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Offline Luncian

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Dough flavor underwhelming
« on: November 15, 2021, 12:28:26 AM »
I have been making Neapolitan pizzas for a while now, and have just started with NY style.  I have tried Tom's NY recipe, and one or two other NY recipes I have found on the forum. 

My problem is this: the crust, although it comes out looking absolutely fantastic and looks like it should be delicious, is quite underwhelming when tasted.  I mean, it isn't bad, but it isn't mind-blowing either.  I'm sure that we've all had pizza that the crust is so good you almost want to scrape off all the toppings and just eat the crust. The crusts I'm getting are perhaps on Chuck E. Cheese level of pizza taste. 

Yes, I know the ingredients are important, but with just flour, water, yeast, salt, little oil  and maybe some sugar in there, there really isn't anything that has any complexity or "wow" factor to it in terms of being able to generate flavor. 

What can I do, or am I expecting too much?

Offline Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2021, 12:57:17 AM »
Long cold ferments and \ or sourdough.

Offline wotavidone

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2021, 02:42:16 AM »
I've been substituting about 20% fine semolina for my flour.
i.e. instead of 1000g of "00" flour, I've been using 800g "00" flour and 200g fine semolina.
I can taste the difference.

How much salt you using? I use 2% to 2.5%. I consider it my minimum.

I once went to a tavern that had a newly installed wood oven. They had a bloke there who was absolutely smashing out the Margheritas.
They looked magnificent, but the crust was as bland as bland. Until I put some salt on it.

Mick

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2021, 08:42:51 AM »
Several of Tom's recipes have a range for salt. To my tastes, some of that range is low. If you are using 1.75% salt, I'd recommend bumping it up above 2%. I usually use 2.2% salt in that style of dough.

Edit: missed that Mick already made a similar salt recommendation.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 08:44:42 AM by Jon in Albany »

Offline Rolls

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2021, 08:47:09 AM »
For NY-style pizza, I've settled on a routine of fermenting the bulk dough for around 3 hours at RT before balling and placing in the fridge for 1 night, and then tempering the dough at RT for about 3 hours the next day before stretching, topping and baking.  I find this gives good flavour development as well as optimal extensibility.  However, I tend to agree with Tom Lehmann who used to say that the flavours developed by fermentation are only part of the equation when it comes to the taste of the finished product.  Proper baking may be even more important via the Maillard reaction and caramelization. 

For flour selection, I like to use straight white flour, but you might want to try a "blending flour" like semolina (as mentioned above) or something like white spelt at approximately 20% of the total flour weight in the formula.


Rolls
« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 08:57:22 AM by Rolls »
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Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2021, 09:20:08 AM »
Time is your friend. NY style pizza dough is often made in a few hours as a same day dough, but a longer fermentation will give it a lot more flavor. You can either let it go for a good 24 hours at RT and then put it in the fridge to firm up a little until you're ready to use it, or put it in the fridge right away and let it go for a while. I do 72 hours CF and then pull it about 90 minutes before I'm ready to use it. Whatever you do, I recommend shaping it into balls just after kneading, so that step is out of the way and you don't have to disturb the dough and wait again later. That's my advice.
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Offline Luncian

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2021, 09:33:25 AM »
Thank you for all the replies!

I will definitely try implementing the changes you all recommended.  My wife even commented last night that it seemed like more salt was needed.  But I have not wanted to do anything other that strictly following the recipes as I know enough to know that I don't know enough about creating/changing dough formulas. 

And just for the groups info, here is Tom's recipe that I used and followed to the letter. I did a 48 hour cold ferment.  I have been using KA bread flour.  I did order some All Trumps and it is on its way.

Sure, here's a formula and procedure to work with.
Flour: 100% 500-grams.
Salt: 2% 10-grams.
Sugar: 2% (optional) 10-grams.
Oil: 2% 10-grams.
IDY: (instant dry yeast) 0.375% 1.875-grams
Water: (65F) 62% (variable) 310-grams.

