• #1 by Pete-zza on 27 Sep 2004
  • EDIT: For a roadmap/index and a brief summary of several of the Lehmann NY style dough recipes on this thread, please see the related thread "Pete-zza's Roadmap to the Lehmann NY Style Recipes" (under "New York Style", at,1453.0.html).

    I recently decided to make a home version of Tom Lehmann's New York style pizza dough using the recipe posted in the recipe bank of the PMQ site.

    In the past I have experimented with Tom L.'s recipe on several occasions but usually I departed from his instructions by using a lot less yeast (around 1/8 teaspoon), staging the ingredients in a different sequence, and sometimes even using an autolyse period. And occasionally I would use a food processor. The pizzas usually were quite good with a thin, chewy and leathery crust characteristic of a NY style pizza crust, but I am not sure that by changing the recipe as much as I did I was really making a "real" NY style pizza. So, over the weekend I decided to try to take Tom L.'s recipe and scale it down for home use and follow as closely as possible the instructions he set forth for his recipe.  I determined that I wanted to make a single 16-inch pizza, and, using the standard expression W = Pi (i.e., 3.14) x R x R x 0.10, I concluded that I would need a dough ball of around 20 ounces. I also decided to use instant dry yeast, at the lower end of the range recommended by Tom L. (converting from cake yeast to IDY), and the highest hydration percentage recommended by Tom L., about 65%.  Adding together all the baker's percents, I calculated that I would need 11.80 ounces of high-gluten flour (KA Sir Lancelot). The final list of ingredients and their amounts came out as follows:

           High-gluten flour, 11.80 oz. (about 2 1/2 c.)
           Water, 7.70 oz. (about 1 c.) (about 65% hydration)
           IDY, 0.20 oz. (1 1/2 t.) [Edit: See Note below]
           Salt, 0.20 oz. (3/4 t.)
           Olive oil (light), 0.12 oz. (3/4 t.)
           Thickness factor (TF) = 0.10

    To prepare the dough, I first put the water and the salt in the bowl of my stand mixer and stirred them a bit. I then combined the flour and the IDY and added them all at once to the water in the bowl. Using the paddle attachment, I mixed the ingredients in the bowl for about 2 minutes at #1 (low) speed. At the end of the 2 minutes, the flour was fully taken up into the dough. I then added the olive oil and, continuing to use the paddle attachment, kneaded the oil into the dough at #1 speed for about a minute or two (I found the paddle attachment to be better than using the dough hook as called for in Tom L.'s directions). After the olive oil was fully incorporated into the dough, I switched to the dough hook and continued kneading the dough, at #3 speed (out of 10), until the dough was sufficiently smooth and elastic and capable of passing the windowpane test. This took about 7 minutes. The dough was soft and a little bit damp to the touch--no doubt due to the high hydration percentage--but held together well and was not particularly soggy or sticky. As Tom L.'s recipe calls for, I had adjusted the temperature of the water at the outset to achieve a finished dough temperature of 80-85 degrees F. The dough logged in at 84 degrees F. Its weight was around 20 ounces.  

    As soon as the dough was done, I oiled it lightly, put it into a plastic bowl, covered the bowl, and put it into the refrigerator. From time to time, I checked the dough while it was in the refrigerator and noted that it tended to rise fairly quickly, expanding by about 50 percent within an hour or two of being put into the refrigerator. After several hours, the dough expansion seemed to peak and stabilize at about double the original volume. I left the dough in the refrigerator for exactly 24 hours, following which I brought it out to room temperature to let it warm up (it was about 52 degrees F at that point and still a little bit damp to the touch but not in need of any flour addition).  

    Exactly 2 hours later, I shaped the dough into a roughly 16-inch pizza round. The dough was quite extensible with moderate elasticity and was quite easy to work with. If anything, it was a little too extensible and a little too inelastic, making it somewhat difficult to toss the dough once it had been stretched out to about 12 inches. I suspect that this condition was attributable to the high hydration percentage.

    It's important to note that Tom L.'s recipe does not specifically call for sugar for those situations where the pizza is to be baked on a deck (or, by extension, on a pizza stone or tiles in a home environment), but allows for the possibility of using sugar for other bake applications (as on screens or disks) where it is unlikely that the dough will come into direct contact with a heat source and prematurely brown. I had decided to use a 16-inch screen in combination with the use of a pizza stone preheated for about 1 hour at the maximum temperature of my oven, about 500-550 degrees F. Under the circumstances, I chose not to use any added sugar in the recipe. Maybe the lack of added sugar can become a problem after a few days, but it didn't seem to be after 24 hours.

    Once the pizza was dressed, I baked it on the screen for about 5 minutes, following which I slid the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone for about 2 more minutes to increase the browning on the bottom of the crust. I then removed the pizza from the oven to my cutting board and took the photo shown below (and in the following post). For those who are interested in knowing what was put on the pizza, it included some 6-in-1 tomatoes right out of the can and combined with some crushed, canned San Marzano tomatoes, dried basil and dried oregano, crushed red pepper, sliced deli mozzarella cheese (County Line), provolone slices, pepperoni, partially-cooked hot Italian sausage (removed from their casings), a swig or two of olive oil, fresh basil and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (added after baking).

