Pizza Making Forum

Pizza Making => New York Style => Topic started by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 01:39:33 PM

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 01:39:33 PM
I felt it was time to start a thread for Pizza Raquel. My interpretation of an artisan home pizza based on the finest ingredients available as well as the best collective thinking about what's possible in home pizza making. A cost-no-object standard of quality across the board.

I still plan to be active with the various reverse engineering efforts but those objectives have largely been accomplished and I wanted to set a higher bar of expectation to see just what is possible. I encourage the membership to join in and help where you can when you can as the collective power of the membership is staggering.

This project already has a running start and while there are no limitations on what comprises an artisan pizza there are some loose ideals that serve as a foundation for direction. Areas like extreme heat, mixing, stretching and dough management regimens will be fully explored. Sound like fun? Wait till we uncover the best of the best ingredients. I doubt there is a single member here who is totally satisfied with every aspect of their homemade pizzas. I know I'm not.

I look forward to advancing the state of the art in home pizza making. As a start, here is an example of the best that I'm capable of producing at this moment.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 01:40:02 PM
Pie number two...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 02:03:37 PM
Lest you think this thread will be like any other, try this aspect of pizza making on for size.

I have started growing my own spices. Basil, Oregano, Arugula, Cilantro, and Mint (for ice teas - Fl can get hot in the summer). Are there any tips the membership can offer about growing fresh herbs? Are there any other herbs or spices that I should consider growing.

Here are the visuals so far...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pyegal on April 24, 2005, 02:17:00 PM
For those of us new here, could you or another member please explain the term reverse engineering?

Great looking pies!

I have some experience in growing herbs and always had trouble with cilantro bolting and going to seed early in the growing season. Used to think it was just me, but many other gardeners in the South have reported the same problem. Basil benefits from frequent picking and pinching back to make it branch out bushier. Mint will take over the world if we let it. I have several varieties of mint growing on the north side of my house. The previous owners were Greek. I love arugula and can imagine it would be great topping a hot out of the oven pizza.

pyegal
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on April 24, 2005, 02:34:18 PM
Hey pft,

The herb garden is a great idea. I have basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, lemon thyme, sage, mint, vietnamese mint, dill, chives, tarragon, parsley and rosemary. I don't really go for cilantro.  I just bought some new basil and tarragon because they died off in the winter.  I really recommend my favorite calzone or stromboli combo which is rosemary, sun dried tomato, chopped tomato, mozz, and pepperoni.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on April 24, 2005, 04:06:21 PM
Pyegal,

Reverse engineering is a process by which one tries to work backwards from a finished product to determine what it is made up of. It can be just about any product, from software, to semiconductor products, to TVs, to pizza. In pftaylor's case, he tried to figure out what Patsy's pizza dough and sauce were made of and the steps taken to produce high-quality doughs and pizzas. In my case, I was trying to figure out exactly how DiFara made its pizzas. To "reverse engineer" the pizzas, we both relied on public information (articles, Internet research, diner blogs and reviews, etc.) and we made personal visits to the pizzerias to talk with the people responsible for making the pizzas. As Jeff has noted with respect to Johnny's, not all pizza makers are willing to divulge information about their pizzas. That's one reason why some people resort to dumpster diving. For legal reasons, it is best to rely on public information and your own analysis of the end product (like a pizza dough or sauce) and not try to get people to breach their obligations to their employers to maintain trade secrets in confidence. It's another matter if they volunteer, just as Jose did at Patsy's and Dom DeMarco did at DiFara's.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on April 24, 2005, 04:20:13 PM
LOL... I thought about hiring someone to go through Johnny's garbage, but I'd never actually do it myself...  I had no idea anyone had actually done such a thing. I thought I was the only nut. 

I bet if I put out some flour and water anywhere on johnny's block, I'd grow their culture. Is that illegal, LOL???
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 06:37:16 PM
About six years ago I owned a medical consulting company and literally was the segment leader. One day my assistant caught this guy diving our dumpster looking for competitive information. We called the cops and they politely told us that once it hits the dumpster, it's considered trash and not our property any more. I ended up buying an industrial shredder and never threw anything out without shredding again. Lesson learned.

Regarding the herb garden, while using freshly grown herbs and spices is not unique or that big of deal, I have yet to see a majority of artisans in any area use commercially dried spices. When I visited Di Fara's, Dom had stalks of freshly dried oregano laying out on the counter for all to use. It was the first time in my life where I pulled chunks of oregano off a stem and placed it on my pie. An unusual activity and one I found quite pleasing I might add. It added to the overall sense of quality.

I plan on having a full array of garden fresh spices to use in my pizza making. It not only increases the taste quotient, in my book, but it also is a lot less expensive in the long run. I plan on reinvesting any savings into higher quality ingredients like mozzarella - unless someone can convince me that the best way to produce a superior tasting mutz is to make it yourself. The ROI may be there for cheese since its the single most expensive ingredient. However, I wonder how the taste and heating properties are with the homemade stuff.

Again, I have no bias with how to get to the top of the mountain. I understand Chris Bianco makes his own and smokes it in his wood burning oven. Seems like a logical thing to do to save money and add flavor. Two for the price of one so to speak.

Keep the good ideas coming. We'll have this thing built in no time...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on April 24, 2005, 07:45:59 PM
My grandma used to have oregano on the stems and we'd peel  or shake it off. If was wonderful.  And these tiny fried peppers that we used to cut up and shake the seeds out directly onto our pasta.  I forgot all about that til now.

The oregano I grew was not great. I have to get another batch. I'm going to post up a few notes about herb growing. I'm no pro, but I did learn a few things.   Most important is taste before you plant. I've had basil batches that varied wildly and some didn't get any better in the ground. You have to pick a winner to start with.  I'll add more later.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MTPIZZA on April 24, 2005, 07:52:19 PM
Yummy looking basil there pft... I also grow herbs on my deck in the summer, I have even found that you can bunch them together..basil with parsley and time...etc..it keeps down the amount of planters and they all seem to co-exist nicely, (Just put the tallest plants like basil in the back...don't forget to pull your dandelion leaves for your pie as well...(hmm come to think of it I don't remember dandelions growing in FL soil)....
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 07:58:28 PM
Varasano,
I look forward to learning more about spices.

So, would it be fair to say that home grown or fresh spices can be considered an ingredient in an artisan homemade pie?

If so, I'll add it to my list of what defines an artisan homemade pie. If not, I would like to understand the opposing viewpoint.

Feedback is generously appreciated.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 24, 2005, 08:25:29 PM
Let's talk about extreme...:

I have grown my herbs since coming here in London 6 years ago. Rosemary, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Sage, Mint (3 types, one from Naples)), Lavender and Basil and Parsley indoors. Not Only these but also Trees: 6 Stone pine (grown from Neapolitan seeds), 2 Holy oak (also Neapolitan seeds), 1 Olive Tree (from Cutting).
And every summer I grown my own "Piennolo" small tomatoes (originally from Vesuvius seeds, which now I reproduce from previous year seeds) and cayenne pepper.

All here in freezing London...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 08:38:52 PM
Who says you can't get great food in the UK. All it takes is a transplanted pizzanapoletana. That's great.

Nice to know what the master from Naples uses. Thanks for sharing. So I guess the take-home message is that there's no place like home - for spices.

I'm clicking my shoes three times...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 08:45:50 PM
Let's examine another topic which I have been perplexed by. Why do some artisans sprinkle olive oil and/or salt either before and/or after baking? I'm looking for a very high level of specificity on this point so it needs to be something more than a rote response like "for the flavor."

I have been producing very flavorful pies lately without the addition of either. Frankly, I'm not sure I'm an advocate for a gloppy pie full of oil but I am open to understanding the notion. I'm just not sure its for me at this point.

Again, feedback works.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 24, 2005, 08:47:10 PM
Let's say that I was trying to cure my home sickness...

I even try to grow Stingy nettles, but they were self seeding all over my balcony.... They are very good to bake "Pane alle Ortiche" (Stingy nettles bread). I also grow a wonderful condiment for fried pizza, Borage...

By the way this is a fork mixer, which gives the best results for pizza dough:

http://www.yourdelight.com/santos.htm

I am not sure about the producer, but the technology is no1
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 24, 2005, 08:52:31 PM
pizzanapoletana,
The Santos mixer looks like it could be the best. One follow-up question: Is the Santos mixer the better option for the home artisan pizza maker? If so why? If not why?

I have often thought of trading up to a more powerful mixer but is this the tool of an artisan? Can you help us understand how a fork mixer is better for pizza?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 24, 2005, 09:02:06 PM
I would like again to point out that I do not know the brand. However I do know for a fact that some fork mixers are passed on in the testament of some families back in Naples. I have also seen a 40 year old fork mixer working as if it was new... The best are Pietroberto's, but it is like the Bentleys or Ferrari of the brands.

Anyway, the fork mixer action incorporate a lots of air in the dough, and does this very slowly without overheating the dough (virtually no heating is caused my the mixing action). This also allows you to work high hydration dough very easily.

The good thing about the Santos, seams to be the low capacity (commercial models like Pietroberto are much bigger), and the relatively low cost (Pietroberto's mixers cost around $10,000).

If you are considering a serious mixer for home use, the Santos would be the No 1 choice.  The only question is if the bowl does rotate...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 24, 2005, 09:12:33 PM
For professionals, the best option would be a double arm diving mixers, something like this:

http://users.pandora.be/andre.dewulf/bakery_machines/bakery-machines_dough-mixer.htm

or

http://www.macpan.com/en/prodotti.php?idC=42

The Positive side is that it gives you the best oxygenation into the dough.

The negative side is that it heat up the dough too much too quickly...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: PizzaBrewer on April 24, 2005, 10:14:03 PM
...but I thought pizza dough in Naples is mixed by hand?

---Guy
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on April 25, 2005, 12:12:38 AM
Santos mixer:
I was THIS close to buying this but ended up with the DLX at the advice of a hoard of people on a bread making board.  I was very curious about it and had a feeling it made the best given a short video I saw of it's action, but was talked out of it by the board.  Marco, have you used the DLX?  It's so different than the planetary mixers, and nothing like this fork mixer.

pft, look at the specs on that santos mixer. It's huge.  The DLX is big too, but not so big. The santos is also 4 times the price. I was fed up with KA enough to not care, but in the end I've been thrilled with the DLX.  On that Yahoo group I mention on my site every home bread baker swears by it and I have to agree it's pretty cool. The dough is only heated maybe 5 or 6 F, so you can start with room temp and not worry about anything.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on April 25, 2005, 01:29:14 AM
I planted a couple sweet italian basil plants along with two greek oregano plants about two weeks ago. In the mean time, there is a local italian deli that sells bundles of fresh basil for $1, it is delicious. My next project will be a fresh mutz, roma tomato and basil pie, I'll post pictures. I'll be asking them if they will sell me seeds next time I'm in. While we are discussing high quality ingredients, for anyone that hasn't tried it, grande whole milk moz is amazingly good. I just got my 7 pound block the other day.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 25, 2005, 07:01:16 AM
duckjob,
I never thought about growing my own tomatoes. I wonder what the Florida climate will support. I would naturally like to try San Marzano seeds first. Another alternative would be to try the much more flavorful Florida "Ugly Ripe" variety. I'm not sure they have the right consistency but they are worth a peek.

Regarding the Whole Milk Mutz from Grande, I have to give you the Heisman on that one. While it is a good creamy mutz, it is not generally considered to be anything more than a street pizza cheese from what I can tell. I bought four 5lb blocks of it and thought it was average at best for my application.

Artisan cheese would need to be along the lines of a fresh bufala with a bright white exterior. Or one of the newer lower moisture, whiter than white, cryo packed fresh mutz types I have written about. Yellow cheese has no place in artisan pizza in my personal opinion.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 25, 2005, 07:14:12 AM
Varasano

The DLX seams a good home mixer, but the fork mixer one has a professional technology.  I have seen the video on your website for the DLX. You have received advice from home baker not from professionals. Off course, if the price tag is a factor, you have made a good choice (Anyway I have seen a DLX model on sale for $800 and the Santos on the link is reduced to $1100 from $1800). I am sure you are far better then a Kitchen Aid However there is no context, and the Fork mixer is superior. The dough get folded over and over again incorporating a lot of air. As you may know, the yeast then just works on this air and makes the bubble bigger... The whole happen very slowly, so you can control the mixing and doesn't heat the dough.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on April 25, 2005, 07:49:07 AM
The DLX is $479 included shipping and tax:

http://www.mountaintopsmilling.com/shopcart/products.php?cat=500&cat_name=Mixers

The DLX also folds the dough over onto itself and produces almost no heat. I have to do a video with the actual dough in it someday.  It's a weird little machine, but very cool.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 25, 2005, 08:31:35 AM
Here is the updated Pizza Raquel recipe:

                                                        Pizza Raquel - Everything You'd Want                                                    
             
 
Weight                                  Volume                                         Description                     Bakers Percent
16   oz/  456  Grams      3 1/3 cups                                   KASL High Gluten Flour                   100%     
9.6  oz/  273  Grams      1 1/8 cups or 9 fluid oz               Water                                                60%     
.01  oz/ .285  Grams         1/8 teaspoon (baker's pinch)   Instant Dry Yeast                         .0625%     
.32  oz/  9.1   Grams      2 1/4 teaspoon                           Sicilian Sea Salt (fine cut)                    2%
1.3  oz/  37    Grams      2  tablespoons (heaping)            Preferment (I use Varasano)              8% 
27.23oz/775.385 Grams

Produces two dough balls weighing 13 - 14oz (enough for two 15" - 16" pizzas). If you do not have a preferment simply add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of IDY.

Preparation Steps
1 - Stir water and salt with spoon/whisk until dissolved in stand mixer bowl.
2 - Add approximately half the flour first, then the yeast. Fit stand mixer with hook attachment.
3 - Mix 30 seconds on stir to incorporate yeast.
4 - Add preferment.
5 - Mix 1 minute on stir to incorporate preferment.
6 - 20 minute autolyse. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP (or you will die painfully).
7 - Mix on stir speed for 5 minutes, adding in remaining flour gradually over the 5 minute mix.
8 - Mix on 2/3 for 5 minutes.
9 - Check dough temperature with digital thermometer; it should be 80 degrees at the hook.
10 15 minute autolyse. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP (or you will die really painfully and slowly).
11 Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 2 minutes on lightly floured prep area.
12 Cut into 2 equal pieces, form into balls, place dough into bowls, cover with shower caps.
13 Place dough in the refrigerator. Ferment for 24+ hours.
14 On the following day(s), remove dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Note: Do not punch down, reform balls, or do anything to the dough other than let it warm to room temperature.

Stretching Steps  
1 - Place dough ball in flour bowl. Dust both sides well. Dust prep area with flour.
2 - Flatten ball into a thick pancake-like shape with palm of hand, ~ 2" thick. Keep well dusted.
3 - Press fingertips into center and working toward the rim until skin is 10 inches round. Keep well dusted.
4 - Place hands palm down inside rim and stretch outward while turning. Stretch to 12" round.
5 - Place skin over knuckles (1st time dough is lifted off bench) and stretch to 16"+/-
6 - Pat excess flour off skin. Place on floured peel and dress with favorite toppings.
7 - Peel dressed skin into preheated oven (1 hr+ at max temp) outfitted with tiles.
8 - Bake until lightly or heavily charred (more flavor).
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on April 25, 2005, 01:15:40 PM
pftaylor,

I'll be experimenting with fresh moz for the first time in the next week or so and I have a couple questions for you. First, generally how thick do you slice the cheese, and also, do you put sauce underneath it, over it or neither? Thanks


Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 25, 2005, 04:53:38 PM
duckjob,
I have experimented with just about every variation you can think of. The reason for all my tinkering is the belief I hold about light fluffy crust. It has been my experience that a lighter than light crust can be obtained by adhering to proper mixing and stretching steps and keeping the top of the pizza somewhat light weight-wise so the oven spring can effectively push upward into a fluffy middle during baking.

