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Author Topic: The way the dough is made in Naples (shorter RT DD vs longer CT/biga/poolish)  (Read 1883 times)

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Offline ThatsDrew99

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Pertaining to neapolitan pizza, the more that I learn, the more I see that many professionals in Naples are doing 12-24h RT ferments with temps ranging from 15-24 C (60-75F).

Some of them dont even let the dough rest for more than 30 minutes-2 hours before they ball it up, and many of them never use refrigeration at all and just adjust the fermentation time by the ambient temp. This is very contrarian to what I see elsewhere. Obviously there is more than one way to make great pizza, but some top rated pizzerias globally like Pepe in Grani, La Notizia, 50 Kalo, they all make the pizza this way (or a variation of this by changing the amount of time in bulk or balls but not going into multiple days or using any cold fermentation). And if this is the best way to make the neapolitan dough, this is the method I personally want to learn and perfect.

However it seems like most pizza makers in online circles are concerned with 48-72h ferments and biga and poolish. If these methods were better why wouldn't the worlds best pizziaiolos be using them over room temp direct dough? Maybe this is just tradition in Naples and so thats why they continue to do it this way, but if the pizzas could be made better by changing the fermentation, I believe they would probably be doing it. Curious what everyones thoughts are on it and why many people choose the longer fermentations and biga/poolish over this simpler method.

And if its not coming from long fermented dough, how are the chefs in Naples achieving such good flavor? Is it just the great quality of the toppings or is there something else?
« Last Edit: October 03, 2022, 11:57:46 PM by ThatsDrew99 »

Offline scott r

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If im not mistaken Pepe in Grani is not doing a direct dough but La Notizia and 50 Kalo are. There are also many other spots using biga/poolish/old dough in and around Naples, especially the newer hot spots with younger generations of pizzaiolo.  I think its hard to single that area out as using only fairly fast direct dough methods, although it will always be the most common as it is a lot easier to pull off correctly. 

The cheese and produce available there blows away what we have in America, so that certainly makes it less important to have lots of flavor in the dough.  My first visit there was a huge eye opener in many ways.  One was how much better their cheese is, and two was that the crust did not blow me away (in flavor) nearly as much as I thought it would at most of the pizzerias I tried.

The only doughs I have had that have lots of flavor are ones using a preferment or wild yeast. Can a 5 day cold ferment direct dough get lots of flavor..  yes.   Can a 24 hour room temp direct dough get lots of flavor, yes.... but never as much as I am able to achieve with a preferment or wild yeast, and with those it happens in a shorter amount of time

After 20 years of making lots and lots of pizza and experimenting with wild yeast, old dough, sponge, biga, and poolish.... my crust always tastes like its missing something to me without one of these.  If asked their opinion, my family and friends notice it as well.  Also, if I take fermentation to the edge with a direct commercially yeasted dough... really let it go low and slow for a long time... I find that it is never the best texture that I have achieved.  So for ME, a shorter fermentation with a preferment/wild yeast is the best way I can find to make pizza that really blows me away.  By shorter, I mean at least a day if not a few days, not a few hours. 

Maybe you dont want/need lots of flavor in your dough, as texture is more critical (in my opinion) and toppings along with the flavor you get from a hot oven imparting char to the dough can do a lot for your eating pleasure.  If you do want maximum flavor... look to preferments and wild yeast. Realize that they also change the texture for better or worse (it brings many more variables to the table). 

I think there are pizzaiolo everywhere that do not use wild yeast or preferments because it makes it much more difficult to have a consistent pizza all day long, day in and day out.  I think there are also pizzaiolo that dont feel the need for any more flavor than you can achieve with fairly fast fermented direct doughs.   If the texture is perfect and you use great toppings and cook the pizza perfectly its still going to be much better than the next guy using wild yeast or a biga thats not nailing everything else.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2022, 06:01:06 PM by scott r »

Offline ThatsDrew99

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If im not mistaken Pepe in Grani is not doing a direct dough but La Notizia and 50 Kalo are. There are also many other spots using biga/poolish/old dough in and around Naples, especially the newer hot spots with younger generations of pizzaiolo.  I think its hard to single that area out as using only fairly fast direct dough methods, although it will always be the most common as it is a lot easier to pull off correctly. 