    I don't fancy myself an expert on New York style pizza by any means, but this one struck me as exceptional. The crust was chewy and leathery, as I like it, and the rim was light and airy with a lot of large, irregular shaped holes and without being bready tasting. And the rim was huge. I had commented in another thread about how high hydration levels used by ciabatta breads results in large, irregular shaped holes, and this characteristic was apparent in the rim of the pizza I made. In fact, the holes were bigger than in any other pizza I have ever made. I have made Tom L.'s recipe before using a much lower hydration percentage, around 57%, and it did not turn out nearly as well as the one with the 65% hydration. The dough in that experiment was clearly drier and not quite as extensible but with somewhat greater elasticity. As between the two, the one I made yesterday was clearly superior.

    (Note: The amount of yeast recited above is more than called for by the basic Lehmann dough recipe, by a factor of about 10. The results will still be good but see later postings below for correction of yeast amount.)


  • #2 by Pete-zza on 27 Sep 2004
  • And a Lehmann NY slice.

  • #3 by Pete-zza on 29 Sep 2004
  • Yesterday I proposed a question to Tom Lehmann at PMQ about possible ways for converting a pizza dough recipe (in this case, Tom L.'s recipe for NY style dough) for home use, particularly since home equipment differs considerably from commercial equipment.  I received a reply today.  What surprised me most was Tom L.'s view of the windowpane test.  I had read before that he draws a distinction between making bread dough and pizza dough, and apparently his answer today reflects that position.

    Here are both the question I posed and the answer received (in quotes):

    I have been experimenting at home with your NY style dough recipe for some time. I started by drastically reducing the amount of yeast to as little as 1/8 t. IDY for 1 pound of flour, I added no sugar, and otherwise followed the recipe's instructions, including adjusting water temperature to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80-85 degrees F, separately adding the oil later in the process, etc. I used the windowpane test to determine when the dough was properly kneaded and promptly put the dough into the refrigerator (at around 42 degrees F.) There would be little dough expansion while in the refrigerator, but when brought out to room temperature (from 1 to 3 days later), the dough would rise sufficiently (after 2-3 hours) to make a pizza with quite respectable results. (I have done this using both a stand mixer and food processor for the dough processing).

    More recently, I have increased the amount of yeast to more normal levels, again following your recipe as closely as possible. The dough rises considerably while in the refrigerator, increasing by about 50% in volume within an hour or two and to about double or more over a 24-hour period, again achieving good results after letting the dough rise for about 2-3 hours before shaping, dressing and baking on a preheated pizza stone or on a pizza screen. What I am wondering is whether there is an optimum or preferred formulation of your recipe for home use, including any recommended changes to processing. Some possibilities that come to mind include reducing the amount of yeast from normal levels, using even cooler water, and reducing the time that the dough is held out at room temperature before shaping (but still above 50 degrees F), etc.--all in an effort to adapt the recipe to conditions and equipment used in the home and to compensate for the many differences between a home and commercial setting, particularly the use of a refrigerator which has higher operating temperatures than professional coolers, home stand mixers, etc. Any guidance or suggestions you can offer would be very much appreciated.

    Forget about the "window" test. That is appropriate for making breads, but not pizza dough. For pizza dough you just want to mix the dough long enough to get a smooth appearance to the dough, no longer. If you want, you can take a piece of the dough just before you shape and dress it and stretch it out in your fingers and you will be amazed at how thin you can stretch the dough. This is due to biochemical gluten development. This is what allowed bakers to make breads and pizzas way befroe Mr. Hobart created his first patentable invention. Because you are working in volumetric measures, I cannot comment on the amounts of each ingredient that you are using, but you are doing things the right way by experimenting with the amounts to find out just what works best for YOU, in YOUR kitchen. When I make my dough at home, I like to shape the dough into balls right after mixing, then lightly oil them with salad oil, and drop each dough ball into its own plastic bread bag and place into the refrigerator for use over the following day(s). If you need to allow the dough ball to remain at room temperature for much more than 1.5 hours, your dough could benefit from being mixed at a slightly higher temperature. You should be able to take the dough out of the refrigerator 1 hour to 1.5 hours before shaping and then shape it without difficulty. If you find that you need to wait longer than this, try increasing the finished (mixed) dough temperature by 5F. When I turn the dough out of the plastic bag I put it directly into a bowl of dusting flour and begin shaping it. For a really neat appearance (old world) try using semolina flour or rye flour as a dusting flour. With this time of the year you can pick up a fresh tomato at any market. Try using sliced tomato rather than the more traditional pizza sauce, add a little fresh chopped sweet basil, apply your desired toppings, and get ready for some great pizza.
    Tom Lehmann/The Dough Docotr"


  • #4 by DKM on 29 Sep 2004
  • Interesting views.  8)

  • #5 by Pete-zza on 29 Sep 2004
  • Yeah.  As I thought about Tom L.'s comments on short knead times and dispensing with the windowpane test, I couldn't but help notice that that advice runs counter to what a lot of people do and what many recipes call for.  For example, on the matter of knead times, the basic recipe for making a classic Neapolitan dough with 00 flour calls for a total of 30 minutes knead time.  Similarly, a Pamela Sheldon Johns "equivalent" dough recipe using a combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour calls for a total of 30 minutes knead time.  Alton Brown calls for 15 minutes of kneading at medium speed for his bread flour dough.  The New York style dough recipe at this site calls for at least 15 minutes of knead time.

