey and this will help with the browning.
 
Also you can brush the crust with Olive oil prior to baking. this will help to achieve your desired effect. ;D

JWB
Ahhh, Pizza The Fifth Food Group

Online Pete-zza

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2004, 12:14:43 PM »
I suspected you were using an Italian flour like the 00 flour because I use such flours a lot and have come to recognize the crusts made with them. There is nothing wrong with using 00 flour. It's just that they are a bit tricky to use.  Italian flours like the 00 are milled differently than the flours in the U.S., they are graded differently, and can have widely varying protein content from brand to brand and even within the same grade. For example, the Delverde 00 flour has 9% protein while the Caputo 00 flour has 11.5-12.5%. The King Arthur "clone" of the 00 flour has 8.5% protein. Your 00 flour (Molini Pizzuti) has 9.5%. My favorite is the Bel Aria brand, but I have yet to be able to figure out or find out how much protein it has (I'm guessing around 9 percent). I have been told that the most common 00 flours used in Italy are the Caputo 00 and 0 flours, and are considered the Cadillac of 00 flours. They are available in the U.S. but only in 25 kilo bags. I have yet to try the Caputo flours but recently was given samples of the Caputo 00 and 0 flours by the chief pizza maker at Naples 45, a NYC restaurant that specializes in Neapolitan style pizzas, and one of the two NYC pizza establishments (at the moment) that carry the certification of the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) because of the authenticity of Naples 45's Neapolitan pizzas.  

I mention all of the above because your results can differ quite a bit from brand to brand, and also in the manner in which the dough is prepared. The classic Neapolitan 00 pizza does not use any added sugar or olive oil, even to oil the ball of dough (although I generally do). And the dough is kneaded for long periods (up to 30 minutes) and subjected to long rise times, sometimes up to 6 hours (e.g., either a single 6 hour rise, or a 4 hour rise followed by a 2 hour rise). In the absence of the use of sugar or oil in the dough, and because of the relatively low protein content of 00 flour, the crust will usually be very light in color, like the one in your photo. The chief pizza maker at Naples 45 once told me that even he adds a little bit of sugar to the 00 pizzas he makes at home because his relatives aren't used to seeing tan or almost white colored crusts. Adding a bit of sugar and olive oil to your dough will produce increased browning.

I think the unfavorable results you achieved recently may have been as a result of the way you managed your dough. Dough is relatively forgiving, but it can't tolerate abuse by putting it in and out of the refrigerator several times. I suspect the dough ran out of food (sugar) and that was the reason it was slack and the crust remained almost white no matter how long you tried to bake it to get it to brown up. I once made a dough using a blend of flours that was supposed to mimic the 00 flour. The instructions were to let the dough rise for about 24 hours on the kitchen counter. I scratched my head about this because I didn't think the dough could last that long without overfermenting, but I followed the instructions anyway. The results were a disaster, and the crust came out just like yours. The dough had run out of steam because of the overfermentation and was very slack, soft, and overly stretchy.

My best advice if you plan to make 00 pizzas is to find the best brand for your purposes and tastes, and use a recipe that best makes use of the brand of 00 flour you select. I have set forth below a recipe that I understand is a classic Neapolitan style 00 dough recipe as adapted for American home use. You may want to try the recipe out using your brand of 00 flour and see what happens. With experience you should be able to get the results you are trying to achieve. In the meantime, I would take a hard look at the recipe you are now using. If you have been getting consistently poor results, and assuming your oven is not at fault, then it is quite possible that your recipe is flawed or that the 00 flour you are using is not the best one for your recipe. I found this to be the case when I first started using the Delverde 00 flour and the King Arthur clone of the 00 flour. It took me a long time and a lot of experimenting to figure out how to use them most effectively. Now I just stick with the Bel Aria brand of 00 flour because it seems to work best for me.

As for the amount of IDY you are using, it seems to be OK in relation to the amount of flour you are using. In the recipe below, the yeast called for is either cake yeast (which is what is used in Italy) or ADY. You can make the necessary conversion to IDY without any problem, and simply mix the IDY with the flour. The recipe also calls for kneading using a stand mixer, but the dough can be kneaded by hand without any problem (and for a shorter overall time than called for in the recipe). For now, I would hold off on using the milk powder, at least until you figure out why your doughs haven't been working out.

Home Version of the Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Dough Recipe Using "00" Flour

1 1/2 c. warm water (80-90 degrees F for cake yeast or 105-115 degrees F for active dry yeast)
1/2 (0.6 oz.) compressed cake yeast or 1 t. active dry yeast (about half of a 1/4-oz. packet)   
4 c. "00"; flour (Farina Tipo 00), Bel Aria brand preferred
1 T. sea salt
Olive oil, for the bowl (optional)

Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl and proof until foamy, around 5-8 minutes. Put the yeast mixture in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine the flour and salt and add gradually to the yeast mixture in the mixer bowl. The dough ingredients should be kneaded at low speed, for about 10 minutes, to prevent any overheating of the dough and inhibiting the action of the yeast. Continue kneading for an additional 20 minutes. Shape the dough into a round, place in a very lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 4 hours in a warm place. Punch the dough down, divide into 4 pieces, and shape into balls (called pagnotte by the Italians). Brush the dough balls lightly with oil, cover completely with plastic wrap, and let rise for another 2-4 hours. Shape each of the dough balls into a pizza round by pressing your fingertips into the dough so that the dough spreads outwardly, leaving the edges puffy to create a rim, or cornice (il cornicione). Grasp the rim with your hands, working your way around the circle.  As the dough dangles, it stretches by the force of gravity while the edge stays plump. When the desired diameter of the pizza round has been achieved, place the pizza round on a pizza peel that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal. Finish by topping with pizza ingredients of the highest quality and bake on a pizza stone that has been preheated for 1 hour at the highest oven temperature possible (usually 500-550 degrees F for a home oven).  

