Author Topic: about my pizza...  (Read 1189 times)

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Offline liiantos

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about my pizza...
« on: January 13, 2009, 03:52:14 PM »
...and what I'd like to change.
I'm new to this forum and I'm learning a lot. I usually make an American style(from what I've read), 16" pizza about once a week for DH and myself(this allows leftovers for breakfast the next morning). The crust is fairly thick. I use 8oz of whatever mozzarella is on sale, I use a sauce made from 1 can tomato paste, 2 cans water,  1 tbs dried oregano and basil(1/2&1/2), 2 tbs grated Parmesan, 1 tbs olive oil, a little salt and a little sugar(makes four pies). Toppings in order of preference; 1.sausage, onion, and mushroom, 2.pepperoni, black olive, 3.ham and pineapple.
My dough is what is known here as emergency dough: I use 3 cups North Dakota Mill unbleached bread or AP flour, 1 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp ADY(bulk from co-op), 1/2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp sea salt(bulk from co-op), 1 tbs olive oil(whatever is on sale). I proof yeast in 1/2 of the water w/the sugar, dump everything but 1/2 cup flour into a large tupperware bowl(the big yellow), beat with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes, then start hand kneading in the bowl, adding the rest of the flour as I go. When the dough is smooth(about 5 min), I drizzle a tiny bit of oil on it, roll it around to coat, put the lid on and set it aside for 2-4 hours.
I have a 16" textured steel pan that I spread a little oil on, I punch down my dough, coat my hands with a little oil and pat out the dough on the pan. I spread on 1/2 cup of sauce, shredded cheese, toppings, then into a preheated 450 degree(electric)oven on the lowest rack for approx. 20 min.
Now, the pizzas are ok, dough is cooked through, but not exactly crisp on the bottom. This is one of the things I'd like to change. If I increase the temp, the bottom browns more, but so does the cheese...too much.  I also have a 16" heavy aluminum pan that is perforated, that lets the bottom crisp up more, but I can't pat out my dough onto the pan with oil or it will be embedded in the holes. With this pan, I have to use flour to shape my dough and it takes much longer as the dough needs to rest between stretches, which I can deal with, but I'm still having trouble with the cheese browning too much at 450 degrees. I've checked the oven against 2 different thermometers and it is accurate. So, how do I get a browned crust without over cooking the cheese? I've tried making a thinner crust, but it doesn't make much difference, and then there's less pizza to be had, LOL. Can I cover the top with a sheet of foil for part of the time? Use more cheese? Lower temp more? Is emergency dough always going to be less crisp? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. And sorry this is so long!


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: about my pizza...
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2009, 04:41:48 PM »
liiantos,

I have a few ideas but I would like to get a better feel for the hydration of your dough. You indicate that you use three cups of bread flour and 1 1/4 cups of water. Unless you are using a heavy hand with the flour or else adding additional flour beyond the initial three cups, the hydration of your dough appears to be around 70-75%. That would represent a wet dough and one that would be hard to handle. Can you tell me which of the flour measurement methods defined in Reply 21 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6576.msg56397/topicseen.html#msg56397 most closely reflects the way you measure out your flour? If you are using a different method, or a modified version, please so indicate what that method or modified version is. The hydration of your dough is important because the degree of hydration can affect the crispiness of the finished crust. It is not the only factor but one of them. I would also like to get a better idea as to the weight of the flour that you are using for the additional purpose of calculating the final dough weight. If I can ascertain that weight, that will allow me to estimate the thickness of your 16" dough skin and how it might affect the bake of your pizza once the sauce, cheese and toppings are applied.

Peter

Offline liiantos

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Re: about my pizza...
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2009, 05:07:21 PM »
Peter,
After reading your response, I quickly weighed one cup of my flour, with my rather cheesy plastic spring-loaded(ancient)diet scale, using, I'm embarrassed to say, my "scoop, shake, and dump" method of measuring. The weight was 4.75 oz. My doughs are rather soft, but I have carpal tunnel and can't knead too long. I have to admit, sometimes it rises into a nice firm dome and other times it's almost flat across the bowl. Does this info help? I will take photos to post next pizza night.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: about my pizza...
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2009, 06:47:55 PM »
liiantos,

You shouldn't be embarrassed about the method you use to measure out your flour. I can think of at least a half dozen different methods for measuring out flour on a volumetric basis. The one you use is actually quite common.

