Unfortunately, the fast speed, not the physical design, of the Santos mixer's fork over-oxygenates and heats up (not as much as many other mixers such as the Kitchen Aid) the dough, in addition to over-buttressing the gluten network throughout the dough mass—which results in a crust that is not tender enough for Neapolitan pizza. Having a Santos fork mixer is akin to owning a Stradivarius violin that has its tuning pegs permanently glued to the peg holes inside the headstock! There is no point playing the violin if it can not be tuned, does not matter how divine it sounds.
Dear Omid, I would have to disagree with these statements, having been a happy owner of a Santos for several years and having produced with it some exceedingly tender pizzas.
Several months ago I switched to the Tartine manual stretch and fold method and have been extremely pleased with the results. But after many pies using that method, I have returned to the Santos and baking up the best crusts I have ever made. The Tartine method allowed me to crank up the hydration well over 70%, but my conclusion is that the main benefit of higher hydration at 900F temps is a larger doneness window, making it a harder to overcook the pie. My feeling at this point is that for the way I like my crust, the Santos does indeed produce a superior pie, but it is less forgiving; the instrument doesn't require tuning as much as it requires practice, practice, practice.
I don't get your temperature comments. I have never sensed any heat generated by the fork action. To confirm this, I measured the dough temp before and after mixing on a batch I made today - 1325g of dough @ 63% hydration. The dough temp didn't change more than .5 degree, measured after the 4 minute initial mix. The large bowl and the hydration level are too big a heat sink for the friction from the fork to generate appreciable heat, IMO.
As for oxygenation, perhaps the high altitude here (7000 feet ASL) with its thinner atmosphere gives me an advantage, but for my tastes, environment, and the specific methods I employ, tenderness is the biggest advantage of the Santos. I'm not saying every pie in every batch achieves my objectives, but my latest efforts confirm that the best pies come my Santos. I'll continue to tweak all the variables to learn more.
Dear Bill, I guess it is just a happenstance that you are bringing up this issue while I am in the midst of new experiments with my Santos fork mixer in order to re-evaluate its performance in light of the fact that now my gas oven can provide me with much higher temperatures. Of course, your contention is relative to your circumstances, methodology, and interpretation of the phenomena as much as my referenced statements are reflective of the particular experiences I have had thus far with my Santos under my extant conditions. (For instance, your wood-fueled oven indubitably can bake more tender crusts than my gas oven.) Moreover, since we are not in the presence of one another, it is difficult to have an objective foothold on the issue of "tenderness" as I do not know your criterion for tenderness, whether or not it is commensurate with my standard. Hence, it is not easy to discuss this subject not knowing each other's methods of Santos dough production, the surrounding circumstances under which the methods are carried out, and each other's evaluative standards for tenderness. Faced with these limitations, I will try to approach this subject from a fundamental point of view, applying the classic Neapolitan method of "direct" dough production and using the "Neapolitan wallet" as the standard to evaluate crust tenderness. However, to that end, yesterday I conducted an empirical test by applying an "indirect" method of dough production, i.e. true "autolyse", producing one batch of dough with Santos and one with Kitchen Aid. Each batch had the same exact portions of the ingredients:
Caputo Pizzeria Flour: 1000 grams (Datum Point)
Water: 620 grams (62%)
Sea Salt: 30 grams (3%)
Fresh Yeast: 3 grams (0.3%)
Further, each batch was subjected to 1 hour of initial and 9 hours of secondary fermentation. (If I had more time, I would have used less yeast and much longer fermentation.) At last, last night I baked pizzas with the Santos and Kitchen Aid dough to discern the differences. The Santos pizza crust was significantly more tender than the Santos pizzas I had baked before the modification of my oven. I am certain that the high temperature of my gas oven (866° F on the floor and 870° F on the dome) is the main cause of the tenderness, which would have been absent under lower temperatures. As you know, high temperature changes many factors. I tried to pictorially document everything below, except my wife did not give me a chance to take more pictures of the first pizza (the pear pizza) that I baked, which was hers!
Next, I will conduct the same test as above, except I will employ the "direct method" of dough production. Due to the lack of time, I will elaborate on the pictures below later, and I will address your concerns. I think this issue is more complex than it appears. Have a great day!
Thanks, Omid. In this sentence you have encapsulated the essence of this style of dough - four simple ingredients being bombarded (or caressed) by innumerable variables. Drawing erroneous conclusions has been my biggest downfall. To assume that tenderness is a simple function of fork speed could be one of those. The difference of a few seconds in the oven, a few degrees or an hour while fermenting, the order ingredients are combined, the way the dough is stretched, etc. can all effect the texture of the dough. Looking forward to your results.