The cheese and produce available there blows away what we have in America, so that certainly makes it less important to have lots of flavor in the dough.  My first visit there was a huge eye opener in many ways.  One was how much better their cheese is, and two was that the crust did not blow me away (in flavor) nearly as much as I thought it would at most of the pizzerias I tried.

The only doughs I have had that have lots of flavor are ones using a preferment or wild yeast. Can a 5 day cold ferment direct dough get lots of flavor..  yes.   Can a 24 hour room temp direct dough get lots of flavor, yes.... but never as much as I am able to achieve with a preferment or wild yeast, and with those it happens in a shorter amount of time

After 20 years of making lots and lots of pizza and experimenting with wild yeast, old dough, sponge, biga, and poolish.... my crust always tastes like its missing something to me without one of these.  If asked their opinion, my family and friends notice it as well.  Also, if I take fermentation to the edge with a direct commercially yeasted dough... really let it go low and slow for a long time... I find that it is never the best texture that I have achieved.  So for ME, a shorter fermentation with a preferment/wild yeast is the best way I can find to make pizza that really blows me away.  By shorter, I mean at least a day if not a few days, not a few hours. 

Maybe you dont want/need lots of flavor in your dough, as texture is more critical (in my opinion) and toppings along with the flavor you get from a hot oven imparting char to the dough can do a lot for your eating pleasure.  If you do want maximum flavor... look to preferments and wild yeast. Realize that they also change the texture for better or worse (it brings many more variables to the table). 

I think there are pizzaiolo everywhere that do not use wild yeast or preferments because it makes it much more difficult to have a consistent pizza all day long, day in and day out.  I think there are also pizzaiolo that dont feel the need for any more flavor than you can achieve with fairly fast fermented direct doughs. If the texture is perfect and you use great toppings and cook the pizza perfectly its still going to be much better than the next guy using wild yeast or a biga thats not nailing everything else.

Glad to hear from someone who has actually been there.

Unless it has changed, Pepe makes what he refers to as a "wireless dough" that does not require any refrigeration and of course no mixer.

I know that Pepe in Grani uses a sourdough starter with their dough, so I guess that shouldn't have been called a direct dough. What I meant was just no cold/long fermentation.

Ive been making direct doughs with 24h RT ferments (18 RT ferment plus 4-6h in balls). I tried to make poolish once, failed miserably, and did a bunch of research to find that a lot of the top pizzerias aren't using it. I then took a step back and focused on the basics rather than more advanced techniques like biga or poolish, with the advice of some users here.

Im happy that I did because what I noticed was that since my initial foul up, I have been able to make some pretty consistently good pizzas using this 24h RT method, and got a lot of good experience cooking/handling/stretching the pizzas this way. However I was curious as to how good my crust was or how close it was to where it should be, because its so different than other pizzas ive tasted in the US and have never had good neapolitan pizza. This is one of the reasons why I want to make my way out to Naples next year as well.

I am a couple days in to cultivating my own sourdough starter to experiment with after I saw it used at Pepe in grani, so im excited to see what effect that has on the dough because ive heard good things about what it does to the flavor.

It's hard to know if it is the way it should be or not, having never been to Naples. The mozzarella and san Marzano tomatoes im using make the pizza taste great, but I find myself not even wanting to finish the crust sometimes. Its not light enough and is pretty basic. I think something is missing there when using this method as well, and I will start trying it with the sourdough starter and also maybe closer to 70% hydration rather than closer to 60%.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2022, 06:50:48 PM by ThatsDrew99 »

Offline scott r

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If your making Neapolitan pizza (sub 1:30 bake) I would avoid 70% hydration for now.   Most of the places in Naples using dough that wet are baking a little bit longer.  Thats still awesome pizza, though, so maybe try it and see, but typically with the really fast bakes you will most likely prefer closer to 60.