Put water in mixing bowl.
Add salt and sugar (if used) no need to stir.
Add the flour, then add the IDY right on top of the flour.
Mix at low speed just until all of the ingredients are incorporated and no dry flour is seen in the bowl.
Add the oil.
Mix at low speed for 1-minutes.
Mix at the highest speed possible without stressing your mixer for 8 to 10-minutes or just until the dough is smooth. Check the finished dough temperature, you are looking for a targeted temperature of 75 to 80F.
Remove dough from mixer and place on floured surface, divide into 300-gram dough pieces.
Round each piece into a ball and lightly oil.
Place each ball into individual plastic bags (food bags or bread bags) NOT Zip-Lock Bags.
Twist the open end into a pony tail and tuck under the dough ball as you place it in the fridge.
Cold ferment the dough for at least 24-hours (48-is better) and you can go as long as 72 to 96-hours.
To use, remove dough from fridge, allow to temper AT room temperature for about 2-hours or until the dough ball reaches 50 to 60F.
Roll bag down around the dough ball and invert over a floured surface, flour the dough piece and open into a skin to 12-inches for immediate dressing and baking.
Bake preferably on a stone or steel at 550F or hotter. If you don't have either, a seasoned screen will do in a pinch until you can get one.
Note: Any unused dough balls can be placed in the freezer not more than 48-hours after the dough is made. The frozen dough will keep for about 10-days in the freezer. To use the frozen dough transfer the frozen dough ball from the bag to a suitably sized bowl that has been lightly oiled, cover with a lid or stretch wrap, place in the fridge for 24-hours to slack-out (thaw), turn out of the bowl directly from the fridge onto a floured surface and partially open the skin to about 8-inches, cover and allow to rest for 20-minutes, then finish opening to 12-inches for immediate use.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 09:42:51 AM by Luncian »

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2021, 10:03:54 AM »
I forgot to mention a couple of things in my last post. These are subjective statements, and there might be othes here who disagree, but I stand by them, based on my own experience. You never said what kind of flour you've been using, and I assume you might be using high gluten flour, bread flour, AP flour, bleached or unbleached, bromated or unbromated; I have no idea. A lot of people will recommend using high gluten flour for NY style dough, and they have their reasons, but I have my own recommeddations, as follows.

1)Avoid bleached flour like the plague. Nothing kills flavor in flour more than bleaching. I don't care what else you add to your dough or how long you ferment it; it will never develop the same depth of flavor it could have with unbleached flour. Enough said.

2) Flours in the high gluten range tend to have a more flat and processed flavor than those in the lower protein range. Again, this is subjective, but this has proven true for me many times. I choose to stick with bread flour, or mix bread flour with some Italian "0" or "00" flour. I can't put an exact number on it, but generally flours in the <13% range tend to have a fuller flavor, whereas flours at >13%(ish) tend to be lacking in that area, compared to those in the lower protein range. Even with good quality milling companies like King Arthur, their Sir Gallahad high gluten flour is noticeably blander tasting. This kind of flour also tends to give crust more of a stiff body that makes a really chewy crust, and this can be even more pronounced on the reheat. If you feel strongly that you need more gluten strength in your dough, I'd recommend buying some vital wheat gluten and throwing some of that in the mix before using a high gluten flour.

3) Others have mentioned semolina flour. I really like the stuff myself, and I recommend using at a range of 10% to 25% of the total flour if you want to give your crust a little extra crunch. But this is in no way traditional to NY style pizza. If you're going for a strictly traditional NY style pizza, this ingredient is not suitable, but if you just want to make a good pizza and not worry about fitting neatly in any style guideline, this is a great option.  It also makes great peel dust.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2021, 10:07:41 AM by RHawthorne »
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Offline politon

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2021, 02:12:40 PM »
As other others have mentioned, increase the salt to 2.2-2.3%. However, with that much salt and sugar, I recommend using an osmophilic yeast such as SAF gold IDY.

A 48 hour ferment is fine for KABF, but especially with AT, 72+ is really needed. Also, with AT and a longer ferment, you could cut the yeast down to approximately .14%.

Lastly, as Ross suggested, do a 3 hr. RT ferment before dividing and balling.

Best of luck!

