• #121 by Pete-zza on 15 Aug 2004
  • Giotto,

    I didn't mean to put you to all that work, but many thanks.  And what you did clearly demonstrates how much of making pizza doughs is science--entailing accurate measurements and quantities.  

    I assume that the additions of vital wheat gluten would be for 2-cup quantities of flour.  If so, I would be inclined to convert to 1-cup quantities just to be able to remember the numbers more easily.  

    Thanks again.

  • #122 by giotto on 15 Aug 2004
  • Pete-zza:  

    I agree. One cup is always good.  I tend to mess up unfortunately when I make multiple pizzas with a one cup formula memorized, because I end up employing only the one cup amount for an entire pizza... go figure.

    Now that you are going to have a digital weighing machine, I am restating it in exact terms of grams and ounces:

    To reach a high gluten level of 13.5% for 2 cups of flour (i.e., 240g or 8.43 oz), less the amount used for the additional vital gluten flour*:

    - Add just under 1 TBL (3 tsp) of Giusto's 70% Vital Gluten or 2 1/2 tsp of Bob's Red Mill Vital Gluten to KA's All Purpose flour or Giusto's Baker's flour.  Start with 240g of flour, then reduce it by the amount of vital gluten added, enabling the entire mix to equal to 240g.  

    - Add just over 1 tsp of Giusto's Vital Gluten or exactly 1 tsp of Bob's Red Mill Vital Gluten to either KA's Bread or Gold Medal Specialty Bread flour (5 lb yellow bag available just about anywhere).  Start with 240g of flour, then reduce it by the amount of vital gluten added, enabling the entire mix to equal to 240g.

    Hence, if working with Gold Medal Specialty Bread flour or KA Bread flour & Bob's Red Mill Vital Gluten, start with 240g (or 8.43oz) of flour, reduce by 1 tsp, then add 1 tsp of Bob's Vital Gluten to reach an overall protein level of 13.5% protein and 240g of weight.

    *I realize now that the calculation requires the final result to include the vital gluten as part of the final weight, which is 240g or 8.43 oz in this scenario.
  • #123 by Randy on 16 Aug 2004
  • Gitto try KA's high gluten flour, you will throw away that can of vitual gluten.

  • #124 by giotto on 16 Aug 2004
  • Randy:

    You need to look at the past trail on this.  When guys like Chris Bianco can demand 2 hour waits and the respect of guys like Reinhart by using a Giusto blend, and I can make pizzas look like this with other flours, I'd like to avoid paying $13.50 with shipping for a high gluten from a vendor I have not been all that impressed with in the past.

    The objective here has been to compare Guisto's high gluten flour at 13.5%, with a blend of Giusto's flours that will reach 13.5%, and see how they compare to each other.  Fortunately, both are locally available to me.

    Using an All Purpose mixed flour from a local vendor-- a slightly crispy and wonderfully chewy crust.


    Using a 12.7% standard bread flour:

  • #125 by giotto on 16 Aug 2004
  • I'm stoked.  Whole Foods called me, my order that I put in yesterday for Giusto's Unbleached Ultimate Performance high gluten is in.  I got a case of 6, 5lb bags, for $25 less 10% discount-- $3.75 a bag.

    Pete-zza, I'm happpy you discovered that Chris Bianco uses Guisto's.  I had heard of them before, but did not realize they were local.  I now have access to an unbleached high gluten flour with no shipping costs, along with their other flours.  I'll keep you posted on how their flours turn out for me.
  • #126 by Pete-zza on 16 Aug 2004
  • Giotto,

    Today I called a flour miller I found on the Internet to ask a basic technical question:  Is there a difference in performance between 1) a normally milled high-gluten flour and 2) a normally milled all-purpose flour to which the proper amount of vital wheat gluten has been added to achieve the same protein level as the high-gluten flour?