    As for the windowpane test, it is one specified by Peter Reinhart and other fussy people such as Alton Brown and Jeffrey Steingarten.  The New York style dough recipe at this site also specifies the windowpane test.  I personally like it.  It's simple and gives you a target to shoot for.  It is also good--for the same reason--for people who do not have a lot experience with making doughs.   I suspect that most of us who make pizzas a lot keep a close eye on the dough as it is being kneaded, looking for the moment when everything has come together into what appears to be a smooth elastic ball.  Usually, that condition coincides with passing the windowpane test.  But since not all types of flours or combinations of flours behave the same, I like the idea of the windowpane test.  

  • #6 by Steve on 30 Sep 2004
  • Excellent research, Peter. You've uncovered a lot of good information which should help many people. I haven't forgotten about you regarding the new updated NY style pizza recipe for the main website. I'm dealing with some personal issues at home right now and website development is a low priority. I'll try to incorporate your findings (no pun intended) into the page soon. Thanks and keep up the great work!!  8)
  • #7 by Pete-zza on 30 Sep 2004
  • Steve,

    Take your time.  I have a backlog of pizza slices that I am reheating after playing around with variations of Tom L.'s recipe :D).Then I'll look at other possibilities with the recipe without straying too far from it and changing its basic character.

  • #8 by giotto on 02 Oct 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    It's interesting.  I totally agree with everything that Tom Lehmann suggests and found it a relief to read his notes.  Tom seems to differentiate between working with 50 lbs of flour as a professional vs. working with just a few cups at home.  I've noticed also that professional doughs take on a completely different color than home doughs, which often look oxidized.  I let the refrigeration do most of the work as well as create most of the taste.

    - I receive incredibly consistent results mixing only a few minutes as Tom suggests (along with a single short interval of hand kneading) to reach smooth dough.  My final temp is always around 80F, and I immediately get it in the refrigerator.

    - The water level is dependent on the flour absorption.  I've seen 13% - 14% high protein flours give completely different results.  With some high protein flours, a higher than 60% water to flour mixture is best left for a soup mix (e.g. ,10 - 12 oz of flour and 6 - 7.2 oz of water for a 14 - 16" pizza).  With Pendleton's power flour (13.5%), however, just over 60% fluid gives a very consistent non-sticky smooth result.

    - I only use 1/4 tsp active yeast for 10 oz of flour to produce pizzas as shown in the picture below.  As I've found with many pro pizza doughs, the pizza dough doesn't rise much in the refrigerator.  Yet it sure does the trick when it comes to producing nice bubbles during preparation and giving me a nice outer crust.  Reinhart doesn't use much yeast either in his NY styles.

    - I run my kitchenaid with a dough hook only at level 1 for various reasons, just as hobarts run very slowly.  And I let refrigeration do the work.  

    My results are not at all overly extensible (stretchy).  I rely on tossing, followed by turning the dough in the air-- I can't afford it to stretch to the floor.  So some elasiticity (pull back) is essential for those who wish to toss the pizza.  If elasticity is a problem when dough is first taken out of a refrigerator, any reforming of the dough into a ball will increase the elasticity for a short-term, as will working with it in a colder state.  

    Handling of the dough in final preparation is key for my final results:

    - I place my dough in a light amount of flour in a bowl, as Tom suggests, covered with a towel for only 30 or so minutes while I get my ingredients together (many pros work effectively with cold dough).  Sometimes I leave it longer; but I get great results regardless with this procedure:

    - For those who worry about airy results, this is definitely in the handling of the dough.  I do everything possible not to kill the air bubbles when preparing the dough. This combined with less kneading when creating the dough gives me the most consistent results.  By treating the dough with kid gloves during preparation, rather than slapping the heck out of it like some sites recommend, you can protect the bubbles (especially where the outer crust forms) and get airy results.  I don't use a roller; but instead lay it out by hand (toss, turn in air, and stetch gently by hand, always being careful of bubbles in outside edges. Any of these techniques are effective).

    - You can also further increase your chances with airy results by placing the dough in the oven without any toppings for about 60 seconds at 515 F, which will result in some slight bubbles, allowing the top to separate from the bottom.  

    High gluten flour combined with handling techniques help assure chewy and airy results.  

    When my brother-in-law visiting from New York said "Eat your heart out Brooklyn," my heart lept because I was getting consistent results (note the bubbles on the outside).

    Airy on the outside with a slim profile accenting the Grande mozzarella along the front of the pizza...

    Airy and slightly chewy on the inside...