The wild yeast, if done properly, is going to really change everything for you as far as flavor goes. 

I think the lightest doughs I have ever made have been with commercial yeast, so if your doughs aren't light right now it means your proofing, shaping, or mixing are off.   Typically I tell new bakers to work with commercial yeast until the texture is perfect, then once those basics are nailed down move on to wild yeast or preferments as the misuse of those can fool you into thinking your mixing/proofing is wrong.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2022, 02:33:14 PM by scott r »

Offline jsaras

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Part of the fun of this pursuit is the MANY ways that dough can be fermented.  You should try as many as possible to determine what works best for your “perfect” ideal.

I’ve seen some finished pizzas by others here who use the various breadmaker prefermentation techniques to great effect.   However, just because something is more complicated does not automatically render it better. 

I’ve settled on mostly direct 18-24 hour RT with dry yeast or sourdough (in balls for 12 hours) and the occassional CF during hot summer days.  I prefer these approaches because I know with a great degree of confidence when the dough will be at its optimum point for use.
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Offline ThatsDrew99

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I think the lightest doughs I have ever made have been with commercial yeast, so if your doughs aren't light right now it means your proofing, shaping, or mixing are off.   Typically I tell new bakers to work with commercial yeast until the texture is perfect, then once those basics are perfect move on to wild yeast or preferments as the misuse of those can fool you into thinking your mixing/proofing is wrong.

Well then let me go into detail with this if I may, because I think this could be important for me. The dough has been "light" and soft/crunchy with some rebound while using fresh yeast, but its just not been to the point where it tears apart really easily like I have seen. In fact when I followed one recipe to the T(24h RT at 63%), my pizza was good but their cornicione just ripped apart easily right off the pizza and mine was soft but not as much. You suggesting this could have something to do with mixing/kneading and shaping (what do you mean by this? too dense and not stretched enough?) are off is interesting, because I get so many differing opinions on how much I should be kneading and its very confusing and I have little confidence im truly doing it right. It feels like im winging it because I have no true confirmation of when to stop.

I hear the to use the window pane test, but then saw a post by Tom Lehmann stating that thats only for bread, and for pizza, just work the dough until its smooth and then stop. Other say work it until 25C then stop, which I dont understand either because wouldn't it be possible to heat up the dough and get it to 25c by mixing, and then the dough still not all be kneaded enough? Some people telling me that I do too much, others telling me its very hard to over mix by hand and im probably not doing too much. So im always seeing this conflicting information. After seeing dough mixed in commercial mixers, my gut is telling me that its probably quite difficult to over work dough by hand and im probably not doing that with the method ive outlined below.

In the recipe I followed, I incorporated all the dough by hand until the mixing bowl bottom was clean and had picked up/incorporated all the ingredients (in the order of: all water, yeast, 1/3 flour in small increments, all salt, rest of flour in small increments), did about another 30 seconds of folds, then left the dough for 15 minutes covered up. I then did about 10 minutes of kneading, left the dough covered up for 15 more minutes. Then did a round of lamination with the dough stretched out, hold for 1 minute, ball back up and let dough rest again. Then did one more round of lamination and held for one minute. The dough was super smooth after this like ive never had it before. (at the time, I was cooking in a home oven at lower temps for longer periods and had some issues with dryness/toughness of this recipe. Some people then claimed it was a result of too much kneading - which I largely disproved in my eyes when I did the same process and cooked on my ooni at higher temps for a shorter time and got much better results. I think it was the 525 degree oven for 8-9 minutes doing this to my dough). But when I mentioned the amount of kneading/breaks I did while I was trying to troubleshoot the dryness/toughness issue, people were constantly telling me that pizza dough is not bread and I did way too much kneading(from a Facebook group - not this forum). Yet other resources I found online suggest that 15-20 minutes of hand kneading is necessary and its very hard to over mix by hand, and that I probably did just the right amount. So I really dont know what I need to be doing as far as kneading.