Currently, I am a fan of dipping the cheese in sauce and placing it directly on top of the dough. An alternate approach to this would be to place the cheese down first and then coat the top with a light layer of sauce. I then paint the dough inbetween the cheese with a layer of sauce. It takes longer to dress the skin that way, but I've found the crust to be much lighter as a result.

I have also tried just about every size of cheese. From chunks to thinly sliced 1/16th" sections (like a thin sliced deli meat). I understand Chris Bianco uses 3/4" chunks of mozzarella on his artisan pies. It obvoiusly works for Chris but I don't think he makes a 16" pie. Pizza Raquel is about 16" and thin slices seem to work better than chunks in terms of coverage. The downside with thin slices is the potential for burning. I try to use between 4 - 5 ounces of fresh mutz per pie irrespective of any other toppings.

I trust this helps.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 25, 2005, 05:29:52 PM
As a follow up to my last post, there is another reason why I use thin slices instead of chunks. I already mentioned that chunks work better on smaller diameter pies. But they also visually convey an Italian Neapolitan pizza image. That may be the visual cue I use for Pizza Sophia (the Italian version of Raquel) which uses Caputo Pizzeria 00 flour instead of high gluten but it is not the "look" I want to have for Raquel. A minor point I know but an important one to me. It may be an over-the-top romantic point to some but I prefer to make pizzas with a certain amount of passion. Pizza made passionately seems to taste better for some reason.

As a side note, the Pizza Raquel recipe has been tested with Caputo Pizzeria flour and it was quite successful.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: dankfoot on April 25, 2005, 07:44:25 PM
pftaylor,

I just made a batch of dough from your recipe above but I ran into a problem. I'm not sure if I measured wrong or what. I know on your older recipes you used 3 cups of flour but in your latest recipe you are now using 3 1/3 cups of flour. Anyway as I was mixing in the remaining flour I could tell the dough was getting kind of dry. So I stopped at about 3 cups instead of the 3 1/3 cups. This seems to be about right as far as looks and feel.

So I was wondering what made you change from the old recipe at 3 cups vs the new one at 3 1/3 cups?

Thanks
Chris
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 25, 2005, 07:54:37 PM
dankfoot,
I need you to do me a favor. Can you explain where you came up with the name dankfoot? I can't wait to read your answer. Anyway, here is my response to your question.

Volume measurements are always a guess at best. Pete-zza and I have never been able to agree on any volume measurements because we have different measuring cups and spoons. Additionally, my ingredients may be more compacted then yours, or vice-versa which leads to more complications.

I would heartily suggest you weigh everything where possible. Weighing is the single best advice I can give you when you are trying to follow a recipe whether its mine or not.

I changed the amount of KASL from 3 cups to 3 1/3 because I originally shook the measuring cups a few times to get a level read. I have been told that it is not how flour is generally measured. One is supposed to gently fill the measuring cup with flour and then take a read. So by boosting the amount up by 1/3rd of a cup, it was my way to accomodate baking convention.

Weigh everything if you can.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: dankfoot on April 25, 2005, 09:15:32 PM
pftaylor,

I'm not real sure how to answer where that name came from. A long time ago I was trying to pick a yahoo email account and the names I kept picking were already taken so yahoo asked me a few questions and it took all my answers and put them together. I have had it ever since and now it has become a nick name.  ( Well my friends just make fun of it )

Anyway, thank you for your response. The measuring cup I used to measure the water is kind of crappy. So I had to guess on the water level. I did weigh it out to be 9 6/8 I think.  Also, in measuring the flour I kind of loosened it up and I dumped 3 1/3 cups into a bowl ( not the mixing bowl ). In your recipe you say to add the rest of the flour slowly so when I was doing that process it just looked like the dough was getting dry. So I left some flour out which im guessing about 1/3 of a cup. 

I plan on making this pie on Thursday so I will let you know how it comes out. I am still waiting on my 6 in 1's which I orderd 2 weeks ago but still have not received. I will try to take some pictures also.

Anyway thanks again.
Chris

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: dankfoot on April 29, 2005, 09:49:01 AM
My go at the pizza Raquel.

First, I made the dough to be like PFTaylor’s latest recipe. I found that the 3 1/3 cups of flour was getting too dry while mixing so I left some flour out and only used maybe 3 cups. After mixing I cut the dough ball into two pieces. One dough being bigger than the other. Then I covered the dough balls and let sit in the refrigerator for 3 days.

The first pizza I made was the smallest one. I made this on my pizza stone, which I have not used in over a year but I wanted to try it out. The dough was very strong and elasticity. On this pizza I had 6 in 1, Grande cheese, fresh mozz, Margharita pepperoni, Green peppers, onion, sweet sausage and fresh basil. This pizza came out only ok. But it is my fault. I wanted a good char to the crust but it ended up cooking it too much. I guess I need more practice with my stone.

2nd pie. This one came out a lot better than the first. I cooked this one on my screen. The dough was very strong and felt like you could not tear it if you tried. It felt like the dough was begging to be tossed in the air instead of being stretched but with my skills I would be picking it up off the floor or off of the ceiling fan. I got this dough stretched out to about 16 inches. On this pizza I had 6 in 1, Grande, margharita pepperoni, fresh mozz, fresh basil. This pizza had a sweet taste and a chewy bite to it. It was really good and a lot better than the first.

Notes:

This is the first time I have used the Grande cheese. After a sample bite I could tell right away it was the best cheese I have used.

This was also the first time I have used the 6 in 1 tomatoes.  After I opened the can and had a sample taste I could tell that they were really good and tasted very fresh. But I am not sure if they are any better than the Cento or Muir Glen. I guess you would have to try them side by side. They did produce a sweet taste and that was what I was after.

Fresh Mozz, I have been using this a while now but last night it seamed to produce more liquid on the top of the pizza than normal. Maybe it was fresher than normal? Not sure.

The Dough, I though this dough was killer. I need more practice with it but it’s a winner. I think next time I will not split the dough in half and will use up the entire 18 inch screen and have a big lip/crust to the next pizza.

Here are some pics but I found out my camera sucks.

PS. Thanks PFTaylor for sharing your recipe. Good Job.


Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on April 29, 2005, 01:09:37 PM
Recently I took another stab at making the Raquel dough. This time around, however, I used the version of the recipe without the olive oil. Apart from using the stated baker's percents (and a thickness factor of 0.068) to downsize the recipe to produce a dough ball weight (10.42 oz.) suitable for a 14-inch pizza, the largest my pizza stone can handle, I followed pftaylor's instructions as exactly as I could. This time around I also decided to hold the dough (refrigerated) for about 3 days, to test the condition and suitability of the dough after that length of time. Previously, I used the dough about 24 hours after placing it in the refrigerator. The recipe I ended up with is as follows:

100%, Flour (KASL high-gluten), 6.13 oz. (about 1 1/4 c. + 2 T. + 1 t.)
60%, Water, 3.68 oz. (between 3/8 and 1/2 c., temp. adjusted to get a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F)
0.0625%, IDY, 0.004 oz. (three very small pinches between the thumb and forefinger)
2%, Salt, 0.12 oz. (about 5/8 t.)
8%, Preferment, 0.49 oz. (about 1 T.)

I experienced no problems in forming the dough. However, it rose very little in the refrigerator over the three-day period. For the first two days, the round dough ball remained completely round, with no signs of spreading whatsoever in the bowl. It was only during the third day that the dough started to spread a bit. When time came to use the dough, it started to expand, rising gradually on the counter from a dough temperature in the refrigerator of about 41 degrees F to over 60 degrees F. at a room temperature of about 75 degrees F, over a roughly 2-hour time period.

I also had no difficulty shaping the dough. It handled very easily, although it seemed not to handle quite as nicely as the previous Raquel dough. Whether it was because of the lack of olive oil, the longer fermentation period (3 days versus 1 day), or the fact that I had used the "real" autolyse technique attributed by fellow member DINKS to Prof. Calvel, the bread expert, I have no idea. The latest dough had more "wrinkles" in it, but it was still quite elastic and easy to handle without the fear of ripping or holes or weak spots forming. In fact, the dough still had enough elasticity remaining after 3 days as to lead me to believe that the dough could have held out for another few days without harmful effects. I believe Varasano is correct as to his statements on his experiences with long dough life expectancies. 

Once the dough was shaped and dressed (using a simple combination of pureed LaRegina DOP San Marzano tomatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh oregano, a fresh mozzarella cheese, and a blend of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and grana padano cheese), it was baked for about 5 minutes on a first pizza stone that had been preheated on the lowest oven rack position for about 1 hour at a temperature of 500-550 degrees F, following which it was moved to a second pizza stone at the topmost oven rack position and exposed to about a minute of baking under the broiler element that had been turned on about 4 minutes into the baking process. The photos below show the finished product.

The finished pizza and its crust tasted fine. The crust was was very light (weight-wise), thin and chewy in the center, with a healthy degree of droop, and chewy and crunchy at the rim. The crust flavor, however, was not as pronounced and as satisfying as others I have made recently. For me, top honors for crust flavor goes to the Caputo 00 pizzas using the natural Caputo 00 preferment, no added commercial yeast, and a long counter rise at room temperature. My experiece to date is that where a commercial yeast, such as IDY, is used along with a natural preferment, the flavor is not quite as good as a dough that uses only the natural preferment. I have read of this sort of thing happening, and have heard the same from people who make sourdough breads, but am at a loss to explain it. It might also be useful to mention at this point that, just because a dough has outstanding shaping and stretching qualities, it will also produce the best overall pizza in terms of taste and satisfaction. It is somewhat counterintuitive, but some of the best pizzas I have made have come from doughs that were so questionable when it came time to shape that I thought failure was at hand. A good example of this is the Caputo 00 doughs with such high hydration that they were almost impossible to handle without their trying to tear and stick to my peel.

Since a single test hardly establishes a pattern, I plan to repeat the Raquel recipe but using the olive oil again and repeating the Prof. Calvel autolyse technique described by DINKS, along with a 3-day fermentation/retardation period. That should produce a more meaningful comparison.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: dankfoot on April 29, 2005, 02:10:20 PM
Pete,

It looks good. Im ready to make another one too.

Chris
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on April 29, 2005, 02:25:41 PM
I have also found refrences to commercial yeast hurting the flavor of bread bakers sourdough cultures.  Would it be crazy to try the Raquel without commercial yeast, and use a little culture?  I think I will try that tomorrow.  Does anyone have any suggestions for how I should alter other aspects of the recipe/dough management?  I will be using the sourdo.com Italian starters.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on April 29, 2005, 03:20:09 PM
Scott,

A while back, in connection with an experiment I conducted using a natural preferment and a small amount of IDY to make a variation of the standard Lehmann NY style dough, I invited pftaylor to try out his Raquel recipe but using only a natural preferment, and no commercial yeast. Between us, we came up with a couple of experiments for pftaylor to try. You might find it useful to read (or reread) the background and the results of pftaylor's experiments, starting at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.120.html with Replies #134-140 and 144 et. seq. One of the things you may want to keep in mind is the amount of preferment you use for a retarded dough. You may recall that recently fellow member Crusty used a very small amount of preferment (1/2 t.) to make a retarded Lehmann NY style dough and had problems with baking the crust in a normal time frame (it took him 19 minutes). Bakerboy offered up some helpful hints to Crusty, saying

"I would use 15-20% of the weight of your flour as a starting point for how much starter to use. The hydration of your starter may change the dough consistency. If you have a soupy starter (which is fine) you may have to bump up a bit more flour. For example my "starter" is a dough that is mixed and fermented at 60% hydration....same as my pizza dough. That way, when I add my fermented dough (pate fermente) is doesn't change my hydration parameters of my pizza dough".

I look forward to your results, Scott, and am anxious to read about your assessment of the sourdo.com starter you plan to use.

Peter

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on April 29, 2005, 04:45:03 PM
thanks, I can't wait to try this out.   Right now the only thing holding me up is my starter.  It has been a long, slow, recovery from my accident of underfeeding the starter, and it going into a reduced state of activity.  From the looks of things tomorrow should be the day for them to be really active.  Unfortunately I have been thinking that for the past three days!  I want to make sure these things are really rocking before I make the first dough with them.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: bakerboy on April 29, 2005, 05:02:28 PM
Pete.  thats a really nice looking pie.  You could sell that.  I see you had a dough weight of a little over 10 oz.  for a 14" pizza.  mine was 24 oz for a 15" pie.  I gotta cut that back a little.
Regarding your comments about the starter and the idy, if i'm using a starter or a pate fermente, i always use that as my primary leavener and just use a little of the idy for a "push", or not at all.  The advantage, i feel, is that in using an already "ripe" or "fermented" starter, you get the benefit of it not only being the leavener but seriously contributing to the overall flavor of the final product because 20% (lets say) for your dough has already got a serious head start in the fermentation process.  If you have to use the dough as soon as its risen it will have a better depth of flavor than a dough that was risen in 1.5 hrs. by idy.  If you can retard it for a day (depending on the amount of leavening) so much the better.  My dough will last 2 days retarded and be fine.  The third day its questionable.  It usually doesn't make it for a third day but when it does we don't use it.  Too bubbly, alcoholic, and doesn't want to brown properly.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on April 29, 2005, 06:00:33 PM
I have also found refrences to commercial yeast hurting the flavor of bread bakers sourdough cultures.  Would it be crazy to try the Raquel without commercial yeast, and use a little culture?  I think I will try that tomorrow.  Does anyone have any suggestions for how I should alter other aspects of the recipe/dough management?  I will be using the sourdo.com Italian starters.

It depends on the starter. With my Pasty's starter I really need some IDY. Not much., maybe 0.25%.   Each starter is totally different.  Your's may or may not need it. You can only tell by testing it yourself or by talking to someone who used that exact same starter. Did you buy Ed Wood's book?  Never mix IDY into your permanent culture. Instead you take some out of your permanent culture, mix it with the new dough and some IDY.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on April 29, 2005, 08:14:48 PM
Bakerboy,

The dough thickness factor I used in making the dough for the most recent pizza was calculated based on the amount of dough that pftaylor uses in his Raquel recipe to make his 15"-16" pizzas. If my math is correct, his thickness factor is 0.0678 for the 16-inch size. To accurately replicate the Raquel recipe but in a smaller pizza size, I used the same thickness factor but scaled down his Raquel recipe to the 14-inch size. I used pftaylor's baker's percents to get the amount of dough I would need for the 14-inch size. The reason I asked you the size of your pizzas was because a pound and a half of dough (24 oz.) will normally produce a very thick crust for any pizza below, say, 16"-18". For your dough, I calculated that the thickness factor is 0.136 (24/(3.14 x 7.5 x 7.5) = 0.136). That would be considered a thick crust dough, and compares with around 0.10 for a typical NY style dough. It would also be about twice as thick as the crust I and pftaylor have made using his Raquel recipe. It all ultimately comes down to personal taste. Some of the better pizzas I have made were based on bread recipes rather than pizza recipes, and the crusts were as almost as thick as yours.