    I've gotten to the point where it doesn't matter whether I make my own dough, or I buy something like Trader Joe's dough made from a local pro, as long as my handling techniques are similar, I get similar NY style results with great taste.  I'm also using 6-in-1 tomatoes thinned out with olive oil and filtered water, combined with fresh locally raised purple basil in this picture.
  • #9 by Pete-zza on 02 Oct 2004
  • Giotto,

    You will note from one of my earlier posts on this thread that I made a NY style pizza dough based on Tom L.'s recipe.  I used 1 1/2 t. instant dry yeast.  In actuality, that was an error.  As I examined Tom L's yeast levels in relation to amounts of flour, I came up with such small amounts that I thought I had made a calculation mistake and was off by about a factor of 10. No matter how much I played around with the numbers, they were orders of magnitude less than the vast majority of NY style pizza dough recipes I have seen, including some at this site (Canadave's recipe being a good example).  I was perfectly satisfied with the results of the pizza, however, notwitstanding the error.  The pizza was actually quite exceptional.  But because of my puzzlement over the quantities of yeast called for in Tom L.'s recipe, I sent him a followup question, from which you will see in the Q and A below, that even Tom, who should know more about his own recipe than anyone else, thought I was off on my yeast calculations by a factor of 10 (you will also note that he himself made a math error in dividing 0.12 by 2 and getting 0.6 instead of 0.06).  Here's the Q and A (in quotes):

    Thank you for your reply. In revisiting your NY style dough recipe and looking at the baker's percent for yeast, I see that the recipe calls for compressed yeast at 0.5-0.75% by weight of flour. If I use a pound of flour (16 ounces), it would appear that the amount of compressed yeast would be 0.08-0.12 ounces by weight, and that for ADY it would be 0.04-0.06 ounces, and for IDY it would be 0.027-0.04 ounces. Did I get the numbers right? They seem on the low side compared with most NY style dough recipes I have seen. Thanks.

    Lets do the math. We will use the o.75% yeast level. 1-pound is 454 grams, and 1-ounce is roughly 28.4 grams. Using your calculator: 454 X .75 (press the "%" key) and you will see 3.405 (grams) in the display. So, 3.405 divided by 28.4 = .1198943 ounce (I'd call it 0.12-ounce). If you are using ADY, the amount to use is haly of the compressed yeast weight so the answer for ADY is 0.12 divided by 2 = 0.6-ounce (Pete-zza Note: 0.12/2 should be 0.06, not 0.6). It just looks like you have the decimal point in the wrong place,so your numbers are low by 10-fold. Otherwise your math is probably correct.
    As you can see, when working in small amounts it is really difficult to keep the ingredient portions correct, even a slight breeze on the scale can upset your scaling accuracy by a significant margin. And volumetrics just won't work at all. My feeling is when using volumetrics in small scale baking, if it works, don't mess with it.
    Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor"

    As you can see, my math was right, but in light of Tom's comments I am still scratching my head.  Mind you, I am aware that small amounts of yeast can work and I have on several occasions--as you have also, including your most recent post--reported on the results of using small amounts of yeast.  Also, as it turns out, I had previously posted a recipe that I had some time ago adapted from Tom L.'s NY style dough recipe, but using a modified procedure for dough production, in which I correctly calculated the amount of yeast to use for the amount of flour I was using.  In revisiting that recipe, I thought that I undercalculated there also.  (The recipe was posted on the sourdough thread, at;action=display;threadid=528;start=msg4636#msg4636, in connection with a question on sourdough pizza).  

    Along the lines of using small amounts of yeast, yesterday I made another pizza dough based on Tom L.'s recipe in which I used enough of the ingredients (including 1/4 t. IDY) to produce a dough ball weighing around 20 ounces, enough to make a 16-inch dough round.  Because of the interest expressed on this forum for light and airy crusts, I decided to use a hydration percentage at the upper end of the hydration range recited in Tom L.'s recipe, around 65-66 percent.  The pizza made earlier in the week (and reported in an earlier post) also had a high hydration percentage, and the results were a very light and airy crust, especially in the rim.   In making the most recent pizza, I tried to follow Tom L.'s recipe as closely as possible, so as to be able to compare the results with previous experiments using the same recipe and also to see if there are meaningful changes that might be suggested for improving the recipe for use in a home environment.  I will be reporting more fully on the results of the most recent pizza later today.  

    Until then, I will make some general observations about Tom L.'s recipe based on my many experiments with the recipe to date.  Using high hydration percentages seems to produce a light and airy crust, even when the rims are not huge.  Using small amounts of yeast, as little as 1/8-1/4 t. instant dry yeast for about 12 ounces or even a pound of flour, will produce acceptable results, but using considerably more will also produce good results.  In fact, I would tend to lean toward using more yeast rather than minimal amounts.  I haven't yet decided where to draw the line, and maybe following the dough processing steps you have been using, Giotto, will help determine where that line might reasonably be drawn.  I think it is well worth a test.  

    The final observation I will make is that I have noticed a difference in how a pizza will turn out based on the amount of dough I am using and the size of the pizza I am making.  The pizzas I have made using 11 ounces of dough (12-inch pizza) come out different than those using 20 ounces of dough (16-inch pizza), following the same recipe--including Tom L.'s.  The smaller pizzas I have made (before I had my digital camera in operation to show some photos) have had smaller and more crunchy rims, whereas the larger pizzas I have made more recently have had much larger and more bready, more open and airy textures in the rim.  The smaller pizzas were baked entirely on my pizza stone, whereas the larger pizzas were baked on a pizza screen in combination with the stone.  I did not make any attempt to make the rims bigger or smaller on either size pizza.  I am not yet sure at the dynamics at play.  But I kinda like the idea of making somewhat different kinds of pizzas using the same dough.  For example, I can make a 22 ounce dough ball and use it to make a single 16-inch pizza or divide it in half and make a couple of 12-inch pizzas, with different characteristics.  

