• #1 by pizzzzagirl on 09 Dec 2005
  • I need some help. I have read post after post, and have failed at trying to attempt this dough. I feel like half the reason is because of the bread flour I used, but, does anyone have a good recipe that will yeild a nice crunchy exterior and a chewy center with lots of air holes ? There is a place here in Las Vegas called Metro Pizza, kind of like sbarros texture, but ten times better. I have only tryed making pizza dough a couple of times and am not so sure about all the technical stuff like hydration and other sorts. So does anyone have any advice for a girl trying to make the perfect pizza dough at home ? Thanks so much !!!!!!!!!
  • #2 by freshflour on 09 Dec 2005
  • There are a few things - are you measuring your ingredients by weight or volume?  Eventually you might develop the ability to do it by feel, but measuring by weight will help you to develop your dough consistently.  Secondly - how are you kneading your dough?  By hand or machine?  What kind of yeast are you using?  Almost anything on the market will work, but instant yeast is a little more convenient.  Lastly, are you using a pan, a screen, or a pizza stone?  A stone will really get you the tastiest results.  Second to that is a screen, and then a plain aluminum pan.  Bread flour will work fine - it's really the handling of the dough that makes all of the difference, moreso than any particular ingredient.  Once you have your technique down, you'll be able to make a pretty good pizza with just about anything.
  • #3 by Pete-zza on 09 Dec 2005
  • pizzzzagirl,

    Welcome to the forum.

    freshflour has pretty much touched upon all the relevant points.

    You should be able to make a fairly good Lehmann NY style pizza with bread flour. My favorite bread flour is the King Arthur bread flour, but there are other good bread flours available in the supermarkets.

    To assist you, it would help to know what size pizza you are interested in making. Once you have provided information on what equipment and appliances you have available to you to make pizzas, we should be able to offer up some advice and recommend a recipe for you to start with.

  • #4 by pizzzzagirl on 10 Dec 2005
  • thanks guys, I am basically trying to make a 12 inch pizza. I am using a kitchenaid mixer. I only mixed the dough on the low speed for about 5 minutes, and after letting it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours, I let it sit out for about 1 1/2 hours and hand streched it. It turned out very bready with no air holes, and more cracker crust crunchy on the bottom then good pizza crust crunchy. So thanks for your help in advance !
  • #5 by Pete-zza on 10 Dec 2005
  • pizzzzagirl,

    We are getting a bit closer. Can you tell me what you baked your pizza on, e.g., a pan, pizza stone, tiles or pizza screen? And how long did you bake the pizza, at what oven temperature, and did you preheat the oven and, if so, for how long? Finally, do you have a decent kitchen scale?

  • #6 by pizzzzagirl on 11 Dec 2005
  • I used a pizza stone, which I had in the oven for about 15 minutes at 450. I baked it for 10 minutes on the stone. And no, I do not have a kitchen scale, where might I find a decent but inexpensive one ?
  • #7 by chiguy on 11 Dec 2005
  •  Hi pizzagirl,
     The stone has to heat up in the oven for at least 45 min to ensure it is fully heated. I would also suggest cooking at 500F or above if possible. The high the temperature the better, high temps helps create that open airy crust you are looking for. When the raw dough hits the really hot stone it kind of explodes/blisters off the stone creating a open/holey crust. There are also other factors that help with open/airy crust which are Hydration/water levels tend to be higher and this is where the scale that Pete-zza is talking about is a big help with consistency. Using a high-gluten flour will also improve you're crust dramatically. A high gluten flour is almost the standard for a sbarros/N.Y. style crust. I hope you also have a pizza peel far transferring the pizza to the hot stone. If not get one. Ebay or . I hope some of these things help you. It may help if you post you're recipe so myself or another member can analyze you're Bakers percentages to see if they make sense for N.Y./Sbarro style.  Goodluck, Chiguy     
  • #8 by freshflour on 11 Dec 2005
  • I used a pizza stone, which I had in the oven for about 15 minutes at 450. I baked it for 10 minutes on the stone. And no, I do not have a kitchen scale, where might I find a decent but inexpensive one ?