Peter
  

« Last Edit: March 05, 2005, 02:51:19 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline canadave

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2004, 02:38:42 PM »
Quote
Alright, enough is enough.  We'll all be over tomorrow night at 7:00 and we'll figure this out. You got beer?

You know, my first impulse at reading this was to laugh out loud.  Pretty funny!  Then I started thinking about it a bit.

I began thinking....you know, if a fellow had a live video webcam, and had a long enough cord to reach to the kitchen....THAT would be a cool webcast for us to watch! (Yahoo Chat lets you watch personal webcams at pretty good quality if you've all got broadband).  That would be a great way for us to help someone out if they're having trouble.  And how neat would it be to be able to actually watch each other make pizzas???  :o

--Dave
« Last Edit: December 21, 2004, 02:39:47 PM by canadave »

Offline itsinthesauce

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2004, 03:16:59 PM »
Great idea

Offline DKM

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2004, 01:36:43 PM »
The pale color is the lack or sugar and the "low" heat an oven gives.  The first time I made some Italian style pizzas I had the same problem.  Brushing some olive oil on the dough will help.  Cooking it on a stone in a hot (around 750o F) kettle style gill with wood or lump charcoal will also help.  Otherwise you will need to add sugar.

DKM
« Last Edit: December 22, 2004, 01:39:37 PM by DKM »
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Online Pete-zza

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2004, 03:40:07 PM »
DKM,

What you say makes a great deal of sense under ordinary circumstances and one can only hope that your solution (which is similar to the advice given by Foccaciaman and Randy) is the answer to the problems experienced by JF_Aidan_Pryde.   However, when I used the recipe I posted above using the Bel Aria "00" flour, I got very good results.  The rim color was light (like a tan color) but the bottom was nicely browned and the dough was chewy and cooked through--unlike what JF appears to have experienced based on his comments.  It may have helped that I didn't load up the pizza with toppings.  I made classic Margherita pizzas with the standard ingredients--San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil.   They were baked on a pizza stone that had been preheated for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F.  And they were as good as any I ever had outside of the home, before or since (although the one I had at Naples 45 in NYC had the characteristic charring produced by high wood-fired oven heat--which I prefer but can't get from my oven).  

By contrast, when I tried the Delverde 00 flour in the abovementioned recipe, the results were not as good.   I finally worked up a recipe using the Delverde flour that improved its use in a Neapolitan style pizza.  I ended up using honey, dry milk, olive oil and lecithin--just about everything I could think of to toss into the dough to make it work better--as well as a period of refrigeration and the use of cool water.  I don't know which of the changes I made did the trick, but I got a pretty good Neapolitan pizza as a result.   I tried doing similar things with the King Arthur 00 flour clone, but was not able to perfect it for use in making Neapolitan style pizzas, even when I emailed King Arthur for help (all I got was the observation that the KA 00 clone may have less protein in it).  When my bags of KA 00 ran out, that was the end of it.  My next 00 challenge is to try to make a Neapolitan style pizza using the Caputo 00 and 0 flour samples given to me by the chief pizza maker at Naples 45 when I stopped by to see him recently over Thanksgiving.  

Peter

Offline DKM

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2004, 04:32:38 PM »
There is now doubt the the quality of the flour can matter.  Even using 00 flours, I have had a hard time in the oven of getting a nice 'color' with out some kind of help.

I have use some EVOO with good success.

DKM
« Last Edit: December 22, 2004, 04:32:51 PM by DKM »
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Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2004, 10:28:22 PM »
Okay guys, here's what's transpired in the past 24 hours.

I decided to try Peter's 00 dough recipe. After I mixed the ingredients though, I found the dough very very and sticky, almost unmanagable. Maybe I got the measurement wrong somwhere. But I kept at it and used some flour on the board to make kneading easier.

It's summer in Australia so it rose very quickly at room temperature. In about 2 hours and 15 minutes, it had doubled in volume. I figured if I waited for the total duration of 4, the dough would have over fermented. When I poked the dough at this point, it just kind 'deflated' and shrunk flat. Did it over ferment already?

In anycase, I punched it down and made a peice into a ball, letting it rest for about 2 hours. In those two hours, it rose very little, but due to the high wetness, it kind of just slacked and spread on the board a little.

After the rest, I worked it into a pizza. The dough was very slack. It would almost drip. Again, I could have made an error duing my initial mixing. I could shape it very easily just letting drop against gravity but the dough had no elasticity in terms of 'springing back'. I cooked it and it came out very bad. Pale white and very hard.


Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re:Help: Burned topping, pale crust.
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2004, 10:30:23 PM »
Phase 2:
I speculated that I let the dough over rise so I took about a handful of the remaining dough and some fresh flour, water and a tsp of sugar and mixed them together, basically using the over risen dough as a stater. I let that rise and double, punched down and rested for about 1 hour this time. This mixture was also much less hydrated. After 1 hour, I began working on the dough. It was highly elastic, trying always to shrink back after being streched. But I had a good feeling. I topped it, cooked it and it worked! Tanned top and browned bottom.

 ;D
« Last Edit: December 22, 2004, 10:31:03 PM by JF_Aidan_Pryde »


 

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