Dear Bill, to follow-up on my attempt to make pizza dough (in Reply #786 above), I would like to briefly consolidate my position on the Santos fork mixer by doing some critical thinking. And, as a further consideration, I do not think your conclusions in respect to Santos were wrong, but limited, as my statements were limited to my particular experiences with Santos. As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche always insisted, knowing is always perspective knowing, that knowledge is interpretive and never absolute, that it always reflects perspective and context. So is the case with what I present below.
In principle, a mechanized or automated dough mixer is supposed to accomplish, by design, four principal tasks amongst others:
1. Hydration of flour,
2. Uniform formation of gluten network,
3. Homogenization of dough consistency (agreement or coherence amongst parts), and
4. Homogenization of dough temperature.
Furthermore, as you know, there is a direct correlation between the amount of kneading and the tenderness of the baked goods ("knead-tenderness correlation") that engineers take into consideration when designing a mixer. As a general rule, under normal conditions, a baked pizza crust is tougher in proportion to how much the dough is worked. In other words, the more a pizza dough is handled or kneaded, the harder crust it will produce after baked.
According to my experience, if the Santos fork mixer is used at its default state (i.e., without direct human intervention) to produce 1670 grams of dough (using the recipe below and employing the classic Neapolitan "direct method"), Santos does not fulfill the four above-enumerated tasks.
Flour: 1000 gr. Caputo Pizzeria (Datum Point)
Water: 640 gr. (64%)
Sea Salt: 30 gr. (3%)
Leaven: ? (?%)
Total: 1670 Grams
Direct Method: Water ➡ Salt ➡ Leaven ➡ Flour (unremitting & uninterrupted mixing & kneading)
☞ Unlike the indirect method in Reply #786, there is no interruption between mixing & kneading, and both mixing and kneading are continuous within themselves.
At its default state during kneading, the mixer's fork keeps pushing the dough out of the way toward the outer sides, where the dough sticks and incessantly goes around a circle like a merry-go-round, without getting effectively kneaded. (Please, see the first picture below. The left side of the picture exhibits Santos kneading at its default state while the right side of the picture illustrates Santos kneading with manual intervention.) The smaller quantity of dough one prepares by Santos and the lesser hydration one uses in the dough, the worse will be the performance of Santos at its default state. As we both have learned, Santos, unlike Pietroberto fork mixer (and the Iranian fork mixer I used to have), is not an autopilot type of dough mixer (at least when making small quantities of dough); direct manual intervention is necessitated. (I do not know what the case would be if Santos is used at its full dough capacity, which is 5000 grams. Being a commercial mixer, perhaps Santos was not designed for making small quantities of dough.) The rotation of the non-motorized mixer bowl ought to be manipulated by one hand while the other hand, with the use of a spatula, needs to disengage the dough from the sides of the mixer bowl and push it down toward the center.
Thereafter, I learned that even manual intervention, using the direct method and the same recipe above, does not alleviate the situation enough, for now the dough is kneaded by the fork—and partially by the spatula that constantly keeps pushing the dough downward! Moreover, if one hand does not effectively regulate the rotation of the mixer bowl while the other hand keeps pushing the dough down with the spatula, the powerful and speedy fork can grab a piece of dough and mercilessly twist it over and over and over unto itself. Not good! As the kneading goes on and as the dough gets more hydrated, consistent, and relaxed, the machine starts to actually KNEAD the dough with less manual intervention as shown in the following Youtube video I uploaded about three months ago:
However, considering the fast fork speed and the "knead-tenderness correlation", that might be too late, for the dough perhaps has already been subjected to enough turbulent motion. The price to pay might be "tender crust" if one opts to continue kneading at that point. The fast fork speed works against the "knead time" and "gradual dough development". If the fork speed was slower by design, this issue would have been nonexistent. Hence, I admire the wisdom of Pietroberto in designing mixers with fork speeds between 21.5 and 31 RPM, in contrast to the 84 RPM of Santos. Sufficiently slower fork speed seems to be conducive to less manual intervention, less turbulent motion, controllable knead time, and gradual dough development. (To be fair, I should point out that I do not know what fork speed Pietroberto would choose if it were to design a fork mixer of the same dough capacity as Santos.)