    BTW, Giotto, nice looking pizza ;D ;D.


  • #10 by Pete-zza on 02 Oct 2004
  • The following is the latest iteration of the Tom Lehmann NY style pizza dough recipe:

         12 oz. high-gluten (KA Sir Lancelot) flour (about 2 1/2 c.)
         8 oz. water (about 1 c.) (about 67% hydration)
         0.21 oz. salt (about 1 t.)
         0.12 oz. olive oil (light) (about 3/4 t.)
         0.020 oz. instant dry yeast (about 1/4 t.)
        Thickness factor (TF) = 0.10

    The processing of the above ingredients was the same as previously reported earlier this week in this thread.  The final kneading cycle--after the dough ingredients had been mixed and the oil incorporated--was around 6-7 minutes.  The finished dough ball had a weight of around 20 ounces--sufficient for a 16-inch pizza--and its temperature was around 83 degrees F.  After oiling the dough ball, it was placed into a plastic bowl, covered and put into the refrigerator. The only difficulty I had in making the dough ball was a common one with a small amount of dough in a stand mixer--incorporating the oil into an already kneaded dough.  I sometimes move the dough into my food processor for this step, since the processor does a better job with a small amount of dough, but I stuck with the stand mixer this time, as I have with all the other experiments with the Tom Lehmann recipe.  To get the dough ball to the right state, I used my hands to get the dough ball to more fully absorb the oil.  (I'd be interested in knowing how Giotto gets around this problem, especially in using only 10 ounces of dough with around 6 ounces of water.)

    The dough remained in the refrigerator for exactly 24 hours, as I have done with all the previous Lehmann dough experiments in order to be able to better compare the results of the different experiments.  While in the refrigerator, the dough rose by about 25%.  After I brought the dough out of the refrigerator, I let the dough sit at room temperature for exactly 2 hours, as I have also done with prior Lehmann dough experiments.   As I started to shape the dough, I noticed that it was extremely extensible, and not as elastic as I would like.  Although I am usually careful not to reshape or rework the dough into a new dough ball at this stage, for fear that doing so will tighten up the dough again and possibly force out some of the trapped gasses, I did so this time in an effort to regain the elasticity of the dough.  This worked, but the dough became too elastic and required a rest of about 15 minutes before it could be shaped into a dough round (16-inch).  After dressing the dough (a fairly standard pepperoni pizza), the pizza was baked on a 16-inch pizza screen for about 5 minutes, and was then transferred for a final 2 minutes or so (for bottom browning) to a pizza stone that had been preheated at 500-550 degrees F for an hour.   The photo below (and in the following two posts) shows the results.  

    The pizza tasted fine, but as between this one and the one made earlier in the week with the considerably higher amount of yeast (1 1/2 t. IDY), I liked the previous one better.  Even though the most recent pizza had a soft crust, for some reason it seemed breadier, particularly in the rim of the crust, than the previous one using a lot more yeast.  The high hydration, however, did result in an open and airy crust, especially so in the rim.  I'm inclined at this point to continue to experiment with the processing of the dough, quite possibly repeating the recipe but along the processing lines followed by Giotto.  I would also like to return to my early recipe to make a smaller size pizza (12-inches), for comparison purposes, and also to make a food processor version where only a small amount of dough is to be made.


  • #11 by Pete-zza on 02 Oct 2004
  • And for a Lehmann slice (recipe using 1/4 t. IDY).

  • #12 by Pete-zza on 02 Oct 2004
  • And for yet another slice view (Lehmann recipe with 1/4 t. IDY).

  • #13 by giotto on 02 Oct 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    I realize you were working with Lehman's recipe, and hence my last comments.  Quantity is always an interesting game though in almost any food industry.  As you increase quantity of primary ingredients, for example, you can't necessarily rely on merely keeping other ingredients directly proportional.  I have worked with higher yeast contents and have found disastrous results as I've increased the number of pizza doughs that are made.  I also like to consider oils and any other fluids to calculate % of "fluid" to flour (rather than merely water to flour).

    It's amazing how little yeast is used in some cases by professionals when working with 50 lbs of flour.  I work with 20 oz of flour (measured by my digital readout) to give me two 14" pizzas similar to my posting above, and find around a 1/2 tsp active yeast to be plenty.  I find cooler water to be useful as well, which you'll find to be the case with Canadave as well.  By using cooler water, I can better control the fermentation process and don't have to worry about when I use other ingredients.  By using active yeast, I don't have to worry about its ability to handle cooler water either.  I do not worry about sugar either, since 1 tsp is merely 1g for a quarter of a pizza.

