Pizza Making Forum

Pizza Making => Newbie Topics => Topic started by: mmac06 on April 29, 2011, 11:19:35 AM

Title: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: mmac06 on April 29, 2011, 11:19:35 AM
Hi everyone,

I've got a couple of dough balls currently fermenting in the refridge (2 day ferment), that are definitely the wettest pizza doughs I've worked with. I'm using HG flour and 62% hydration (+ about 3% oil I think). I'm wondering if I messed up my calculations somewhere because I thought HG flour could hold 62% fairly well. The dough was definitely firmer than batter, but it was really sticky and didn't hold its form well. I ended up adding a fair amount of bench flour because it was just too sticky to work with -- I don't have a mixer so the kneading was done by hand. I was somewhat able to "ball" the dough for the fermentation, but it lost its form in a matter of minutes.

I see that some have experimented with high hydration doughs (I've seen upward of 95%!). I understand wetter doughs can produce better, softer crusts, so I figured I'd give it a shot and see what happens. Does anyone have advice on cooking a very sticky, wet dough? I'll be using a stone at about 475F. Should I adjust cooking times? Is 475F too low? (unfortunately thats my oven's max temp!).  
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: norma427 on April 29, 2011, 11:50:58 AM
mmac06,

High gluten flour should be able to hold 62% hydration without problems.  Did you use a scale to measure your flour and water?  You could try doing a series of stretch and folds to see if this does help to make your dough more manageable.  I have worked with high hydration doughs before and this does help form or tighten up the gluten better.

My home oven only goes to 500 degrees F and does work okay with a higher hydration dough..

Norma
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: mmac06 on April 29, 2011, 12:08:22 PM
mmac06,

High gluten flour should be able to hold 62% hydration without problems.  Did you use a scale to measure your flour and water?  You could try doing a series of stretch and folds to see if this does help to make your dough more manageable.  I have worked with high hydration doughs before and this does help form or tighten up the gluten better.

My home oven only goes to 500 degrees F and does work okay with a higher hydration dough..

Norma

Hi norma. I've seen some of your high hydration doughs on other posts. Very cool stuff. I used a scale to measure out the ingredients. I've only used the scale a couple of times, so I'm still getting used to it. I was in a bit of a hurry when I made the dough, so I'm wondering if I miscalculated somewhere. I'll definitely be more attentive next time. Also, I got the flour from a local pizza shop. The guy behind the counter didn't seem too knowledgable about flour, but claimed it was high gluten. Maybe it was a different type of flour. Who knows? At any rate, all I know is that I'm currently sitting with two sticky balls of dough (although they didnt hold their ball shape). I'd like to try and bake them. Any advice?
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Tscarborough on April 29, 2011, 12:26:43 PM
Just keep lots of flour on the bench and don't be afraid to use it.  The dough will not hold anymore flour than it can hydrate.  If you press it out cold, you will find it to be the easiest dough you have ever worked with (provided it is not over kneaded).
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: mmac06 on April 29, 2011, 12:38:57 PM
Just keep lots of flour on the bench and don't be afraid to use it.  The dough will not hold anymore flour than it can hydrate.  If you press it out cold, you will find it to be the easiest dough you have ever worked with (provided it is not over kneaded).

Thanks! I had a difficult time doing a thorough kneading, so I doubt it's overkneaded. I usually allow the dough to proof at room temp for about 90 minutes and then shape it and bake it. Would you recommend changing this process? Maybe shape it cold, let it proof, then bake it?
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Ronzo on April 29, 2011, 12:43:24 PM
Just keep lots of flour on the bench and don't be afraid to use it.  The dough will not hold anymore flour than it can hydrate.  If you press it out cold, you will find it to be the easiest dough you have ever worked with (provided it is not over kneaded).
Tscarborough's definitely right about the bench flour. The more the better with high hydration dough.