Another factor to consider is the "mass-speed correlation", i.e., the dough weight in relation to the fork speed. Pietroberto's lowest dough capacity fork mixer seems to be the "La Vittoria 17", with a dough capacity of 17000 grams, fork speed of 23 RPM for its 1-speed model, and fork speeds of 20.5 RPM and 31 RPM for its 2-speed model. Perhaps, if Santos, with its dough capacity of 5000 grams, had a fork speed comparable to La Vittoria 17, it would not rule out the manual intervention:
It would be highly appreciated if dear SCPizza would fill us in as to what dough and crust qualities he accomplished by slowing down the fork speed of his Santos from 84 RPM to "21 RPM", as shown in the fantastic Youtube video above.
So, we have learned that something more than "direct manual intervention" is needed in order to make dough with Santos: quasi- or true "autolyse", which is, I believe, the method you employ in making Santos dough and which is exactly what I resorted to (in Reply #786 above) in making my dough. And, in the process, I had to abandon the "direct method" and adopt the indirect method, which is not Neapolitan for the purpose of making Neapolitan pizza dough. Is this what one should expect from a professional, expensive, European dough mixer like Santos? Perchance, Pietroberto would not be as prominent in Naples if it had adopted high fork speeds.
As shown in my Reply #786 above, autolyse gave the dough a chance to be hydrated (task "No. 1" above), to generate gluten network (task "No. 2" above), to generate homogeneous consistency (task "No. 3" above), and to homogenize its temperature (task "No. 4" above). Wait a minute!—weren't these tasks ideally supposed to be performed by the mixer? Didn't we pay a high price for the machine to properly hydrate, glutenize, and homogenize our doughs—without delegating and outsourcing the tasks to an outside mechanism, such as "autolyse"? (I wished I knew Santos' philosophy underlying the design and functions of their fork mixer. Perhaps, the French do not think the same way as Neapolitans do when it comes to production of dough.)
I conclude that tenderness of our Santos pizza crusts should not be entirely attributed to Santos, but to "autolyse"—either to a lesser or greater degree—which laid the groundwork for the tenderness to happen. After all said and done, autolyzed dough, in conjunction with using the Santos to finish the job, can be susceptible to some vulnerabilities. If one does not proactively and properly manipulate the Santos mixer during kneading an autolyzed dough, the intricate gluten networks (hence the dough consistency) that were generated during autolysis can be agitated, disturbed, or fractured by the speedy fork. As you rightly put it, the instrument requires "practice, practice, practice".
In regard to my assertion, that Santos "heats up the dough (not as much as many other mixers such as the Kitchen Aid)", it was hyperbolically stated. And, the heat-up, which usually is not significant, is contingent upon conditions such as low dough quantity (about 600 grams), low hydration (about 55 or 56%), employment of the direct method, long mix & knead time, and I am sure the ambient temperate is a factor as well. When I made dough under such conditions during past summer, its temperature rose from 72.6° F to 74.4° F. As you rightly put it, "The large bowl and the hydration level [63%] are too big a heat sink for the friction from the fork to generate appreciable heat, IMO." So, I agree that dough heating up is not an issue with the Santos.
On the positive side, Santos, in conjunction with using autolyzed dough, is capable of making highly hydrated dough that is manageable. So far, I have gone as high as 67% hydration. Using the recipe below, 1-minute-and-32-second mix time, 25-minute autolyse, and 4-minute knead time, last night I prepared a 64% hydrated dough that felt like a 58% hydrated dough. (Please, see the pictures attached hereunder.) As shown in the pictures, I handled the dough without using any bench flour and without any significant amount of dough residue left on my hand.
Flour: 1000 gr. (Datum Point)
Water: 640 gr. (64%)
Sea Salt: 30 gr. (3%)
Fresh Yeast: 1 gr. (0.1%)
At last, in my opinion, the portafoglio napoletano in the very last picture, below, represents an ideal "Neapolitan wallet". Sublime! Truly, a good Neapolitan dough does not happen by itself or by a miracle—it is a task. Have a great day dear Bill!
Dear Bill, to follow-up on the vices and virtues of the Santos fork mixer (as discussed in Reply numbers 786 and 799 above), I had a breakthrough! Employing the "direct method" (as opposed to the "indirect method" used in Reply numbers 786 and 799 above), two days ago I set myself to the task of preparing pizza dough with Santos as follows:
Flour: 1000 gr. Caputo Pizzeria (Datum Point)
Water: 645 gr. (64.50%)
Sea Salt: 30 gr. (3%)
Natural Leaven: 30 gr. (3%)
☞ The total hydration is actually in excess of 64.50% because of the liquid sourdough culture.