What you say about using 20% pate fermente or starter seems to make sense in the context of the 1- to 3-day timeframe you use. As you know, in breadmaking that percent can go as high as 50%. That really gives the dough a headstart but at the same time there is less extractable sugar in the remaining flour to allow the dough to go out too long before it starts to go downhill. I suspect in most cases that isn't a problem because the targeted timeframe is not likely to be several days.

As for selling the pizza I made, I am sure customers would be complaining that they were shortchanged because the pizza was so thin and light that they could eat the whole thing (just as I did) and still be hungry. Your pizzas would sell much better because they have real heft, and that is what most people seem to prefer. 

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 30, 2005, 07:35:54 AM
Guys,
Thanks for giving Pizza Raquel a shot. It looks like the results were favorable. The dough consistently feels so competent to my hands I feel emboldened to try new things everytime I make a pie.

Interesting comments about autolyse. I have determined from my limited pizza making efforts that an autolyse period is beneficial. Additional testing will be required to determine an optimal autolyse period. My sense is that it would vary slightly by flour type since each type has a different absorption rate.

I was underwater all last week and did not have ready access to a keyboard. On top of that my Blackberry died so I am just now catching up on all the action.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 30, 2005, 01:37:56 PM
dankfoot & Pete-zza,
I just finished reviewing your Pizza Raquel efforts and have some questions.

First, there appears to be considerably more charring than what I have noticed from your previous efforts with other recipes. Is that a correct statement? If so, I wonder why? It appears that you each may have cooked the pies a little longer than normal from the photographs posted.

Another observation is that the pies appear to be thinner. Do I have that right? If so, I wonder if there is any merit to using a thicker crust in the future. It may be interesting to compare your normal thickness pie to the thinner looking Raquel and perform a comparative review.

While I am obviously biased, both crusts appear to be excellent examples of home pizza making done right.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on April 30, 2005, 01:58:27 PM
pft,

In my case, I used the parameters of your Raquel recipe to calculate the thickness factor for my particular dough. Specifically, I used your dough weight and the 16-inch diameter (rather than the 15-inch alternative) to calculate the thickness factor, and then used that thickness factor to calculate how much dough I would need for the 14-inch size. I suspect that the charring was greater because of the very thin crust. Had I used your 15-inch size as a benchmark to calculate the corresponding thickness factor and amount of dough needed for the 14-inch size, the crust would have been a bit thicker. I did not bake the pizza longer than usual, so I think the thinness was the main reason for the greater degree of charring. Not using any olive oil in the dough may also have been a contributing factor, maybe even the main factor.

I agree that it would be interesting to modify the Raquel recipe to have a greater crust thickness. This would be easy to do given that we know the baker's percents for your Raquel recipe. I'm also interested in exploring whether one autolyse method is better than another. As you know, it sometimes takes several experiments to find the answers, varying only one parameter at a time.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Artale on April 30, 2005, 05:04:56 PM
pft,

In my case, I used the parameters of your Raquel recipe to calculate the thickness factor for my particular dough. Specifically, I used your dough weight and the 16-inch diameter (rather than the 15-inch alternative) to calculate the thickness factor, and then used that thickness factor to calculate how much dough I would need for the 14-inch size. I suspect that the charring was greater because of the very thin crust. Had I used your 15-inch size as a benchmark to calculate the corresponding thickness factor and amount of dough needed for the 14-inch size, the crust would have been a bit thicker. I did not bake the pizza longer than usual, so I think the thinness was the main reason for the greater degree of charring. Not using any olive oil in the dough may also have been a contributing factor, maybe even the main factor.


.

I agree that it would be interesting to modify the Raquel recipe to have a greater crust thickness. This would be easy to do given that we know the baker's percents for your Raquel recipe. I'm also interested in exploring whether one autolyse method is better than another. As you know, it sometimes takes several experiments to find the answers, varying only one parameter at a time.

Peter



Peter,

I have been using a 30 min rest period (based on a post from you and dinks) after I mix
 all ingriedents together leaving 1/3 of the flour on the side for the final mixing stage after the rest.
the results are better.  Why i dont know?  I was using a 20 min rest originally.

I also after completing the process let the dough sit for 20 min on the counter before it goes
to the fridge for a cold slow rise. (24hr). I use small % of IDY  .25% of total flour amount. 60% water.
2 to 2.5 % salt. No starter yet but i am curious if a starter will increase flavor.  So far my observations
tell me that one of the most important issues is the kneading process. If have observed
that if the kneading process is not correct the type of ingredients used will not
create a good dough.  There is a pizzeria in the NYC area that i go to called Ciro's.
Tony has been in business 30+ years and makes a terrific pizza both neapolitian and
sicilian.  I asked Nick (one of the workers who makes the dough as well) what type
of flour. He told me APurpose flour!  I have lived in the NYC area all my life (46 yrs) and have had
some of the finest pizza's around.   From Brooklyn, Queens, NYC the Bronx and even Long Island
has there fair share of some good parlors.  I was shocked to find out that Tony uses All purpose
flour!   As jeff Varasano points out the ingredients are important but not as important as
the process of kneading the flour and creating dough. I am finding out its all feel.

Tony uses a small amount of EVO, he uses salt, water and AP.  I am not sure if he uses starter
i will find out. I will also find out about the yeast he uses and if its a counter rise or cold rise.
My guess is a cold rise. His oven is gas.  He told me it goes to 850 deg F.
Tony also uses Grande motz and his mom makes the sauce which is absolutely delicious.
I not sure they will let that secret go.  Maybe a large sum of cash will do it!  HA!!Ha!  :)

Any how thanks for all your help you and others have helped me a great deal and
with practice i am making a better pizza every week!!

Artale




Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 30, 2005, 06:59:02 PM
I decided to try a 10 hour counter rise with the Pizza Raquel recipe. I didn't have time to use the standard 24+ hour cold rise. A new peel was also delivered this week which required additional flour to grease the pie which ended up turning the bottom whiter than normal. Results are below.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on April 30, 2005, 08:33:20 PM
Artale,

I think there are too many variables and too many variations from one home setting to another to ever be able to tell for sure what form of autolyse should be used and its optimal duration. When you add the possibility of using a preferment, the situation become even more complex and harder to analyse in a common home setting. Autolyse was originally adapted as a way for bread bakers to improve the dough and the quality of the finished loaf. In the purest sense, the autolyse took place only between flour and water, and the rest period could have been from, say, 20 minutes to an hour. Then it became common to add yeast to the dough prior to the autolyse rest period, and especially if the yeast was incorporated through the use of a preferment, which has relatively low leavening power. It was only after the autolyse period that salt or oil would be added to the dough.

The autolyse methodology credited to Prof. Calvel by DINKS would be considered a classical or pure form of autolyse. But, as DINKS has also pointed out, bakers often deviate from the classical ways of doing things and add their own techniques and preferences to the mix. Sometimes it's by design, but given the many variations of autolyse, I suspect it is often through trial and error. And even if one autolyse approach works well, it may not produce materially different results than some other approach. As an example of this, both pftaylor's and Varasano's forms of "autolyse" seem to produce comparable results in terms of overall dough quality even though they use somewhat different "autolyse" approaches. And the results I recently achieved using the more classical autolyse described by DINKS seemed to be consistent with the results achieved by pftaylor and Varasano. And it sounds like you are experiencing the same effects with your version of autolyse.

As for your question about using a preferment to enhance flavor, I definitely am a proponent of such use for certain kinds of pizzas and where it is convenient to do so. The best crust flavors I have achieved to date were through the use of the Caputo 00 flour and the natural Caputo 00 preferment, with a long, room-temperature fermentation/ripening. However, a good flavor profile can also be achieved using a small amount of commercial yeast (but only a little) along with the preferment, as I did recently in using the Raquel recipe. From a temperature standpoint, it seems to me that more flavor is achieved through a room temperature fermentation, but equally good results might be achieved in a retarded environment if given the benefit of more time for more by-products of fermentation, or more potent by-products of fermentation, to develop. You might also change the overall flavor profile based on how much preferment is used. So, as you can see, there are a multitude of variations and possibilities.

I think you (and Varasano) are also right about technique versus ingredients. I don't know if Ciro's is using a preferment or an autolyse (I tend to doubt they are using either) but I can't say that I am particularly surprised that they are using all-purpose flour for their Neapolitan style pizzas (many pizza cookbook writer recommend doing so) or the Sicilian style dough. If they are using the all-purpose flour for a classic NY style dough, then I would be surprised and want to know more about how they are doing that.

I'm truly happy that you feel you are making progress with your pizza making skills. You seem to be really soaking up all this stuff. And thanks for the kind words.

Peter

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Artale on April 30, 2005, 10:35:50 PM
With all the great members on this forum that share their knowledge its hard not to have
make progress!

what a blessing this site is !!

thanks again

 :)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 01, 2005, 01:19:51 AM
I dare say that the pizzas I made tonight were far and away the best I have ever made, and I've been making some pretty decent pizzas lately. It was a modified Raquel. I've been toying with the recipe a bit the last couple weeks, and the following has given me the best tasting pizza to date

30 oz KASL
65% hydration
4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp OO
1 tsp IDY

I followed the pizza raquel kneading instructions to a T. The dough was split into 4 balls dropped in a plastic bag and placed in the fridge.  I used two dough balls today, they had risen for four days in the fridge.  I allowed the dough to warm up for one hour and preheated the oven to 550 for 1 hour. I cooked both pizzas on the stone for 6 minutes, the last 4 minutes with the broiler on high. The pizzas were coooked seperately. I also used fresh mozzerella for the first time tonight, which was much tastier than I was anticipating. First pizza is fresh mutz and basil. Second pizza is fresh mutz, peperoni and sun dried tomato's. If anyone has other questions please ask, I'm still a bit giddy :) And now the good stuff

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_043005/pie1.jpg)
(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_043005/pie1_bottom.jpg)
(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_043005/pie1_prop.jpg)
(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_043005/pie1_side.jpg)
(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_043005/pie2.jpg)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 01, 2005, 05:19:54 AM
duckjob,
Your most recent efforts are worthy of the finest examples of a Neapolitan pie I have seen on this forum. Wow they look good.

Not only does it appear you have the crust right but you seem to have hit upon the correct balance of crust, sauce, and cheese. Well done.

I'm glad Raquel's sister (or as you described it, a modified Raquel) may have helped you in some small way. I'm also grinning with you for I remember when I had my first big breakthrough. It was like falling in love for the first time. It must also be contagious because it appears snowdy broke on through to the other side as well. Only problem now is that you cannot go back to accepting mediocre results.

Welcome to the club.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on May 01, 2005, 10:42:09 AM
duckjob,

I commend you for the great job you did with your modified Raquel pizzas. I knew it was only a matter of time before you would achieve great success with your pizzas because you kept on working and working and experimenting and experimenting and tinkering and tinkering and improving and improving and you never gave up. And you shared your results with the rest of us all along the way, good or bad, and I would smile to myself because I saw that you weren't about to give up. Imagine what you will be able to do and contribute when you finish school  :).

BTW, what size were your pizzas? And could you detect any pronounced fermentation flavors after 4 days?

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on May 01, 2005, 11:28:39 AM
Hey guys,

These photos are really looking good.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 01, 2005, 02:55:11 PM
Key Success Factors to Creating a Home Artisan Pie

I thought it appropriate to describe what I consider to be a true artisan pie and perhaps the key factors associated with being able to eat glorious pie in the comfort of one’s home. I have attempted to cover all the major areas which often lead to a successful result in the home setting. No doubt I will overlook some aspect deemed vital by others so please contribute to the intent of this post where possible.

First, you should have the right approach for the level of achievement you are striving for. If your goal is to produce a “good enough” pie, that’s okay. While it’s not the focus of this thread, I have eaten my fair share of “good enough” pie in my time. Frankly, had I known how long the learning curve would be to climb to an artisan pie, I probably would have turned back. Nah, only kidding!

In order to have the goal of an artisan pie, you must be willing to dedicate the time, energy, effort, and resources to take a simple comfort food and turn it into a gourmet feast. It is not easy. The road is long and completely full of hair-pin turns to be sure. So the litmus test to determine if you are a candidate for artisan home pie making would be to ask yourself a simple question: Do you consider chain pizza good enough?

If your answer is yes then no offense but clearly this thread is not meant for you. I have realized long ago that not everyone wants to produce a gourmet pizza. For those that do however, I would suggest reading further.

A fairly obvious requirement would also be to have the right tools. Reality tells me most people have an ordinary oven in a home setting so about the best I can suggest is to outfit your oven with a stone or tiles as a baseline and crank up the heat as high as possible. One additional thought about ovens is to check the recalibration procedure for your oven and max it out. You may be able to squeeze out another 35 degrees or so. Other tools of importance would be a good mixer, a large prep area, a peel, wheel, scrape, serving tray (which add to the presentation), measuring cups and spoons. Last but not least is the outright requirement for a digital scale. In fact, I recommend not one but two. Since we typically make small batches, some ingredients are very light and could benefit from an ultra precise scale. An ultra precise scale can only measure up to 8 ounces or so but is brutally accurate with ingredients like yeast, salt, and even water. Other ingredients such as flour can benefit from a regular digital scale. Those models generally measure up to 5 lbs or so. You can never be too accurate with ingredients.

There are two points which require expansion here. Quality tools cost real money. I view the cost of my tools as an investment and not a cost. The difference between a cost and an investment in my mind is this: I get a return on my investment – in the form of great tasting pie. Another return is the ability to consistently reproduce a recipe without fear.

Next on the hit parade would be the right recipe. Here I simply mean the right recipe for your tastes. There is no one recipe in the world which is best for everyone. I happen to prefer a NY style pie. If I had access to the best Chicago style recipe in the world, I would turn my nose up to it simply because I don’t care for that style of pie. Others would belly crawl over five miles of jagged glass to get the best Chicago recipe in the world. Not me.

The right recipe to me means that it will produce the type of pie which pleases you the most and it is complete. In other words, it should clearly explain the steps necessary to achieve the end product. The major steps in any recipe would start with ingredient quantities expressed in weights, volumes, measures, and baker’s percentages. Then a description of the proper mixing and stretching steps would be helpful. It should be an end-to-end recipe from the initial mixing steps until the pie comes out of the oven. I happen to be a fan of preferments, high gluten flour, cold rises, and everything else which produces maximum flavor on a thin crust pie.

Ingredients. You need the right ingredients for the type of pizza you plan on making. My general suggestion here is to buy the most expensive ingredients you can get your hands on. The cost between cheap ingredients and the most expensive is not much per pie.

Fresh ingredients such as fresh mutz and fresh herbs like basil are worth the up charge. Better ingredients cost more money there is simply no getting around it. Splurge!

Finally, I believe artisan pizza making all comes down to passion. Whether it is in the home or in a restaurant. You are the secret ingredient. You make the difference between a “good enough” pie and a masterpiece. Sure all the other areas I described briefly above contribute but not to the same degree as a passionate pizza maker. I believe it is primarily because each step of the pizza making process depends in large part on the previous step. If a corner is cut there, a cascading process begins which is unstoppable. It takes a level of caring to take your time with painstakingly precise steps. It takes commitment. It takes effort. It takes passion.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 01, 2005, 06:54:20 PM
Thanks Peter and pftaylor for the kind words, It means a lot to me coming from you two. I would contribute this great dough primarily to the kneading technique you developed for Pizza Raquel.