    As it turned out, I unknowingly got the miller--or one of the millers--that actually mills the Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour for KA.  The technical person I spoke with (for about an hour) said that the Sir Lancelot flour is a very high-quality product because KA is very demanding in its specs.  He has a lot of respect for KA as a result.  When I asked him why KA wouldn't sell the Sir Lancelot flour at the retail level, he said the reason --as with any other high-gluten flour for that matter--is  because there is no real demand for it.  I was told that only bakers are interested in high-gluten flour and they aren't going to go to supermarkets to buy it in small bags at highly inflated prices.  When I asked him if there is a big difference between the flours sold to the foodservice industry and to home bakers, he said it was like comparing a Yugo with a Mercedes--although he did add that his company's high-gluten flour product was comparable to the Sir Lancelot flour.  The best stuff goes to the foodservice industry.  He couldn't ever imagine packing his company's flour into little bags and selling it in supermarkets.

    When I mentioned the high shipping costs for the KA Sir Lancelot flour (this morning I checked the KA shipping and handling chart and the cost for shipping me a 5-pound bag is $9.13 and $9.72 to you, Giotto), he suggested that I go to a local pizzeria and buy some of their high-gluten flour (and their Grande cheese, as well, which he thinks is by far the best mozzarella cheese around).  I mentioned that my interest in using vital wheat gluten to increase the protein content of all-purpose flour was not strictly price but because I have found myself in situations, as when I was vacationing in Mexico recently and trying to make pizzas, where I could not find either bread flour or high-gluten flour in the supermarkets (and, in any event, the labeling information was likely highly suspect).  I thought being able to simply add some vital wheat gluten to all-purpose flour would allow me to approach the performance level of a normally milled high-gluten flour.   I could then bring a small bag of the vital wheat gluten with me to Mexico the next time (it stores well if frozen in an airtight container) and combine it with local Mexican all-purpose flours and not have to haul bags of Sir Lancelot flour to Mexico with me.

    As for the answer to the question I posed (framed above), I was told that there will be some slight differences in the performance levels of the two flour examples I gave, but if the processing of the flours into doughs was handled properly (mixing, hydrating, kneading, controlling and monitoring dough temperatures--80 degrees F was the temperature he recommended--dividing into balls, retarding and fermenting), the differences would pretty much disappear and one would be hard pressed to tell the difference in the two finished baked products in a normal home setting.  

    If what I was told is indeed correct, in your case, Giotto, you have access to the Guisto flour ingredients at your local Whole Foods to come fairly close to a normally milled high-gluten flour at far lower cost than buying from KA directly and paying their handling and shipping costs.  And you have your Grande cheese to boot :).

    The technical person I spoke with generally bemoaned the state of the baking profession--with its overreliance on use of additives, enhancers, conditioners, preservatives, and a wide variety of other chemicals and practices in an effort to enhance profits, even at the expense of the quality of the end products.  He blamed the public for some of that since people are willing--or have been conditioned--to accept the mediocre products and not demand better.  However, he was extremely laudatory of the artisanal bakers that have sprung up in recent years because they are trying to revive time-honored ways of making bread products--with care, passion and an insistence on quality above all else.  He credits them for helping keep the milling industry viable.

    I look forward to your flour/dough/pizza results from using the Giusto flour products.

  • #127 by giotto on 16 Aug 2004
  • Pete-zza:  

    Interesting and thank you for sharing.  For those who cater to commercial markets, they often look down at what is worth their time when it comes to the consumer.  I had this same conversation with a cabinet maker the other day.  It all comes down to where they put their time.

    I have also learned over the years that there is a significant difference between those who manufacture something vs. those who use it.  Considering that C. Bianco takes what goes into his pizza as seriously as anyone in the world, I think we are pretty safe with Guisto's in general.  

    In the case of Giusto's ultimate performer high gluten flour, it is not available through the supermarkets per se; only in bulk.  And while it is pedaled through 50 lb bags, you can also get the same product in cases of 5 lb bags, as with many of their flours.  

