• #21 by Jackie Tran on 22 May 2010
  • Thank you 8-slice and thank you for your recipe and method.  I will give your kneading method a try sometime in the future and report back to you. 

    PH, I have some good news for you.   I have made some advancement and taken a big step forward (IMO).  Not perfect yet but making progress.

    I have been able to verify Varasano's claims.  Make a consistent pizza using any flour.  He is right, it's in the technique.  Here are 3 pies baked in my Primo Ceramic coal fired oven at around 850F.   They were all hand kneaded using the same technique as described in the above posts.  Not exactly the same technique for each pie as each flour behaves differently when kneading but the technique was similar for all 3.   The same amount of water, salt, and % of starter was use on all 3 pies.  The amount of flour varied according to how each dough felt.  I basically stopped adding flour when the dough felt right, so each dough had a different hydration ratio.  This is due to the different characteristics and behavior of each flour.   One pie was made with HG BF, one made with all Caputo 00, and one made with AP flour.

    Let's play a game and see if you guys can figure out which is which.
  • #22 by Jackie Tran on 22 May 2010
  • Here's the crumb shots of the 3 pies respectively.
  • #23 by Pete-zza on 22 May 2010
  • Tran,

    Can you tell us the dough ball weight you used to make the pizzas and the size of the pizzas you made with the dough?

  • #24 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Yes Peter.  The AP dough ball ended up being 178gm, the caputo 00 ended up being 207gm, and the HG BF ended up being 198gm.  I stretched all of them out until they get to a certain thickness or thinness that I like, so they were all around 10-11" each.

    I premeasured each flour out at 140gm.  Added  about 60% of the flour and let the batter rest.  Came back and added more flour in small amounts with kneading until it "felt right".  Each dough had the same amount of water but took up a different amount of flour.

    Peter, you don't want to venture a guess for fun? ;)
  • #25 by widespreadpizza on 23 May 2010
  • Tranman,  first off,  nice work on the pies.  They all look good.  I am curious if you used different cheeses on these pizzas and also by how much the bake time varied.  but heres what I'd guess. -marc

  • #26 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Marc, thank you for the compliment and thanks for playing along.  You've gotten one of the 3 correct but I'll hold off on saying which one.  I'd like to see some more ppl play the game.

    I will also hold off on answering the cheese question as that will give away the answers.

    As far as bake times, I'd have to guess they were all under 2 mins.  Maybe a bit more.  I know the firebrick temp was around 850 when the pies were loaded.  They were turned about every 30 secs or so.  The bottoms are dark with a small burned area.  I'm still working on my primo set up.  I don't believe the bake times varied much from pie to pie.
  • #27 by scott123 on 23 May 2010
  • 1 HG
    2 00
    3 AP
  • #28 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • 1 HG
    2 00
    3 AP

    ding, ding, ding! And we have a winner folks! You've just won yourself a bottle of NY City water, a caputo apron, and a year's supply of pizza from my kitchen. :)

    ok Scott, how did you do that? 
  • #29 by norma427 on 23 May 2010
  • Tranman,

    You never cease to amaze me in your experimenting.   ;D  All your pies looks delicious.

  • #30 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Tranman,

    You never cease to amaze me in your experimenting.   ;D  All your pies looks delicious.


    Thank you for your support Norma. It does mean a lot to me. :)

    Marc, about the cheese. Pie #2 had a bit of belgioso on it. The other 2 had a mixture of Boars head block whole milk mozzarella, shredded belgioso, and shredded Polly O (that Im trying to get rid of).

    I've been waiting for months to get the dough right before springing for the buffala mozzarella.  I'm almost there. :)
  • #31 by Pete-zza on 23 May 2010
  • The AP dough ball ended up being 178gm, the caputo 00 ended up being 207gm, and the HG BF ended up being 198gm.  I stretched all of them out until they get to a certain thickness or thinness that I like, so they were all around 10-11" each.


