Author Topic: A few questions  (Read 2531 times)

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Offline Lido

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A few questions
« on: October 17, 2006, 06:24:48 AM »
After finding that moving the pizza stone to the bottom of the oven helped my NY style pizza out a lot, I decided to see if it would help me with a Neapoletan style. I know it's not possible to make it really right in a cheap home oven, but this is all I have.

I won't go into my dough recipe because it's basically the same as the NY dough except I use 00 flour (Molina Bordignon) and just mix in enough flour until the dough isn't sticking like glue to my fingers. I used an 18 hour room temp rise for this pizza. I used San Marzano tomatos (the same type pictured in one of my first posts in this forum a few months ago) and real buffalo mozzarella from Italy. It's the kind that comes in the 7 oz. clear plastic container with the little logo from the region / trade assoc in Italy that deals with this cheese.

The pizza tasted great but I have three problems which I hope to solve or at least improve.

1. The first time I tried using just canned SM tomatoes, I just ground up everything in the can in a food processor, but it came out too watery. This time I strained out the tomato puree that the tomatoes were canned with and then just ground up the tomatoes. It was still too watery.

2. I put the cheese on some butcher paper after cutting it up to try to absorb some of that moisture, but it was still really wet when I put it on the pie.  When I was at Settebello I noticed that their cheese didn't look watery at all.  What do real Naples pizza places do with their cheese (and sauce) to keep it from acting like a lake on the dough. When I turn the pie in the oven all the cheese and sauce sloshed around on top.

3. I didn't get the same nice browning that I got with the NY dough I made.  It puffed more but it ended up being too crispy.  It was chewy on the inside, but the bottom was crackery and the outside of the crust was a little harder than my NY pie. Was my dough to wet? Too dry? Did I leave it in the oven too long? I baked it for about 6 1/2 minutes.  It looked ready at 5, but I was holding out for some browning. It never really happened though. There were a few toasty looking spots on the bottom, but the sides were pretty much white (unlike my NY pie which was made with AP flour).

- Lido

Offline scott r

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Re: A few questions
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2006, 12:31:06 PM »
lido, a few observations.

If you  look closely at the pictures on this forum of pizza in naples, or even at the better Neapolitan pizzerias here in the states you will notice that they use much less sauce than you did.  They tend to use sauces that are much more watery than what we do here in the states.  Since they are just lightly painting the dough with sauce it is not such a big deal that it is not super thick.  I personally like the American "more sauce" style, so I thicken my tomatoes even when making my somewhat accurate Neapolitan pizzas.  To accomplish this I strain the tomatoes in a wire mesh strainer, or I add paste.  Il Pizzaiolo, one of our forum members with an immense amount of knowledge of Neapolitan pizza at one time posted that even in Naples they some times add paste to their sauce.  Jeff varasano has a technique on his website where he strains more water out of the sauce than he really would ultimately like, then adds the correct amount of moisture back in with spring water.  You could try any of these techniques or just use less sauce.

As far as the cheese goes we (as retail consumers) are just at a major disadvantage.  If you owned a pizzeria and had buffalo mozzarella shipped directly to you each week you would be surprised at how much more firm the cheese would be.  By the time we get it in our grocery store Buffalo mozzarella is often over a week old, and has gone through some less than perfect atmospheric conditions.  When I get my buffalo mozzarella from a wholesaler within a few days of manufacture it is often firm enough to just slice and add to the pizza without creating excess moisture.  The rest of the time I either slice it and leave it in the fridge for a few hours, or I drain it on stacks and stacks of PAPER TOWELS.  I can't imagine butcher paper has the kind of absorption needed to soak up all the moisture that accumulates with typical store bought buffalo mozzarella.  In time you will be able to judge if you can just slice, do a fridge dry, or in the more extreme cases if  you need to do the paper towell drying technique.

A good portion of the a16 post deals with trying to achieve a decent result with Caputo in a home oven.  I think Pete-zza actually had some really great looking results.  I would go there and try out some of his experiments.

Good luck Lido!

Offline varasano

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Re: A few questions
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2006, 12:46:54 PM »
my whole foods has the nerve to date their regular cow's milk mozz with a 30 day sell by date and then they leave it there to the bitter end.  The packages on the bufala are harder to read, but I'm pretty sure it's the same thing.  A week old is the best case scenario, not the worst...



Offline Pete-zza

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Re: A few questions
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2006, 03:49:13 PM »

In my experience, the most common mistake that people make when baking Neapolitan style pizzas in their standard (unmodified) home ovens is to bake the pizzas too long. Usually this is done in order to get an acceptable level of browning of the top crust but the result is often an overly crispy or chewy or cracker-like crust. Sometimes using a lower hydration level and a bit of oil in the dough will help, but not always. I discovered that I got better results when I used a thicker crust (skin) than would normally be used in a very-high temperature oven. Regrettably, you can't really use a dough formulation intended to be used with a high temperature oven in your standard home oven without modifying the dough formulation in some way.

In addition to using a thicker skin, I also don't overcook the pizza just to get color. What I want is the crust to be soft. However, I found that I could get both a soft crust and good coloration by using a combination of pizza stones (usually two of them) and the broiler element, or some form of "mini" oven constructed within my standard home oven using pizza stones and tiles. My favorite approach has been the mini oven. I found that when using oven arrangements such as mentioned above in conjunction with using natural preferments, I could use significantly higher hydration ratios (62-64%) and I didn't have to use any oil.   

Not too long ago, at the request of one of our members, Antonio, I assembled in one place some of the 00-based dough recipes that I think are among the best for use in a standard home oven. I still have some more work to do to uncover other 00 recipes that I think are quite good but you can see the current lineup of 00 recipes at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3673.msg30851.html#msg30851. Among the posts listed there you will see examples of many of the points mentioned above.