    So here's what came out of a mixture of Giusto's 11.7% bakers flour with their 70% vital gluten flour.  NO Sugar was added, yet it browned fine at 530 F after refrigeration of 12 hours.  


    The rise of the crust was good with a 1/3 tsp yeast, and the blury picture hides that it was airy.  But it was too stiff near the crust; I only had 1 tsp of olive oil when I made the dough, not allowing me to retain the moisture; so this probably contributed to the stiffness.

  • #128 by Pete-zza on 16 Aug 2004
  • Giotto,

    The most important question is how did the pizza taste?  It looks great.  

    Even without the addition of sugar, the high gluten content of your dough will promote a nice browning because of the so-called Maillard reactions.  I have found that as you move down the scale on protein content, from high-gluten flour on the high end of the scale to, say, 00 flour at the low end of the scale, the crust will get lighter and lighter, and will be almost white for the 00 flour (assuming in all instances that no additional sweetener is added).  You would have to leave the dough retard/ferment for quite a long time, maybe even several days for a high-gluten flour dough, before the natural sugars in the flour are all used up, at which time the ultimate crust will have a lighter color than normal, but still some because of the Maillard reactions.  

    I suspect also that even with as little as 1/3 teaspoon yeast (I assume at that level it is instant yeast), you could easily go to as much as 3 days retardation before using up most of the natural sugars.  And, the crust would have a nice rise, especially at the rim.  My recollection is that you often use a pizza screen or other type of pan for your New York style pizzas.  Is that what you used for the pizza shown?  If so, you may want to try baking on a preheated pizza stone or tiles.  Since there is no added sugar in the dough, there will be no caramelization phenomenon and, as a result, the bottom of the crust will not blacken up on you as the pizza dough hits the stone or tiles.   The amount of olive oil seems fine.  You didn't indicate the weight of the dough ball or the amount of salt used.  Can you provide those figures?


  • #129 by giotto on 16 Aug 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    Actually, I do not subscribe to using anything but a thin screen when cooking pizza.  I get wonderful color and a slight crispness on the bottom every time.  I had to learn my oven though to get results comparable to some of the best commerical pizzas.  Regarding the taste, it was suprisingly good.    I say this because I normally use sugar; but just forgot this time.

    I only run into issues with a stiffer crust when I try to mix with vital gluten.  In general, I like to incorporate a fat content in the neighborhood of what Reinhart suggests for New Haven and NY pizza, especially when working with a higher gluten flour.  The fat content helps trap moisture, and gives me a nicer chewier texture.  It's worked well for me in the past, especially when working with protein over 13%.

    I only use active yeast.  Past notes of mine will show that I rarely use more than a 1/2 tsp of active yeast.  I only chose to use slightly less this time because you mentioned that you were shooting for 1/4 tsp, so I figured I'd try to lessen it a bit as well.

    I used less than a tsp of salt and got it in the refrigerator within 15 minutes of making the dough to slow down the fermentation process.  I go 3 days all the time in the refrigerator by using this procedure, and have gone more without an issue.  I started with 2/3 cup of water and did add more as I needed it.  The dough weighed about 16 oz, with flour that weighed around 8 1/2 oz (non-digi scale, sorry).

  • #130 by Pete-zza on 16 Aug 2004
  • Giotto,

    When you didn't use any sugar I thought there was a possibility that you were baking directly on a stone or tiles, which would lead to browning of the bottom of the crust without blackening.  As I understand it, when you use a screen you can get away with adding sugar without having the bottom of the crust get overly browned, and almost black, and yet use high oven temperatures.  

    I assumed you were not using a lot of salt, which could restrain the volume growth of the dough.  Too little and you would get greater dough volume but the crust would be too bland.   Is there a particular reason why you choose to use the active dry yeast?  