    I asked you for the dough ball weights and pizza sizes because I have always believed that the statement that technique trumps the type of flour was too broad and sweeping. My thesis is that if such a statement applies, it is perhaps limited to pizzas with crusts that are very thin. In such cases, there is less crust with each bite and the flavor of the flour itself has to compete with the flavors of the sauce, cheese and toppings plus whatever other flavors are contributed by the bake process itself, such as the flavors of crust caramelization, Maillard reactions, the denaturing of protein, flavors added by the use of the broiler, elevated clean cycle temperatures, etc. In your case, the thickness factors of the pizzas you made ranged from 0.066 to 0.086 based on 11" pizzas. So, I think that what you did fits my construct. Sometime you might try making pizzas with much thicker crusts, such as Papa John's clones, using different flours (e.g., all-purpose, bread and high-gluten) but essentially the same dough preparation and management methods. I think you will find that you will detect the flour differences, mainly because you will get a lot more crust with each bite so that the flour flavor comes through more strongly.

    I was planning to reply to your quiz this morning along with the above explanation but, had I guessed, I would have said Caputo, HG/BF and all-purpose. In my oven and typical bake configuration, I might have gotten different answers. However, none of this detracts from the fine quality of your pizzas. You did a nice job.

  • #32 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Peter, thanks for the nice words.  I do appreciate it. 

    I think you may have misunderstood or misinterpreted Jeff's intentions or my own.  I haven't been to his site since I started making pizza but I had to read it over again to see if I myself had misunderstoof Jeff. 

    Here's a snipet from his website.

    "Flour: There is a lot of emphasis put on using the right type of flour. Personally, I think this focus is misplaced. Of course, it's important to use high quality ingredients. But improving your dough making technique is much, much more important than hunting down the exact right type of flour. The truth is that almost all flours sold are pretty high quality especially compared to what was available 60 years ago when Patsy Lancieri was making amazing pizza. That alone should tell you something. I currently use either using  King Arthur Bread Flour or a blend of this with Caputo Pizzeria flour. I actually think that you can buy any bread flour available at your local supermarket and you'll be ok."

    I don't think Jeff is saying that technique trumps the type of flour at all.  I think he is saying that with proper dough technique you can make a great pizza out of any type of flour.  I think he's saying that the specific type of flour is less important than having the proper technique.  To give an example of this, check out the first post in this thread.

    Assuming that caputo is the BEST flour to use for making pizza, I had worked and worked with it for 2 weeks with several failed attempts until I had improved 2 factors, one of which was my technique.  I'll have to review my notes to see where I went wrong with my prior attempts.  So it is evident that having the right flour won't necesarily guarantee a good result.  As we all know, there are many factors that contribute to making good pizza not just the flour or even Jeff's ultimate techniques.

    Although I have made 3 similar looking pies with a similar crumb structure by using relatively the same hand kneading technique and method for all three, they are anything but the same pies.   As you noted, the flavor of thin crust pizza can be obscure by the sauce and cheese, I did multiple taste test of the pizzas and rims alone both yesterday and today.

    Although they all had a similar taste and texture there were some big differences.  I was hesitant to reveal the hydration rates, but it is pertinent at this point so I will.

    The final calculated hydration ratios are as follows.  These are rough estimates as it is impossible to get exact numbers on hydration ratios for several reasons. 

      AP dough 85%
      caputo 69%
      BF 79%

    The BF pie was cooked first.  I had only a short time frame to snap up some pictures and go with making the other pies.  I should have tasted the BF pizza when it was hot but ended up tasting it after it had cooled.  The caputo was next, and AP dough last.  I tasted the AP dough while it was hot with melted cheese and all and it was delicious while the BF pie had cooled and was so so. 

    The rim on the BF pie had a bit more chew to it than the others as expected.  Both the BF and the Caputo rim tasted a bit on the dry side to me.   The AP flour (shockingly) enough had the best texture and moistness.  Looking back at the hydration ratios, i wasn't suprised.  They all had a slightly different taste to them despite having pretty much the same ingredients, same water, and same starter.