As far as the size goes, they are 14 inch pizzas, the dough balls weigh approximately 12 oz. I have about 2.5 ounces of fresh mozzerella and probably about 1/4 cup of sauce.  The extra fermentation was noticable, the 4 day dough was more flavorful than the 1 day.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: IslanderJSF on May 01, 2005, 11:02:29 PM
Greetings.  This is my first post to this board but allow me to say that I have been following the reverse engineering threads and living the experiences along with you all for the past month.  I am finally ready to post as I have made some pizza according to the pizza raquel recipe and am ready to report my results.  My version has been made using a bread machine so hopefully there are some who will find my comments useful and know that even with a bread machine to perform the mixing, a great pizza can be made.

My story goes something like this...  I am originally from Long Island NY.  I now reside in Cincinnati OH which is a desert wasteland for good bagels, chinese food, and especially pizza.  I have been here for 10 years and finally took matters into my own hands last year by trying to make my own pizza.  I worked with the same recipe I found somewhere on the internet for NY style pizza for the enire year.  I was not able to get anything that resembled the type of dough I was used to which was a chewy foldable crust. I was using KASL but my dough would tear easily when stretching.  I played with the amount of water hoping that was the problem but each week my results would vary slightly but ultimately remain the same.  I then found my way to this board at the end of March.  I read and learned and prepared.  I obtained the sourdo italian starters, a digital scale, and a digital thermometer.  The only piece of equipment I haven't yet added is the mixer but it would have to wait for now.

Below is my experience along with photos.  I also try to explain where my process using the bread machine differ from the original Raquel process.

Base Recipe
-----------
Pizza Raquel with oil.  I wanted the highest performing dough and since I have had major problems with tearing dough, I kept the oil.

Ingredient Variances
--------------------
My recipe varied in two areas. 
1) IDY - my scale does not measure less than whole grams so it was impossible for me to be accurate with the IDY.  I believe the amount I used was greater than the prescribed recipe but was OK with this due to point 2 below.
2) Starter - This was my first try with a starter.  I have no clue if it was active.  I followed the instructions but who knows?  There were some bubbles but my hunch is it might not have been fully active.  For this reason I felt the extra IDY may help my cause.  I must say, starter maintenance is a real pain.  I am not sure it is worth it yet.

Mixing Procedure
----------------
According to the raquel process here is where I varied.

1) Stir water and salt ....   Performed the same as in the original instructions but in the bread machine container instead of a mixing bowl.
2) Add half the flour .... Same
3) Mix 30 seconds on sir ....  Here I used the dough cycle on my bread machine for 30 seonds to incorporate the yeast.
4) Add preferment .... Same
5) Mix 1 minute on sitr ....  Here I started a fresh dough cycle and ran it for 1 minute.
6) 20 minute autolyse .... Same
7) Mix on stir for 5 minutes ....  Again I started a fresh dough cycle for 5 minutes and slowly incorporated the remaing flour.
8) Mix on 2/3 for 5 minutes .... Here I kept the cycle running from the previous step for 5 more minutes and added the oil.
9) Check dough temp .... mine was 81.9
10) 15 minute autolyse .... same
11) Knead 2 minutes.... same
12) Cut into 2 pieces ... same
13) refrigerate 24 hours .... same
14) counter rise .... My dough was on the counter for about 3 hours.

In a nutshell this dough was fantastic compared to my previous efforts.  I knew pulling it out of the bread machine that this dough was going to work better.  It definitely appeared to have a higher hydration level than my previous doughs and appeared to be more extensible even before refrigeration.  There was no need to window pane this dough.

My pictures are attached but here are a few observations I made:

1) I was probably too liberal with my oil on the top of the pie.  I chalk this up to rustiness.
2) The crust didn't brown much.  My oven is conventional running at 550 max.  I am considering adding some sugar to help with this.
3) The crust was exceptional in texture, chewiness, and foldability.  I was extremely pleased with the outcome.

All in all I am convinced that this recipe works with a bread machine and I plan on continuing to master it in this way.

A few miscellaneous comments before the pics:
1) The "square" pizzas mentioned in the reverse engineering threads are referred to as "Sicilian" pizzas in NY.  It was pretty customary for my family to order one regualr pie and one sicilian every Friday night while I was at home.  Gosh I miss those days.
2) I am planning a trip back home in July.  MY father is originally from Brooklyn and swears by Tottonos.  I had it when I was younger once but really couldn't appreciate it.  I remember we had a regualr pie and a white pizza.  I am going to try to get there while I am home.  I will offer to do whatever research I can if there is interest.  I will either go there or DiFaras based on feedback from this board.

That's all for now.  I appreciate being a part of the community.  It helps me to know there are people tweaking their barbeques and running self clean cycles to make perfect pizzas.  It helps justify my obsession to my wife.

John
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 02, 2005, 02:36:53 AM
I did some experimenting with Raquel today.  It was my first time with the new dlx mixer, and the sourdo.com starters, and a new recipe, so I decided to make pies at home in my bottom of the line oven.  I have not so affectionately dubbed it the "betty crocker easy bake oven" as it don't think it gets up much past 400 degrees, and it is so small.  Because of this cheap piece of junk I am stuck with in my rented apartment,  I usually make pies for parties at other peoples houses.  With all the new stuff going on I didn't want to screw up with a bunch of hungry friends around waiting for pie.   Although I learned a lot, I really can't say they were the greatest pies I have ever made, but the dough did handle better than anything I have ever made before.  I really think the oven temp was the problem.  After making three pies I had had enough with it and I went in there and disconnected the thermostat.  Now it stays on full blast all the time.  I can't wait for tomorrow and a chance to cook at a decent temp.  I promise to everyone that I will be really careful with this thing!  I am afraid to push it to be too hot.  I really just want to get up to 550 or 600 for now.

All of the pizzas were KASL, no oil, no sugar, and with weighed ingredients. I just used everything at room temp (75 degrees), and was so happy when my final dough temp came out to be 80.5. My sourdough.com starter was the one form the bakery on the island off of Naples.  By the time I used it it had been a bubbly froth for a few feedings.  It was almost the consistency of an extra thick shaving cream. I made two batches of dough. The first was a single raquel with no commercial yeast, only starter.  The second was a double batch with starter, and instant yeast.  I think the single batch is too small for the dlx mixer, maybe even the double.  I think next time I will try a triple.  I don't know if it was because the batches were too small, or if I added the flour too slowly, but I was only able to get about 10 minutes of mixing after the 20 minute rest period.  After 10 minutes, and without all the flour even in there yet, the dough ball just bounced around in the mixer.  I was unable to get a good window pane so I did some extra time with my hand kneading.  I also wanted to try to get some more of the flour in there.  I probably did 8 min instead of the suggested 3. One note about the starter.  This in the room temp 19 hour doughs this flavor is really tart!  It seems like it is going to be much more subdued with the fridge doughs, but I just wanted to warn you guys.  There was nothing subtle about the flavor.  Maybe this recipe is better with a weaker culture than the sourdo.com island starter, or it should be adjusted to have less if you are doing a room temp rise.

Now I know why I am a musician instead of a scientist.  I really wanted to be able to bring something back to the forum because I have learned so much from you guys, and what did I do?  I forgot to label the room temp dough's.  I have no idea which was which, so please forgive me for wasting your time here.  Luckily I did label the refrigerated ones, so I will have more on the differences of those tomorrow.

Pie #1 was a 19 hour room temp rise.  This dough was so alive.  It doubled in size, maybe even more than doubled, and I punched it down.  Another few hours later, and it had almost doubled again. I figured this was the dough with the commercial yeast booster.  It really seemed so full of life when I formed the pie.  I had such high hopes for this dough, but guess what.  This pie sucked.  I don't know what happened, but it was like chewing gum, and had the STRONGEST sour dough taste.  I really began to worry, and regret the past week of constant attention that I had given the starter.  It tasted just like your typical san fran sour dough bread. Maybe even more sour. I am assuming that the dough had just run out of food for the yeasts to feed on when I finally made the pie, and I was using dead dough.

Pie #2 was also a 19 hour room temp rise.  This dough had barely risen at all in the 19 hours.  Nothing like the first dough.  I figured it was the one without the commercial yeast booster.  Now I am really confused as to which was which, because this one had way more spring once cooked.  No more chewing gum, and much less sour dough flavor. I would say the flavor of this dough would have been better if it just had a little more of a yeasty flavor to balance out the sharp sourdough flavor.  Maybe this will come with the refrigerated doughs after more time. Maybe Caputo? The consistency was much better than the first pie, but still not great.  For now I will attribute this to the low oven temp, and the fact that I am still trying to figure out my mixing technique.

Pie #3 was a 24 hour rise in the fridge.  Luckily the fridge doughs were marked, so I know this was one with the instant yeast.  This pie was much more similar to the second pie than the first.  It had even less of  the sourdough flavor, probably the perfect amount.  It had more spring than any, but like pie number 2 it was still a little tough on the outside, and a little too dry and airy on the inside. Once again the oven is probably the culprit here.

A few questions.

Jeff,
what is your minimum size for a batch in the magic mill?  Sorry, I know I read where you said this somewhere else before.  I am having no luck with the search engine, and your posts are adding up!

Is 10 minutes after the first rest enough time for mixing in this thing?  PFT has some exact instructions on timing with his Kitchen Aid, but do you have a longer is better feeling?  I noticed on your website that some of your doughs have gone for what I would consider to be a pretty long time.

Do you think I will be able to mix longer with a bigger batch of dough? 

Questions for anybody willing to help,

The dough handled like Raquel should in the descriptions from PFT, no rips, easy to shape etc.  I am just worried about not being able to get a good window pane right after mixing.  Are you supposed to check for the window pane right after you turn off the mixer, or wait a while for the gluten to chill out?

I really want a dough that is as lighter than your typical NY street pizza, almost soft,  but still very moist on the inside, and crispy on the outside.  I know I will need very high heat for this, and probably a high hydration dough,  but is there anything else I should know with these attributes in mind.  This could very well be what you guys are going for with Raquel.  I just want to make sure I am chasing  after the right girl.  Does the description of my goal sound more like a traditional Neapolitan dough with the caputo flour?  I still haven't had a chance to try a pie like this done correctly so I am not sure.  The closest I have come to tasting  what I want was at Grimaldes.  I can't really say I know what Patsy's is like because when I went there the newer guy gave me two pies that were solid black on the bottom.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on May 02, 2005, 07:32:13 AM
I rarely go under 900g for a batch (2 pounds or about 3 pies). But I think I could get a smaller batch in the machine, now that I know how to use it.  A couple of things. Punching down your dough will make it tough, in my opinion. I never punch down. If your dough doubles in bulk then it is WAY overrisen and will also be tough and dense.  Most of us do a cold rise so this retards the yeast and lets the flavor develop slowly.  Marco uses a room temp rise. If you want to use a room temp rise, you should cut back the amount of yeast A LOT.  Marco uses just 1-3% starter and no IDY (I think).

Also, do not force flour into your dough.  Measuring is fine, but ultimately you have to feel the dough to see if it's got the right amount of flour. If your dough is stuck to the roller before the full kneading time has been reached, then you have added to much flour too quickly. Hand kneading will not solve the problem. In fact I have found that hand kneading actually makes it worse. If the dough is dry enough to comfortably hand knead, it is too dry.  I try to keep all hand kneading to just the minimum I need to shape the balls. Start with about 2/3 of the flour and sprinkle the rest on gradually through the whole kneading cycle. For much of the cycle it will look more like a batter than a dough. This is what you want. If you have a bit of flour left over at the end, don't force it in. Sprinkle a dusting of flour on the dough and press in with your hand. If it's smooth and soft, it's done.

My mixing times are
1 mix
20 rest
10 mix low speed or a bit higher
5 rest
5 mix middle of the dial speed
20 rest

Flour is added continually until the very last minute of mixing.  This method achieves excellent windowpaning every time for me.  However, I get the sense that I may be able to simplify this by removing the 5 min rest in the middle. But I have not tested this.  I do mix much longer than most on this site.

The most valid time to test for windowpaning is after the last rest. But test an extra piece and then toss it. Once you've stretched it out, it will be subpar if you roll it back into a dough. Of course, at this point it's too late to fix anything if it doesn't test well. But you will learn what to do for next time and eventually you won't have to test ever again. I only test if I've made some dramatic change to the recipe. Otherwise I can just tell by feel now.

Have patience. It takes a while.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on May 02, 2005, 07:59:14 AM
I've now make 3 batches with KASL rather than my normal Bread flour. Here's my best guess as to what's happening:

The KASL results in a denser more structured dough. It also cannot take the high heat as well. For those of you baking at low temps, I recommend the KASL over the Bread flour because it seems to brown more quickly. However  you can't really get as light and springy a product out of the KASL. It seems suited for a NY style pizza. For those baking at very high temps and going for a more neopolitan pie, I recommend the bread flour over the KASL.  It takes the high heat better, puffs higher and is overall lighter and more springy. It also has a lighter feel on the stomach.  Also the KASL does not do as well with a very long rise. But overall the flavor of the 2 flours is identical.

Next I will test the Caputo 00 Pizzeria. This has even less gluten than the KA Bread, and thus I'm guessing it will do even better at very high temps (and even worse at low temps).  But I may not get to these tests for a while.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: dankfoot on May 02, 2005, 09:59:31 AM
It looks like Raquel is starting to get around.  ;)

I will try her again this week and post the pics. I think im going to make one large pizza instead of 2 pies.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on May 02, 2005, 10:10:50 AM
IslanderJSF,

I applaud you for the thorough and detailed explanation of your efforts to try the Raquel recipe using a bread machine. In my view, the bread machine is the toughest machine to use to make high-quality pizza dough. So, any effort on your part to make it easier to use a bread machine for pizza dough production is to be commended.

Your pizza looks fine except that I am puzzled by the lack of more color in the top crust. The bottom browning looks fine but, unless the photo flash washed out the top crust color, there should have been more top crust browning. From my experience, lack of crust browning is caused by one or more of the following: 1) use of a relatively low-protein flour like a 00 flour, 2) insufficient extraction of natural sugar from the flour, examples of this being a same-day dough made within a few hours or a retarded dough with insufficient fermentation, 3) overfermentation and loss of fermentable sugar because of the excessive fermentation, and 4) oven temperature/baking problems. I don't think the lack of added sugar is the problem, although it might improve browning. On the assumption that you used KASL, after 24 hours of retardation, there should have been plenty of natural sugar left in the dough, especially with the Raquel recipe where the experience of most who have made dough based on that recipe is to get several days of useful life out of the dough and decent crust browning.

Unless your bread machine is at fault--and I don't see anything offhand that you did wrong (in fact, I'm impressed with the lengths to which you went to do what you did)--I'm inclined to suspect your oven or baking technique. However, before exploring that possibility, I'd like to point out that in your detailed machine processing instructions, you did not mention when and how you added the IDY. (Usually the IDY is added directly to the flour.) If, for some reason, you forgot to actually add the IDY and, if your preferment was on the weak side, it's possible that there was inadequate fermentation of the dough and insufficient extraction of natural sugar to be available for caramelization and the production of color in the crust. You didn't say how long the pizza was baked, but if it was longer than would normally be required (around 6-8 minutes for the Raquel recipe), the bottom of the crust could brown up while the top of the crust doesn't. At this point, almost no amount of further baking time will cure the problem and you will find yourself taking the pizza out of the oven before the toppings start to burn.