I would be grateful if anyone knows any good resources or videos that explain this "point of dough" as they call it, and how to know exactly how much I should knead with pizza dough.

If your really making Neapolitan pizza (sub 1:30 bake) I would avoid 70% hydration for now.   Most of the places in Naples using dough that wet are baking a little bit longer.  Thats still awesome pizza, though so maybe try it and see, but typically with the really fast bakes you will most likely prefer closer to 60.

The wild yeast, if done properly, is going to really change everything for you as far as flavor goes. 

So yes I have been making them in an ooni oven, and they are cooking around/under 90s. I made a few batches at 63% and a few at 65% at this point. and that would be using the kneading method as described earlier. I was just thinking that maybe a higher hydration or a higher temp could make the crust more airy and lighter but given the fact that I was so unsure about the kneading I figured this could be the better answer.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2022, 12:56:36 AM by ThatsDrew99 »

Offline foreplease

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In the last recipe above, what happens (and when) between the end of your kneading and when you bake?


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Offline HansB

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Part of the fun of this pursuit is the MANY ways that dough can be fermented.  You should try as many as possible to determine what works best for your “perfect” ideal.


Well said!
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Offline wotavidone

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I once ate at a tavern that had installed a new wood oven out in the dining room and had a very competent looking pizzaiola absolutely churning out magnificent looking pizzas in full view of the punters. He was quick, but never once looked like he was hurrying.
My Margherita was picture perfect and the texture of the dough was beautiful.
But the crust was bland, beyond the usual meaning of the word. For the first and only time in my life I reached for the salt shaker while eating pizza.
How much salt are you using?
Beyond that, I consider the char on the crust is not for looks, its for flavour. Gotta get that technique right if you want good flavour.
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Offline TXCraig1

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This may help shed some light on your room temp vs cold fermentation question:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=41039.0

In a nutshell, cold fermentation is more about simplifying logistics and allowing for a big margin of error as opposed to being the best way to develop flavor.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2022, 02:47:58 PM by TXCraig1 »
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Offline ThatsDrew99

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In the last recipe above, what happens (and when) between the end of your kneading and when you bake?

So after kneading, it would sit covered at RT for 18 hours then go into balls for 4-6 hours, all at 71-72F.

Offline ThatsDrew99

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I once ate at a tavern that had installed a new wood oven out in the dining room and had a very competent looking pizzaiola absolutely churning out magnificent looking pizzas in full view of the punters. He was quick, but never once looked like he was hurrying.
My Margherita was picture perfect and the texture of the dough was beautiful.
But the crust was bland, beyond the usual meaning of the word. For the first and only time in my life I reached for the salt shaker while eating pizza.
How much salt are you using?

Beyond that, I consider the char on the crust is not for looks, its for flavour. Gotta get that technique right if you want good flavour.

it comes out to about 5g per dough ball....30g with 1kg flour, 630g water.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2022, 09:47:27 PM by ThatsDrew99 »

Offline robertofrog01

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Part of the fun of this pursuit is the MANY ways that dough can be fermented.  You should try as many as possible to determine what works best for your “perfect” ideal.

I’ve seen some finished pizzas by others here who use the various breadmaker prefermentation techniques to great effect.   However, just because something is more complicated does not automatically render it better. 

I’ve settled on mostly direct 18-24 hour RT with dry yeast or sourdough (in balls for 12 hours) and the occassional CF during hot summer days.  I prefer these approaches because I know with a great degree of confidence when the dough will be at its optimum point for use.

Love this comment. Recognise that everyone is finding their own favourite style, method, taste, workflow.  Never forget the importance of the journey, eh?  That said, inspired by your comment to give direct a good go, and try simplify.  Can't do 12 hour balls though, I'm not nocturnal. ;)
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