    You're probably not as far off as you think.  Your mixing time is probably OK.  You could try a little longer, just to see what the effect is.  When experimenting, try to vary only one factor at a time.  That's why a scale can help out so much.  Most household stores, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, or Linens `N Things, will carry a decent scale.  A digital scale is a lot easier to use than a mechanical scale.  Just make sure it has a zero function and can measure in metric units, too.  That's proably most scales these days.

    Try getting the oven a bit hotter, like 500F.  Mine goes to 550F, which is pretty good.  You'll bake in around 7 minutes at that temperature.  Make sure the stone heats for a good half hour before you put the pizza on.
  • #9 by Pete-zza on 11 Dec 2005
  • pizzzzagirl,

    Thank you for the additional information. I agree with everything chiguy and freshflour have said, but since you indicated that you are after a 12-inch size, I have posted below a modified Lehmann NY style dough formulation, which I will follow with some comments and instructions for you to use.

    Pizzzzagirl's 12-inch Lehmann NY Style Dough Recipe
    100%, Bread flour, 7.15 oz. (202.03 g.), (1 1/2 c. plus 2 T. plus 5/8 t.)*
    63%, Water (at around 100 degrees F), 4.50 oz. (127.65 g.), (1/2 c. plus 2 t.)
    1%, Oil, 0.07 oz. (2.03 g.), (a bit less than 1/2 t.)
    1.75%, Salt (table salt), 0.13 oz. (3.55 g.), (a bit over 5/8 t.)
    0.40%, IDY (instant dry yeast), 0.03 oz. (0.81 g.), (a bit over 1/4 t.)
    Total dough weight = 11.88 oz. (336.66 g.)
    Thickness factor (TF) = 0.105
    *Measure out the flour by first stirring the flour in the flour container and then repeatedly lifting the flour from the flour container into the measuring cup(s) and leveling off the flour in the measuring cup(s) with a flat edge (this is the "Textbook" method)

    A few comments on the formulation are in order. First, since I did not have any bread flour on hand, I weighed an equal amount of King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour instead. If you are using bread flour, that will be fine and the amount you will want to use should be close to what I have set forth above. If you have a choice, I would go with the King Arthur brand of bread flour. It is a very high quality bread flour and my favorite among the brands I have tried.

    Second, I increased the amount of yeast from the levels I usually recommend, from around 0.25% to 0.40%. That was done to compensate for the fact that cold weather is upon us in most parts of the country and one way to compensate for lower kitchen temperatures is to use more yeast (in the summer, I would use 0.25%, or about 1/5 t. in the above formulation). The higher amount of yeast will help the dough to ferment a bit faster and better.

    Third, I have specified a water temperature of 100 degrees F. That is another way to compensate for lower kitchen temperatures. FYI, 100 degree water, which is what I have specified above, is water that is slightly warm to the touch. If you have a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water, so much the better. (Note: During warmer weather, a lower water temperature should be used. Depending on the part of the country, it might be as low as 50 degrees F, and possibly even lower in really hot climates.)

    Fourth, I used a thickness factor of 0.105, which is a measure of crust thickness that is characteristic of a NY "street" style. This is purely a technical matter for those who wish to control the final crust thickness. Finally, I posted gram weights also. That is for those members who prefer to work in grams rather than ounces.

    Since you are working in volumes, it is important that you measure out the flour as accurately as you can. The way I measure out flour by volume is to start by stirring the flour in the bag of flour to loosen up the flour a bit. I then use a standard tablespoon to scoop flour out of the bag into my measuring cup(s). I don't shake the measuring cup or tamp it. I then level off the top of the measuring cup using a flat edge, such as the flat back edge of a knife. I also level off measuring spoons. When measuring out water, you should check the water level marking on the measuring cup at eye level.