    I think it would be interesting to find out what you find by talking to professionals in your area that provide the types of dough you love, and also try purchasing their doughs to see and feel their behavior.  As you know from my prior postings, this is a straightforward strategy that provides an incredibly important dimension to pizza making and has proven very useful for me in the past, as well as others who have tried it.  You can learn much in a hands-on process.  And for a buck, it's a worthwhile investment.  I recently took a class from a local pro as well. I've found in every case that the % of yeast many of these professionals use is far below what we often use.  Like I said, things are not always proportional as you increase your formulas, and yeast has definitely proven this to be the case.
  • #14 by Pete-zza on 02 Oct 2004
  • Giotto,

    You are correct about the Lehmann recipe.  I have been operating within the constraints of the recipe, since it is that recipe that Steve is considering adding to the site.  If I depart too much from the recipe, then it is no longer Tom Lehmann's recipe and it becomes something else--whatever that is.  That's no reason not to try to improve the recipe, since that is what this forum is all about, and your recent comments offer some promise in that regard.  As you know, I have long been an advocate of using small amounts of yeast and cooler water temperatures, but that doesn't stop me from being open to any other possibilities.  In the final analysis, what really matters is not some slavish devotion to some concept of physics or chemistry that might appeal to me on an intellectual level, but what does the pizza look and taste like?  I'll always go with the taste before the chemistry and physics--maybe begrudgingly--but that is where I will go.  It's in my nature to play the devil's advocate and try to get others to defend their positions, but my ultimate objective is to get the best pizza possible.

    You mentioned Canadave.  As you will note if you go to the New York Style Dough, etc. thread, at;action=display;threadid=389;start=120, I made a dough following Canadave's recipe. Apart from the amount of sugar his recipe calls for, which is a strictly a matter of personal taste (I just happen not to like a lot of sugar in pizza doughs), his recipe, which calls for a much larger amount of yeast than I normally use, produced a highly exceptional pizza, much like the pizza reported at the top of this thread but without the sugar (which is optional in the Lehmann recipe, about 1-2% according to other information at the PMQ site).  As you point out, Canadave also uses cool tap water and, as you do, he also uses a metal container for more quickly cooling down his dough while in the refrigerator.  That idea personally appeals to me, especially since a refrigerator in the usual home setting has a higher operating temperature than a commercial cooler.  Using a metal container is easy enough to do, so even if I am wrong, it doesn't cause any harm that I can tell.

    As for exploring what local professionals do in my area, I have perhaps been remiss in not doing more.  In part, this has been because the professionals use ingredients that I can't easily get myself, so showing me what I am missing doesn't particularly lift my spirits.  And I have been making pizzas for myself for so long that it has been literally years since I last had a pizza from ANY pizzeria.  And, like DKM, I am not into idolatry or particularly anxious to try to replicate pizzas from any of the majors, whether it is Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Malnati's, or Gino's or anyone else.  To me, that's a fool's errand, since they operate under a different set of rules than I do, and I don't sense from what I have read or heard that their pizzas are worth copying anyway.  On this score, I would rather look at what the locals do, as I believe you are suggesting anyway, and, to this end, I am planning to do more with that when I am on vacation later this month in Massachusetts, where a close friend, fully aware of my interest in pizza, wants to take me to his favorite pizza place to spend some time with the pizza maker.   I am looking forward to that and hoping it materializes.

  • #15 by canadave on 02 Oct 2004
  • My ears were ringing, so I figured I'd hop into this conversation ;)

    Glad my recipe worked for you, Peter.  I've been reading your Tom Lehmann recipe adventures on this thread with interest.

    I have a question--what difference does the final temperature of the dough make as it comes out of the mixer, if it's going to go straight into the fridge and completely cool down within a matter of minutes anyway?  I always see dough temperature being discussed, and I've never been able to understand the rationale there if one is to use immediate refrigeration.

    The only thing I can think of is that a higher-temperature dough allows for slightly longer initial yeast action, but I don't see how that would significantly alter the final dough product.

    Just out of curiosity, what temperature did you start your water out at, in order to achieve 84 F coming out of the mixer?

  • #16 by giotto on 02 Oct 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    I believe that availability of sources from local pizzerias that are favorites for an individual can be less of a hindrance in many cases than any other source.  I have been able to access 3 high gluten flours and Grande cheese locally and was able to benefit peers in a recent pizza class since everything was local.  Yet, when posting the same ingredients as well as national sources, people remote to this area had to go to incredibly lengthy processes to obtain the same result via mail orders.  

    A primary interest of many people out there is to meet the needs of their own personal palate.  If people have local sources (40 mile radius even), where they can fully utilize each of their senses such as smell, taste, etc., than I believe they are better off following local sources when starting out, than fishing for something where their senses can't be used.  And even experts, as we've seen on the food channel, can definitely learn by getting out there.

    The internet is great to close the gap.  But when it comes to pizza, there are sooo... many permutations involved with every step.  I'm an advocate of "get out and taste America."  So my recommendation for newbies, and even experienced people, is to stop searching the trash cans of their local sources, and walk in the front door and see what is available.  

