• #1 by TatsPizza on 30 Jul 2015
  •    35 years ago I worked in a small pizza restaurant in the NY suburbs owned by a guy who grew up on Mulberry Street in NY's Little Italy. Tommy had the best pizza around, he told me his secret was to use the best ingredients and he charged more accordingly. I started off washing dishes and quickly progressed to counter man, prep cook, kitchen cook and finally pizza maker. I learned how to make sauce, we didn't just open a can and add water to it. I figured out the proportions to make the sauce at home and continue to make Tommy's sauce to this day. His dough was a different story, he had an air of secrecy to it. When it came time to mix the dough, I dumped a 50# bag of Pillsbury Bread Flour into the Hobart, in the mean time Tommy weighed out the yeast, he used cake yeast. He would dump the yeast in the mixer, then he started adding water by eye and I turned the mixer on. He continued adding water until he was satisfied then he added a handful of sugar and a handful of salt, occasionally he added more water. It mixed for a couple of minutes then again by eye he added olive oil. It continued to mix until it started to climb out of the mixer at which point Tommy said "Its done mixing, lets weigh it out".

       So, 35 years later, I move to Richmond VA. This is my wife's home town. We lived in Richmond a short time when her brother invited us out for pizza. I can say it sort of looked like pizza and that's about it. One night my wife ordered Papa Johns, I commented to her it wasn't pizza. We tried several more disappointments and finally I posted on Facebook about my Richmond pizza experience. A childhood friend posted "You used to work in a pizza place make your own". This started my journey (as my wife calls it an obsession) of home pizza making perfection.

       I had the home made sauce down, the challenge was the dough. I googled pizza dough, looked at a couple of recipes and decided on one. I mixed it up in the Kitchenaid mixer but when I went to stretch the dough, it started to tear. I somehow managed to stretch it out to 14" to fit my Teflon coated pizza pan, with only a few dough repairs. My wife loved it, I hated it. Next several batch's I added more water until I had a dough I could at least stretch without tearing and having to repair it.

       I wasn't satisfied, my wife and her family loved the pies. I went back to google and discovered this forum about 16 months ago. I spent many hours reading these forums. First thing I did was buy a baking stone, I chose a custom size 17"x17" Fibrament baking stone because I wanted to make 16" pizzas. Next I bought an 18" peel at a local restaurant supply. Using a large peel in a small oven was a bit hair raising launching the pie onto the stone so I bought a 16" screen. I start cooking the pizza on the screen and then pull it out after 4-5 minutes and let the pizza finish cooking on the stone. These few things made huge improvements in the cooking of the pies, but I still wasn't satisfied.

       I went back to reading on the forums, the next improvement was to age the dough for two days in the refrigerator. That improved the taste a lot and the workability of the dough slightly. I tried up to four days in the refrigerator, which resulted in even better flavor. I still wasn't satisfied because, I didn't have those big holes in the crust. At this point I was using my trial and error dough recipe for two dough balls:

    4 cups flour
    1 cups water
    tbsp salt
    tbsp sugar
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1/3 cake cake yeast

    Notes: tried 1 cups water, 1 is too dry dough doesnt stretch

       I finally broke down and used the dough calculator and came up with this recipe:

    Flour (100%):    690.1 g  |  24.34 oz | 1.52 lbs
    Water (65%):    448.57 g  |  15.82 oz | 0.99 lbs
    IDY (.5%):    3.45 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.15 tsp | 0.38 tbsp
    Salt (1%):    6.9 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.24 tsp | 0.41 tbsp
    Oil (1%):    6.9 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.53 tsp | 0.51 tbsp
    Sugar (1%):    6.9 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.73 tsp | 0.58 tbsp
    Total (168.5%):   1162.82 g | 41.02 oz | 2.56 lbs | TF = 0.102
    Single Ball:   581.41 g | 20.51 oz | 1.28 lbs

      First thing I noticed, the dough balls were about one third larger. My scale is only accurate to one gram so for yeast I use 1 1/4 tsp, salt 1 1/4 tsp sugar 1 3/4 tsp and oil 1/2 tbsp. Using more dough on my 16" pies made another big improvement. My only complaint is the crumb, the crust is more bready then airy. I am open to suggestions.

  • #2 by dflip on 30 Jul 2015
  • Hi Tat.  I live in Cville, but used to live in Richmond.  I actually started making Pizza b/c there wasn't really any amazing pizza there.  Richmond is a tough town for Pizza. 