    As for making the dough itself, this is the sequence of steps I recommend you use to practice the recipe posted above: 1) Add the IDY to the flour in a bowl and stir to uniformly disperse the IDY in the flour. 2) Put the water into the bowl of the stand mixer, add the salt, and, using a spoon or spatula, stir for about 30 seconds to a minute to dissolve the salt in the water. 3) Using the stir or 1 speed of the mixer, and with the dough hook attached, gradually add the flour mixture to the water in the bowl. Once the mixer is turned on, I usually use a spatula to help direct the flour/dough into the path of the dough hook so that the flour better incorporates the water. You can use the spatula while the machine is running, if you are careful, or you can stop the machine from time to time to do it. Some people use the paddle attachment for this step and later switch to the dough hook for the more heavy duty kneading. This approach is perfectly fine and, in fact, is my preferred method. The initial mixing/kneading step will usually take a minute or two in a standard home stand mixer. 4) Once the flour has been hydrated (absorbed the water) and a rough dough ball has formed, and with the dough hook attached, add the oil and knead that in, at the 1 speed, until it has been fully incorporated into the dough. Since the amount of dough involved is fairly small (about 3/4 lb.), don't be afraid to stop the mixer from time to time, especially if the oil is not being fully taken up into the dough, and help the dough along by doing some hand kneading to get everything to come together better. Stand mixers are just not that great at kneading small amounts of dough. 5) Once the dough has incorporated the oil, continue kneading the dough, at 1 or 2 speed, until the dough takes on a smooth texture and consistency and is elastic. It should be a bit tacky--not wet or dry. Don't be too concerned about elapsed times. The condition of the dough is more important than the elapsed times. At this point, and especially because you will be working in volumes rather than weight, it may be necessary to add a bit more flour or a bit more water to achieve the desired finished condition. When making such adjustments, I usually add flour or water a half-teaspoon at a time.

    Once the dough looks just about right, remove it from the mixer bowl and knead it by hand for about 30 seconds to a minute. This will give you a good "feel" for the dough and allow you to shape it a bit before it goes into the container where it will spend one or more days. If the dough feels a little bit sticky at this point, the final hand kneading will also usually cause the stickiness to disappear, so don't be tempted to overcome it by adding more flour. You should lightly coat the finished dough ball with a bit of oil. The container itself can take many different forms. It can be a normal kitchen bowl (which will have to be covered during fermentation), a zip-type plastic storage bag, a metal container, plastic containers (e.g., Rubbermaid), glass bowls (e.g., Pyrex), or even an empty bread bag with the end twisted and folded under. To get the dough ball to cool down fast and remain cool, one of my favorite storage containers to do this is a metal tin with a tight fitting lid. A zip-type container has the advantage of being compact and requiring little storage space. Whichever form of container you elect to use, it should be placed in the refrigerator, preferably toward the back or near the bottom away from the door. For a Lehmann NY style dough, the time in the refrigerator can range from about 16 hours to up to about 3 days. I have found that one to two days works out well for me.

    When the time comes to make the pizza, you should remove the dough from the refrigerator and set it on your countertop or work surface to warm up. I usually dust the dough with a bit of bench flour and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming at the outer surface of the dough. In most cases, it will take about an hour or two for the dough to get to the temperature (around 60 degrees F or higher) where it can be properly shaped and stretched. In the winter, it can take even longer. Conversely, in the summer, it can take less time. For these reasons, I usually take the temperature of the dough to be sure that it is at the proper temperature to safely proceed. If the temperature is too low at the time of shaping, the crust can develop large bubbles and blisters during baking. Some actually prefer this, but professional pizza operators detest it.

    Once the dough reaches the desired temperature, it can be safely used for 3 to 4 hours thereafter in most cases without overfermenting (a dough made with high-gluten flour will have a somewhat bigger window at this point than one made with a weaker flour). I usually turn on the oven about an hour before I think the dough will be ready to shape and stretch into a dough round ("skin"). I put the pizza stone on the lowest oven rack position and let it preheat at the highest oven temperature my oven can deliver (around 500-550 degrees F), for about an hour.