If insufficient sugar extraction was not the cause of your color problem, then that takes us back to the oven. Sometimes people will open the oven door to check on the pizza and, in the process, lose a lot of oven heat. Or they will completely tile an oven rack such that there is little or no space around the tiles to allow heat to reach the top of a pie. The tiles will get very hot but the pizza will get insufficient heat for top crust browning. You didn't indicate what baking technique you used (i.e., pizza stone or tiles), but I suspect that your stone or tiles and their positioning in the oven are not at fault, especially in light of the fact that you apparently have been making pizzas for some time without incident. You could move your pizza under the broiler for a minute or so to get increased top crust browning, but you should have been able to get adequate browning without doing that, and especially with a flour like the KASL. I don't know what kind of oven you have, but if any of the above possibilities were at fault, you should be able to correct the problem fairly easily. You might want to doublecheck your oven temperatures and especially the temperature at the surface of the stone/tiles to be sure they are at the proper temperature at the time of baking (usually you will need an hour or so of preheating at 500-550 degrees F).

Please let us know if you determine the source of the browning problem. I also look forward to the results of your further experimentation with your bread machine.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: IslanderJSF on May 02, 2005, 04:41:40 PM
Pete-zza,

I appreciate your thoughts on the crust.

There were no camera/flash issues here.  I am as puzzled as you are by the lack of color in my crust.  Generally speaking I have not found my crusts to brown tremendously but this particular one was as white as I've seen.

To address some of your comments:

The IDY was added in the first step and incorporated into the flour. 
My oven was pre-heated on 550 for over an hour.
I am using a stone which is set in the middle of the lowest oven rack. 
The dough was a 24 hour refrigerated rise with 3 hours on the counter which doesn't strike me as out of bounds for sugar production.

I will say that this pizza was only cooked for about 6 1/2 minutes.  This could be the cause of the problem.  It had been well over a month since I made one and the rust definitely showed.  I was concerned with overcooking (even though I have never really done this with my oven) so I did check on it quite regularly which meant a few times opening the oven door.  I hope this is the main cause of the problem.  Although I cooked this pizza at 550 I have found that my pizzas seem to do better around 500. With my next batch I will shoot for a cook time closer to 8 minutes as long as my toppings aren't burning.  I think I will try this before resorting to adding sugar to the recipe. 

As for the bread machine, pftaylor's instructions worked pretty well with it.  The only tricky part was learning the bread machine's dough cycle enough to understand when to reset it and when to let it continue to resemble the mixing speeds.

I believe I have a setup similar to yours.  With your Raquel attempts how long have you been cooking your pizza and at what temp? My stone is 14 inches so I probably need to reduce the dough ball size to accommodate the reduced pie size although I didn't feel that the pizza was too thick.  I have a couple batches planned for the next few weeks so hopefully I can nail down these minor issues.  It is much more pleasurable concentrating on details like this instead of issues like tearing dough.

John

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on May 02, 2005, 05:23:10 PM
John,

The maximum pizza size my pizza stone can accommodate is 14 inches, which is why I downsized the Raquel recipe to that size. My usual practice is to bake on the stone (on the lowest oven rack) for about 5-6 minutes and then transfer the pizza to the uppermost rack, just below the broiler, and bake for about another minute or two under the broiler. Sometimes I will put a second stone on the top oven rack and preheat it, along with the lower pizza stone. Whether I use the second stone or not, I can't say that I notice a big difference. I usually turn the broiler on about 3 minutes or so into the bake process. Whether I use one stone or two, I preheat the oven for about an hour (a bit longer if I use two stones) at about 500-550 degrees F.

I agree that it may make sense to try a 500 degree F bake temperature (Tom Lehmann advocates around 450-500 degrees F) and lengthen the bake time, if for no reason other than to see if that improves the color in the crust. It may well have been that opening the door a few times lowered the ambient temperature of the oven by enough (I bet it was quite a bit over a hundred degrees) to prevent the top crust of the pizza from browning up sufficiently, even though the stone was still very hot. Opening the door to move the pizza from the stone to a position just under the broiler is not a problem because of the high direct broiler heat. In fact, the oven manufacturers often suggest that the oven door be kept ajar during the broil cycle.

Please let us know the results of your next attempt.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Crusty on May 02, 2005, 09:15:56 PM
IslanderJSF, my take is that the leading cause of the problem was the position of the stone in the oven.  Try moving your stone up a rack or two. My bet is that the position of the stone caused an "out of synch" condition where the bottom was on its way but the top did not recieve the higher oven temps that exist at the higher racks.  I experienced a similar condition when I had my stone on the bottom rack and in addition placed another stone three racks up to create a lower profile oven space.  It did not work beacause the bottom was browning but the top did not get the heat.  Also I beleive the pie was undercooked....try more time as another experiment.

Regards,

Crusty
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 05, 2005, 06:21:53 AM
IslanderJSF,
Glad to see that your apparent tearing problems are over. I look forward to seeing your next batch. After reading your detailed post I would suspect you may have opened the oven door one too many times.

My Raquel crust only browns in the last minute of grilling and if I open the hood too soon, I can't get browning either. One of the tricks I now employ, to keep toppings from burning, is to slice the cheese and place it in the freezer for a short period of time prior to dressing the skin. Try it, it may work for you as well.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 06, 2005, 09:44:41 PM
Here are photographs of my latest Pizza Raquel effort:
- 12 hour warm rise
- Grande Whole Mutz
- Flora D.O.P. Pomodori San Marzano (new brand @ only $2.99 28oz can)
- Grated Romano after grilling
- I had to pop a lot of bubbles hence the relative lack of spring

The new brand of San Marzano tomatoes were just as good as any D.O.P. San Marzano I have eaten to date.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: itsinthesauce on May 07, 2005, 08:45:25 AM
Outstanding!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 07, 2005, 08:57:22 AM
itsinthesauce,
Thanks for the kind words.

Every time I use Grande cheese, it gives a NY Street appearance to Pizza Raquel. Here is the exact list of ingredients I used:

Ingredients Used to Mix Dough:
King Arthur Sir Lancelot Flour
Bottled Water
Varasano Preferment
Sicilian Sea Salt
IDY

Ingredients Used to Dress Dough:
Flora Pomodori San Marzano Dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P.
Grande Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese
Italian Dry Spices
Locatelli Romano
Fresh Basil
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 07, 2005, 12:36:33 PM
Here is my latest effort to craft a pepperoni version of Pizza Raquel. My son really likes this version of Raquel. The pepperoni made the pie quite juicy.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: itsinthesauce on May 07, 2005, 05:00:04 PM
I'd have to say that you nailed it.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 08, 2005, 02:26:21 PM
Thanks for the compliment. Here is the effort for the day:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 09, 2005, 01:54:25 AM
I had a nice little experience at work today. There is a woman I work with who lived in New York until she was in her mid 20's, and so I asked her if I could get her opinion on my pizza.  I brought her in a couple slices, she took a bite, and her face lit up. She said that she hadn't had pizza like that since she moved out here. She commented that the thin crust with the chewy airy rim was nearly identical to what she was used to in New York. Needless to say, it made my day. The modified raquel I made is described in this thread : http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1258.msg11640.html#msg11640 I find that the higher hydration results in a more airy crust since I don't have access to the kind of heat that varsano and pftaylor have. Anyway, just wanted to share my experience,  I look forward to picking up some caputo 00 and giving Sophia a try.

Brian
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on May 09, 2005, 10:30:38 AM
hey pft,

You pies look great. I would make one suggestion. Try a pie with a slightly higher hydration, like 63 and a longer cold rise and see.  I think you will find that it's lighter and more springy with more flavor too.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 09, 2005, 04:02:36 PM
hey pft,

You pies look great. I would make one suggestion. Try a pie with a slightly higher hydration, like 63 and a longer cold rise and see.  I think you will find that it's lighter and more springy with more flavor too.

Jeff

I agree, I have found the sweet spot with this dough to be about  a 3 day cold rise.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 09, 2005, 05:44:14 PM
All,
I am always willing to try higher hydration percentages with Pizza Raquel. Who knows, maybe a better pie will result.

With my current travel schedule it's difficult to do more than a same day or full day rise. But I would agree that more than one day adds flavor. The Varasano preferment gets quite flavorful after the first day.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 17, 2005, 03:50:20 PM
I came back from a weekend in Ft. Lauderdale and had just enough time to do a 10 hour cold rise Pizza Raquel followed by a 2 hour counter rise. The crust was generally softer to the touch but the taste was full on. The first pie was a standard pepperoni, the second was a Margherita.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 17, 2005, 03:51:18 PM
And the Margherita...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on May 17, 2005, 07:32:44 PM
pft, what temp is your grill? Do you have a digital thermometer? You never mention it.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 17, 2005, 08:36:03 PM
Varasano,
I have written a couple of times about not having a digital thermometer. The manufacturer of my grill claims the temperature at the grate level is 800 degrees. Since the average grill time has averaged slightly less than 3 minutes, I would have to guess that I'm in the 700 - 800 degree range. I have grudgingly accepted the fact that the TEC grill is at the end of the spectrum of usability for home pizza making. It has served me well. However, the simple fact is it was not designed to bake pizzas. Therefore I have decided to move on in pursuit of the ultimate expression of home pizza making.

I am planning on starting the true Neapolitan oven project this fall.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on May 17, 2005, 09:15:16 PM
the reason I ask is that the even browning rather than spot charing is usually indicative of a lower temp. But your bake times are indicative of a high temp.  Either way you should get a thermometer. i posted up about one under $60.

I'm really curious to hear your reports on the difference between the grill and brick oven. I don't think anyone has posted up about brick oven results without simultaneously using a different temp.  So some have gone from a 550 oven to a hot brick oven and seen a big improvement. But you'll be the first I've seen going from one high temp oven to th brick oven. I'm very interested to see the result. I wish I had a back yard for one.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 18, 2005, 07:13:30 AM
Varasano,
As you can well imagine, my days of trying to squeeze out the last drop of performance from the TEC are over. It simply doesn't have any more to offer. The ROI doesn't make sense at this point. I think it primarily has to do with it's poor insulation in the hood area. Hence the uneven bake with the bottom charring before the top.

The browning effect on the top you mentioned is a recent result of two seperate events. First, eliminating oil from Pizza Raquel and Pizza Sophia's formula. Second, I have been so time constrained that I have not had the time (I guess you could say I have relaxed my stringent standards for now) to really pre-heat the TEC for the half hour or so it takes to superheat the grilling area. Since I am no longer experimenting with ways of trying to turn the TEC into a real Neapolitan wood-fired oven, I am simply enjoying the fruits of many months of trial and error. I will have to be satisfied in knowing that I was able to produce a grilled pie which reasonably approximated a high heat oven. It has served me well and produced superior pie on a consistent basis. What more can a guy ask for?

Plenty. Now it is time to move on to the real thing. Real heat. 1200 blistering degrees if I so choose. It will be fun debating whether or not a 30 or a 60 second bake is superior to a 90 second bake. I can't wait.

With the help of pizzanapoletana and ilpizzaiolo's timely advice, I will be embaking on a journey toward the ultimate expression of pizza. I will finally be able to accurately control the last and most elusive element in the pizza making riddle - heat. I plan on sharing my adventure with this community and look forward to the collaboration which surely will be a part of the process.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: IslanderJSF on May 18, 2005, 07:32:59 PM
This past weekend my parents were in town to visit from Long Island which gave me another opportunity to try the Raquel recipe and resolve my crust browning issues from my first attempt.

With my first attempt my crust browned well on the bottom but was ghostly pale up top.  The original attempt left the pies in the oven for about 6.5 minutes.  With this second attempt I made it a point to avoid opening the oven door which I believe resulted in much better results.  I simply set my oven timer blindly for 8 minutes and gave one check at the 7 minute mark to see the crust browning nicely.

This dough was mixed according to my modified Raquel process for my bread machine and was allowed to rise for two days in the fridge.  Again my inexperience with starters left me wondering if it was active.  The starter is an absolute mystery to me.  If I were to ask anything, my question would be if once removed from the refrigerator and fed, is it normal for the "hooch" to appear so quickly?  It seems like my starter starts forming hooch within an hour or two of feeding and setting on the counter (or in proof box).  Does the 2 inches of foaming activity that identifies an active starter appear above the hooch?  Should there even be hooch?  Anyway I digress.

The result of this pizza effort was easily my best pies ever and I have been trying for over a year to produce a result like this.  No question about that.  I award much of the credit to this community and thank you all for "opening my eyes".    The final confirmation came when my parents declared that my pizza tasted like pizza that came out of a pizza shop on Long Island.  Although they may not be as fanatical as I, they are honest and that certainly was a positive for me. 

The pictures are not the greatest because the batteries were near dead and people were getting hungry.

On another note, I made some extra dough and used it to attempt a Sicilian (square) pizza.  This was a failed experiment.  Not much time on this board has been devoted to Sicilian pizza which I think is a shame.  It is an extremely popular style on Long Island but probably the most under appreciated (in my opinion) around the country.  I had very little to go on with this attempt and there were numerous problems.  With my upcomming visit to Long Island this summer I plan on making this a priority to compliment the traditional NY Style.  If anyone out there can provide assistance on the Sicilian style and process my ears are open.

Starter issues, sauce perfection, Sicilian style ...  So much to do, so little space in the fridge.

John
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 18, 2005, 08:11:17 PM
IslanderJSF,
I am honored you decided to give Pizza Raquel more than one try. In time I trust she will serve you as well as she has me. Your modified Raquel looks great and I'm hopeful your next will be better still.

The questions you have about your starter are quite interesting. Although I'm far from a starter expert, here's my take on what you described: The hooch is the remnant of really active and hungry yeast. Consider it their trash. I would mix it back in (for a more intense flavor) and not be overly worried about it. In order to slow down their eating pace you will need to refrigerate your mixture.

I am going to venture a guess on my next point but are you weighing equal weights of flour and water? If not, you should. Flour weighs about 1/2 of water and I would think that a less viscous environment would lead to slower consumption.

I have seen hooch on the bottom, the top, and both top and bottom. Not sure what the significance of its location is. To me the importance of a starter is for a better flavor in the crust. Did your starter achieve that goal? If so, it is working fine. If you cannot detect any difference between a starter enhanced dough and one without then you may have problems. Let me know either way.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 18, 2005, 08:18:38 PM
Islander, I am a novice to starters myself.  I have only made a handful of batches with one so far, but I have not seen hooch since I was activating my starter.  I have been worried about mine being too sour, almost sharp tasting.  Some people gave me advice like pouring off the hooch, as it could be the cause.  I have been making dough every few days, so it doesn't have long to sit in the fridge unfed.  I wonder if there is something wrong with mine, or yours, as they appear to be acting quite differently.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MTPIZZA on May 19, 2005, 07:24:55 AM
I have found in my experiementing that pouring off the hooch will lessen the acidity of the batch and the strong sour taste it imparts... but it seemed easier for me to the the batch active again in a shorter period of time for use in cooking. It may have to do with the fact that I am making the environment for the yeast less acid and more desirable for them to multiply again. This also points at the way one keeps a starter feed by adding more water and flour--thus diluting the acid hooch or liquid part of the mix. Try it and you will see a difference in your starter...a happier starter....
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 19, 2005, 04:13:47 PM
that sounds like just what I need to do.  My recent pies with commercial yeast, starter, and a fridge rise were really not that sour at all.  The problem seems to happen with the room temp starter only doughs, which I think I am going to eventually prefer.  I can't stop thinking about the cornicione on the pics that Marco has put on the sight.  I wish I lived in London, and could just be a fly on his wall for a day (or a month !).  I wonder if he pours off his hooch.
Title: Sicilian Pizza
Post by: pizzanapoletana on May 19, 2005, 06:32:02 PM
Islander

For an authentic sicilian pizza try Reply 6 at the following link:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1073.0.html

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on May 19, 2005, 06:39:05 PM
I wonder if he pours off his hooch.