    I should also note that I had originally intended these to bake only after 12hrs of cold fermentation (after a bulk rise of 10 hours already) on Friday night but had to work late and ended up baking these on Saturday afternoon, a full 18 hours later.  I have notice that my pizzas tend to dry out the longer I wait to bake them.  I'm convince the high altitude environment here plays a significant role in that and also explains to some degree my required high hydration rates. 

    Even after reheating them in the toaster this morning for breakfast, I had the same perceptions of the dough as yesterday.  I'm not suprised at all that the rims/crusts tasted different from one another.  Were that dramatically different?  No, but enough to say that no matter the technique, or even the use of a mixer, or an authentic WFO could not cover up the fact that they are different flours and different flours just behave  and taste differently.

    Sorry to belabor the point here but I want to make something clear.  As a new pizza maker, I (like everyone) else was somewhat enamored  and mystified by the magicalness of caputo flour, wondering if I needed it to elevate me into 7th pizza heaven.   After months of thinking about it and driving all over town to see if I could find it, I finally gave in and ordered it.  Having just started working with it, having failed with it, and having 2 successfully attempts with it, I can say that it hasn't taken me there.  Will it someday? Possibly?

    IMO, it's a great flour, but it's flour after all.  I agree with you Peter (having read one of your post about it) is that it's not necessarily special, it's just different.  It's milled differently to different specifications and gives a unique characteristic to a certain type of pizza that many hold in high esteem. 

    Should people try it?  By all means YES!  But IMO, I would save it for when you have tried the other flours you can find locally.  No need to pay extra shipping just to have a piece of that magic pie.  You can make a similar tasting pie using any flour, even crappy flour.  If you can't make a pie you are happy with using local flours, caputo will only discourage you further since it behaves differently.

    As a challenge, if anyone is interested in sending me some of what they deem to be crappy flour, I would happily make a pie and post it.   As it stands, I just recently bought 25lbs of Con Agra mill AP flour, 50 lbs of Sam's club HG flour, 15 lbs of caputo, and various other flours so I've run out of crappy grocery store flour long ago. 

  • #33 by Pete-zza on 23 May 2010
  • Tran,

    Thank you for clarifying your position and interpretation of Jeff's remarks. I may have been influenced by how others interpreted Jeff's remarks on the relative merits of technique over type of flour, some of which is reflected in posts in the thread at,2217.msg19459.html#msg19459. I had also recalled that Jeff posted the following relative to the type of pizza he was making:

    Since putting up this site I've been urged to try other flours. I've made pies with at least 20 flours including these:

    King Arthur All Purpose (KA AP) - 11.7% Protein

    King Arthur Bread (KA Bread)  - 12.7% protein

    King Arthur Sir Lancelot (KASL) aka Hi Gluten - 14.2% Protein

    Gold Medal Bread Flour (formerly labeled Harvest King) - 12.5% protein

    Caputo Pizzeria 00 (11.5%, but also a finer mill)

    Giusto's Artisan Unbleached - 11-11.5% protein

    White Lily Bread Flour - 12.5 % protein

    I can make a nearly identical pie with any of these except for the Italian 00 flour. It's mostly technique. (Emphasis mine)

    I think that the above highlighted statement led people to believe that the flour type didn't matter and that they should just use whatever flour they had on hand (other than the Caputo) and not waste their money buying some of the pricier flours, like high-gluten flour. I have seen that type of reaction many times over the years, often with attribution to Jeff. It was also the above statement that led to my explanation of how one might not be able to tell the difference in flours in a very thin crusted pizza, such as what Jeff was making.

    Whatever the interpretations that came out of Jeff's comments on technique over flour type, he apparently found it necessary to clarify his position in Reply 13 at,2217.msg25506.html#msg25506. It is perhaps best to let that post stand as his position. What you reported in your last post is more in line with my own thinking. I have never doubted that good technique will produce a better result, no matter the type of flour.