    To shape and stretch the dough in preparation for dressing and baking, I gently flatten the dough using my fingers while avoiding flattening the outer edge which is to become the rim or forcing the gases out of the dough. Once the dough round is around 10 inches in diameter, I lift it and, draping it over my closed fists, stretch it out to its final diameter (12 inches in your case) while "flicking" the dough round by one-quarter turns. I often turn the dough over and repeat these steps. I try to work more toward the outer edges so that thin spots don't form near the center. A 12-inch dough round is fairly easy to handle and to toss, so you may want to try doing this once you gain experience and feel comfortable in handling pizza dough. It isn't absolutely necessary to do this, even though is is believed that tossing a dough helps the shaping and stretching of the dough. For those who would like to see a video on how to shape and stretch dough into a dough round, a good video is the one at YouTube featuring the famous dough impressario Tony Gemignani, at .

    Once the dough skin has reached the proper diameter, it should be placed on a peel (I prefer a wood peel) that has been lightly dusted with a bit of flour or semolina (rice flour can also be used). Cornmeal can also be used as a release agent, but it can burn and be messy in the oven, and require periodic cleanings. The pizza can then be dressed. I try to act fast at this stage so that the dough doesn't decide it wants to stick to the peel. So I always line up everything that is to go onto the pizza in advance, from sauce, cheeses, and all the other toppings I intend to use.

    Once the pizza has been dressed and the pizza stone is up to proper temperature, it can be loaded onto the preheated pizza stone by a simple forward jerking action that allows the dressed pizza to slide off of the peel onto the pizza stone. The first few times you do this will have you on edge, but once you master the maneuver, you will be in good shape thereafter (although there will always be a nagging fear that you will not successfully manage the maneuver). The pizza will typically take about 7 minutes to bake, although the exact time will vary from oven to oven. You will therefore have to experiment with oven temperatures and bake times, and even different positioning of your pizza stone, to get the combination that works best for you. In due course, you may even find it helpful to use the broiler element to better balance the baking of the top and bottom of the pizza so that they are done baking at the same time.

    Feel free to ask any questions that I have not covered above. Avoiding mistakes is usually better than learning how to correct them. Good luck and please let us know how things work out.


    EDIT: Edited the post to provide a reference to the Gemignani YouTube video, and also to revise the volume measurements for the flour and water.

  • #10 by Pete-zza on 11 Dec 2005
  • pizzzzagirl,

    Today I made a dough using a different NY style dough recipe. The dough weight was greater than the weight of dough you will make using the recipe posted above, however several of the procedures are quite similar to what I use when making the Lehmann NY style dough. I thought you might find the photos below useful as a guide to your efforts when you next attempt the Lehmann NY style dough.

    The first photo shows what the dough will typically look like when flour is gradually added to the mixer bowl to be mixed with the water. As you can see, the dough has the consistency of a thick batter. As more flour is added, the dough starts to thicken and take on a denser, shaggy appearance. The photo below also shows the thin, long-handled plastic spatula I use to divert flour from the sides of the bowl into the path of the dough hook.

  • #11 by Pete-zza on 11 Dec 2005
  • This photo shows the shaggy appearance I mentioned above. It is usually at this point that I add the oil to the mixer bowl when making the Lehmann NY style dough. If the addition of the oil makes the dough a bit sticky I will sometimes add a bit more flour, but only if it is clear that the flour is really needed after about a couple minutes of kneading after adding the oil. 

  • #12 by Pete-zza on 11 Dec 2005
  • This photo shows a typical appearance of a finished dough ball after it has been removed from the mixer bowl, hand kneaded for about 30 seconds to a minute to confirm that it is in proper form, and shaped into a generally round shape.

  • #13 by Pete-zza on 11 Dec 2005
  • This photo shows the finished dough ball as oiled lightly and placed in a metal container with accompanying lid. The metal of the container helps the dough cool down a bit faster when it is placed in the refrigerator. Using a zip-type plastic storage bag will accomplish much the same result. When I use the plastic storage bag approach, I usually flatten the dough ball into a disk shape to help the dough cool faster in the refrigerator. This is less of a problem this time of year because room and refrigerator temperatures are lower than in the summer.

