Author Topic: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!  (Read 2452 times)

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Offline alwaysluvpizza

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  Hello, I have been trying to perfect pizza for 5 years now.

   I bought a pizza stone, didn't care for it much and the time and storing space it needed so I sold it.  Now I use round pans with holes and I really like them! 

   OK, there are three things I'm really struggeling with and have been since I started 5 years ago.  When I eat pizza out and taste the SALTY flavorful cheese, the perfect spiced sauce (and just the right amount) with the FLAVOR PACKED dough I get SO frustrated.  Time and time again I taste delicious pizzas and wonder "Why the HELL can't I get this?!?!?" 

   I have tried EVERYTHING i can think of and need to ask the experts or just anyone what the answer is.  I want to make pizza that doesn't make me regret my decision of had making homemade pizza.  I have tried so many different dough recipes looking for FLAVOR.  I have tried adding things like onion powder, garlic, garlic salt, extra salt, herb blends, more olive oil, resting.  I want the crust to be so tasty that you would gladly eat it plain!  If others can do it, why can't I? 

  Yesterday I made a crust with whole wheat, extra salt and garlic, the end result was nothing better than PAPER! 

  I was so dissapointed.  Next up, the cheese!  Oh, how many cheeses have I tried!  What I'm looking for again here is FLAVOR, salty delicious flavor.  When I was a child and my family would order a N.Y. style pizza the cheese was my favorite part!  My parents would scrape the cheese off and I would grab for it in a heartbeat.  But not now, not with the pizza that I make!  I have tried combos and by it self cheddar, fresh mozterella, low moisture mozterella, smoked mozterella, swiss, monterey, parmasean, fontina, provolone, romano, and none of these gives me that taste and texture I recieve from the pizza parlor! 

  Third and final, the sauce!  Again I have tried many, many different varietties including lots of recipes.  I want something not too spicy, just the perfect in between of sweet, spice, and vinegar (that might sound weird). 

  Ugh, please, help me, I want to know the secrets.  It does sound like I'm just extremely picky, my family is perfectly happy with my pizza. 

   I appreciate anyone who reads this and replys, I know its long.  Let me just say one more thing, about dough.  Has anyone ever ate pizza from wolf gang pucks cafe?  That dough tastes so good, it almosts has a sweet flavor, I don't know what it is or how they get it.  Yes I have tried his recipe for pizza dough hoping that would give me what I was looking for, it didn't.  Ok, I'm done.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2009, 10:47:38 PM »
alwaysluvpizza,

Can you give us an example of what style of pizza you are after (e.g., NY, American, etc.), and also a typical dough recipe you have used--maybe your favorite or most successful one--and how you make the dough and handle it up to, and including, the final bake? Please be as specific as possible.

Unless you have a commercial oven, you are not likely to get exactly the same results in a standard home oven. However, that shouldn't stop you from using some of the cheeses and sauces used by the professionals. For example, for the NY style, the Grande family of mozzarella cheeses and the Stanislaus and Escalon fresh-pack tomatoes and sauce formulations are among the most popular and common ones used by professional pizza operators. You might also consider using the same types of flours as the professionals use, like the All Trumps and King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flours. The above products are usually not sold at retail at your local supermarket but, with some effort, you should be able to locate sources of these products or reasonable equivalents. To the extent you are able to get the right ingredients, and with a good dough recipe, you should be able get satisfactory results in your home oven. Depending on the type of pizza, you may have to rethink the pizza stone matter again, however, but that is a decision that can be deferred until you find the right dough recipe for your purposes.

Peter

Offline Jose L. Piedra

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2009, 11:25:19 PM »
What I'm looking for again here is FLAVOR, salty delicious flavor. 

The secret ingredient is grease. Namely, the grease that drips off from salted animal products when heated. Load up your pies with as much pepperoni, bacon, salted anchovies, Italian sausage, etc. as they can stand. Trust me on this one.

-JLP
Scarsu d'ogghiu, e riccu di provolazzu ::)

Offline Essen1

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2009, 12:07:09 AM »
JLP,

You're kidding, right?  8)

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to eat even a bite of a pizza where the toppings are swimming in grease.

