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Author Topic: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired  (Read 583 times)

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Offline mike77

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Been working on various Buffalo, NY style pies. I'm pretty happy with my results so far, thanks to plenty of help from these forums and Shmigga.

However, I'm looking to make the crust very crispy, almost hard (with a soft middle). If anyone is familiar with Lock City Pizza in the Buffalo area (Lockport), that's what I'm aiming for (picture below).

Here was a result from today. It reminds me a lot of a pizza from John and Mary's, but no where close to crunchy crust I'm aiming for.

500g of High Gluten All Trumps
350g of Water (70%, I've been going higher in hopes of more crunch in crust)
1 pack ADY
20g Sugar
10g Salt
18g Oil
Hand work the dough. Let it rise once, beat it back down plenty, then let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours.

Cooked at 550 on steel pan rubbed in Crisco with some corn meal dusted on top as well. Cooked on top rack till cheese was just browning, then I decked it for about 3 minutes before finishing on pizza steel for 30 seconds.

I used about 4 cups Sargento Whole Milk, Battistoni Cup & Char Pepperoni (my fav), and 40/40/20 Redpack, Bonta, Water + spices.

Result from tonight you can see below (on pan) + what I'm aiming for (in the pizza box).

Any help on making a very crunchy crust with a nice pull be appreciated.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2021, 08:57:00 PM by mike77 »

Offline megan45

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2021, 11:06:49 PM »
A few thoughts:

How thick/heavy is the steel pan you're using? If it's got any appreciable weight/thickness, I'd ditch it and bake directly on the baking steel from the get-go because the bottom crust isn't going to start crisping until the pan gets up to temperature, and the thicker the pan the longer it's going to take to get up to temperature. Assuming the baking steel has been preheated sufficiently to be saturated with heat, that may be all you need to do to get the very crispy crust while retaing the soft middle you're after.

How long are you preheating the steel and where are you placing it relative to the heating element(s)? Personally, when I use a stone or steel, I place it on the top oven rack and preheat it for at least an hour, then hit it with the broiler for 5-10 minutes before putting the pizza in the oven.

* If you have a pizza screen, you may be able to dispense with the steel altogether. Place one oven rack in the lowest position and one in the highest posision and preheat the oven. Bake the pie on the lowest rack until it's almost done, then switch the oven to Broil, move the pizza to the top rack to brown and crisp the cornicione.

There are a couple of strategies for getting an extra crispy crust, depending on what part(s) you want to be crispy. For the bottom, pull the pizza off the steel when it's "a bit" under done, crank the oven temperature to max,. Once the heating element Is glowing (assuming and electric oven; a gas oven isn't going to have the same lag in getting up to temperature), place the pizza on directly on the bottom rack (or on a pizza screen) and bake for a minute or two. (The crust can go from crispy on the outside but soft and moist on the inside to bone dry throughout in a matter of seconds, so start checking after 40 seconds or so.) For the cornicione, pull the pizza when it's almost done, crank the broiler to high, and return the pizza to the steel when the broiler element is glowing. (Pulliing the pie while the broiler element is heating is important because the crust will dry out if you leave the pie in the oven while the element is getting up to temperature.) Again, the cornicione can go from crispy on the outside but soft and moist on the inside to bone dry throughout in a matter of seconds, so start checking at the 10-15 sec mark. (I don't bother closing the oven door once I put the pie back in the oven.)

Offline mike77

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2021, 11:33:53 PM »
Thanks for the advice!  Much appreciated.

To answer a couple of your questions:

- the steel is pretty thin and light.  Iíd say maybe a 1/4 inch. That said, when I pull it off and rack it or put it right on the steel, itís very white still with no color.

- I preheat the steel for a good hour at 550 before putting the pie in. I have so far been putting on the bottom of the oven and starting on the pan towards the top.

- I should have been clearer, Iím primarily looking for a very crispy, dark brown cornicione.

I havenít tried the broiler yet, especially with the steel on top.  I could give that a try next go around.

Itís hard to imagine putting the pie directly on the steel from the start. Anything longer than 30 seconds when taking it from the pan to the steel directly and it starts to burn.

Could any adjustments to my hydration or sugar help, or do you think it primarily the baking I need to tinker with? Thanks

Offline jsaras

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2021, 10:22:14 AM »
Been working on various Buffalo, NY style pies. I'm pretty happy with my results so far, thanks to plenty of help from these forums and Shmigga.

However, I'm looking to make the crust very crispy, almost hard (with a soft middle). If anyone is familiar with Lock City Pizza in the Buffalo area (Lockport), that's what I'm aiming for (picture below).

Here was a result from today. It reminds me a lot of a pizza from John and Mary's, but no where close to crunchy crust I'm aiming for.

500g of High Gluten All Trumps
350g of Water (70%, I've been going higher in hopes of more crunch in crust)
1 pack ADY
20g Sugar
10g Salt
18g Oil
Hand work the dough. Let it rise once, beat it back down plenty, then let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours.

Cooked at 550 on steel pan rubbed in Crisco with some corn meal dusted on top as well. Cooked on top rack till cheese was just browning, then I decked it for about 3 minutes before finishing on pizza steel for 30 seconds.

I used about 4 cups Sargento Whole Milk, Battistoni Cup & Char Pepperoni (my fav), and 40/40/20 Redpack, Bonta, Water + spices.