  • #14 by Pete-zza on 16 Dec 2005
  • The photo shown below is that of the dough once it has been removed from the refrigerator and allowed to warm up at room temperature in preparation for shaping into a dough round (“skin”). As previously indicated, the time it takes the dough to reach the desired temperature to be shaped, typically 55-60 degrees F, will depend on the temperature of the dough when it comes out of the refrigerator and the room temperature.

    The sheet of plastic wrap shown in the photo is to prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the dough during the counter warm-up time. To keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the dough, I usually dust the dough with a bit of flour before covering with the plastic wrap. Alternatively, the sheet of plastic wrap can be sprayed with a small amount of oil cooking spray before placing over the dough.

    It will also be noted in the photo that the dough ball has gone from an initially round shape to a more flattened shape. This is because the gluten strands in the dough have relaxed due to the long fermentation time and the action of certain enzymes and other components in the dough that act to soften the gluten so that the dough goes from being quite elastic and rather difficult to stretch without springing back to being quite extensible (stretchy without springing back) and soft. This softening of the dough makes it easier to stretch and shape. It is important that the dough not be re-balled or kneaded again at this stage since this will only cause the gluten strands to become misaligned and cause the dough to become highly elastic again and be incapable of shaping. Once this happens, it can easily take an hour or more for the gluten to relax again and permit stretching and shaping of the dough.
  • #15 by Pete-zza on 16 Dec 2005
  • This photo shows the dough after it has been gently flattened and pressed out by using the fingers to increase the diameter of the flattened dough ball. When doing this, it is best not to touch the outer edge of the flattened dough ball since this will expel gasses retained in the dough and result in a small, dense (rather than airy) rim once the pizza is baked. I usually try to press the dough out to around 8 inches in diameter (as shown) before lifting the dough to stretch it out to its final diameter.
  • #16 by Pete-zza on 16 Dec 2005
  • This photo shows the pizza round after it has been stretched to its final desired size and dressed in preparation for baking. In this instance, a pizza screen is used to hold the pizza. The pizza is dressed entirely on the screen. In this case, the sauce was put down first and followed by the cheese and the pepperoni slices. To see how this particular pizza baked out, using a combination of screen, pizza stone and broiler, see Reply # 33 and Reply # 34, at,2175.msg19801.html#msg19801.
  • #17 by canadave on 17 Dec 2005
  • Pete,

    I take it these are pics of your attempt at the "canadave" recipe ;)  How did it go?  What was your overall experience with it? 

    Or are you planning an entire other thread of novella length to expose the problems you had with it?? ;) lol

  • #18 by Pete-zza on 17 Dec 2005
  • Dave,

    You are correct about the photos. I thought I would use them at this thread for instructional purposes since your dough behaves quite similarly to the Lehmann dough in most particulars, at least those shown in the photos. I was hoping to be able to use this thread as a self-contained thread for someone just starting and wanting to make a simple 12-inch (or any other size) Lehmann pizza.

    I will be reporting on my results with your dough later today at your thread. Novella or not, I found your novella-like instructions to be first rate all the way. I think most cookbook recipes, including those devoted to pizza, fail or produce unintended results because of the lack of sufficient detail. Truth be known, most recipes are full of potholes and pitfalls that usually go unaddressed. Your instructions stand head and shoulders above most.


  • #19 by canadave on 17 Dec 2005
  • Thanks Peter....just finished reading your review, which was quite complimentary.  I think any successful lesson requires two essential ingredients: a good teacher and a good student.  It's a pleasure to now be able to say I've been on both sides of the lesson equation.

    I guess we're both accredited novella authors now ;)

  • #20 by Pete-zza on 18 Dec 2005
  • Dave,

    As a footnote to your comments, I'd like to add that I feel that any beginning home pizza member will benefit greatly by simply reading the Glossary at the opening page of this forum (which can be reached by clicking on the red Pizza Making heading on this page). I was involved in the preparation of the Glossary and have a certain pride of ownership as a result, but I do believe it is one of the best I have seen anywhere on the internet. I also think it is more accurate than most. As a newbie, I would read it and refer back to it when questions arise since the Glossary was prepared to be more comprehensive than most and to anticipate and answer many of the questions that newbies will have.