    Re the bready dough, how are you proofing or fermenting the dough?
  • #3 by TatsPizza on 30 Jul 2015
  • 2 days in the fridge minimum
  • #4 by hammettjr on 30 Jul 2015
  • I suspect that if you give more details on how you mix the dough etc, one of the experts here can help.

    Also, do you care to give us any insights into the sauce or is that a secret?   8)
  • #5 by pythonic on 30 Jul 2015
  • Looks over kneaded. That will cause it to be bready.  How long are you kneading it for and are you using just bread flour?  High gluten is what you want for NY style pizza.

  • #6 by TatsPizza on 30 Jul 2015
  • Mixing in a kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook, I add the water, sugar and yeast and start mixer, I slowly add the flour and salt, so not to make a mess, then mix 2-3 minutes. I add the oil and continue mixing for another 3-4 minutes. I came across this process from a video on dough making someone posted (I believe Norma). Prior to doing it this way, I mixed for a shorter time 2-3 minutes and my dough was sticky, stuck to bowl, fingers scale etc. With the longer mix and adding the oil later dough no longer stuck to everything.

    I use either King Arthur or Pillsbury Bread flour. I was thinking of trying high gluten flour I saw at the health food store.

    Pizza sauce in crock pot:

    3-28 oz cans peeled tomatos
    1-28 oz can tomato sauce
    4- 6 oz cans tomato paste
    1/4 cup sugar
    12 fresh basil leaves, I have basil in the garden and during the winter I can get it in the super market

    Cooks about 6 hours on low. Sometimes I store the sauce as is, sometimes I mash it with and recently I have been pureeing it depends on the mood I'm in.

    This is just a basic sauce. I freeze it, I bought containers that hold 2 soup ladles full of sauce which is the amount I use on a 16" cheese pizza. I also store it in larger containers for other recipes.
  • #7 by hammettjr on 30 Jul 2015
  • #8 by TatsPizza on 31 Jul 2015
  • This morning I went to the health food store and bought high gluten flour. I mixed for about five minutes total and didn't use sugar. The dough was a little stickier then with the longer time, but it didn't stick to everything either. So Sunday night we will see.......
  • #9 by TatsPizza on 03 Aug 2015
  • This Sundays pizza was an improvement. I changed three things, no sugar, shorter mix time and high gluten flour. I realize I have an issue with the flour because I bought it at the health food store out of a bin marked "high gluten flour" so I don't know the brand, % of gluten etc. I will ask them for that information. Next dough batch I will go back to the way I was mixing prior. The crust was less "bready", crust had a "skin" to it, and the taste was dead on NY so I am headed in the right direction. The picture below is from Sunday an extra cheese slice.
  • #10 by invertedisdead on 04 Aug 2015
  • How long are the doughs in balls?
  • #11 by TatsPizza on 04 Aug 2015
  • This batch about 54 hours. 2 hour warmup before opening.
  • #12 by TatsPizza on 05 Aug 2015
  •   I stopped at the health food store this morning to pick up more high gluten flour. I inquired what brand the flour was, and was quite pleased the were selling King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour. The price is $.79/lb which is quite reasonable.
  • #13 by TatsPizza on 11 Aug 2015
  • This past Sunday was pizza night and as usual they tasted great, looked good except for the crumb. I spent time watching several Lehman videos on dough making and one thing I wasn't doing was watching the finished dough temperature. I used to add the yeast to 115 water and after five minutes would add flour and other ingredients and mix. I know the finished dough temperature was in the mid 90's because it felt warm. I bought a contact instant read thermometer. When I mixed the dough I started with 95 water added yeast then other ingredients and went back to mixing 4 minutes then adding oil and then mixing for another 6 minutes for a total of 10 minutes. The finished dough temperature was 84. I had 48 hours in the refrigerator and two hour warm up. I used the following recipe:

     Flour (100%):    690.1 g  |  24.34 oz | 1.52 lbs
    Water (65%):    448.57 g  |  15.82 oz | 0.99 lbs   
    IDY (.5%):    3.45 g | 0.12 oz | 0.01 lbs | 1.15 tsp | 0.38 tbsp
    Salt (1%):    6.9 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.24 tsp | 0.41 tbsp
    Oil (1%):    6.9 g | 0.24 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.53 tsp | 0.51 tbsp
    Sugar: None
    Total (167.5%):   1162.82 g | 41.02 oz | 2.56 lbs | TF = 0.102
    Single Ball:   581.41 g | 20.51 oz | 1.28 lbs

    The temperature of the stone was 537

     For the next batch I was thinking of lowering the yeast to .25% to improve the crumb any thoughts?