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2021, 10:00:09 PM »
Even with good quality milling companies like King Arthur, their Sir Gallahad high gluten flour is noticeably blander tasting.
Edit: Sir Lancelot, not Sir Galahad.
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Offline Luncian

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2021, 09:41:34 AM »
As other others have mentioned, increase the salt to 2.2-2.3%. However, with that much salt and sugar, I recommend using an osmophilic yeast such as SAF gold IDY.

A 48 hour ferment is fine for KABF, but especially with AT, 72+ is really needed. Also, with AT and a longer ferment, you could cut the yeast down to approximately .14%.

Lastly, as Ross suggested, do a 3 hr. RT ferment before dividing and balling.

Best of luck!

Thank you for the guidance. It is truly appreciated.

I have already done nearly all of what had been recommended to me earlier, and it is a drastic improvement over the results I was getting before seeking this group's recommendations.  You guys are amazing! 

I made my first batch with AT two days ago and baked my first pizza with it for dinner 24h later.  I made it with the recipe I posted earlier in the thread (except I didn't add sugar this time and I increased the salt to 2.5%) and did the 0.375% IDY, left at RT for about an hour and a half, balled and stuck it in the fridge for 24h.  Super puffy crust with several blisters I had to pop when stretching the dough.  Very, very good.  But not AMAZING.  But, I'm greedy and want great! I'll make another batch of dough today dropping the IDY to 0.14% and doing a 3 hour RT then 72h in the fridge.

Kinda the biggest problem I'm running into is the family is getting a little tired of pizza every night for the last two weeks (what is wrong with these people?!?!?!), and I am obsessed with wanting to practice and get better.  So I guess my next question for the group is this:  I have a pretty good idea on how to kill them, but how would you recommend I dispose of their bodies? Their crimes against pizza progress cannot be tolerated! :-D
« Last Edit: November 18, 2021, 09:52:23 AM by Luncian »

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2021, 11:09:11 AM »
Any plans to start experimenting with any other flours?
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Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2021, 11:27:30 AM »
If you can track down some pizza boxes, you can still make the pizzas for practice and give them to friends and neighbors.

I picked up one of those thermal delivery bags as a joke. It's fun to ring a doorbell and then pull a pizza box out of the bag when the neighbor answers the door. They will also enjoy seeing your progress over time.

Offline Luncian

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2021, 12:42:34 PM »
Any plans to start experimenting with any other flours?

I've tried a couple of different store bought bread flours, (added some semolina to the BF based on recommendations here) and the AT I just got. I've got got Caputo 00 that I use for my Neapolitan pizzas, but my (obviously very limited)understanding is that that 00 flour is better suited to higher temps like I get in my Koda 16.  Would it be suitable to try? 

If you can track down some pizza boxes, you can still make the pizzas for practice and give them to friends and neighbors.


Doing something like that sounds like a way to make more friends.  More friends means more people eating my pizza, which means less pizza for me. Which just means you all would have to come up with even more recommendations for me to dispose of bodies.  :P

I kid. That sounds like a GREAT idea.  And with my last couple of pizzas that I have made with y'all's recommendations they are finally starting to get to the point that I wouldn't be ashamed to share them with those outside the household.

Offline RHawthorne

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2021, 02:54:38 PM »
I've tried a couple of different store bought bread flours, (added some semolina to the BF based on recommendations here) and the AT I just got. I've got got Caputo 00 that I use for my Neapolitan pizzas, but my (obviously very limited)understanding is that that 00 flour is better suited to higher temps like I get in my Koda 16.  Would it be suitable to try? 

There’s really no reason why you can’t use “0” or “00” flour in a regular domestic oven. It’s just that you probably won’t get a whole lot of browning on the crust with it. I actually prefer “0” flour over “00”, and I usually mix it 50/50 with bread flour or all purpose flour. That gives a crust that’s got a nice crisp on it but isn’t overly tough for chewy, it makes the dough really extensible and easy to work with.
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Offline Papa T

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2021, 03:24:24 AM »
I have been making Neapolitan pizzas for a while now, and have just started with NY style.  I have tried Tom's NY recipe, and one or two other NY recipes I have found on the forum. 