    Maybe someday we'll get a chance to get to Phoenix and see just how well Bianco's meets our taste buds.  Personally, I find the greatest thing in business travel to be learning about food.  I hope you find some great experiences on your trip.
  • #17 by Pete-zza on 02 Oct 2004
  • Canadave,

    I think the rationale for controlling dough temperature pretty much comes out of the pizza industry.  The temperature that is usually targeted for the dough when it comes off of the dough hook is 80-85 degrees F, which, according to the experts at the American Institute of Baking, is considered optimum for dough fermentation.  The concern when making a lot of dough balls is that if the finished dough temperature is too high, the dough balls will start to expand and act like insulators (filling up with carbon dioxide and air) and be hard to cool down, even as they are placed in the cooler.  If too warm, they might even expand too fast when in the cooler, causing them to overferment, or "blow", under the worst of circumstances.  

    The finished dough temperature also serves another important purpose--to insure that the dough when it comes off the hook is pretty much always at the same temperature, no matter the temperature of the room where the dough is made, the temperature of the flour, the type of equipment used to knead the dough (which produces frictional heat), whether it is summer or winter, or whatever.   Pizza professionals need that consistency of dough temperature to produce the dough in a reproducible way, reliably, day after day.  Otherwise, the dough may behave differently from day to day, which is not likely to be a good thing for business if you can't predict what your dough is likely to do, not to mention the harm that it does to the dough management process as a whole.

    In a home setting, I suspect that temperature is likely to be of lesser concern under ordinary circumstances where one or a small number of dough balls is being made.  However, even then, if the dough temperature is too high, the dough can rise considerably even while in the refrigerator (although the amount of yeast used and how it is introduced into the dough making process will also be factors).  Also, if you want to have the dough last over a longer period, or if you haven't added any sugar to the dough to help extend the useful life of the dough (by continuing to feed the yeast over time), then having a lower temperature is better than having a higher temperature.  The lower temperature effectively puts the yeast in a form of mild sleep.  The chemical and biological activities will continue to take place and the flavor-enhancing byproducts will continue to be produced, albeit at a slower rate.  

    Also, as you may have noted from Giotto and others, they prefer that the dough they use for certain styles of pizzas (e.g., NY style) not rise much if at all while in the refrigerator, and perhaps stay in a state of semi-sleep for up to 3 days or more, so it becomes important to them to keep the dough temperature down while in the refrigerator.  Ordinary refrigerators in a home setting under normal load conditions have a temperature in the main compartment of about 50 degrees F., which, from what I have read, is about 10-15 degrees F higher than professional coolers.  In a practical setting, the differential may even be higher if the refrigerator door is opened many times over the course of the day.  (Professionals like to make their dough balls in the evening if they can when the workers are not going into the cooler all the time.)  The notion of using a metal container as you and Giotto have done to hold the dough while it is in the refrigerator is just a simple way of cooling the temperature of the dough down a bit faster because the metal conducts the heat away from the dough.  I don't know how effective that is, but that is the theory, and there are adherents to that theory.  I think the effects on the final product are more likely to be time related than anything else, that is, lower temperature helps extend the useful life of the dough, and along with it, result in more byproducts of fermentation.  

    As for the water temperature I used that got me a finished dough temperature of 84 degrees F, it was around 68 degrees F for the particular day you have in mind, based on the factors that went into the calculation.  I use refrigerated bottled water, so that meant having to heat the water for about 15 seconds in the microwave.

  • #18 by giotto on 02 Oct 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    Good stuff.  Consistency is important to me because I don't like spending a day or two waiting for a few doughs that don't turn out okay-- the crust accounts for much of the enjoyment of the pizza.  Like you said, it's something you can count on with the pros.  I drop an ice cube or two in room temp bottled water to cool it down when making the dough.  I test the temp mid-way through the mixing intervals before I hand knead to ensure around 80F.  My compartment where I keep the dough is around 41 F.

    I also noticed that Lehman suggested to cross stack initially during refrigeration in a session.  This made a lot of sense to me because I had noticed that certain pro doughs seemed to be dryer than usual, without flaking.  It has worked out quite nicely for me. I like the dough to be nearly dry to the touch, without flaking (just a personal preference for tossing, etc.). I attain this by leaving the lid loose on the thin stainless steel bowl for the first 45 or so minutes in the refrigerator compartment and even drop a little bit of weight (close to .15 oz per 17 oz dough).  I then place it in a simple clear produce bag in the same compartment for a couple of days and don't lose any more weight.
  • #19 by canadave on 03 Oct 2004
  • Ahhh, interesting.  I've found that when I remove the dough from my metal cookie tin, it's really wet and moist.  I'd rather it be drier.  I wonder how it'll work out if I leave the tin lid off for 45 minutes in the fridge, and then put the dough into a plastic grocery bag *inside* the cookie tin for the next 23 hours, like giotto says?  Hmmmmm :)

  • #20 by Pete-zza on 04 Oct 2004
  • Today, I made yet another pizza based on Tom L.'s NY style pizza dough recipe.  This time, I decided to use a hydration level of 60 percent, and to use an amount of yeast (IDY) at the upper end of the range called for in the recipe.  It may be recalled that in prior efforts I used hydration percents at the lower and upper ends of the range (58% and 65%, respectively), and yeast levels at the lower end of the range (about 1/8 t. IDY) and far outside of the range (about 1 1/2 t. IDY).  