Tscarborough, I've never pressed it out cold. Can you elaborate? Or do you have some nuggets of info on that in the Pizza Anarchy thread somewhere?
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Tscarborough on April 29, 2011, 01:11:04 PM
I am sure it is in there somewhere.  When it is both very hydrated and cold, it shapes easily with finger tips, working out from the center (but leaving the middle couple of inches alone), giving a 1/4 turn occasionally. All the way out to the edge for NY style, leaving the outer 3/4" for a big crust.  Maybe that is what my next drunken video will be.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Ronzo on April 29, 2011, 02:37:39 PM
I'd like to see that.

Next set of pies I make, I'll try that. Been using Reinhart's Neo-Neapolitan recipe lately and it's about 70%.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: buceriasdon on April 29, 2011, 02:55:59 PM
I've been using Tom's technique of working high hydration doughs on the cold side and it has worked remarkably well for me and I highly recommend it. Before my skins would open TOO much and easily go out of round. I do suggest starting out with smaller dough balls, say ten inch pizzas, get that down then move up in size as you get more comfortable with wetter doughs. This was today's experiment in my little ceramic oven. 75% all purpose flour. This was not cold proofed but Saturday's next round will be. Stick with it, it does become easier in time.
Don
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Jackie Tran on April 29, 2011, 05:02:59 PM
I can't resist a beautiful crumb.  Nice job Don.  Is this a 75% hydration using AP or 75% of the flour is AP?
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: buceriasdon on April 29, 2011, 05:20:23 PM
Lol Chau, I now see the error of my ways, yes it's 100% All Purpose flour.
Don
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Tscarborough on April 29, 2011, 05:32:29 PM
Very nice, Don.  That is what I am running, before final pressout-75-80%.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: theppgcowboy on May 17, 2011, 05:59:28 AM
Great looking pizza Don, What are the toppings?
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: buceriasdon on May 17, 2011, 07:14:14 AM
ppgcb, It looks to be my usual Asadero cheese, sliced tomato and homegrown basil.
Don

Great looking pizza Don, What are the toppings?
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Biz Markie on August 18, 2011, 04:00:20 PM
I'm in definite need of some higher-hydration help.  

I have used Reinhart's Pizza Napoletana recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice a couple of times with horrible results. Here's the formula, though I lowered the oil %.  I did weigh the ingredients - not using volumes.

Flour (100%)
Water (69%)
IDY (0.54%)
Salt (2.2%)
Oil (4.5%)

That recipe calls for ice cold water with 1-3 days retarded fermentation.  The first time I used Bob's Red Mill AP flour and tried to mix it by hand.  Not so good.

My target ball weight was 22 ounces for a 14 inch pie.  The next time I used KASL and mixed for 6 mins in my Zojirushi Bread Machine.  I let it ferment for 3 days in the fridge, the maximum cited in the recipe (I think Pete-zza tried this recipe and stated that 3 days was a bit insane given the amt of yeast).  On baking day I pulled it out about 2 hours ahead.  By the end of that time, it was just a sloppy bubbly mess.  Not much thicker than batter.  I did one strech-and-fold and added a little flour, etc, but nothing I did would get me to the point where I could toss the dough, and really couldn't even stretch it with the backs of my fists.  I ended up having to add tons of flour and rolled it out with a pin.  

I guess I am just missing something.  There's got to be a secret to working with higher-hydration pizza doughs.  I can't imagine how in the world you can toss a dough like this, as Peter suggests in the book.

I guess these are my burning issues:

I'm just really downtrodden after a few failures.  I'm new to working with these wet doughs and I'm finding them really intimidating.  

Also, I'm not really 100% sure they're superior, but I don't want to give up because then I feel like a total failure.

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!! :'(
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: scott123 on August 18, 2011, 04:21:33 PM
Biz, do yourself a big favor and stop using Peter Reinhart's recipes for pizza.  For bread- by all means, for pizza, no.

What style pizza are you trying to make? Crust (TN) from the images I'm seeing online, looks like it's either cracker style or bar style. Mellow Mushroom seems to vary from location to location, but I'd venture to classify it as an American/NY hybrid.