My problem is this: the crust, although it comes out looking absolutely fantastic and looks like it should be delicious, is quite underwhelming when tasted.  I mean, it isn't bad, but it isn't mind-blowing either.  I'm sure that we've all had pizza that the crust is so good you almost want to scrape off all the toppings and just eat the crust. The crusts I'm getting are perhaps on Chuck E. Cheese level of pizza taste. 

Yes, I know the ingredients are important, but with just flour, water, yeast, salt, little oil  and maybe some sugar in there, there really isn't anything that has any complexity or "wow" factor to it in terms of being able to generate flavor. 

What can I do, or am I expecting too much?

Flour on its own is pretty bland. Whole grains have more flavor, and can be substituted for part of the regular flour, but that's another topic as adding some whole grains will affect the hydration level, and gluten development.

Using a longer CF will definitely help on the flavor front, but if going more than 48 hours CF, you may want to consider adding a bit more sugar so there is food for the critters to eat as they hang out a bit longer in the fridge. Not long ago I had a dough ball I had forgotten in the fridge for eight days. The pizza came out very good, though it didn't have as much oven spring, but that was expected. I did find it surprising that the very long fermentation didn't ramp up the flavor that much more. Two to three days seems to be optimal.

Using a sourdough starter in lieu of IDY or ADY will definitely notch up the flavor of the pizza dough, but not all folks like the sourdough flavor, and sourdough fermentation rise times are somewhat fussy and not as predictable as when using commercial yeast. Longer CF with commercial yeast adds more milky or lactic flavors, and while sourdough does that too, it also brings along some of the vinegary sour overtones. Not everyone is a fan.

Perhaps a tactic to consider since you add some oil to your dough, is to infuse the oil with some aromatics or seasonings ahead of time, and then strain them out if desired before adding to the dough mixture. Between the slight increased salt usage and the infused oil, you may get enough of a flavor smack to handle the issue without a lot more experimentation or expense.
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Offline Luncian

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2021, 09:30:13 PM »
Flour on its own is pretty bland. Whole grains have more flavor, and can be substituted for part of the regular flour, but that's another topic as adding some whole grains will affect the hydration level, and gluten development.

Using a longer CF will definitely help on the flavor front, but if going more than 48 hours CF, you may want to consider adding a bit more sugar so there is food for the critters to eat as they hang out a bit longer in the fridge. Not long ago I had a dough ball I had forgotten in the fridge for eight days. The pizza came out very good, though it didn't have as much oven spring, but that was expected. I did find it surprising that the very long fermentation didn't ramp up the flavor that much more. Two to three days seems to be optimal.

Using a sourdough starter in lieu of IDY or ADY will definitely notch up the flavor of the pizza dough, but not all folks like the sourdough flavor, and sourdough fermentation rise times are somewhat fussy and not as predictable as when using commercial yeast. Longer CF with commercial yeast adds more milky or lactic flavors, and while sourdough does that too, it also brings along some of the vinegary sour overtones. Not everyone is a fan.

Perhaps a tactic to consider since you add some oil to your dough, is to infuse the oil with some aromatics or seasonings ahead of time, and then strain them out if desired before adding to the dough mixture. Between the slight increased salt usage and the infused oil, you may get enough of a flavor smack to handle the issue without a lot more experimentation or expense.

Great info! Appreciated! I gotta say after learning so much more about this stuff over the last few weeks, you bakers are LEGIT!  There is sooooooo much more science and art to doing dough that it blows my mind how complex this all is.  I have learned enough to know that I know nothing, and have gained so much appreciation and respect for you guys' level of knowledge.

Offline wotavidone

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Re: Dough flavor underwhelming
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2021, 04:05:28 AM »
............how would you recommend I dispose of their bodies? Their crimes against pizza progress cannot be tolerated! :-D
Sorry, I only just noticed this question.
I live on Spencer Gulf, a couple hundred nautical miles north of Dangerous Reef where some shark sequences were filmed for a movie you may have heard of - Jaws.
The biggest white pointer I have personally laid eyes on was 18 feet long.
A mate who fishes professionally has seen 20+ feet long sharks. His personal best actual catch was a shade over 20 feet.
So my thoughts - chuck 'em overboard and let 'em swim with the sharks mate.
Or give 'em a coupe of weeks off the pizzas.
That'd be easier and far less messy.  :-D
Mick

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