I keep the Crisceto for pizza in a solid state (65-70% hydration). It is very hard to work with (the acidity of the dough and the absence of salt, make it super sticky).

I use to have another one in a liquid state. If you refresh it correctly, and keep it accordingly, your starter will never become too acid and certainly, you won't need to pour the hooch out.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 20, 2005, 03:44:12 AM
thanks Marco, every few days you give me another clue to unlocking the mystery of the true Neapolitan pie.  I have been totally obsessed with trying to get this style of pie right ever since I got my new oven.  I can get 800 on the stone, and 900 above the pie no problem now.  I am just blown away by the way that ciro's pies looked from the side.  I still have a way to go as far as that texture goes.  I know that you don't use a rest period until later in the mixing process, then you do a tiny amount of mixing at the end after the rest.  Two questions:

Have you added all of your flour by the time you do your rest period? 

Do you think a rest period early in the mixing process can have a negative effect?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 20, 2005, 03:46:43 AM
Scott, just out of curiosity, what kind of oven did you buy?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 20, 2005, 04:07:28 AM
duckjob, it is the $350 bottom of the line maytag with self cleaning.  It reaches 800 in less than an hour.  I have had to do no fussing with foil etc. to get an even bake.  I think what is making things so easy is the fact that it does the self clean cycle with the broiler element.  Then when the oven reaches around 850-900 it just starts alternating between the broiler and the bottom bake element.  I just totally lucked out.  You don't even have to rewire your oven or anything, mine is totally stock.  I just open up the hood when I want to do self clean, and slip a spare metal door key where the sensor for the door latch sits.  When I am done, I pull the key out, and my oven is back to stock.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 20, 2005, 04:24:01 AM
wow, what a deal.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on May 20, 2005, 01:08:52 PM
Scott

I have already explained somewhere what I can tell you about my method. The rest will be published soon....

Ciao
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 20, 2005, 01:23:11 PM
pizzanapoletana,
Sign me up for an autographed first edition...

As an aside, I would buy a copy even if you published for free the entire book as a section on this site due to all the help you have extended to me personally and the community at large.

God bless.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 20, 2005, 01:32:37 PM
Thank you marco, I am so grateful that you have shared what you have.  I will buy two copies of you book the day it comes out.  I want to set my brother up with abiility to make authentic neapolitan doughs at home.  Make sure you let us know as soon as it is ready!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 21, 2005, 03:21:29 PM
We had guests come over unexpectedly for lunch so what was I to do? How about a couple of hydrid Pizza Raquels. One with Pepperoni and one without.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 21, 2005, 03:22:13 PM
Without...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 22, 2005, 08:08:24 PM
The friends which visited yesterday insisted on coming by with a special topping and one more Pizza Raquel. Fortunately I had a spare dough in the fridge. I'm glad I did as the result was special.

They brought with them very spicy sausage links called Chorizo. I grilled them first and then put them on half the pie as an experiment.  Talk about intense. The flavor erupted on the well charred slices. The flavor easily surpassed any pepperoni or sausage topping I have personally eaten in the past.

The best part about the Chorizo sausage is that it is available from your friendly local neighborhood Publix...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 22, 2005, 08:10:24 PM
Here are more photos
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 23, 2005, 08:26:33 AM
Cheesy,
While I wouldn't say I'm burned out, I had no choice with making a pie for the unexpected company. They couldn't get Pizza Raquel out of their mind yesterday and begged to come over. Who was I to turn them down? I love passion in myself and others. 

I do tend to make pies in spurts due to my uneven travel schedule.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 25, 2005, 07:26:59 AM
Lately I have been enjoying the fruits of my many months of effort and enjoying Pizza Raquel instead of trying to advance it in any one direction. I admittedly was at a point of it being "good enough" for me. Knowing the dough and crust portion of the formula could only be greatly enhanced by a wood burning oven which was many months away from completion, I decided to focus on another one of the big three. Namely the cheese.

I had been using up the last of the Penn Mac Grande Whole Milk mozzarella. Truth be told, I have never been completely satisfied with the Grande. It gave Pizza Raquel an unsightly NY street pizza appearance. While the Grande is creamy, somewhat flavorful, and melts well, it simply gives the wrong visual cues for an authentic fresh mozzarella pie. The yellowish melted appearance actually tastes better than it looks but it looks bad in my opinion.

Polly - O had recently discontinued their favored cryo-packed fresh mozzarella so I decided to try another cryo-packed fresh mozzarella by Biazzo. The background as to why I prefer cryo-packed fresh mozzarella instead of bufala mozzarella is simple - it is quite reminiscent of the type of cheese which was and still is used in elite pizzerias in NYC (which is where the roots of my pizza preferences come from). It is a somewhat dry fresh mozzarella which melts well and slices thin. The taste blooms when salted and oiled properly.

I have used the Biazzo in the past since it is available from Sam's Club. Memory tells me it was nothing to write home about relative to the other cryo-packed mozzarella I have tried. It wasn't bad but it also didn't distinguish in any dimension either.

My normal approach to preparing Raquel's toppings is to slice up the refrigerated cheese about a half hour before grilling and place it in the freezer. It comes out semi hard and not quite frozen for the looming battle of burning with my TEC grill.

Last night I decided to take one of the frozen balls of Biazzo Premium Fresh Mozzarella out of the freezer and slice it only moments before peeling the skin into the TEC. It was a much more difficult cut but the cheese didn't burn or breakdown one bit. So the experiment of using solidly frozen cheese was a success and a small step in the right direction of trying to produce the best pie I'm capable of.

Photographs are below for your inspection.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on May 26, 2005, 04:13:50 PM
Re: Pizza Raquel
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2005, 09:02:06 PM »
If you are considering a serious mixer for home use, the Santos would be the No 1 choice.  The only question is if the bowl does rotate...

The bowl does rotate and you can manually adjust the speed of the rotation which will help in stopping any dough climbing.It is available in the USA  from:

http://www.suitesupply.com

retail is about $860 with free shipping.The company is French and has been producing machines since the Fifties I believe.I would be more happy trusting a French Bakery appliance than a Kitchen Aid any day.The only drawback for the home user that I see is that this is a serious bakers appliance and does not adjust to whisk your eggs or mince your beef.It seems that there is a lot of confusion over the types of Mixers available.Whereas the Spiral is commonplace and used extensively in Europe it is not well known in the US (Even though it is ideal for Bagel/Pizza/Heavy Dough production due to producing less heat) I have yet to see a Diving Fork Mixer in use here?
Hobart Planetary Mixers seem to hold the attention of the audience.I guess it's a case of you using what you grew up with as well as the fact that contrary to popular belief your options for purchasing choices are limited here in the US.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 29, 2005, 10:19:01 AM
David,
Thanks for the shopping advice. The price you uncovered is the lowest I have seen by at least $75.00.

Nice find.

Cheesy,
I have experimented for months trying to achieve the right finished look for Pizza Raquel and Sophia. Regarding my preference to freeze cheese, I have found there is no more effective way to uniformly grill the crust, sauce and cheese. Otherwise, the cheese is burned well before the crust. By freezing the cheese and bringing to room temperature the dough and sauce (just before grilling) it balances out the grill times of the big three to present a cohesive looking end product.

Grilling at 800 or so degrees is an entirely different ballgame. The option of going back to a 550 degree bake is not even on the board of alternatives at this point. The TEC only works well at maximum temperature anyhow. Its one of the realities of using a grill designed for things other than pizza. Its sort of like using a sledge hammer to drive in a tack - it can be done but you better be careful.

If anything, I'll climb even higher with temperature by using a longer pre-heat period. Once I finish the pending Neapolitan oven project, I will need all the tricks of the trade to ensure a robust bake. Right now, freezing cheese works for the grill.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 30, 2005, 03:43:08 AM
I just don't think that people who make pizza
in brick ovens freeze the cheese.

But he isn't cooking in a brick oven. Its what works best for his setup. I do the same thing with my fresh moz since my cook time is usually right around 5 minutes.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 30, 2005, 07:31:15 AM
Cheesy,
I'm not sure I understand your concern. I'm confused.

I thought I very clearly laid out my rationale for freezing cheese for use with my grill and somehow I must have conveyed that I'm freezing cheese for a wood burning oven which doesn't yet exist. My apologies. I will attempt to be even more verbose with my positions in the future. Maximum verbosity if you will.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on May 30, 2005, 06:22:48 PM
I've not noticed a difference in taste at all from sticking the fresh moz in the freezer for 20 minutes or so. I also buy 6-7 pounds of grande moz at a time and freeze it with no negative effects on the taste.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 05, 2005, 09:18:39 AM
I wanted to share a few poignant, illustrational, supplementing thoughts about Pizza Raquel. I would encourage those who have not tried her to give it a go, so to speak. Raquel is perfectly suited for experts and beginners alike who want to work with completely robust dough in the style of classic NY pizzerias. I will humbly state this about Raquel’s dough – follow the formulary exactly and it will produce such a competent dough that you will be forced to giggle at your own success. You will wonder where all the compensations you have been making for your current dough have gone. They will be rendered utterly unnecessary. It may turn out for you, as it has for me, that your search for a great dough recipe is over. Done. Finito. Compassed. Well, you get the point.

Having traveled rigorously all this past week and experimenting with Pizza Sophia variations prior to that (and a delicious calzone last night), have prevented me from catching up on Pizza Raquel lately. While I still need to experiment with Friz78’s A16 clone, there is something special about returning to old faithful.

Pizza Raquel literally amazes me with respect to her robust stretching characteristics and intensely flavorful crust. It is as if her dough knows what to do before I even begin the stretching regimen. The word compliant comes to mind since everything seems to go so smoothly.

Pizza Sophia, while still being tweaked for improved handling, remarkably edges Raquel in the crust flavor department. It has to be due to the Caputo Pizzeria 00 flour versus the King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour. In every other meaningful category one could think of Raquel smokes Sophia. But when it comes to crust flavor, it is no contest. The difference is unmistakable and repeatable. That is what drives me crazy about these two beauties. Raquel is much more balanced overall but Sophia is the reining queen due to one very important area. I may not be able to ever get Raquel to the level of Sophia taste wise but it sure is fun trying.

Pizza Raquel dough is far superior to any other I have personally handled. Here are the top ten meaningful categories I have observed as to why Raquel’s dough shines so brightly:

1) Mixing – It comes off the hook with just the “right” feel;
2) Stretching – It is so robust, Ripley wouldn’t believe it (or not);
3) Uniform thickness – I have been looking for a thin spot for months. They simply don’t exist with Raquel. If you are a home pizza stretching “hack”, she will cover for a lot of your bad technique. Fussy and temperamental does not apply to Raquel.
4) Rim – Puffy with just the right amount of spring;
5) Robustness – Holds up to moist toppings with ease;
6) Heat capability – I couldn’t tell you how Raquel would accept heat in the 500 degree range but she loves heat in the 800 degree range.
7) Crust handling performance – Don’t take my word for it try it for yourself. I have found it is off the charts! Tip droop? Not a chance. Fold-ability? Classic NY style fold-ability in spades.
8) Margin of error – Little mistakes don’t seem to bother Raquel. She will still produce with the inevitable recipe gaffe. Reproduce Raquel exactly and be prepared for an entirely pleasing experience.
9) Char – Raquel uniformly bakes so that the little carbonized spots pop up all over without drying out the crust. Crunchy without being dry. A combination that any pizza lover should experience at least once before they die.
10) Overall taste – If it weren’t for Sophia’s better crust flavor profile, I would rate it a 10 out of 10 but alas, since I know better flavor is available out there so a 9.9 will have to do for now.

I will post photographs of Pizza Raquel later today. But know this; I am not spending one more ounce of energy searching for a true NY dough recipe. Raquel is it. I have tried most if not all the other NY recipes on this site and none seem to come close to Raquel (in my experience, with my equipment, cooked on my grill).

My focus now is on perfecting the toppings and finding interesting combinations of flavor to suit the mood of the occasion. I have been thinking of a Feta cheese, EVOO, Arugula, and Cilantro laced Raquel now that my herb garden is maturing.

I can't wait for dinner.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on June 05, 2005, 12:55:30 PM
I think that what pftaylor has accomplished with his Raquel recipe is one of the most significant accomplishments and contributions to this forum I have witnessed since I have been a member. In fact, if someone new to pizza making were to ask me for the best single recipe to start with, I would recommend the Raquel recipe. I say this because the recipe is a real confidence builder--which is something every budding pizza maker can use to keep them from abandoning their pizza making efforts after an initial failure or two. As long as one follows the Raquel recipe exactly (that means no free-lancing), the handling qualities of the dough--shaping, stretching, etc.--will be so good that you will wonder what all the fuss is about. You will learn with great certainty--early on in your pizza dough making career--what a good dough should really look and act like. You might chose to start free lancing from there, for whatever reason, but you will at least have a benchmark for all future efforts.

I am still trying to figure out all the reasons for the success of the Raquel recipe. Since the basic recipe and its ingredients and amounts are not unusual, I can only conclude that the kneading procedures and the use of rest periods are key factors behind the recipe's success. The use of a preferment may also be a factor, as well as a modest hydration percent (60%), but we know from the experiments of others using only commercial yeast and higher hydration percents that the dough handling qualities are still in evidence. Just as the Raquel recipe was pftaylor's breakthrough recipe, I myself achieved my own "breakthrough" Lehmann NY style recipe with the one I posted at Reply #151, at the Lehmann thread, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg11774.html#msg11774. That recipe, which uses an autolyse, a preferment, and a long period of retardation in the refrigerator, was motivated by pftaylor's work with the Raquel recipe. I thought the results of that Lehmann recipe were very good, with many of the qualities of the Raquel dough (but with a thicker crust more typical of a NY street style pizza), and that led to what I believe were even further improvements to the Lehmann dough, documented at Replies ##165 and 175 at the Lehmann thread. Had I not been motivated by pftaylor's work with the Raquel recipe to develop the recipe at Reply #151, I doubt that the follow-on Lehmann dough recipes would have seen the light of day. For that alone, I give my thanks to pftaylor.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 05, 2005, 04:23:25 PM
Pete-zza,
I am not worthy of your praise. I merely steered the ship. I do, of course, appreciate your kind words. Thanks for taking the time to recognize Pizza Raquel. 

The Raquel accomplishment is directly due to the unbelievable amount of help from the membership here at pizzamaking.com. I could not of done it without everyone's input. The reason why it works so well is due to the complimentary compilation of the best pizza thinking available today. Somehow it all came together. I have not seen a formulary which embraced so many diverse ideas and worked so well. I must confess, every time I make a Raquel a huge smile comes across my face because it is simply the finest pie overall which I have ever eaten.

