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Author Topic: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??  (Read 4961 times)

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Offline ninya

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What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« on: June 19, 2007, 09:00:08 PM »
Hi :)

Ive tried numerous times to make a pizza myself, but have almost given up, due to these three problems:

1. (Mainly this one) I cant get the base to cook all the way thru to the part that's under the sauce. I find that the bottom which is on the hot pan books, but the rest is still raw as the oven air hasnt touched it, and it's left wet under all the ingredients.

Ive just discovered that there is such a device as a "perforated Pizza pan" - with little holes all over the pan. Is this the secret to getting the dough to cook all the way thru, even though it went in raw, under the ingredients.

Ive tried a stone, and normal pizza pans previously, and no luck.

2. The base doesnt taste nice.

3. The sauce doesnt taste nice.

I honestly believe that if you can get a really nice base - and cook it properly, and a really good sauce, the rest will take care of itself. Am I right?

If anyone could help, Id be bery grateful!!!  :-* :pizza: ??? :-\

Online Pete-zza

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2007, 06:01:28 AM »
ninya,

I think it would help to know what you are now doing so that we can first determine why you have not been achieving successful results. If you can tell us what dough recipe you have been using (including ingredients and quantities) and how you have been preparing your dough and managing it up to the point of putting the pizza into the oven, including the toppings you have been using and their amount, that might help. Please tell us also what size pizzas you have been making and the amount of dough you have been using for each pizza. You might also tell us how you have been making your sauce. The more detail you provide, the more likely we are to determine the source of your problems. It may well be that you are not using the right recipes.

Perforated pans can be used to make pizzas but that is just one option. If you are using a pan, perforated or otherwise, ideally it should be a dark pan, either a well seasoned pan or a dark anodized pan. For best results, it should not be a shiny pan such as a bare aluminum pan.

I would also like to have details of your oven, in terms of type and what temperatures and bake times you have been using. It may be that your oven is the source of your problems, not your dough recipe or whether you are or are not using a pan, perforated or otherwise.

Peter

Offline ninya

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2007, 05:43:08 PM »
thanks peter I used this one which I got from wolfgang Puck.com

Pizza Dough 

Makes four 8-inch pizzas


1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water (105º F to 115º F)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Topping of your choice (see Pizza recipes)

With this recipe you can make four pizzas, as described below, or you can divide the dough in half and make two large 12- inch pizzas. The baking time will be the same. Chopped fresh basil, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes can be added to the dough with the flour, if desired, for additional flavor. Be creative with your pizzas!

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water.

2. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. (The pizza dough can also be made in a food processor. Dissolve the yeast as above. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice, add the remaining ingredients, and process until the dough begins to form a ball.)

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled.)

4. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500º F.

5. Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

6. To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle, with outer border a little thicker than the inner circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough. Lightly brush the inner circle of the dough with oil and arrange the toppings of your choice over the inner circle.

7. Using a lightly floured baker’s peel or a rimless flat baking tray, slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza into and out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.

I used ordinary flour - just regular flour that you use for any type of cooking. I used a crappy pan from the supermarket, without holes etc.

I have an ordinary oven and probably cooked it for around 10-15 mins at about 250 celcius (Im in Australia).

I dont think I put any holes in the base before adding topping. I used either just pureed tomatoes from a can as the sauce or tried a commercial sauce from the shop (which was terrible).

I used a Pizza Cheese which was a mix of cheeses such as Mozzerella and cheddar, and then put on capsicum, onion, pineapple and sprinkled with dried oregano (Im vegetarian).

In a couple of days Im trying a recipe I got from this site and the sauce from here too. Im using a perforated pan, and will put the holes in the dough first as well as par bake for 4 mins first.

Ill also let the dough sit for 24 hours covered in the fridge.

Ill also buy a better flour, like bread making flour or if there's one called "pizza making flour" Ill buy that.

Im hoping this will make a big difference???

Any more help or advice, thankfully received.  :-* :-\ :( :-[ :pizza:


 
 
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 09:59:58 PM by ninya »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2007, 08:06:39 PM »
ninya,

I thought you might be from Australia from your use of the term “bases”, which appear to be a common term used in Australia for what is sometimes called “shells” in the U.S. (and “pizza rounds” or “skins” in the unbaked state). I asked you specifically about the oven in my last post because I know from past discussions on the forum that the Australian ovens aren’t exactly like the ones we use in the U.S. I am also aware that there is a much less limited selection of good pizza flours in Australia at the retail level, which has been a source of problems for some of our Australian members, especially those wishing to use high-gluten flour and bread flour. Some have been able to track down sources of such flours that are apparently used by bakers.