    For today's effort, I intentionally decided to make a dough ball weighing 21 ounces.  I chose that size since it is enough to make a single 16-inch size pizza or, if desired, two 12-inch pizzas.  It also provides some flexibility in terms of allowing use of screens (especially for the 16-inch size pizza) and pizza stones or tiles (mainly for the 12-inch size pizzas).

    Using the baker's percents stated in Tom's recipe, I selected the following ingredients and quantities for today's effort:

       12.90 oz. high-gluten (KASL) flour (about 2 3/4 c)
       7.80 oz. water, at 60% hydration (about 1 c.)
       0.23 oz. salt (about 1 1/4 t.)
       0.13 oz. olive oil (light) (about 7/8 t.)
       0.03 oz. IDY (a bit less than 3/8 t.)

    As noted in a prior post, Tom's recipe makes the use of sugar in the dough optional, depending primarily on the mode of baking.  For example, for a pizza baked on a screen, where the risk of premature browning of the bottom crust is less than on a preheated stone or tiles, a small amount of sugar (1-2% by weight of flour) might be used.  For a pizza baked directly on a preheated stone or tiles, where the risk of premature browning of the crust is higher, the sugar might be omitted.

    In preparing the dough, I tried to incorporate Tom's suggestions, as well as some of Giotto's techniques.  I started by putting the water and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, stirring them to dissolve some of the salt.  The temperature of the water had been established to achieve a finished dough temperature of 80 degrees F.  I then combined the flour and yeast and gradually added them to the bowl, stirring initially with a spoon to start the process of incorporating the flour.  With the dough hook attached and using only the #1 speed setting of my stand mixer, I added the rest of the flour and kneaded the dough for about 2 minutes, or until all of the flour had been taken up into the dough.  I then added the olive oil and continued kneading until it was taken up into the dough (because of the small volume of dough, I had to stop the machine for a few seconds to do some hand kneading to expedite the absorption of the oil).  After the oil had been incorporated, I continued with the kneading of the dough, for about another minute or two, also at the #1 speed setting, until the dough ball was smooth and satiny without any tears on the outside skin of the dough.   I finished by about 30 seconds of hand kneading, mostly to shape the dough into a nice round dough ball.  I did not perform the windowpane test, although I am fairly confident, based on past experience, that the dough ball would have passed the test.   The finished dough temperature was 81 degrees F, and its weight was just about 21 ounces, as planned.

    Once the dough ball was prepared, I lightly oiled it and put it into a metal tin with its cover loosely fitted over the top, to allow the dough to dry a bit and not develop moisture.  Within an hour, the temperature of the dough dropped from 81 degrees F to about 66 degrees F.  I then transferred the dough ball to a plastic bag and sealed it.  From time to time I checked the temperature of the dough, and observed that it was continuing its temperature decline.  I also observed that the dough was rising, albeit very slowly.   As I did this, I recalled the wisdom of Yogi Berra, who said that you can observe a lot by just watching.  By morning, the dough had stabilized at about 52 degress F, the typical temperature in the main compartment of my refrigerator, and had risen by about 30-40%.  

    Later in the day, exactly 24 hours after the dough had been placed in the refrigerator, I removed the dough from the plastic bag, placed it on my counter, dusted it lightly with a little flour so as not to form a skin, and covered it with a cloth.  As with my prior efforts, I let the dough warm up at room temperature for about 2 hours.  It was then shaped, dressed and baked.   The dough handled without any problems, although it was not quite as elastic as some other doughs I have made, so I decided not to toss it into the air after a few initial twirls.  

    I formed and dressed the dough on a 16-inch screen.  I intentionally made the rim of the pizza round smaller than usual so that it wouldn't puff up into a monster during baking, as happened with my prior efforts.  The toppings were pretty much the standard fare for a pepperoni pizza. The pizza was baked on the screen for about 5 minutes, after which I slid the pizza onto a pizza stone for about 2 minutes to crisp up and brown the bottom of the crust.  The pizza stone had been preheated for about an hour at 500-550 degrees F, the highest temperature possible with my oven.

    The pizza tasted very good.  As I expected, the rim was smaller yet it was relatively airy and llght.  It was a little bit more chewy than prior efforts, where the rims were soft, pillowy and light.  Also, because I had made the rim smaller to begin with, the rest of the crust was thicker than usual, and also light.  This led me to conclude that the recipe is versatile enough to do pretty much what you want to do with it in terms of and shaping and sizing the dough to achieve certain crust characteristics.  As between using 58%, 65% or 60% hydration, I feel that the higher hydration is more likely to produce a more extensible dough (and not especially elastic) and a more airy and open crumb than a lower hydration.  The large, irregular-shaped holes are particularly noticeable when you shape the dough to have a large rim.  As for the amount of yeast used, I think the recipe will work both at low levels (e.g., 1/4 t. IDY) and at higher levels (e.g. up to 1 1/2 t. IDY).  The dough will rise faster, of course, at the higher levels, but the finished product will still be very good.   Ultimately, it will be the result of taste tests that will lead one to decide in favor of one set of parameters over another.  There may be other aspects of the recipe that can be experimented with in future efforts, but the specific recipe stated above will serve as a good benchmark from which to conduct further experimentation.  

    The photo shown below highlights the results of today's experiment, as do the slice photos in following posts.