    Based on what I have been learning at this site, I would like to give a screen a try.  Can you tell me what size screen you used and what was the diameter of the pizza in relation to the screen?   Do you spray the screen with a spray or possibly a light coating of flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking?   I assume that the screen with a pizza on it is baked on the lowest rack of the oven, but wonder whether it can be put on top of a preheated pizza stone, which I tend to keep in the oven most of the time.  As a novice in this area, I would welcome any tips from you as well as anyone else at this forum on the best way to use screens.

  • #131 by giotto on 17 Aug 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    I've used holed metal pans, stones, screens, etc., and even considered a 2 grand wood oven.  I prefer the open design of the thin screens because the entire pizza is cooked and you can control exactly how the top and bottom is cooked.  Holed metal pans, on the other hand, have too much of a distance between the holes, and their outside lip prevents proper cooking around the bottom of the outer crust.

    Yes, you can place the screen on top of the stone; but I find stones get in the way, and they will decrease your control of when and how much you want the bottom or top to be cooked.

    When I said I learned my oven, I meant that I learned to cook the pizza with two movements. I have a heating element at the bottom and top, and I use them to my advantage.
    First, here's my 14" screen.  I never wash it with soap, never use corn meal (it would fall through), never pre-heat it, and it never burns.  When done, I wipe it off and put it away, no mess (you like this so far).  Before initial use, you'll want to place it over your serving pan and either spray it with olive oil and wipe it on well with your hands, or wipe olive oil on it.  Once it is treated, you can just wipe olive oil around the outside edge of it.


    Place your 14" dough on the screen. Since there is no lip around the outside, you can stretch it to the outer end and it will cook all around.  If you go way over the edge, make sure your rack will not make it stick.  Develop an outside edge if you want to.  


    This puppy is light, and you don't need to worry about fitting it on a circle any more.  SO when you open the oven, you place it in (pizzaiolo style) and close it quickly.  Because you can work very quickly, your oven should not drop more than 10 degrees.  Set your temp over by 10 F over your cooking preference anyways.  It will likely catch up to the higher time.
  • #132 by Pete-zza on 17 Aug 2004
  • Giotto,

    Thank you for all the info and tips on screens.  I also see from your post that you use a 14-inch screen.  Out of curiosity, when you said in a previous post that your pizza dough weighed 16 ounces and that the crust was thin in the middle and thicker at the edge, I plugged in all of the information into the dough weight calculation equation, using a thickness factor F equal to 0.105--half way between 0.10 for a thin pizza crust and 0.11 for a medium thick crust.  I calculated the radius R to be 6.96 inches, or a diameter of about 14 inches.  That's just about perfect for your 14-inch screen.  

    I was searching some sources of screens this morning (including some sources mentioned at this site) and saw the type of screen you use as well as other screens that seem to be fancier, like the Quik-Disk screens at that have holes, and either have or do not have the special PSTN coating.  I assume those are like what you tried and found wanting.  I noticed they are darker than the straight aluminum screens, which would make them better conductors, but it looks like your pizzas come out just fine without the benefit of greater heat conductivity.   The straight aluminum screens are also a great deal cheaper than the fancier versions.  I don't mind spending more if the benefits are significant enough to warrant the higher price.

    Have you ever tried a larger screen, like a 16-inch screen? I measured the inside of my oven and it looks like I could fit a 16-inch screen and maybe even a 17-inch screen.  Screens seem to open up other possibilities also, like par-baking a pizza and then adding toppings or baking a pizza on a screen and then sliding it onto a preheated stone or tiles for a final browning.  


  • #133 by giotto on 17 Aug 2004
  • Pete-zza:

    Yes, I did try larger screens.  I have a 16" that weighs nothing just like mine, and it worked great; but its size is a problem for my oven.  I offered to look into shipping for Dave on his recent query; but sounds like he's going with a local grocer.

    You are absolutely right about parboiling.  I never put heavy ingredients (e.g., fresh tomatoes) at the start and I find the flexibility to be key in so many respects.

    I tried my hand at metal and other types, and looked at what some pros were using before concluding that it's the open "flat" design combined with the lightweight nature that is key.  