Regardless of the style that you're attempting to recreate, there's not a recipe on this planet that can predict when your dough will be done fermenting. For Reinhart to give a window of 1-3 days is incredibly irresponsible. Use any recipe as a ballpark and watch it like a hawk, writing down all the variables, such as room temperature, water temp, final dough temp, resting time, etc. Post photos here so we can help you decide when the dough is ready. It might be 1 day or it might be 3, but I can guarantee you that it won't be between 1 and 3. It takes some practice to be able to detect proper fermentation, but it's the only way to master pizza.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Biz Markie on August 18, 2011, 04:27:56 PM
Good Advice, Scott!

Yeah, I was beginning to think along those lines as far as Reinhart's pizza recipes. .LOL.

I was actually trying to make a stab at a Neapolitan pizza.  I have used a slightly modified version of Pete-zza's PJ Clone with great success for months, but I got the BBA book and thought I'd try it.  

Crust in Sewanee is a super cracker thin pizza that I love, but I think my fave is still either NY/American style.  I tried some crackerish crusts at first but wasn't very successful.  I'd like to try again but that's on the back burner for now.

My current obsession (in addition to mimicking Mellow Mushroom) is getting a good neapolitan dough down, and also using improvised higher-heat cooking methods to simulate a WFO as much as possible (which isn't much!).

(That kinda bleeds into a related question but I don't want to get off track. . I wonder what a "typical" hydration is for a true Neapolitan dough?)

Regardless, as I stated, I don't want to let wet doughs get the best of me and still am curious about the questions I posed above.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: scott123 on August 18, 2011, 05:06:24 PM
Biz, since this recipe bears absolutely no resemblance to Neapolitan pizza, and, at 4.5% oil, is outside the NY realm as well, I'll take a shot at answering your questions as if you were making a high hydration American style pizza (if one exists :) ).

*  Do I need to give up the idea of tossing it?

Yes. Elevated hydration doughs can't be tossed, just gently knuckle stretched.

* Do I need to have a much shorter room temp ferment prior to shaping?

A 2 hour warm up is within the normal parameters of cold fermented dough. It's useful to remember, though, that the warm up is a part of your fermentation, so if the dough is a little past it's prime coming out of the fridge, you want to minimize the time spent on the counter.  In that kind of scenario, you want to warm up the dough just enough to take the chill off. In this instance, though, it wouldn't have made a difference, though, because your dough was toast before it hit the counter.  As you work with dough more, you'll be able to recognize the signs of fermentation and use the dough before it's overfermented, and, if you need to have the dough ready on a particular day, you'll be able to either adjust the yeast or the water temp to hit that target. For now, though, you just have to watch. From what you're describing, this dough might have been ready after 1 day of cold fermenting.

* Do I need to use a LOT of bench flour (but does that not defeat the purpose)?

To be honest 69% hydration is really not that high for a flour with KASL's absorption value.  You generally need to use as much bench flour that is required to keep it from sticking.

* Do I need to just accept that I need to do some stretch and fold cycles as a regular part of the prep (and if so, when?)

If you think the dough is especially slack and sticky, there's nothing wrong with stretch and folds. Just make sure you give plenty of time for the dough to relax before shaping (minimum 6 hours).

Neapolitan hydrations, from what I've seen, usually fall in a range between 58 and 62, but in the general scheme of things, it's not all that important. Neapolitan pizza is almost entirely defined by it's bake time.  You can't take the right recipe, bake it a little faster than normal and get something Neapolitan-ish.  You either break that 2 minute bake barrier and use non malted flour and shorter room temp ferments so it doesn't incinerate on you or you focus on NY style recipes instead.  
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Biz Markie on August 18, 2011, 05:33:33 PM
Thank you thank you thank you!!

One thing:

As you work with dough more, you'll be able to recognize the signs of fermentation and use the dough before it's overfermented

Novice question I guess, but what are the signs of overfermentation? 

