Sorry for any delay on your earlier interests. But you were in good hands with Pete-zza and so many others. If the dough ain't right before it goes into the oven, the end result will be an issue. When working with New York pizza type or other thin crust, I follow these guidelines for technique to get my favorite ciabatta thin and light feel:
- I usually work with Pendelton or Giusto's, both unbleached at 13.5% and sometimes Caputo. Chris Bianco mixes with Giusto's (like Caputo, it doesn't absorb well, so you gotta be careful and keep hydration down). In rare cases, I work with Gold Medal for bread unbleached (yellow bag). I usually work with near 60% water hydration with Giusto's or a bit higher with Pendelton and other like absorption flours. Caputo is covered in A16 thread.
- I immediately get it in the refrigerator, inside tin (since it removes heat quickly). Much on this in NY thread mentioned earlier.
- I use a small kitchenaid to bring it together. I never run it more than 30 seconds to 1 minute spurts for kneading, and always keep it at lowest level and complement with hand kneading in between.
- As Pete-zza suggests, the slight underkneading and handling is key for me.
- I normally leave more of the gluten development during refrigeration, including lightly pushing it down once a day to dispose of alcohol and keep food moving. Even before the A16 session, I followed suit to this. I keep it in the refrig for 2 - 3 days.
- I let it come to room temp; but sometimes in less time than others... just over an hour sometimes.
- I'm very traditional and treat this baby like it's my first. I gently push it downward with my palm. I use my fingers, jabbing them in lightly like your making Ciabatta bread, from one end to the other. Turn it over and I do the same again. After a quick pull on it (you know, hand near one end, hand pull on the other), I give it a quick toss and turn it in the air. I don't like to make a big cornicione in the dough (outer edge)-- that condenses it too much. The cornicione will come during cooking.
- My temp is at 550F and can range down to 530F.
- I almost always use a screen for control (I move it around the oven to get exact cooking)
- And with our lower temp ovens, I normally put the dough in the oven without any toppings for 1 minute or until I visibly see some bubbles form throughout as skin separates. I can tell right there what I got. I want the whole darn thing to be Ciabatta like (I watch like a hawk through a lighted window). On a friend's Kamato (strange looking beast of an outside oven), we used a heating plate, and did the pre-bake, no screen... Didn't have the window; but it came out real nice anyways.
I truly try to take the same time as the owner of Di Fara's when working with one of my pizzas. Different results though, and I like that. Amazing he does it day in and out though. More details as mentioned in the earlier New York post. Does it always come out with huge holes in the cornicione? Not always. But I always expect an overall lightweight airy nature of the crust, with huge holes along the sides with that slight crispiness and gentle hang up front. The pre-heating is essental to me because if I get bubbles throughout the dough... I'm gonna get what I want (it's my preview). If I get it limited, I notice something that others don't.
Ooops... did I just give away tricks of the trade again... oh that's right, it ain't a trade, it's a way to spur the American Renaissance of pizza as Reinhart commented about Tony Gemignani's recent pizza book, as noted in the book section of this site... Charge or no charge... Gotta love those who can bring it up a notch, gotta love pizzamaking.com! I sure hope this helps.