  • #34 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • As always thank you for the links Peter.  It was rather fun to read some of the history and where some of the misundertandings may have started especially given the title of the thread and the opening post. :-D

    I agree with things that have been said on both sides of the debate.  I doubt Jeff was first (as he claims) to develop any of those techniques or methods he claims credit for.  He may have been the first to organize them and introduce some of those ideas to the forum, but I have also heard of some rather inciteful remarks by the famed pie maker.   Remarks like there was no real pizza in Atlanta until he came along.

    I'm surprise that he can make an identical product with his techniques with any flour except caputo 00.  Is it that different?  I'm sure that is no longer the case tho.

    At any rate, I did want to take a moment to acknowledge the forum, you Peter, and the contributions of countless members here.  The knowledge here about pizza making and even just the discourse alone have spurred me onto trying and doing new things I never would have figured out on my own.  I have been able to improve my knowledge and skill in pizza making in a very short time.  In my mind, that says more for the forum than it does any skill that I might have.  I would definitely not been able to develop those skills without help from the forum and it's members.  I'm happy to return any little contribution I can to the forum.   Everyone should give themselves a pat on the back. 
  • #35 by scott123 on 23 May 2010
  • ding, ding, ding! And we have a winner folks! You've just won yourself a bottle of NY City water, a caputo apron, and a year's supply of pizza from my kitchen. :)

    ok Scott, how did you do that? 

    Yay!  ;D

    Looking at the crumb, I could see the additional starch/weaker gluten in the third pie, so I knew right off the bat it was AP.  When you told Marc that he had gotten one right, by process of elimination, that gave me the answer.

    As far as technique trumping flour type, I'm with Peter on this one.  Protein has very particular characteristics. Although, if you know what you're doing, you can mitigate the effects of varying levels of protein in flour (I've made great NY pizzas using AP), I don't think you can remove them completely from the equation. More importantly, though, using the incorrect flour for the job increases the margin for error enormously. 

    Whenever the topic of A/P flour for pizza (or quarry tiles) comes up, I can't help but think about the movie Tin Cup. In it, Kevin Costner successfully plays a few holes of golf with a baseball bat and a rake.  Sure, it makes for great comedy, but, in real life, why use a bat when you've got golf clubs?

    For instance, with a typical electric oven and typical store bought pizza stone, you can, by preheating the stone to the max it will go and then preheating it further with the broiler, get a quality fast baked pizza. Everything has to be perfectly right, though. With my soapstone slab, I can set my oven to 500 (not it's highest setting), put a pie in and, 4 minutes later, end up with a fantastic pie every time. I'm not pushing the parameters of the equipment.

    Another example, on the other side of the protein spectrum, would be pastry flour. If you know what you're doing and are fastidiously careful, you can make a tender pie crust with all purpose flour. Using pastry flour, though, makes the job so much easier.

    Summing up, right tool for the right job. And A/P flour (for NY style pizza) isn't it.
  • #36 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Nice detective work there Scott.  :D  I gave away a bit of a hint when I said if I talked about the cheese I would give it away.   By the cheese alone, #2 is clearly a NP pie unless I had set out from the beginning to confuse ppl but that's not the case.  I tried to use a little reverse psychology by naming the pies in the order of the pictures hoping that most ppl would think there's no way he would do that.  :-D

    I totally agree with what you said about using the right tool for the job as I think that truth echoes true in many areas of life not just pizza making.  However, I just don't see a debate here between 2 sides.  I see both sides making valid points and would prefer to remain in the neutral zone benefiting from both sides.  Even when I first read Jeff's website (apart from this forum) I never read it as flour doesn't matter at all.  I simply read it as technique is more important or can overcome not having the correct flour.  Having said that, I would dare bet $ that Jeff isn't using cheap or inexpensive flour b/c technique trumps flour.  Jeff is likely using the good stuff. 