Result from tonight you can see below (on pan) + what I'm aiming for (in the pizza box).

Any help on making a very crunchy crust with a nice pull be appreciated.
A full pack of ADY is a LOT of yeast.  If you used an appropriate amount you probably wouldnít have to give your dough repeated beatings
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Offline HansB

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2021, 10:49:07 AM »
What shop is the boxed pizza from?
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Offline megan45

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2021, 06:19:30 PM »
- the steel is pretty thin and light.  Iíd say maybe a 1/4 inch. That said, when I pull it off and rack it or put it right on the steel, itís very white still with no color.

Is that the thickness of the pan or height of the lip? If it's the thickness, it's WAAAYYY to thick. The Walmart pizza pan]https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays-Nonstick-12-Diameter-Pizza-Pan-Pizza-Crisper-Dark-Gray/952868954]Walmart pizza pan comes in around 20-22 gauge (0.036-0.024") and even that's slightly on the thick side. [Not recommending the Walmart pan; just using it for thickness comparison.]

Quote
- I preheat the steel for a good hour at 550 before putting the pie in. I have so far been putting on the bottom of the oven and starting on the pan towards the top.

Try it on the top (where the temperature is going to be higher so the crust will brown/crisp quicker) and see how it goes. If the crust comes out too dry/crispy, you could move the rack down a notch or two or drop the oven temp slightly.

Quote
I havenít tried the broiler yet, especially with the steel on top.  I could give that a try next go around.

Might be worth trying your normal procedure (bake in steel pan on to rack, move to deck, un-pan and transfer to baking steel to brown bottom), then transfer the pie back to top rack and hit it with the broiler to finish. Just remember to bring the broiler element up to temperature before moving the pie up to the top rack (maybe switch your oven over to Broil just before putting the pie on the baking steel) so the interior of the crust doesn't dry out while the exterior is crisping.

Quote
Itís hard to imagine putting the pie directly on the steel from the start. Anything longer than 30 seconds when taking it from the pan to the steel directly and it starts to burn.

The pizza out of the pan is already partially baked so the bottom crust is largely dry (even though it's still supple and pale) when you put it on the steel so it starts browning almost immediately upon contact.

In contrast, with raw dough the bottom is wet and won't start to brown until you've driven off sufficient moisture (in the form of steam: for reference, it takes 540 cal to convert 1g of water into steam; 1 calorie = the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree C) to dry the surface of the crust. So a lot of the latent heat in the steel is expended drying the crust before the crust starts browning. That's why some posters report targeting 4-6 min bakes at 600įF directly on steel.

Quote
Could any adjustments to my hydration or sugar help, or do you think it primarily the baking I need to tinker with?

Overlooked the fact you're using sugar. I'd lose it. While it does boost yeast activity, it's biggest contribution is to enhance browning (in this case, pre-mature and excessive browning). The malt in your flour already boosts yeast activity and enhances browning, so you're unlikely to miss it.

I'd leave the hydration alone for now. Best to only tinker with one thing at a time while you're dialing things in.

Offline mike77

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2021, 10:32:43 AM »
What shop is the boxed pizza from?
A place called Lock City Pizza. It's a unique pie for the area. A bit sloppy with a ton of cheese, but it has a cult like following. Been around decades.


Offline mike77

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2021, 10:34:55 AM »
Is that the thickness of the pan or height of the lip? If it's the thickness, it's WAAAYYY to thick. The Walmart pizza pan]https://www.walmart.com/ip/Mainstays-Nonstick-12-Diameter-Pizza-Pan-Pizza-Crisper-Dark-Gray/952868954]Walmart pizza pan comes in around 20-22 gauge (0.036-0.024") and even that's slightly on the thick side. [Not recommending the Walmart pan; just using it for thickness comparison.]

Thanks for the follow up Megan!! I'll give it all a try, and see if a thinner pan helps as well. Stay tuned.


Offline mike77

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2021, 11:34:36 AM »
Finally had a chance to experiment a bit last night.

The winner has been placing the dough directly on the steel for a good 10 minutes or so at 550 on the top rack...Nice crunch on the outside while still airy on the inside. I'd like a bit more crunch on the cornicione still, but it's like 85% there.  That was with the same dough I described above, with 70% hydration.  Any suggestions on tweaks?

Next step is to cut down on the amount of yeast i'm using...It's thicker than I want it.

Didn't get the best shots, but here's a few...


Offline foreplease

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2021, 04:16:20 PM »
A place called Lock City Pizza. It's a unique pie for the area. A bit sloppy with a ton of cheese, but it has a cult like following. Been around decades.
People describe me in much the same way.  :-D  Your pizza, while excessive in some circles, is looking good in terms of what you are trying to accomplish. My only advice is try to keep your sauce further from the edge. Once part of your dough is wet you may get it brown but it will be nearly impossible to get it crisp.
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Offline megan45

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Re: Advice Needed: Hard Crust but Soft Inside. Buffalo, NY Inspired
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2021, 04:55:29 PM »
The winner has been placing the dough directly on the steel for a good 10 minutes or so at 550 on the top rack...Nice crunch on the outside while still airy on the inside. I'd like a bit more crunch on the cornicione still, but it's like 85% there.  That was with the same dough I described above, with 70% hydration.  Any suggestions on tweaks?

More direct top heat. Turn the broiler on at about the 8 minute mark.

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