Direct Method: Water (74.4° F) ➡ Salt (68.1° F) ➡ Starter (73.2° F) ➡ Flour (73.7° F) = Pasta (75.7° F)
Mix Time: 1 minute & 36 seconds
Knead Time: 4 minutes
☞ No interruption
between mixing & kneading, and both mixing and kneading were continuous
First, I poured all the water in the mixer bowl, dissolved all the salt therein (picture No. "1" below), poured all the culture in the brine and briefly stirred, and poured in all the flour evenly on top of the brine-culture mixture (picture No. "2" below). Here is the main point
. . . To mix and knead the dough, this time I did something differently
: I got a heavy-duty rubber spatula, and firmly holding its handle with my right hand, I securely stationed it next to the fork and adjacent to the side of the bowl, at the angle shown in the very 1st and 2nd picture below. I tuned on the mixer while unwaveringly maintaining the spatula with my right hand at its station as my left hand kept steadily rotating the mixer bowl. Rather than the spatula causing unnecessary turbulence or commotion by shoveling or pushing the dough downward toward the fork, here the spatula simply stayed stationary
—directing the dough flow. After 1 minute & 36 seconds of mixing and 3 minutes of kneading (as the dough became relaxed and as the dough oriented itself to the rhythm of the fork and the rotation of the bowl), I dismissed the spatula, letting the dough get kneaded for 1 more minute on autopilot while my left hand regulated the speed and rotation of the mixer bowl without actually rotating it.
After kneading was over, I let the dough mass rest for 20 minutes. Next, when I scrutinized the dough for signs of non-uniformity and tough gluten formations, the results, on the surface, did not seem to be different than the dough produced in Reply #799, where "autolyse" and "indirect method" were implemented.
Next, I let the dough bulk-ferment for 1 hour (pictures No. "3" & "4" below), followed by forming dough balls (pictures No. 5 to 7 below). I subjected one of the dough balls to some further tests, to examine its consistency, elasticity, and extensibility in order to discern how uniformly and how smoothly the dough ball was constituted (pictures No. "8" & "9" below). Not bad!
Thereafter, I let the dough balls undergo the second fermentation for 24 hours, inside my marble chamber, at temperatures ranging strictly between 64 and 68° F (pictures No. "10" & "11" below). Next, the dough balls were brought in the kitchen for 4 hours & 43 minutes, where the temperature ranged from 76 to 82° F within the time interval. Once the dough balls were relaxed enough and reached 77° F, I commenced to prepare and bake the pizzas (see the pictures attached hereunder) in my gas oven, which had a floor temperature of 852° F and ceiling temperature of 899 ° F.
1st Fermentation (in mass): 1 hour at room temperature 77° F
2nd Fermentation (in balls): (24 hours in the marble chamber at 64 to 68° F) + (4 hours & 43 minutes in the kitchen at 76 to 82° F)
Final Dough Ball Temperature Before Baking: 77° F
Gas Oven Temperatures: Floor = 852° F & Ceiling = 899 ° F
The pizzas were flavorful, and they appeared to be somewhat lighter and tenderer than my Santos pizzas made by implementation of autolyse, indirect method, and the same level of hydration. (Perhaps, if autolyzed dough was not susceptible to the "vulnerabilities" I pointed out in my Reply #799, it would have baked a pizza crust just as tender in my oven.) I have already executed the above procedure three times, yielding the same result. When I tried the same with 67% hydration, the above procedure was easier to execute. In addition, the dough attuned itself to the rhythm of the fork and the rotation of the bowl more quickly; hence, the dough was perceivably kneaded more uniformly and with ease. Yet, I still uphold my conviction that If the fork speed was appreciably lower, Santos could have possibly be deemed as one of the most favorable mixers for making home-made Neapolitan dough.
Considering all the above, my tentative conclusion at this point in time is that, given the nature of my gas oven (which does not even come close to a wood-fired oven), the Santos "direct-method" dough, procured by the procedure propounded above, makes "autolyse" and "indirect method" superfluous, at least for me. Moreover, under my present conditions, I favor Santos over KitchenAid Pro 620 when it comes to making highly hydrated Neapolitan dough. At last, I would like to confirm, again, what you wrote earlier: "The instrument . . . requires practice, practice, practice." Please, inform me of your results if you try this method. Have a great day!