The key to more flavor in the crust is not grease, bro. It's a balanced amount of yeast, salt, perhaps sugar and fermentation time.
Mike

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Offline Jose L. Piedra

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2009, 01:08:16 AM »
JLP,

The key to more flavor in the crust is not grease, bro. It's a balanced amount of yeast, salt, perhaps sugar and fermentation time.

I didn't say anything about the crust. I was addressing the toppings, in particular the cheese. I don't know the exact chemical mechanisms involved- but I do know that salted animal grease makes the blandness of typical store-bought cheese go away.

-JLP
Scarsu d'ogghiu, e riccu di provolazzu ::)

Offline alwaysluvpizza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2009, 10:24:50 PM »
Whoa!  I'm a vegetarian, the pizza styles I'm wanting are N.Y. and maybe american.  What I'm always trying to make is a good N.Y. style cheese pizza.  here is the dough recipe that i use
1 Tbsp Yeast, Active Dry
1 cup Warm Water (105-115)
2-1/2 cups White Flour, Unbleached
2 Tbsp Olive or other Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add oil and dry ingredients. Stir dough until tough, then knead on lightly floured board until smooth and elastic. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled. Divide dough in half and pat with floured fingers or use a rolling pin to form 2-12" circles. Pinch an edge around the crusts and place on cornmeal dusted baking sheets. Top as desired and bake in a preheated 450F oven for 15-20 minutes.

When I make the pizza I roll out my dough (best method i have found that works), put flour under it and slide it on the oiled pan.  Then i bake it for 10 minutes without toppings, take it out and bake it for another 7-10 minutes.  The kind of sauce I recently liked and used was organic canned tomato sauce and pizza sauce.  The cheese is organic shredded mozterella and parm. that is how i most frequently make my pizza.


Offline alwaysluvpizza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 10:34:33 PM »
I would prefer everything organic.  Where can I find and buy the stanislaus tomato products and the grande family cheese?

Offline Flagpull

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 10:35:15 PM »
Hope you're still online, couple of questions for you.

1) What type of flour do you use most frequently, All Purpose, Bread, what brand?

2) What temperature does your oven go to?

3) Are you using a pan, a pizza stone, or neither?

Offline Flagpull

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2009, 10:37:14 PM »
I would prefer everything organic.  Where can I find and buy the stanislaus tomato products and the grande family cheese?

You can try the Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes, they are pretty good. There aren't too many great "organic" cheeses around, but you can use pretty much anything WHOLE MILK will do you fine.


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2009, 11:29:17 AM »
alwaysluvpizza,

I believe I have identified the reason why you have not been getting good natural flavors in your pizza crusts. It is the dough recipe you have been using. The type of recipe you have been using, with its large amount of yeast and short fermentation time, is known in the pizza trade as an "emergency" (or "short-time" or "short-term") dough recipe. It is not one that a pizza operator would normally use to make regular dough balls for their businesses. Rather, it is one that would be used in the case of an emergency, as where something befalls the regular dough balls that renders them unusable, for example, a power failure or cooler failure. Of all the types of dough recipes I am aware of and have tried, and they are many, I would personally rank emergency dough recipes at the bottom of the list in terms of delivering natural crust flavors. Crust coloration will also be below average. The reason for this is insufficient fermentation of the dough.

Since you have indicated an interest in the New York style, I would like to suggest that you try the following NY style dough recipe that I put together for two 12" pizzas using the expanded dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/expanded_calculator.html.