Oh, and any thoughts on a truer Neapolitan formula?  Or at least, as close as one can get without a sub-2 minute cook time (starting to use the GTB - grill-to-broiler - method and can get sub 6 or 7 minutes at best I think.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: TXCraig1 on August 18, 2011, 05:52:23 PM
what are the signs of overfermentation? 

Big bubbles bursting out of your dough ball, wet or slimy dough balls, dough looks like it is starting to dissolve or fall apart, dough gets very weak, rise > 3X or so, etc...

Quote
Oh, and any thoughts on a truer Neapolitan formula?  Or at least, as close as one can get without a sub-2 minute cook time (starting to use the GTB - grill-to-broiler - method and can get sub 6 or 7 minutes at best I think.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11654.0.html
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Pete-zza on August 18, 2011, 06:00:16 PM
Biz,

I pretty much subscribe to what scott123 has told you thus far except that I think I may be more charitable toward Peter Reinhart ;D. Peter R came to pizza from the bread side, where he was used to working with very high hydration doughs. I think that many of his latest high hydration pizza doughs can be successfully executed in a home environment, especially by those who are used to working with high hydration doughs, but as Norma has found with one of her favorite Reinhart pizza doughs, they can be hard to translate to a commercial environment, especially hers where ambient temperatures at the market where she sells her pizzas can be all over the place, and above 90 degrees F in the summer. If she ever figures out how to successfully use the Reinhart pizza doughs at market, she will dismissively brush aside the preferment Lehmann dough formulation that I devised for her and send Tom Lehmann and me packing back to the minors :-D. (Norma being the sweet lady that she is will, of course, deny this).

I wouldn't get too agitated about your progress to date with high hydration doughs. I usually suggest that members start with lower hydrations and gradually work up to higher hydrations. Somewhere along the way you are likely to find your sweet spot.

Peter
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: parallei on August 18, 2011, 06:04:02 PM
Now Scott123, don't you think "irresponsible" is a bit strong for recommending a 1 to 3 day cold fermentation? ;D  Folks do it all the time!

Biz Markie,

Some have had great success with Reinhart's pizza recipes.  It looks like you tried one of his recipes with both AP and a HG flour so not sure what style you're really shooting for.  Have you checked out these threads:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11917.0.html (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11917.0.html)

and

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13442.0.html (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13442.0.html)

They are both Reinhart recipes that many had good luck with. Cold fermented also....

Quote
Oh, and any thoughts on a truer Neapolitan formula?  Or at least, as close as one can get without a sub-2 minute cook time (starting to use the GTB - grill-to-broiler - method and can get sub 6 or 7 minutes at best I think.

Check out:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11654.0.html (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11654.0.html)  (I see Craig beat me to the punch!  It is a great thread.  Thanks Chau!)

Good luck...




 
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: norma427 on August 18, 2011, 06:46:58 PM
Biz,

I donít know if my threads will help you understand higher hydration doughs or not, but I usually just use the paddle attachment on my Kitchen Aid to make Reinhart doughs, then maybe one or more reballs or stretch and folds. 

This are some threads where I tried the higher hydration Reinhart doughs, with and without KASL.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13037.0.html
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14368.0.html
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13347.0.html

You can see I did have some problems with using a higher hydration Reinhart dough, until I did a little bit of experimenting.  I really do like different Reinhart doughs.

John (fazzari) also had great results using different Reinhart doughs.

Norma
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: norma427 on August 18, 2011, 06:58:06 PM
Biz,

 I think that many of his latest high hydration pizza doughs can be successfully executed in a home environment, especially by those who are used to working with high hydration doughs, but as Norma has found with one of her favorite Reinhart pizza doughs, they can be hard to translate to a commercial environment, especially hers where ambient temperatures at the market where she sells her pizzas can be all over the place, and above 90 degrees F in the summer. If she ever figures out how to successfully use the Reinhart pizza doughs at market, she will dismissively brush aside the preferment Lehmann dough formulation that I devised for her and send Tom Lehmann and me packing back to the minors :-D.