Today I planned on making a Feta Raquel but as fate would have it my family demanded another calzone. I decided to try the ingredients recommended by fellow member DiamondMarco and a DC PM suggested form factor. The results were tasty. DiamondMarco hit the nail on the head with sausage (I chose Chorizo), onions (smothered in EVOO), 4 different cheeses, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, mushrooms and of course my favorite gal, Raquel for the crust. Just another quick moment of praise for Raquel. Closely inspect the last photograph and note the "near pizzanapoletana-like" spring. I'm still grinning.

Results are located below.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on June 05, 2005, 06:28:33 PM
I have to do a big pizza party next weekend in my mother in law's 550 degree oven.  Since my last 15 batches of dough have been cooked in my modified high heat oven, I am actually nervous about going back to normal temps again.  I am just wondering if anyone has had a chance to try Raquel in a 550 degree oven?  It is either going to be her, or the lehmann dough I will make for the party.  Unfortunately I have no time between now and then to do any experimenting.  Does anyone have an idea of which dough will be better for 550?  The pressure is on big time that I not screw up!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 05, 2005, 07:13:15 PM
scott r,
Thought provoking question!

I would have to say that Pete-zza's modified Lehmann might be better at lower temperatures since he has clearly perfected his formulary at 550 degrees. On the other hand, a sprinkle of OO at the five minute mark of mixing would encourage browning at lower temperatues with Raquel.

If I were sitting where you are sitting, I might make half the pizzas Lehmann and half Raquel. How's that for taking a hard stance.

Good luck either way you go.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on June 05, 2005, 07:16:10 PM
scott,

I haven't had enough experience with the Raquel dough in the context of a standard home oven, but quite a bit with the Lehmann dough. The last time I made pizzas for a group, I used a basic Lehmann 16-inch dough recipe and baked the pizzas on a screen/stone combination. I wouldn't try to get too fancy with using autolyse or a preferment for a Lehmann dough recipe, even though I think they contribute to the quality of the overall results. On the other hand, if you have made a bunch of doughs using autolyse and preferments without incident and are confident of your ability to make them, then there is no reason not to use them. Remember also that the Raquel dough produces a thinner crust than the Lehmann dough, and is more aligned with the Patsy's style than a NY street style.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: IslanderJSF on June 05, 2005, 09:57:41 PM
I just wanted to sound off on a couple issues here.

Scott,

I have made the Raquel recipe in a standard oven a number of times now at 550 degrees.  After some initial struggles related to my constant oven door opening I have locked in at about a 7 minute cook time on a stone pre-heated for an hour.  This has seemed to be the magic number for my particular stove and I no longer open the door once I put the pizza in...until that 7 minute mark. 

pftaylor,

A few pages back I spoke about starter troubles.  I recently made a "quick Raquel" batch that did not use a starter and it was clear that the dough taste was lacking.  I still don't know if my starter is fully active but I do know it is adding plenty of flavor to the dough.  I am sure the short ferment also contributed to the bland taste.

Lastly,

My two cents on the Raquel success is the autolyse periods.  I say this because I am able to produce fantastic results mixing with a bread machine and I am quite certain that the kneading process there isn't quite what it could be in a more traditional mixer. 



Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on June 06, 2005, 02:20:34 AM
PFT, Did you make that calzone in the grill?  just wondering if you need lower temps to bake something that thick.  And by the way, you are right about those voids and spring.  This picture is just simply amazing.  Would this as a screen saver be too much?????? hmmmmm.  I think looking at that all day would push me to make even more pizza.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 06, 2005, 06:31:33 PM
scott r,
I have endeavored to grill everything. Summertime in Florida is not compatible for kitchen oven baking. The Florida heat was one of the driving factors to finding a way to bake pies outdoors. I only wish I would have known about outdoor ovens sooner. I would have kept my old grill and ploughed the $2K into a Neapolitan wood-fired oven.

Florida lifestyle is all about entertaining outdoors. My usual routine is to have cold beer, a fine cigar , and good friends over while blasting the TEC to 800 degrees. I sometimes jump in the pool to refresh after grilling a couple of pies due to the blast furnace like heat coming off the TEC.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 07, 2005, 07:45:10 PM
It had been a while since I tasted Raquel. I hadn't planned on making pizza tonight as I just got home from another trip. My son had a friend over who just had to have a slice. Who was I to disappoint.

With no "good" cheese available, just under enough sauce for two pies, and a very tight schedule to prepare, I did the best I could under the circumstances. I didn't even have enough time to pick any fresh herbs. The effort turned out to be a NY street version which satisfied the hunger and made a teenager a true believer in home spun pie. I was mildly surprised how well it tasted. While it was no Fresh Mutz Margherita, a good street pie really hits the spot every now and then.

Results are below:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 11, 2005, 07:50:31 AM
I had the opportunity to test out Cheesy's theory that frozen cheese breaks down more than refrigerated cheese. I made a Margherita Pizza Raquel with my favorite cryo-cheese, Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella. I thought the Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella was supposed to be discontinued but my local Sam's Club had 5 logs left and I bought them all and immediately froze them upon my return home.

The photographs below show how well the cheese melted. I could not detect any deleterious effects from freezing. Perhaps it will reveal itself after a month or so in the cooler. But for now, the theory does not hold true - at least for Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella, frozen in my freezer, sliced with my Ginsu, grilled on my Tec.

The Pizza Raquel crust tasted as good as I've ever experienced. Topped with fresh mozzarella, it was simply scrumptious.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on June 12, 2005, 06:15:32 PM
That is good to hear pftaylor. I bought a log of the Polly O fresh mozzarella from pennmac and have fallen in love with it, but I was leary of buying much more because I wasn't sure if it would keep. I'll be putting in another order soon. Thanks for testing it out.

Brian


I had the opportunity to test out Cheesy's theory that frozen cheese breaks down more than refrigerated cheese. I made a Margherita Pizza Raquel with my favorite cryo-cheese, Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella. I thought the Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella was supposed to be discontinued but my local Sam's Club had 5 logs left and I bought them all and immediately froze them upon my return home.

The photographs below show how well the cheese melted. I could not detect any deleterious effects from freezing. Perhaps it will reveal itself after a month or so in the cooler. But for now, the theory does not hold true - at least for Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella, frozen in my freezer, sliced with my Ginsu, grilled on my Tec.

The Pizza Raquel crust tasted as good as I've ever experienced. Topped with fresh mozzarella, it was simply scrumptious.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 18, 2005, 08:20:52 PM
After being in Rochester, NY all week I was dying for a quality pizza. Pizza Raquel came to the rescue with a 6 hour cold rise.

Pictures are below.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on June 23, 2005, 05:29:07 AM
14 On the following day(s), remove dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Note: Do not punch down, reform balls, or do anything to the dough other than let it warm to room temperature.

pftaylor,
I find this impossible. If I don't punch the dough, it will be too puffy and lifeless to shape. Are you saying it should be shaped before doubling in volume? I find once the volume is at 2x, it's just doesn't have a strong enough structure, especially with wetter doughts. (I need to punch down and wait for 20min). Am I doing something wrong?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 23, 2005, 02:17:50 PM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,
I feel your pain in a visceral way. I spent a lifetime trying to figure it out before it finally revealed itself to me.

The recommended mixing and stretching guidelines for Pizza Raquel have been proven to be effective for over a hundred pies. Each and every time, the results speak for themselves. Let me know the exact steps you are following and I may be able to help. One question: Have you followed the Raquel steps exactly?

Let me know...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on June 26, 2005, 08:27:57 PM
I've made probably 30 pizzas using Pizza Raquel's stretching and handling technique. After the first 2 or 3, I have gotten the same great result. By far the most robust dough I have made to date.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 28, 2005, 07:07:21 PM
Tonight marks a potential turning point in my home pizza making evolution. I have disposed of my entry - mid level KitchenAid Artisan mixer in favor of the venerable KitchenAid Professional 600 mixer. The differences between the two mixers is not circumstantial. The Professional 600 comes with a bevy of ideal pizza making features such as:
- A high performance 575 watt motor
- A direct drive all steel gear transmission
- A 6 quart capacity bowl which might just be the perfect size for my average batch size (16 - 18oz)
- A stunningly effective Powerknead spiral dough hook which replicates hand-kneading with a forceful punching and rolling action. In addition it offers a 67 point planetary mixing action which spins the beater clockwise and the shaft counterclockwise and moves the beater to 67 different points in the bowl. It is the epitomy of efficiency in my opinion
- A commercial-style bowl-lift design which is rock solid when mixing dough. My Artisan was more like a pogo stick.

I wanted to properly document the best that the Artisan had to offer as a baseline for the upcoming comparison against the Professional 600. With that said, I feel as if I have coaxed all I could out of the Artisan and truth be told it did right by me. I have no regrets about buying it but I now look forward to seeing what I can accomplish with a true pizza machine. Here are the final photographs...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 28, 2005, 07:08:45 PM
The final Pizza Raquel produced from the Artisan. A true Margherita if there ever was one...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: PizzaSuperFreak on June 28, 2005, 08:10:41 PM
hey pftaylor,

where do you live in florida cuz i live in florida too, and i'm wondering what time dinner is!!

- psf
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 29, 2005, 09:33:31 AM
PSF,
Sleepy 'ol Tampa.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Arthur on June 29, 2005, 10:14:20 AM
PFT,

That truly looks amazing!!!

What do you think is the cause of such a great looking crust (i.e., the large pocket/hole, light)?

Do you think it's the a autolysing or some sort of starter or the rise time?

Arthur.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 29, 2005, 01:30:29 PM
Arthur,
I have elaborated a number of times about how robust the Raquel dough is utilizing the exact mixing and stretching steps I've detailed in this master thread. Try it and follow every single step. I literally giggle every time I make a batch of dough now since it just feels so right. Another edge that I have is my two scales; one for exact measurements and the other for heavy ingredients. The final contributory factor has to be the TEC's high temperature.
I also think the Varasano preferment adds a little something extra (for some unknown reason) above just adding flavor, but oddly enough that something extra has not revealed itself with Pizza Sophia at this point. However, I think the KitchenAid Professional 600 mixer combined with a lower hydration percentage will turn the tide there as well.

The first Caputo based batch I made with the Professional 600 felt nearly identical to my typical Raquel dough coming off the hook with the Artisan. I can't wait to make my first Professional 600 Raquel batch.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Arthur on June 29, 2005, 05:02:12 PM
PFT,

I just read the post including the recipe which I hadn't seen yet.  It's actually pretty close to my recipe I've been using for 2 years now - except I use Kosher Salt and no starter and a slightly higher hidration level.   Although I have not used a starter before and tonight I will be trying my dough with 1 autolyse period I assume that the look of your dough is mostly from the high heat.  Having cooked my pizza in both a regular oven (550) and a wood burning oven (1000 degrees) I saw such a difference in the cooked pizza dough between the two that I have to assume it's due to your grill.  As I said, I'm trying pizza tonight with the autolyse so I can report back on whether or not that gave the dough the light/airy look to it.  Like most people on this forum I have tried 100's of variations, but none has produces such a difference then heat.  You can even see it within this post.  Many others have used your same recipe and it just looks very different out of a regular oven.

Arthur.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 29, 2005, 06:46:21 PM
Arthur,
No doubt the TEC has a lot to do with it. Having said that, I can tell the second the Raquel dough comes off the hook that I'm holding something special.

My position is that the entire process from the first moment you put temperature adjusted water into the mixing bowl, through the time you peel the pie from heat, will directly affect the overall outcome. Meticulous attention to detail pays huge dividends in home pizza making. The best advise I can give is to repeat a recipe until you feel "comfortable" with it. The best recipes demand that you weigh the ingredients. I know of no better way to repeatability than weighing. Otherwise it is hit or miss.

Tonight I'm going to prepare my first batch of Raquel made with the Professional 600. I will upload photographs to show what the dough looks like along the way.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 29, 2005, 07:19:15 PM
I just finished mixing my first batch of Pizza Raquel dough and I am encouraged by the results. Giddy to be precise. The dough never felt better. In fact it was so competent that I did not require the use of ANY bench flour to aid in the hand-kneading or ball forming segments. What the heck does that prove? I don't know other than I thought it was significant. Yeah, you could say I'm happy.

The following photographs were taken after key milestones were achieved in the Pizza Raquel mixing process. I trust they might prove useful for others.

1) 1/2 the flour, water, commercial yeast, salt, and Varasano preferment were mixed for 1 minute. Photo was taken, then mixture rested for 20 minutes.
2) Dough shown after adding the balance of flour (slowly) at the five minute mark of mixing on stir speed. I then sped up to 2 speed for 5 minutes.
3) Dough shown after ten minutes of mixing. It was then rested for 15 minutes before hand kneading.
4) Dough shown after 15 minute rest period. It was then removed from the bowl for hand kneading.
5) Dough shown being hand kneaded for one minute (don't see any bench flour do ya?)
6) Dough balls formed after hand kneading
7) Dough balls placed in SS containers before being placed in the fridge for 3-4 days or until I cannot hold out any longer.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 02, 2005, 01:22:56 AM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,
I feel your pain in a visceral way. I spent a lifetime trying to figure it out before it finally revealed itself to me.

The recommended mixing and stretching guidelines for Pizza Raquel have been proven to be effective for over a hundred pies. Each and every time, the results speak for themselves. Let me know the exact steps you are following and I may be able to help. One question: Have you followed the Raquel steps exactly?

Let me know...

Hi pftalor,
I tried your recipe yesterday. Here is what I did:
- 1 cup of water
- 3 cups of regular flour, 11% protein (I haven't found high-gluten in Australia yet)
- 1/4 tsp IDY (no preferment available)
- 2 tsp regular salt (no seasalt at home)

So ingredience wise, it's really quite off already. I'm not sure how much of a big deal
the salt is but I think the flour is more critical.

I followed your instructions except for one accident -- I put the yeast after I disolved
the salt. Then I added the flour. Not sure how much of an effect this had.

Another thing I should mention is that I have no flour mixer. So all the mixing and
kneading was done manually. I added half the flour first then stirred in a spiral fashion
using a wooden spoon. I did this until the end. I used both of your autolyse periods.

I was very hungry so I had to do a quick rise. The dough was placed in a warm area
above my oven and took about 3-4 hours to rise.

So now comes the critical part: shapping without punching down on the newly risen
dough. I let the dough rise to about 170%, so not 2x. I'm not sure what your recipe
calls for. But from the pictures I've seen of the dough balls made using Raquel, they
all seemed very tightly formed and not 'molten'.

From the pictures below, you can see that my dough ball just collapsed itself on the board.
It was as I felt before -- a totally totally relaxed dough ball with zero handling ability.
It also meant it was easy to shape via slapping. A few slaps here and then and it was
spead to a disc. But I couldn't pick it up and work with my knuckles -- it would have just
dripped.

The resulting pizza had a very little puffing. The crust was very pale but the bottom was
nicely charred thanks to the two stone arrangment. I cooked it for 3min on the bottom
stone and 2min on top with broil. Cheese was burning but crust wasn't.

So that's the first pizza. I took a picture of the second pizza as it was being removed from
the bowl. Maybe it'll help in the diagnosis. As you can see the base of the second pizza is
nicely charred. But once again the rim is pretty pale. I did notice the half the of pizza that
was on the 'inside' of the oven received better browning. A picture of Pizza 1 and 2 is also
below, which shows the second one doing better. I don't know why this is. My oven was
preheated for like 3 hours for pizza 1. Finally a picture shows a slice of pizza 2 bent over
itself to contrast the base and crust.