    Although I place the screen directly on my oven rack, you can put it on stones, tiles, etc.  You don't need to use a peel; but I do, and I found metal peels to be better in sliding under the screens for removal.  The screens can move though.  So if you use a stone or something, you'll need to set it up to make sure you can hit the back of your oven when removing the pizza to save time.
  • #134 by Pete-zza on 21 Sep 2004
  • Today, I made a New York style pizza based on a recipe posted by Canadave under the canola oil thread.  The main reason I wanted to try out Canadave's recipe, apart from Canadave's favorable review of the finished product, was because his recipe differs quite a bit from the recipe for New York style dough I usually follow.  Canadave's recipe calls for a fair amount of yeast and a fair amount of sugar, whereas the recipe I normally use is almost on the other end of the spectrum and calls for only 1/8 teaspoon of yeast (instant dry) and no added sugar at all.  

    For purposes of today's pizza, I cut Canadave's recipe in half, so that I would have a dough ball of around 22 ounces, enough for a 16-inch pizza if I understood Canadave's recipe correctly.  

    I tried to be as faithful to Canadave's recipe as possible.  The only change I made was to substitute a mixture of canola oil and regular olive oil for the canola-soybean Crisco oil (which I did not have) called for in Canadave's recipe.  Everything went pretty much as the recipe specified.  I placed the dough after it had been fully kneaded and lightly oiled into a metal container with a tight fitting cover, and then into the refrigerator, where it sat for almost two days.  What surprised me was how much the dough rose while in the refrigerator.  When I checked the dough from time to time, I saw that it was rising, but by the end of the second day, the dough had completely filled the container (I estimate that it more than doubled in volume) and had pressed against the tight fitting cover enough to actually push it off.  In the recipe I use, the dough hardly rises as all when it is in the refrigerator.  It just sits there like a lifeless lump, giving you cause to wonder whether the dough will actually be usable.  

    According to Canadave's recipe instructions, I brought the dough to room temperature but I didn't let is sit there for long.  As my pizza stone was being preheated, I worked the dough into a roughly 16-17 inch round, by pulling, stretching and tossing the dough.   The dough was quite extensible but more elastic than the New York style dough I usually make, necessitating a couple of 5-minute rest periods to get the gluten to relax.  The dough was also very soft and poofy--as mama mia likes to say--and clearly much greater in volume than the volume of dough I usually use to make one of my New York style pizzas (I use 22 ounces for 2 thin-crust pizzas).  I dressed the pizza dough on a 16-inch pizza screen and baked it for several minutes at 475 degrees F (as called for in Canadave's recipe) rather than the 500-550 degrees F I usually use.  I slipped the pizza onto the stone for a few minutes to improve browning of the bottom of the crust and finished baking it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.  

    The finished pizza tasted great, although it was quite a bit different from the New York style pizza I make.  It was much softer and breadlike, especially in the rim (which was huge), rather than crispy and crackly.  A slice of the pizza had the limpness and chewiness characteristic of New York style pizzas.  I concluded that part of the difference between the two versions of the pizzas was attributable to the fact that the amount of dough I used to make Canadave's pizza today was about double what I normally use to make mine.  Another difference that surprised me was that I could actually taste the sugar in the crust.  It was not cloyingly annoying but I tend not to like sweetness in bread products.  That is something that can be easily changed in the next iteration of the recipe.  Next time, I will also use half the amount of dough that I used today so that I can make a more direct comparison with the results I usually achieve following my recipe.  I suspect that some of the differences I noted will be lessened.    

    The photo below shows the finished pizza.  I used some 6-in-1 tomatoes, a little Penzeys pizza seasonings with added dried oregano and basil, crushed red peppers, fresh mozzarella cheese, some deli (County Line) sliced mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, Italian sausage, pepperoni, a swig of good olive oil, freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fresh basil.  Maybe Canadave can tell me whether my pizza looks like the ones he makes.