Peter

Peter,

I do really like Reinhart doughs as you already know.  Maybe I am getting lazy to do all the experimenting it takes to make Reinhart pizzas at market.  With one or a few doughs balls a Reinhart Pizza isnít hard anymore, but I am almost too lazy, to go though all the trials of seeing if it can work as good as the preferment Lehmann dough, at least for market.  I would have to go though all the experiments of seeing if it could be frozen, is suitable for Greek Style pizzas, and other products I make.  You and Tom are old friends of mine and have helped me through my journey about learning to make many kinds of pizzas.  I never would brush you and Tom Lehmann aside and pack you both back to the minors.  I guess my laziness is getting in the way.   :-D

I think Biz can make a higher hydration Reinhart dough if he experiments a little.  :)

Norma
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: scott123 on August 18, 2011, 09:49:30 PM
Novice question I guess, but what are the signs of overfermentation? 

Oh, and any thoughts on a truer Neapolitan formula?  Or at least, as close as one can get without a sub-2 minute cook time (starting to use the GTB - grill-to-broiler - method and can get sub 6 or 7 minutes at best I think.

The enzymes in overfermented dough will break down the gluten structure.  The dough is literally self digesting and turning into mush.  Volume is a popular indicator, but I find that it can be misleading.  For instance, you can use an obscenely high amount of yeast, and, within a few hours, the dough will be exploding.  As far as the gluten framework goes, though, it will still be very strong. Holes don't necessarily equate to weakness.  You're not going to get a lot of protein damaging enzyme activity in a few hours.  I go with indicators such as:

Wet
Slimy
Pebbly/small bubbles
Translucent
Sweet alcohol-y smell
Knobby baked crust with lots of sheer blowout bubbles

As far as a 'truer' Neapolitan formula goes, I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase 'almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.'  If you really work at it, 6 minutes can do a half decent NY pie, but there's just no scenario where a 6 minute pizza would ever be considered Neapolitan.   Every aspect of a 'true' Neapolitan recipe has been engineered for a sub 2 minute bake time.  Taking a Neapolitan recipe and baking it 6 minutes is like trying to win the Indy 500 with a drag racer or expecting a sprinter to do well in a marathon.

It's not the easiest thing in the world, but sub 2 minute bakes can be done in home ovens. I've been advocating 3/4" steel plate but there are other ways.  Because of the weight of steel, you have to use metal bars to support it, but it has the thermal mass and conductivity to produce sub 2 minute bakes at 550 degrees along with an electric broiler at close proximity.

Bottom line, imo, you can't really 'grow' into Neapolitan.  Either you have an oven setup that can do it, or you don't.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: scott123 on August 18, 2011, 09:57:43 PM
Now Scott123, don't you think "irresponsible" is a bit strong for recommending a 1 to 3 day cold fermentation? ;D  Folks do it all the time!

I recommend fermenting between 1 and 3 days, but that's for different doughs. Doughs don't have 3 day viability windows.  A dough might be properly fermented one day and, maybe you might not get to it, and it's not that bad the next morning, but a dough that's properly fermented on day 1 will be way past it's prime on day 3. Great pizza is not a 'make some dough and, when you feel like it, bake it up' endeavor.  For every dough, there's going be a day (or two) when it's ready. Not three.
Title: Re: high hydration cooking advice
Post by: Biz Markie on August 19, 2011, 12:09:27 AM
Thanks so much, everyone, for the great advice.

Points well taken regarding Neapolitan.  At the moment my ultimate fantasy is my own WFO in the backyard, so I may wait until that day to really get into it.  I am a perfectionist, after all.

Norma - thanks a lot for your input.  I will research some of those threads and try to keep my hopes up. 

I'm gonna be traveling for the next 3 weeks and will not be able to do any baking, so it'll give me time to study-up and recharge my pizza batteries.

Thanks, y'all (as we say down in these parts)