I am quite familiar with the Wolfgang Puck recipe you posted, having tried it some time ago. It is a recipe that should perform reasonably well. Actually, the recipe you posted is a later version of the original recipe that Wolfgang started with. In the original recipe, Wolfgang called for refrigerating the dough balls for two hours before shaping and stretching. You will note in your step 5 that all that is called for is a 15-20 minute rest period. I suspect Wolfgang eliminated the 2-hour rest in the refrigerator because people don’t want to wait around another couple hours to make their pizzas. If you’d like, you can reinstate the two hours of refrigeration in your implementation of the recipe.

FYI, Wolfgang has posted his favorite tomato sauce at
http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/recipedetail.php?Alias=RE_WP0172. It has several uses but if you omit the butter he says it can be used on pizza also. I have not tried this recipe.

I don’t see any reason why the Puck doughs can’t be baked on a pizza stone or in a pan, with or without perforations. However, as mentioned before, ideally the pan should be either a well-seasoned pan or a dark, anodized pan. It may take longer for the pizza to bake on a pan because the pan has to get up to temperature before the pizza itself can start to bake. This process will be faster with a perforated pan, particularly one with fairly large holes (many of the pans with the small holes are used to reheat pizza or bake frozen pizzas). With a pizza stone that has been preheated for, say, about an hour, at a reasonably high oven temperature, the pizza starts to bake as soon as it hits the stone. In using a pan, you may want to bake the pizza at a lower oven temperature and for a longer time to allow the pizza to bake slowly and become drier and completely baked both top and bottom. I think that using the 250°C (482°F) oven temperature you mentioned should work. If you decide to go back to the stone, I think I would still stay with the same temperature and adjust the bake time accordingly. I am not familiar with Australian ovens, so you may have to do some experimenting with bake temperatures and times.

I thought that you might be using a lot of sauce, cheeses and toppings, especially overly wet toppings such as vegetables, which could lead to a pizza that is not completely baked. I assume you put the pineapple on the pizza in a fairly dry state, not with all the attendant juices, which could lead to what is often jokingly called a "swamp" pizza.

I don’t see a need to dock the unbaked bases (poke holes in the dough) unless you decide to pre-bake the bases and large bubbles are formed, causing the base to puff up. You might try one base without docking it and see what results you get before deciding how to prepare and bake the remaining pizzas.

If you decide to use what is called "pizza flour", you will want to be sure that it is something like all-purpose flour. I believe that some flours sold in Australia as pizza flour are Italian 00 flours, which will not work well in the Puck recipe (or any other calling for all-purpose flour).

Peter
« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 08:39:48 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline ninya

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2007, 09:59:29 PM »
thanks  very much pete I really appreciate your time and effort in trying to help me.  :-*

It sounds like I need to use bread making flour.

Is there anyone in here, from Australia, that has worked at Pizza Hut or Dominoes, that knows what their secrets are to the dough ingredients / flour used, and what sort of pans they use so that the dough always cooks thru?

I guess what Im wondering now too is, why hasnt pizza caught on here, like it has in the USA? I mean, what beats a good pizza?

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Online Pete-zza

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2007, 09:07:58 AM »
ninya,

Most of the big pizza chains in the U.S., including the two you mentioned, have gone to commissaries where the dough is prepared and delivered to the individual stores. The big chains have also migrated over the years to using premixes, where the workers need only add water to make the dough. Apparently this is also the case in Australia with Domino’s and Pizza Hut, according to a post by an independent Australian pizza operator ("wa dave") at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=9042#9042. You might also check the following post by Tom Lehmann, who is a guru on pizza industry matters in the U.S.

Just about all of the big pizza chains in the U.S. have gone to conveyor ovens, so they will be using either pizza screens or disks or, in the case of pan pizzas, such as offered by Pizza Hut, for example, special pans for that application. I would venture to say that Domino’s and PH in Australia are also using conveyor ovens. From time to time, I have seen the Pizza Hut pan pizza pans offered on eBay. They are scarce so the prices are usually inflated. FYI, there are a couple of major threads on the forum devoted to Pizza Hut pizzas (including clones of their dough recipes), which I can find for you if you would like or you can’t find on your own.