  • #135 by Pete-zza on 21 Sep 2004
  • And here is what a slice of the New York style pizza looks like (following Canadave's recipe).

  • #136 by Randy on 22 Sep 2004
  • Nice looking pizza.  Try a little honey in place of some of the sugar and consider using raw sugar.
    I too like the Penzeys pizza mix.  I add a teaspoon of sugar to mine and a pinch of thyme.  

    Odd about the sauce is the fact that when mixed the taste is a little harsh but put it on a pizza and the flavor is wonderful.  Did you notice that Peter?

  • #137 by Pete-zza on 22 Sep 2004
  • Randy,

    I have several different kinds of honey on hand, and also some turbinado sugar, which I believe is a raw form of sugar with some of the molasses retained in it.   I will have to give them a try sometime, although I would be inclined to use them somewhat sparingly since I seem to be overly sensitive to sweetness.  

    I have found the 6-in-1 tomatoes to be the most naturally sweet tomatoes I have ever gotten from a can.  If I didn't know better, I would have guessed that sugar or some other sweetener was added.  With the added puree, the flavor is also rather intense, so I might soften the intensity a bit by adding other tomatoes to the sauce, even some fresh ones.  Or not use quite as much.  Like you, I have noticed that baking smoothes out the flavor of the sauce, as other flavors on the pizza, like fat, oil, herbs, meat and vegetable juices, etc., commingle with the tomatoes.  The tomatoes can be made into a sauce before hand, by cooking them and adding a variety of herbs and other things, including the Penzeys seasoning, but I have found that I like to use the 6-in-1s uncooked right out of the can.  They just seem fresher and brighter.

  • #138 by Pete-zza on 22 Sep 2004
  • Randy,

    I saw this response on PMQ to a question to "Big Dave" about cooking pizza sauces and thought you and possibly others might be interested.  I edited the response to correct typos.

    "I don't recommend simmering pizza sauce. The deadly enemy of tomatoes is heat and time. When you bring the sauce to a simmer you are releasing evaporative steam. This steam is loaded with tomato volatiles. These compounds give sauce the real tomato flavor. The next problem with simmering is if you get the heat a few degrees too hot you scorch the sauce. Tomato sauce scorches so easily because of the high sugar content. Sugar + Heat = Carmelization. Not good. Since the sauce, puree, or concentrated crushed are evaporated at the factory and cooked again on the pizza I see no need to cook for the third time. If the tomatoes come from re-manufactured paste they will be cooked 4 times.....for what? The way to really get the seasonings (spices) to walk and talk is stir them in the hot water you denature the garlic in and let them absorb the water that has been sucked out of them when they were fresh. This rehydrates the spices and allows them to release their full flavors (volatiles). I also stir in a few ounces of EV Olive Oil at this time. The oil acts as an electrical conduit encapsulating the spices and transporting the flavor throughout the batch. Pour this green slurry into your base tomato product and mix throughly."


  • #139 by RoadPizza on 22 Sep 2004
  • I've mentioned before that we don't heat our pizza sauce.  It's a matter of mixing all the ingredients and then using them right away.  (NOTE: the peeled tomatoes we use come straight from a can).

    You can choose to mix your ingredients (save for the Parmesan cheese and garlic) and refrigerate the sauce (in a clean dry plastic container) a day ahead to allow the sauce to thicken a little.  Before use, just add the missing ingredients - adding them earlier will result in a more bitter tasting sauce.

    The only time you'd really need to cook the tomatoes is if you were to use fresh tomatoes.  And even then, you'd probably only heat them for about 15 minutes.
  • #140 by Randy on 23 Sep 2004
  • What I do is place two tablespoons of oil in the pot and heat the oil then add the Penzeys spice and stir until I smell the mixture(about 10-15 seconds) then I pour in a can of 6-in-1 and lightly heat on low for fifteen minutes, never letting it come to a boil.