    What is the correct flour for a NY pie btw?  HG BF?  As I recall, I think Peter had posted that back in the day, NY operators were all using AP flour when the higher protein stuff wasn't even available.  Now that it is available, I wonder how many are using a mixture of flours rather than HGBF exclusively. 

    I also agree with you that if one knows what he is doing, he can compensate for the lesser protein of a flour.  I would add that not only could one make ammends for a lesser (or greater) protein flour, but for all the numerous other factors that play a role as well.  Commercial yeast vs Starters, various baking material, various oven temps, altitude, humidity, etc etc.   

    I have always held onto the belief that a great pizzaiolo could contend with all these factors and make a decent pizza (not ideal) in any given situation with perhaps limited access to ideal ingredients and such. 
    Having said that, I absolutely agree that the best pies will come from having proper ingredients, proper technique, proper equipment, and the right customers who can appreciate these specific variables. 
    That sounds like a perfect world situation to me.  But let's get back to reality where most of us live.  Could you get by with lesser ingredients with proper technique. Yes.  Would you want to?  depends on how picky you are.  Would you have to sometimes?  maybe.

    Speaking of AP flour, I'm curious to know what makes pastry flour a better flour for making a NY pie than AP?  I thought it was generally lower in protein?  Are you talking about an "elite" NY politan pie here?  Is it b/c Pastry flour more closely mimics  Caputo?

    It was really refreshing to know that I could make a decent looking pie with AP.  Up until then, I had assume a similar approach to you that AP was the wrong type of flour to use for a NY pie.  But having done it now, I have changed my mind about AP flour.  I'm very young in my pizza making so I will continue to experiment with it alone and in combination with other flours.  I just have a more open mind about AP flour now.   It's just nice to know that if I wanted to make pizza at my mother's house and all she had was AP flour, I wouldn't have to sweat it and go out and buy a bag of BF.  Would it make the best pizza I could make?  Probably not, but could it make a decent pie?  probably so.  The audience couldn't likely appreciate the difference like some of us could. 

    Oddly enough the BF pie looked the best, but the AP pie tasted the best.  Who's to say that if the hydration ratio on the BF pie was higher that I wouldn't have like it better. 

    Thank you Scott and Peter, sincerely for keeping this discussion going as I am learning a lot here.
  • #37 by scott123 on 23 May 2010
  • What is the correct flour for a NY pie btw?  HG BF?  As I recall, I think Peter had posted that back in the day, NY operators were all using AP flour when the higher protein stuff wasn't even available.  Now that it is available, I wonder how many are using a mixture of flours rather than HGBF exclusively.

    My pizzeria supplier doesn't even sell A/P flour. Just 4 different brands of HG, all bromated. Although I'm certain that some places in the NY metro area use higher gluten than others (14% vs. 12%), I think the odds of any pizzeria using A/P flour are pretty slim- maybe 1 in 1000. 

    Speaking of AP flour, I'm curious to know what makes pastry flour a better flour for making a NY pie than AP?  I thought it was generally lower in protein?  Are you talking about an "elite" NY politan pie here?  Is it b/c Pastry flour more closely mimics  Caputo?

    Sorry, I think my use of the term 'pie' was a bit misleading.  I wasn't referring to pizza.  I should have said 'apple pie' as I was referring to pastry.  Low protein pastry flour (8%) isn't really viable for bread/pizza.

    And yes, it is a good feeling to overcome A/P flour's limitations and make a great pizza.  You get a feeling of being a bit of an alchemist.
  • #38 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Ah good to know you were referring to apple 'pie' which is another headache in and of itself to master.  :-D 

    I thought the same about pastry flour until 8 slice told me he makes his nearlypolitan out of 80% pastry flour b/c he can't get caputo locally or something like that.  His pies look awesome. I guess that makes him a mad scientist.  >:D

    I might just have the gumption to retry that pastry pizza again now that I know a wee bit more about pizza.  I'll post up if I do.  Anyways, enough with the elitist and their pizzas.   