Bread Flour (100%):
Water (59%):
ADY (0.53%):
Salt (1.75%):
Olive Oil (1%):
Total (162.28%):
Single Ball:
364.53 g  |  12.86 oz | 0.8 lbs
215.07 g  |  7.59 oz | 0.47 lbs
1.93 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.51 tsp | 0.17 tbsp
6.38 g | 0.23 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.14 tsp | 0.38 tbsp
3.65 g | 0.13 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.81 tsp | 0.27 tbsp
591.56 g | 20.87 oz | 1.3 lbs | TF = 0.09225
295.78 g | 10.43 oz | 0.65 lbs
Note: Bowl residue compensation = 2.5%

There are a few things I should mention about the above dough formulation. First, I have specified bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour and should increase the crust coloration, provide slightly better crust flavor and somewhat increased chewiness, which is a characteristic of the NY style. You can use any bread flour, but my personal preference is the King Arthur bread flour because of its slightly higher protein content than competing brands. The King Arthur bread flour is also fairly easily found in supermarkets and other food stores. All-purpose flour can also be used but it will be a step back from what most pizza operators, especially those in New York City specializing in the NY style, use for the present NY style. In fact, they are more likely to be using high-gluten flour, which adds even more flavor, color and chewiness to the finished crust. You could also use a high-gluten flour but high-gluten flours are very hard to find at retail in supermarkets. Whatever flour I use, my practice is to sift it before using, to improve its hydration. I will leave to you to decide whether you chose to do the same.

Second, if you have a digital scale, you should use it to measure out the flour and water specified in the above table. The rest of the ingredients can be measured out volumetrically (you should round off the numbers to the nearest measuring spoon size). If you do not have a digital scale, you can use the "textbook" method for measuring out the flour. That method is defined at Reply 21 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6576.msg56397/topicseen.html#msg56397. Using this method in your case, and assuming the King Arthur brand of bread flour, the amount of flour specified in the above table, 12.86 ounces, translates volumetrically to 2 c. + 1/2 c. + 1/3 c. + 1 T. + 1/2 t. The amount of water in the above table, 7.59 ounces, translates volumetrically into 1/2 c. + 1/3 c. + 1 T. + 5/8 t. The markings of the measuring cup(s) used to measure out the water should be viewed at eye level with the measuring cup(s) on a flat surface. (Note: the foregoing conversions were produced using the Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/.)

Third, you will notice that the above table specifies a bowl residue compensation of 2.5%. That figure is to compensate for minor dough losses during the preparation of the dough, for example, due to dough or other ingredients sticking to the mixing bowl, mixing implements, the work surface and even one's fingers. Since it appears that you will be kneading the dough by hand, I selected the value of 2.5%, which is a value I have concluded works best for hand kneaded doughs.

For purposes of preparing the dough, I suggest that you read the following thread as background: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.0.html. That is a thread that I frequently recommend to members who wish to make a basic NY style pizza. The main action starts at Reply 8 in that thread, but I suggest that you read the entire thread inasmuch as it offers a lot of useful tips in making a NY style dough. There is even a post, at Reply 65 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2223.msg63786.html#msg63786, that specifically addresses hand kneading.

In your case, in addition to hand kneading the dough rather than using a stand mixer as covered in the above background thread, you will be using active dry yeast (ADY), or so I have assumed since you apparently already have a source of that form of dry yeast. In using ADY in the above dough formulation, you should only use a portion of the formula water to rehydrate it. I would use about a quarter of a cup or even less. That water should be heated to about 105 degrees F, and the ADY should be rehydrated in that warm water for about 10 minutes. It can then be added to the rest of the formula water, which should be on the cool side, even at the temperature of water kept in the refrigerator (I usually use refrigerated spring water).

You will note from the abovereferenced background thread that the dough is fermented in the refrigerator for a period of time. It is during this period of refrigeration that the byproducts of fermentation that are responsible for the crust flavors, coloration and aroma are produced. In your case, I would use at least two days but no more than three. When time comes to use the dough, it should be brought out to room temperature and allowed to "proof" or "temper" for about 1-2 hours. You should not re-work or re-knead or re-ball the dough. That will only make the dough elastic and very hard to shape. You should be gentle with the dough and press it down into a flattened disk. I do not recommend using a rolling pin. If, however, you have difficulty hand shaping the dough, you can try rolling it out with a rolling pin to about 2/3 of the final size (about 10" in your case for a 12" pizza) and stretch it out the rest of the way (12") by hand.