As much appeal as pizza may have, the pizza business in Australia can be tough. Equipment costs—even for the most basic equipment like screens and disks--are much higher than in the U.S., and shortage of help at reasonable cost has been a problem because of the booming mining industry in Australia that has siphoned off a lot of potential workers, as noted in these posts by the aforementioned Australia pizza operator: http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=15748#15748, and http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=16793#16793. Also, Australia apparently has suffered from drought conditions for some time, which has led to higher prices for many of the basic food ingredients used to make pizza (see http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?p=9360#9360). Under this set of circumstances, along with competition from the majors in Australia who have relied more on low price than on quality (as is also the case in the U.S.), one would have to think long and hard about entering the pizza business in Australia as an independent pizza operator.

Peter
« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 09:28:43 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline ninya

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007, 02:13:24 AM »
Thank you again Pete zza. I had suspected that those chain stores order pre mixed dough.

I have just made my first pizza since joining this forum, and learning a few secrets.

I dont have any pics, as I wont have my digital camera with me till next week. However, for the first time EVER, I made a successful pizza!!!! :o

I used Bakers Flour, and a perforated pan. I docked the dough prior to putting anything on, and par baked for 4 minutes. I didnt overload with cheese or topping and the result was that my base was fully cooked through (FIRST TIME EVER!!!!!), the slices held their shape and it looked and tasted like a REAL pizza.

I am so happy.

Thank you to the people who run this site. Thanks to Petezza and Musky for all your help to me so far.  I really thought that I'd NEVER be able to make a pizza and now I know it's possible. :-* :-*

Online Pete-zza

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2007, 02:27:28 AM »
ninya,

I am glad to hear of your success with your first pizza since coming to the forum. Which dough recipe did you end up using?

Since you asked about Domino's dough recipe, I thought you might be interested in seeing the recipe given by Tom Lehmann of the American Institute of Baking, at http://www.pmq.com/cgi-bin/tt/index.cgi?noframes;read=12092. I doubt that Tom's recipe is the authentic Domino's dough recipe, but rather his interpretation of it.

Peter

Offline ninya

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2007, 04:16:53 AM »
I actually used these recipes, which I got from CDkitchen.com. I firstly tried a recipe I got from the home page of this forum, but it didnt mix up enough, and was too dry...I dont have a mixer so maybe that was the problem, but I found that this one mixed up beautifully and no need to add flour to board when rolling.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

2/3 package dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 1/3 cup flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/6 teaspoon sugar
1/3 tablespoon olive oil


Directions:

Dissolve yeast in water; set aside for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine flour, salt, sugar and oil in bowl; make a well in the center. When water/yeast mixture is bubbly, pour into center of well. Start kneading dough, bringing flour toward center of bowl; gradually increase kneading motion.

If dough feels dry, add a little more water; if it feels sticky, add more flour. Knead vigorously until dough is smooth and elastic. Roll into ball; cover with a damp cloth. Let rest for about 20 minutes in warm place. Beat dough with your palm to expel gas formed while fermenting. Roll dough again into ball; place in greased bowl. Baste with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; store in refrigerator.

When ready to use, place dough on floured counter top or table. Flatten with your hands, working from center out (a rolling pin may do also). Push dough evenly onto greased cookie sheet or pizza pan, forming a 12-inch circle with edges thicker than middle. Apply favorite topping in desired amounts. Bake in hot oven (475 to 500 degrees) until golden brown.

This recipe for Basic Pizza Dough serves/makes 1 crusts


This sauce was nice however next time I'll add some water too it whilst it's simmering, and then let it boil down a little so it's not too thick. This would be nice as a pasta sauce too I think.

Pizza Sauce


Serves/Makes:   1

Ingredients:

1/4 onion, minced
1/2 or more cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil (more if needed)
1/2 can tomato sauce (16 oz.)
1/2 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional) it takes out the bitterness of the tomato
1/2 teaspoon basil - dried
1/2 teaspoon oregano - dried
1/4 teaspoon salt


Directions:

Mince onion and garlic. Saute in olive oil until onion is clear and tender. Add rest of the ingredients to skillet and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Makes enough sauce for 2 pizzas. Also makes a nice sauce for breadsticks and calzones.


Offline enchant

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2007, 10:17:12 AM »
One tip that someone mentioned (and I follow it religiously) is to start baking the pizza as soon as possible after applying the sauce.  Otherwise, the sauce will soak into the dough.  Also, I try to keep the center two inches of the pizza fairly clear of toppings.
--pat--

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Offline Wazza McG

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2007, 07:51:24 PM »
Here are a few fundamental tips from a fellow Aussie ;-)

Get a digital scale so you are measuring the flour accurately.  The water is a no brainer, but the digi scale makes it easy.  The scale may cost you 50 ~ 70 bucks, but what the heck - I use it to weigh out heaps of other stuff now, like meat for the freezer and other recipes.  It's a good investment overall as you can minimise waste by preventing over cooking too much.  I wish I had bought one sooner.

