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Author Topic: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions  (Read 665 times)

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Offline pizza450

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I have done a lot of poking online, and more recently in this forum, trying to get my basic pizza game from "low B" to B+ or A- or better, and been unable to find simple (good "bang for the buck" in terms of results vs. effort) ideas.

My dough is more than fine.  I hand knead it, using a small amount of sugar, and 72-hour rise, and it's flavorful and yeasty.

What follows though are the areas where I'm definitely in need of help:

Too oily:  I always have the sense of too much oily taste (especially lingering aftertaste).  I can think of only two culprits for this.  One is that I oil the dough (2-3 TB of extra virgin olive oil, brushed onto the dough) prior to putting on sauce or ingredients.  Would I do better to just skip the oil?  The other is that my pizza stone is pretty impregnated with oil.  I've tried to clean it with a baking soda and water paste, scrubbed into it with a toothbrush, and this has helped a bit.

Bad sauce:  I used to use just bottled pasta sauce (don't hate on me) like Prego.  Then I started buying my supermarket's brand of "pizza" sauce, and this really wasn't as good.  Then I made a recipe I found on the web that had all these great-sounding ingredients and spices, and that was better, but not so much so to be worth the effort.  I've read on this forum that one can do a very good sauce with just pureed tomatoes and salt.  Can someone suggest a simple recipe here (like, how much to use)?  Ideally, in the name of simplicity, just using canned tomatoes.

Oven temperature and bake times:  I have baked pizza in my electric oven at temperatures from 425 to 500 degrees, generally for about 10 minutes.  What's "right?"  I like my pizza crisp and firm enough that if I lift it by the crust, the slice doesn't droop.  If the crust has some thickness, I like the inside to be chewy.  And I like the cheese to have some brown in it, but be stringy, vs. "crispy."

Again, ideas are appreciated, and the simpler the better.  Thanks.

Offline invertedisdead

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2017, 10:36:29 AM »
I have done a lot of poking online, and more recently in this forum, trying to get my basic pizza game from "low B" to B+ or A- or better, and been unable to find simple (good "bang for the buck" in terms of results vs. effort) ideas.

My dough is more than fine.  I hand knead it, using a small amount of sugar, and 72-hour rise, and it's flavorful and yeasty.

What follows though are the areas where I'm definitely in need of help:

Too oily:  I always have the sense of too much oily taste (especially lingering aftertaste).  I can think of only two culprits for this.  One is that I oil the dough (2-3 TB of extra virgin olive oil, brushed onto the dough) prior to putting on sauce or ingredients.  Would I do better to just skip the oil?  The other is that my pizza stone is pretty impregnated with oil.  I've tried to clean it with a baking soda and water paste, scrubbed into it with a toothbrush, and this has helped a bit.

Bad sauce:  I used to use just bottled pasta sauce (don't hate on me) like Prego.  Then I started buying my supermarket's brand of "pizza" sauce, and this really wasn't as good.  Then I made a recipe I found on the web that had all these great-sounding ingredients and spices, and that was better, but not so much so to be worth the effort.  I've read on this forum that one can do a very good sauce with just pureed tomatoes and salt.  Can someone suggest a simple recipe here (like, how much to use)?  Ideally, in the name of simplicity, just using canned tomatoes.

Oven temperature and bake times:  I have baked pizza in my electric oven at temperatures from 425 to 500 degrees, generally for about 10 minutes.  What's "right?"  I like my pizza crisp and firm enough that if I lift it by the crust, the slice doesn't droop.  If the crust has some thickness, I like the inside to be chewy.  And I like the cheese to have some brown in it, but be stringy, vs. "crispy."

Again, ideas are appreciated, and the simpler the better.  Thanks.

I would skip oiling the dough and see how that turns out for you, or at the least, use a silicone brush to apply just a little oil to the dough instead of 3 Tbsp.

Sauce is IMO the most elusive and hardest part to nail, I won't comment there because I'm still looking. Different style pies work better with different sauces.

Oven temp and bake time is hard to suggest as every oven really is different. The longer you bake the pizza, the crisper it will get. The third variable here is rack position. If you posted some pics of your pizzas we could probably give better suggestions on the baking aspect. It really is practice makes perfect here with pizza making. Some brands of cheese will brown much faster than others so you must also figure that in regarding the cheese melt you prefer. Part skim mozzarella generally browns sooner than whole ilk mozzarella. Hope this helps at least a little bit!

Offline jsaras

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My sauce these days is 
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (aka generic Wal Mart, Kroger or Smart & Final brand,
Code on the can is 5TPCG OL or 5TGPK OL ).

 1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 tsp oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Oregano is added to the pizza immediately after it comes out of the oven.
Things have never been more like today than they are right now.

Offline pizza450

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2017, 07:05:33 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions.

The not oiling the crust/dough was great.  No oily taste at all, especially the annoying lingering aftertaste.

And the sauce was excellent too!

Now to just aim for and get consistency!

Offline junep

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My sauce these days is 
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (aka generic Wal Mart, Kroger or Smart & Final brand,
Code on the can is 5TPCG OL or 5TGPK OL ).

 1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 tsp oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Oregano is added to the pizza immediately after it comes out of the oven.

Thanks for the recipe. Are you using powdered or leaf oregano. I'm curious also, why you add it when you do, rather than adding it to the sauce. Thanks again. June
Conformity is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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Online Minolta Rokkor

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 08:34:03 AM »
What is your dough formula?

Offline jsaras

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Thanks for the recipe. Are you using powdered or leaf oregano. I'm curious also, why you add it when you do, rather than adding it to the sauce. Thanks again. June

I use dry oregano.  I add it immediately after the bake because it releases the aroma/flavor more than it would if it were baked in with the sauce over 3-10 minutes.  It's the same reason why I also put fresh basil on a pizza immediately after the bake.