For baking a NY style pizza, I personally believe that using a pizza stone is the best method. That is the method used by pizza operators who use stoned deck ovens to bake NY style pizzas. Another choice would be to use a pizza screen. An example of a pizza screen can be seen at http://www.foodservicedirect.com/index.cfm/S/307/N/2755/Beaded-Trim-Aluminum-Pizza-Screens.htm. The main disadvantage of using a pizza screen is that the bottom crust of the finished pizza will tend to be on the soft side, rather than crispy, which is a main characteristic of a classic NY style pizza. I have several pizza screens of different sizes but if I were to pick only one, it would be the 16" size. With that size, one can make pizzas of just about any size up to 16".

I do not use pans to bake the NY style. It is possible to do so, but the pan should be either a dark, anodized pan that can withstand high oven temperatures (e.g., above 500 degrees F) or a well-seasoned and darkened aluminum or steel pan. The pan perhaps would benefit from being perforated. In using a pan, you may find it useful to let the shaped "skin" proof on the pan for about a half hour to an hour before dressing and baking the pizza. That should help the dough rise again if you used a rolling pin to roll it out. If you wish, you can continue the practice you have been using of pre-baking the skin before dressing it and finishing the bake. In due course, if you like the results you get from using the above, or similar, dough formulation, you can decide whether you would like to use another baking method more like what professional pizza operators use.

For cheeses and sauces, I suggest that you try to use the same kinds of cheeses and sauces that professionals use if your objective is to try to come up with pizzas that are comparable to the "real" NY style as you emphasized in your opening post. For cheeses, I would consider the Grande mozzarella cheeses. They are considered by many to be the "Cadillac" of mozzarella cheeses. They are perhaps the number one brand used by pizza operators who specialize in the NY style. There are some local markets that carry the Grande cheeses but you will have to look to find them. The Grande cheeses, whether low-moisture whole milk, or low-moisture part skim, or a combination of both, and whether in block or dice/shredded form, can be ordered by mail order, but with the caveat that shipping costs can be quite high. One source is PennMac, at http://www.pennmac.com/ (click on the Pizza Makers tab).

For tomatoes, I suggest that you use the fresh-pack tomatoes from either Escalon (e.g., the 6-in-1s) or Stanislaus. These are the two largest producers in the world of fresh-pack tomatoes and are perhaps the top choice of pizza operators who specialize in the NY style. PennMac sells both brands, with several choices. The Escalon 6-in-1s can also be purchased directly from Escalon, at http://www.escalon.net/. The Stanislaus tomatoes can be found in some stores, but that would be fairly rare. Most NY style pizza sauces tend to be fairly simple in terms of seasoning, so you should keep that in mind in making your purchase selections and in adding herbs and spices and other seasonings to whatever tomato products you decide to use.

I believe I have covered everything to let you get started. If, after reading and digesting everything, you have any questions, please let us know. We have quite a few members who have become experts in the NY style and can offer suggestions on just about any matter relating to that style. You should also feel free to wander around the forum and to check out what the members have been able to do with their pizzas. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and maybe inspired to do better than what you have been doing.

Peter
« Last Edit: March 14, 2013, 07:33:48 PM by Pete-zza »


Offline alwaysluvpizza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2009, 11:39:08 PM »
Thank you every one!  Perfecting my pizza will take some time, money and a lot of effort that I'm not sure I can give at the moment.  Again, I really appreciate all the help! 

Offline Essen1

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2009, 12:03:54 AM »
ALP,

I love your honesty/straightforwardness and I hope you will love mine...

Why didn't you ask those questions when you actually DO have the time to engage in serious pizza making, instead of asking a couple of questions, having guys answering them, them doing research, have Peter write up some more than detailed instructions along with great tips, only for you to realize you don't have the time?

Didn't you know beforehand that you don't have the time when you asked those questions?

Whatever the reason was, I hope you'll be able to devote some time in the future to some organic pizza making.