If your oven has a bottom element - use it.

Take on Pete's advice to heat the oven up  for 1 hour with the stone already in from the start.  I actually use a pizza tray (holes in it - holes are not important though) to start off with, on the stone, then - once 80% cooked, slide it off onto the stone itself to finish off the base - seems to work for me, buy a short pizza paddle.  The stone will absorb moisture and make it brown/cooked underneath.

Good consistent flour is hard to find that has a high gluten content, the best I have found is Laucke Flour (Wallaby label 11.9% protien) @

http://esvc001429.wic023u.server-web.com/distributors.html

I buy the 5kg variety from Coles or Woolies.

You can add Vital Wheat Gluten to it, at the percentage you want, to raise the gluten further, just look out for the water absorption factor - may I suggest small steps if you head in that direction.  There is plenty of advice here on how much to add.  VWG can be bought at most health shops or the organics section at the major supermarkets.

The best yeast to buy is SAF Red or Fermex instead of the sachet variety, keep it sealed in freezer and she will be apples - here is a link so you know what both packets looks like.

http://www.fermex.com.au/products/products.php

The best cheese is from Dairy Farmers Australia - their cheese actually won 1st prise in no other than New York City for a pizza contest - no mean feat.  So I believe the best way for you to get to this stuff is buy Coon Mozzarella in the sealed shredded bags.  If you live in Brissie, I will supply you a better and cheaper source  :P.

If you are really keen you can use the Shaw River Buffalo Mozzarella @ http://www.shawriverbuffalo.com/  it's a tad hard to find locally - there is another, if you are a QLDer and it's quite special.

The best sauce I have found is one of the cheapest - it has an intense tomato flavour and the viscosity of the sauce is ready for pizza application - it's called Val Verde Passata - you can get it easily at any supermarket.

http://www.congafoods.com.au/products.php?product=sauces

I have tried adding herbs, garlic to it and I actually believe it is best left alone for the pure tomato flavour - add your fresh herbs before the cheese to the toppings not the sauce.

If your Vegie diet allows you seafood, please try a raw prawn / raw scallop meat pizza with lemon pepper added to it and you will experience a true Aussie pizza that is much better than Ham & Pineapple.

Enjoy your pizza journey  :P

Regards,

Wazza McG



.


Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!

Offline ninya

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2008, 04:21:08 PM »
Thanks Wazza McG - I only just read this reply. That's very helpful.

I cannot find the Coon Mozzerella. I have tried the Woolworths Home Brand Mozzerella and find it to be excellent. I have also added a little of the Coon Pizza Cheese (shredded, half mozzerella half cheddar) to the HB Mozzerella and found that to be perfect.

I have just purchased a bottle of the Val Verde passata and will try that.

However, I have had great success with:

Tomato Puree
Tomato Paste
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
a little sugar and salt
Bay leaves
Olive oil

mixed together and simmered for about 40 mins then left to cool - makes a fantastic sauce.

I have bought the Defiance Bakers Flour and found it to be great.

thanks again.

Any more suggestions re Aussie food brands are most welcome.

Offline Rein Ciarfella

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Re: What's the secret to cooking a pizza base properly??
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2008, 03:15:04 PM »
Ninya

Pete's definitely The Man when it comes to help and expert advice.  I had the same problem when I first started out, mainly because I like a fairly thick shell with tons of toppings.  My solution, when I figured out par baking, was to par bake the shell every time, 3-4 minutes.  Finish baking is usually 5-6 minutes.  My oven temp's within a couple of degrees of yours.  The only caveat to the par baking was I needed to make myself a bubble popper and check the shell about 1-1/2 minutes into the cooking time to deflate the bubbles.  Not a big deal, just something I have to remember to do each time.  With experience I've figured out how much par baking is necessary for a certain amount of toppings and moisture and nowadays it comes out fairly well every time, even with a single pie loaded on with lots of wet stuff like sauce, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, ripe olives, anchovies, canned mushrooms, in addition to the cheese, garlic and pepperoni.  It's a mouthful, but not soggy.  Damn, I'm salivating again!  :)  Time to run to the freezer for a leftover slice!

Oh, and just to be neighborly to our Down Under buddies, I tried shrimp on the barbie last summer for the first time in my life.  What the heck was I waiting for?!!!  That was the best damn thing I've *ever* had on a grill!  Next summer:  Shrimp on the barbie, peeled and transferred to the top of pizza going into the oven!
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