    I'm on to the next project which is revisiting my perfect pizza.  Lower temps and longer bake times.  I have a notion that either high amounts of yeast and/or longer ferment times (basically taking a dough to near exhaustion) to take advantage of the dough softening effects of the protease enzymes (and any others) will give me that light and airey texture I like.   Does this sound doable? or another hairbrained idea?

    Also tell me if my hydration rates sound unlikely?  I think it's rather high but yet whether I bake at lower temps (650F) or higher temps (850F), most of my pies come out a little on the dry side.  Is it overkneading perhaps that causes a chewier texture which leads to the perception of a dry crust? At 75-80% hydration I would think it should give me a moist enough crust but my crust is mostly air and the texture for some reason always seems a bit dry.   ???
  • #39 by Pete-zza on 23 May 2010
  • What is the correct flour for a NY pie btw?  HG BF?  As I recall, I think Peter had posted that back in the day, NY operators were all using AP flour when the higher protein stuff wasn't even available.  Now that it is available, I wonder how many are using a mixture of flours rather than HGBF exclusively. 


    If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the three basic flours, all-purpose flour, bread flour and high-gluten flour, are used to make the NY style pizza, with high-gluten flour being the predominant flour. In the early days of NY pizza making, all-purpose flour and bread flour co-existed for many years. General Mills, for example, introduced a high protein flour (named High Protein Flour) in 1920 that was essentially a bread flour. That flour was discontinued in 1974 only to be resurrected in 1979 as the Better for Bread flour, which is a bread flour. When Evelyne Slomon published her book, The Pizza Book, in 1984, she mentioned only all-purpose and bread flours for her NY style dough recipe. It took a few years later for high-gluten flour to be used to make the NY style. Previously, that flour was used mainly to make bagels. Today, high-gluten flour is the most common flour, at least in the NYC area, to make the NY style. Along the way, I did wonder whether NY-area pizza operators had completely abandoned all-purpose flour to make the NY style. One of our members, Artale, himself a Varasano acolyte, indicated great surprise when he discovered that one of his favorite pizzerias was using all-purpose flour to make the NY style, as he noted in Reply 43 at,1258.msg11626/topicseen.html#msg11626. There may still be some pizza operators using all-purpose flour to make the NY style but I would say the numbers are quite small. Other than Dom DeMarco at DiFara's, who uses a combiination of 00 flour and high-gluten flour, I doubt that many NY pizza operators use flour blends.

    When I first started playing around with the Lehmann NY style dough recipe, I used mainly high-gluten flour and, later, bread flour. I had always wanted to make a version using all-purpose flour but I could never make a pizza with that flour that I thought compared well from a crust taste, color and texture standpoint with those based on high-gluten flour or bread flour. In those days, most of us had only simple pizza stones and basic ovens and maybe a pizza screen here or there. We weren't into trying to modify our ovens or to use creative baking solutions like you and many of our other members now do. So, I was looking for an entry level all-purpose flour version of the Lehmann NY style dough. It took me quite a while to come up with such a version that I felt that I could recommend to our members, but I eventually came up with a version that I liked. It is the dough formulation at Reply 205 at,576.msg15669.html#msg15669. The predicate for the work I discussed in Reply 205 is in the preceding Reply 204. These days, I would use one of the dough calculating tools and the Mixed Mass Percentage Calculator to do the number crunching. Back then, those tools did not exist. No doubt my experience trying different flours with the Lehmann dough formulation shaped my views on how different flours behave in a recipe.

  • #40 by Jackie Tran on 23 May 2010
  • Peter what an informative post. The only thing I could add is that when I was using the GMs better for bread is that I was surprise to find out it is approximately 10% protein if memory serves me correctly. I also faintly recall that you posted that protein levels from the label is not an accurate measurement.