Good luck.
Mike

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Offline Trinity

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2009, 05:19:03 AM »
Well I soaked up a lot of info there... ::) :P

  Another thought, I don't like to use pre-shredded cheese. It just don't melt right. Get a block of mozza, and a block of provolone. Grate it yourself. That $5 buck grater must be around the house somewhere right? Go about 80% mozza, and 20% provolone. Grate the cheese pretty course. :D
« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 08:24:55 AM by Trinity »
It's an Earth food. They are called Swedish meatballs. It's a strange thing, but every sentient race has its own version of these Swedish meatballs! I suspect it's one of those great universal mysteries which will either never be explained, or which would drive you mad if you ever learned the truth.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 08:45:45 AM »
Why didn't you ask those questions when you actually DO have the time to engage in serious pizza making, instead of asking a couple of questions, having guys answering them, them doing research, have Peter write up some more than detailed instructions along with great tips, only for you to realize you don't have the time?


Mike,

Thank you for your expression of concern. However, while I don't like to waste my time any more than the next guy, things like this sometimes happen. Making mediocre pizza is easy--there are plenty enough cookbooks and recipes on the internet to show you how to do that--but it takes a commitment to make really good pizza. There are no magic bullets or easy shortcuts. Hopefully others who are in the same boat as alwaysluvpizza and looking to better their pizzas or pizza making skills and are willing and prepared to make the commitment to achieve those ends will benefit from the advice and information offered in this thread. What the members wrote in this thread will not go to waste.

Peter

Offline BurntEdges

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2009, 09:29:24 AM »
ALP

I agree completely with Peter in that it's very easy to make bad pizza.  But from your initial comments, what appears to be frustrating is that you already have put in a lot of time, money and effort all to yield unsatisfactory results.

You already have the basic ingredients to make good dough, you just need to change your method.  I noted in your initial post that "Yesterday I made a crust with whole wheat, extra salt and garlic, the end result was nothing better than PAPER!".  This gave me the impression that you were making and baking your crust within a very short time period (i.e. little or no fermentation).

Plan when you may want to make pizza rather than doing it all the same day.  I would suggest that you just spend a brief amount of time making your dough 2, 3, or 4 nights beforehand.  Since you're just making the dough, it won't take much time at all.  And once you get in the routine of doing it, you'll see it's actually very quick.  The night when you make your pizza will also take less time and effort since you won't have to make the dough.  You'll just need to let it warm, shape it, dress it, bake it.   Divide and conquer - get yourself at least satisfied with your dough, then start working on your sauce.  Then during routine shopping trips, look for cheeses that you may want to try on your pizza.

Don't perceive Peter's response as overwhelming.  I have found that he's very thorough so as to reduce your margin of error when following his advise. 

Quite frankly, other than digesting Peter's comments and recipes, I don't see how it's any more time, effort, and money than what you've already been doing.

« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 11:09:24 AM by BurntEdges »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2009, 10:26:46 AM »
Don't perceive Peter's response as overwhelming.  I have found that he's very thorough so as to reduce your margin of error when following his advise. 

BurntEdges,

You have it exactly right. I have worked a lot with newbies and have come to know the types of questions they are likely to ask and the reasons for them. I also know most of the rookie mistakes. In what I write, especially with respect to specific dough formulations, I try to anticipate those questions and concerns in advance and cover them proactively in my posts. Increasingly, over time, I have also tried to have everything about a particular dough formulation or pizza pretty much in one place, including links to other posts needed or helpful to tell the full story, so that readers don't have to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort to find or piece together what they want or need. It takes more time and work to do it this way, and obviously a lot more words, but I think it is the better approach. It also minimizes answering question after question on a piecemeal basis about the subject matter of the posts. The pros on the forum don't need any hand holding. For them, I could just post a dough formulation and they would know what to do with it.

Peter

Offline Cass

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2009, 10:56:59 AM »
Troll maybe?
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
Epictetus

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: HELP! Been trying for years to get this right! Still unsuccesful!
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2009, 02:54:14 PM »
Cass,

I agree...
Seems to me like this person has set the stage for failure no matter what...  and what pizza parlor gets their flavor without using any of those cheeses??  So, none of the cheeses they use in NYC gives the right flavor for his pizza?

I also find it interesting that, while not directly mentioning meat in his first post, he took offense when meat was mentioned!

I'm sure he's sitting back, having a good laugh at the responses he's getting, including this one.  And that's just fine... we all need to be entertained, don't we?

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!


 

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