If we assume that your three cups of flour weigh 4.75 ounces on average, then, using the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html, along with a few assumptions, your recipe appears to look like this:

Flour (100%):
Water (71.0526%):
ADY (1.87134%):
Salt (2.76315%):
Olive Oil (3.34168%):
Sugar (0.49342%):
Total (179.52219%):
403.99 g  |  14.25 oz | 0.89 lbs
287.04 g  |  10.12 oz | 0.63 lbs
7.56 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 2 tsp | 0.67 tbsp
11.16 g | 0.39 oz | 0.02 lbs | 2 tsp | 0.67 tbsp
13.5 g | 0.48 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3 tsp | 1 tbsp
1.99 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.5 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
725.25 g | 25.58 oz | 1.6 lbs | TF = N/A

Assuming that the above table is correct, it indicates that your hydration is plenty high enough. In fact, at about 71%, it might be too high. But, for the reasons you mentioned, you might leave it alone and, instead, reduce the amount of oil. You should still have a moist and viscous dough but the reduced level of oil should also have a drying effect on the finished crust by retaining less of the moisture in the dough. I would use the olive oil at 1% of the weigh of the flour. That would be one teaspoon. As for the salt level, at almost 2.8%, I think that is too high. I suggest 1.75% of the flour weight, which comes to 1 1/4 t. The amount of sugar you have been using, at about 0.50%, is doing very little for your dough. Because it is not a simple sugar, it first has to be converted to that form to be used by the yeast as food. That takes time. Moreover, most of the sugars that yeast uses to perform its duties comes from the action of enzymes in the flour and yeast to convert starch in the flour to simple sugars usable by the yeast as food. However, those conversions can take longer than a couple of hours. Consequently, in an emergency dough, you are not likely in most cases to get a lot of crust coloration because of low residual levels of sugar in the dough at the time of baking. What you might do is substitute honey for the sugar since it contains simple sugars to begin with that can be immediately used by the yeast. That might help.

As indicated in the above table, I calculated a dough weight for your 16" pizza of 25.58 ounces. That dough weight translates to a thickness factor of 0.1272341. That value confirms that the dough skin is fairly thick, and fairly typical of an American style dough thickness. Adding the sauce, cheese and toppings to such a skin should produce an unbaked pizza that weighs around 40 ounces by my estimate. That would be typical of a Papa John's unbaked pizza weight for a pizza with 8 ounces of cheese plus a few toppings.

I normally use a pizza screen to bake my American style pizzas, but since your dough contains so little sugar, it is possible to bake it on a pizza stone. That, together with the changes noted above, should help produce a crispier crust. However, before deciding to invest in a pizza stone, what you might try is to let the dough proof on your pan (oiled) for about 30-45 minutes before dressing it. That should allow the dough to rise in volume and act more like an insulator during baking so that the bottom of the crust has a longer time to bake and dry out and become crispier. I normally would also suggest that you par-bake the dough skin before dressing and finishing the bake. However, at 1.87% ADY, that would be so much yeast that the skin would develop a profusion of large bubbles. Another possibility, whether you decide to proof the skin or not, is to bake your pizza on the pan you are now using, and when the rim of the pizza starts to expand and to turn a light brown, remove the pan entirely from the oven and let the pizza finish baking directly on the oven rack. You may have to do some experimentation to see if the lowest oven rack position or the middle oven rack position is the one that produces the best results. Hopefully the bottom crust will be crispy and with decent overall crust coloration and cheese that is not overcooked.

I have given you several possible ideas but whatever you decide to do I hope you will keep us informed of your progress.

Peter



 

Offline liiantos

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Re: about my pizza...
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2009, 12:01:58 AM »
Peter,

Wow! That's a lot of information! Thank you so much for taking the time.
I had no idea about the sugar conversion. I can substitute honey as I always have it on hand. And I can(should) certainly cut the amount of salt(I'm a bit of a saltaholic). You've given me a lot to think about for the next few pizzas. I'll make a change or two each time and try to post photos of the results, good or bad(visions of me trying to slip a partially baked pizza onto the oven rack...and missing).

Thanks again,
Liiantos


 

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