If you have the fortune of having an oven that will do 90-second Neapolitan bakes, when to add fresh basil (before or after the bake) becomes a different discussion.
Things have never been more like today than they are right now.

Offline norcoscia

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2018, 09:44:44 AM »
pizza450, I spent 5 years of my life (back in the 80s) making not so good pizza because I started using EVOO as the oil in my dough - back then I said to myself - I'm making pizza, EVOO is the best Italian oil - so using it can only make my pizza dough better. When I started using it I did not like the flavor it imparted so (not being the smartest) - I said to myself, well maybe my amounts are off or maybe I need to try with a different brand - because "EVOO is the best Italian oil - so using it can only make my pizza better" right?

Long story short, one day I did not have any and skipped it and used a neutral flavored oil - the pizza crust tasted great - only then did I realize - just because something is good and Italian does not mean it should be in the pizza dough. EVOO has way too strong a flavor for pizza dough. I use oil in my dough but as a dough conditioner - not as a flavor ingredient - do me a favor and get some fresh soybean oil (vegetable oil) - use 2-5% in your dough (depending on the style pie you are making) and try it. BTW, I would not use soybean oil on the crust. Save your good olive oil for salads.

I shoot for a 7-8 min bake for the balance of crisp skin and soft crust interior - but every recipe and oven is different so let us know what your set up is (stone / steel - top/middle/bottom shelf your recipe etc) what you like and don't like about your current crust and we can help.

Sauce - single most important thing -- start with good tomatoes - it is really a garbage in garbage out situation. After that you are just tweaking your sauce for your taste - less is more.....

All good questions, BTW - have fun and looking forward to seeing your pizzas  :pizza:
Norm

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2018, 10:22:10 AM »
Norm,

I agree with you on the EVOO but if it is not used to excess, or if a non-EVOO form of olive oil is used, such as a pomace oil that Tom Lehmann often recommends for the NY style of dough (he also sometimes recommends a blend of olive oil and some other oil), a small amount might pass muster with most people.

When I was involved with Mike (Boy Hits Car) in coming up with the Lehmann dough calculating tool, which was based on Tom's NY style dough recipe at the PMQ Recipe Bank at http://www.pmq.com/Recipe-Bank/New-York-Style-Pizza-Dough, he called for olive oil but only at 1%. Later, when a slightly different version of his recipe made it to this forum at https://www.pizzamaking.com/lehmann-nystyle.php, he called for 1-2% olive oil. But I had also read elsewhere, most likely over at the PMQ Think Tank forum, that Tom advocated against using EVOO in pizza dough. That is why there is the suggestion in the Lehmann dough calculating tool at https://www.pizzamaking.com/dough-calculator.html that one not use EVOO. Tom still feels the same way, as can be seen in Reply 1 at https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=40862.msg408074;topicseen#msg408074.

But I agree with you that too much olive oil in a dough can lead to off flavors in my opinion. And most professionals are likely to avoid it solely on cost although I once recommended that a member who was a pizza operator in the northwest use pomace oil in lieu of EVOO, which he did, and he reported that his customers could not tell the difference.

Peter

Offline norcoscia

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2018, 01:20:58 PM »
Thanks, Peter - you're right - it is hard to always be 100% clear about the message I'm trying to convey.

For me the taste of EVOO is way to pronounced and the flavor of the crust kind of gets lost. EVOO is stronger so I never use it. More refined regular olive oil is generally lighter in flavor so if someone really wanted to use olive oil and did not care for the strong flavor that would be a better way to go (IMO). But I don't like any type of olive oil in my pizza dough.

But, the important thing - when it comes to flavor is - the only people that have to like it, are the ones eating it. It is one of those rare occasions when everyone can have a different answer and still be right. I see a lot of posts were people say this or that tastes better (good example is CF and RT) and for them they are 100% on point but if someone else likes the taste of something else better - they can be right too. When and if that happens it should be OK with everyone.

Apologize, if I offended anyone with my comments about EVOO - but it is just how all my taste buds work - only important thing is stay happy and try to do and eat what makes you happy  :D
Norm

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Offline foreplease

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 02:56:12 PM »
The day you have to apologize for somehing here is the day I gotta quit altogether. I agree with and like every point you made above.


The biggest thing I have learned on the forum simply re-enforced something I already knew: I donít like pizza the same every time and when I have a taste for it one way or another I want as big a role as possible, through learning and doing, in its outcome.
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Offline Jackitup

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Re: New member, looking to go from "good" to "very good" - simple questions
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2018, 11:39:36 PM »
The day you have to apologize for somehing here is the day I gotta quit altogether. I agree with and like every point you made above.


The biggest thing I have learned on the forum simply re-enforced something I already knew: I donít like pizza the same every time and when I have a taste for it one way or another I want as big a role as possible, through learning and doing, in its outcome.

We do a thin style or cracker style most of the time, then there's Detroit/Sicilian style, Mozza with spelt, NY........changes a lot! I agree, like variety
Jon

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Offline junep

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I use dry oregano.  I add it immediately after the bake because it releases the aroma/flavor more than it would if it were baked in with the sauce over 3-10 minutes.  It's the same reason why I also put fresh basil on a pizza immediately after the bake.

If you have the fortune of having an oven that will do 90-second Neapolitan bakes, when to add fresh basil (before or after the bake) becomes a different discussion.
Thanks so much. I will do that next time. Unfortunately, I can't bake Neapolitan pies. My son has wood fired pizza ovens, but he stopped getting them as hot as they need to be for Neapolitan pies.


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