My question remains, how do you guys manage to let the dough rise and double yet still retain
strength in the dough ball for immediate shaping?
 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 02, 2005, 01:29:38 AM
Pizza 1
Pizza 1 crust
Pizza 2 dough
Pizza 2
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 02, 2005, 01:31:07 AM
Pizza 1 vs. 2
Pizza 2 bent over

---
I think Pete will know what I mean when I say "I've come full circle."
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on July 02, 2005, 09:13:05 AM
James,

I'd like to take a stab at diagnosing your problem. There is no one who understands the Raquel recipe better than pftaylor, so I will try to confine my comments and observations to the particular recipe and technique you used.

To begin, I don't think your problem was due to the way you handled the yeast or the fact that you mixed and kneaded everything by hand. In fact, had you used a high-gluten flour, such as the KASL called for in the Raquel recipe, you wouldn't have been able to do an adequate job of kneading by hand because of the higher protein level and higher levels of gluten formation that are inherent in a high-gluten flour. A machine would be needed.

On the face of it, your recipe looks OK. But I could tell just from your photos of the dough that the dough was overhydrated, that is, it contained too much water. This morning, I actually weighed 3 cups of a general purpose all-purpose flour and 3 cups of KASL flour, and relative to the amount of water you used (one cup, which I also weighed), your hydration level should have been within a workable range. You substituted your Australian "bakers flour" for the KASL, but it is important for you to keep in mind that doing that usually requires that you make adjustments to the hydration levels. You can't just substitute one flour for another in a recipe and expect to get the same results. That is because the higher the protein/gluten levels of a given flour, the more water is required to hydrate the dough, and vice versa. Varasano has often mentioned that the type of flour is less important than many make it out to be, but even he is very careful about the hydration levels. Furthermore, using rest periods increases the rate of hydration of the dough and if you are not careful with the amount of water you use, it is easy to end up with an overhydrated dough. I don't know what happened in your case specifically, but somehow you ended up with too much water relative to the amount and type of flour you used. If you used volumes instead of weights, it would be easy for this to happen.

A second departure you took from the basic Raquel recipe is that you used a same-day, room-temperature rise. There is nothing per se wrong with that, but you will get markedly different results. One of your own observations was the light color of the crust. This is a very typical result from using an all-purpose flour dough and a few hours of room-temperature fermentation. Rushing a dough like that doesn't give the enzymes enough time to do the job of releasing natural sugars from the starch in the flour to be available for browning during the baking of the crust. As the enzymes are trying to do their job of releasing the sugars, the yeast is competing with the enzymes by eating the sugars as soon as they are released and trying to produce carbon dioxide to cause the dough to rise. Under these circumstances, the texture, flavor, and color of the crust will all suffer to some degree. The pizza will still be edible but its quality will be less than optimum. Actually, under the circumstances, I thought your pizzas looked quite good--and tasty.

I will defer to pftaylor to speak to the Raquel recipe and how you might use it under your particular circumstances, but I do believe it is possible to practice the recipe with your Australian bakers flour. However, you will have to pay close attention to the use of water relative to the flour to achieve the desired characteristics in the finished dough. The finished dough should be smooth and elastic, and not wet or dry. I look for a tacky feel. If the dough sticks to your fingers when you poke them into the dough, the dough is too wet and more flour is required (but only a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time). I would follow all the other steps of the recipe exactly as they are. You may find from experience that other changes will be required, and that your dough may not be as robust or as satisfying as one using high-gluten flour, but that is all part of the process of adapting a recipe to your particular circumstances. 

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 02, 2005, 09:20:52 AM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,

Hey mate!

I have a few suggestions for you based on your in-depth description and photographs. The intent of my comments are designed to get you producing excellent, repeatable, results. Nothing more, nothing less. Some will cost money, which can't be avoided if you want to break out of the box that you are currently in. Fortunately there is a well traveled path to go on.

First, do you have a digital scale? If so, use it. Throw away your measuring cup. Or just use it to drink some good Aussie brew with because it has no place in the world of home pizza making. I can see from your photos that your hydration percentage is well above 60%. You must get this right or things will never get better. This small investment will pay big dividends for you as I see a lot of good in your dough which is being held back by a cup of this and a cup of that. Bite the bullet and spend some money on a very accurate digital scale. Take home message is: Weigh every single ingredient. The difference will be eye opening. The end result will be satisfying.

Next, do you own a refrigerator? If not buy one - only kidding! I would suggest for you to put your mixed-by-hand-dough in the fridge for at least 24 hours and give it a good cold rise. It should not double in the fridge. In fact, it should hardly grow at all. Your counter rise is leading to the softness issue in my experience

Finally, follow the Raquel mixing recommendations exactly except where you substitute hand-kneading for machine mixing. I've revised my prep steps for your situation:

Preparation Steps
1 - Stir water (room temp) and salt with spoon/whisk until dissolved in bowl.
2 - Add approximately half the flour first, then the yeast. 
3 - Mix 1 minute with a big spoon to incorporate yeast.
4 - 20 minute autolyse. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP (or you will die painfully from the jaws of a "Freshy").
5 - Form a volcano-like mound with the remaining flour on your counter and pour mixture slowly in the middle of it. Mix for 5 minutes, adding in remaining flour gradually over the 5 minute period.
6 - Mix for 5 more minutes to incorporate all the mixture. 
7 - 15 minute autolyse. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP (or you will die really painfully and slowly from the jaws of a "Freshy"a "Salty" and a Tazmanian Devil).
8 - Hand knead for 2 minutes on lightly floured prep area.
9 - Cut into 2 equal pieces, form into balls, place dough into bowls, cover with shower caps.
10 - Place dough in the refrigerator. Ferment for 24+ hours.
11 - On the following day(s), remove dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Note: Do not punch down, reform balls, or do anything to the dough other than let it warm to room temperature.

It will work for you. Make those changes and report back.

There is an alternative solution. If the above doesn't work for you, buy a ticket to Tampa and I'll show you how to throw a pie on the barbie...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on July 03, 2005, 12:40:56 AM
Its been a while since I've posted, but I thought I would throw up some pictures of the latest pizzas I've made with my modified Pizza Raquel recipe. First pie is fresh moz, peperoni and basil added after the pie cooked. The second pie was topped with fresh moz, pecorino romano and a drizzle of olive oil, all before going into the oven. I have the professional 6 mixer, which I believe is the older model of the mixer you bought pftaylor. It sounds like the spiral is working out good for you. I may have to shop around and see what it would cost me.

Brian


(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_070205/raquel_pep_basil.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_070205/raquel_cheese.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_070205/raquel_side.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/raquel_mod_070205/raquel_bottom.jpg)



Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: OzPizza on July 03, 2005, 11:28:58 PM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,

I've also been trying to perfect a NY style pizza here in Australia for several years now. The consensus I've come to is that there's little or no point in trying to improvise with things like Defiance Bakers Flour and it's 11% protein content. Reading Dominick A. DeAngelis was my first real awakening about importance of protein content in this style of pizza. The closest I've got so far is with Molini-Pizzuti Italian Bread Flour with 12.6%, even tried adding some gluten to it. But that's still not doing it properly. Like others have said you end up with hydration differences that affect the end result. I know professional 14% bread flour can be bought, I'm just in the midst of tracking down a local bakery supplier. If you're not dead set on trying to recreate a true NY pizza like the one I remember from living there as a kid, then I'd move towards a more general neopolitan style that uses the lower content 00 style flours that are readily available here in delis. Mind you the Raquel does probably have more in common with neopolitan than the average NY pizza, especially with the approach to toppings..
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 04, 2005, 12:13:59 AM
Hey guys,

Thanks Pete and pftaylor for your detailed replies!
High hydration is definitely a good diagnosis. But the revised recipe isn't saying that I should
reduce my water level. I don't have a scale and can't get one anytime soon. I think I'll have to
go by the 'tacky' metric for now.

But hey, look what I found today:
In case you can't read, it says "Protein 14.1%"
:D :D :D

Btw, that's 500grams for about $1.2 USD. How does that compare to KASL?
(OzPizza, I found it at a health food store in Newtown, do tell me if you manage to
find a good baker that'll supply high protein flour)

And finally, now that I've got some high-protein flour but I still have no mixer,
is there any technique known to man for kneading this stuff?  ???
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: OzPizza on July 04, 2005, 01:26:28 AM
Hey guys,

Thanks Pete and pftaylor for your detailed replies!
High hydration is definitely a good diagnosis. But the revised recipe isn't saying that I should
reduce my water level. I don't have a scale and can't get one anytime soon. I think I'll have to
go by the 'tacky' metric for now.

But hey, look what I found today:
In case you can't read, it says "Protein 14.1%"
:D :D :D

Btw, that's 500grams for about $1.2 USD. How does that compare to KASL?
(OzPizza, I found it at a health food store in Newtown, do tell me if you manage to
find a good baker that'll supply high protein flour)

And finally, now that I've got some high-protein flour but I still have no mixer,
is there any technique known to man for kneading this stuff?  ???

JF_Aidan_Pryde, I looked around some health food stores also in my area south of Sydney, but most naturally sold the opposite, ie low gluten flour for people intolerant to it. I'd rather get on to some real bakers flour though, I don't know how close the health food shop flour specs would be outside of having the correct protein content. You want to make sure that it's not a Wholemeal Flour - Hi Protein, as that's different again from baker's flour. I'm already aware that companies like AFM and Laucke that do commercial baker's Flour, so I just need to find a distributor.

To be honest, I'd ditch the hand mixing all together, I did several years ago, first in favour of the bread maker, then the food processor, but probably soon a kitchenaid. It's a drawn out enough process without adding the hand mixing/kneading. I'd never make one if I had to stuff around and do it by hand and as Pete-zza says high gluten flour is not designed for kneading at all.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 04, 2005, 02:59:54 AM
Here are the photographs of my first Pizza Raquel produced with the Kitchen Aid Professional 600. I am delighted by the results and completely sold on spiral hook mixing. The dough and resultant crust were superb.

duckjob, before you invest in a $19.95 spiral hook, make sure it is compatible with your unit. If you have an older Pro 600 it may not be wise to utilize it. A better path may be to upgrade for a small fee to the new 600 models with improved gearing.

JF_Aidan_Pryde, sounds like you have figured out a way, without a scale, to reduce the water percentage of your efforts. Let us know how it works out.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: OzPizza on July 04, 2005, 03:12:47 AM
pftaylor great pics!

Now that I've ordered a new oven, I'm keen on buying a Kitchenaid here in Australia myself. Here's where it gets interesting though, not all the model #s line up. It's a bit hard to judge on the specs to as I believe our 240v effects the wattage. As you can see from the distributors website there seems to be 2 commercial models, the K5SS and KPM50 http://www.petermcinnes.com.au/kitchenaid_commercial_mixers.php , conviently neither model matches up with the US line it seems. Only the domestic models do, as in the KSM50. I am thinking about the K5 possibly as it seems it seems to share the same specs as the KPM50 without going for all metal construction, which will no doubt cost more.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on July 04, 2005, 03:24:23 AM
pftaylor, thanks for the tip. I read the thread on the mixer after I made that post. When I finish school and move out, I'll be upgrading for sure. Looks like the old c hook will have to do for now.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on July 04, 2005, 10:54:47 AM
J_Aiden_Pride,

James, I don't know if you have opened up the bag of flour that you bought from Doctor Earth, but it may be what we call "whole wheat flour" in the U.S. I say this because when the word "stoneground" is used for a flour in the U.S., it almost always means whole wheat flour in which all or most of the bran and wheat germ are retained and not milled out to make a whiter, softer flour that is more suitable for pizza making. Whole wheat flour also has a high protein content, usually higher than high-gluten flours. It will also require more water to hydrate it, and it does so slowly because it takes longer for the bran and wheat germ to absorb the water. It can be used for pizza dough, but it generally isn't used alone (that is, without blending with white flour) because the flavors can be a bit on the bitter side--at least for American tastes.

You asked about the price of the King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour. If one buys it directly from King Arthur, it is $2.95 (U.S.) for a 3-lb. bag, or about 3.93 Australian dollars (if my currency converter was right). Several of our members have found other sources for the flour at lower prices, either by the pound or in 50-lb. bags. In Australia, you may find that your most likely source of high-gluten flour is from a professional baker or foodservice company.

You also asked about hand kneading a dough using high-gluten flour. It is possible to hand knead a high-gluten flour dough, but you will in most cases want to limit yourself to a smaller pizza size, like a 12-inch. The amount of dough for that size can be hand kneaded with little difficulty, even though King Arthur does not specifically list hand kneading as an option for the KASL. I described how to hand knead a KASL dough for a 12-inch NY style pizza at Reply #68, page 4, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.60.html. The techniques are the same whether it is for a classical NY style or the Raquel style. My recollection is that the basic Raquel recipe can be used to make enough dough for two 15-16-inch pizzas. However, if you divide the total dough weight by 3, you will end up with an amount of dough sufficient for a roughly 13-inch pizza and that should be amenable to hand kneading. It will have the same thickness as the 15-16-inch size. If there is anything I can do to help you along, please let me know. If you are unable to locate a source of high-gluten flour suitable for pizza making, you will still be able to practice the Raquel recipe but you may have to make some small changes in hydration if you use a different flour, as previously discussed.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: OzPizza on July 07, 2005, 12:51:22 AM

But hey, look what I found today:
In case you can't read, it says "Protein 14.1%"
:D :D :D

Btw, that's 500grams for about $1.2 USD. How does that compare to KASL?
(OzPizza, I found it at a health food store in Newtown, do tell me if you manage to
find a good baker that'll supply high protein flour)


JF_Aidan_Pryde, some good news. Much internet searching yielded me an article from the herald on strong flour and it's protein levels for good breadmaking http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/25/1059084203206.html?from=storyrhs. This article was extremely handy in that it listed described places and types of flours they supplied. Out of it I have found that there are to varieties made my Weston Mills namely the Special White Flour and more probably the MaxiPro Flour that are at 14% percent or more. I spoke with a store in Marrickville which was mentioned in the article that sold the Special White Flour, unfortunately they indicated that there was no labelling (which I though odd), but bakeries buy it (how exciting..). I then spoke to Torino Distributors who have everything from Flour to Mozzarella blocks to sauces and toppings. They told me MaxiPro would be the strongest they have, no percentage given but it's something like 12.9 grams protein per whatever standard measurement is. The guy at Torino indicated that that should give it about 14% by content. In the meantime I have sent the NSW sales office of Weston Mills an email asking about the protein content of Special White and specifying I was after 14%. Hopefully they will get back to me with some definitive info shortly. If the MaxiPro is the only way to go then it may have to be a pretty big bag unfortunately.

I'm still waiting on my Equipex pizza oven to arrive, it would almost be quicker to get from the US than the time it's taking to send it 100km from Sydney...mind you they told me on Tuesday I would have it by today, so let's see what happens.


Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 10, 2005, 08:14:26 PM
Tonight I made the first two Pizza Raquel's with a new sauce recipe. Simply put, they were to die for. I employed a four day cold rise, fresh mozzarella, my not-so-secret sauce enhanced with Splenda (hey don't laugh it worked for me), pepperoni and dry Italian spices.

Take a look at the tunnel of love on the one slice where there is a big hole seemingly bored through the rim. Now that's a light and airy rim.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 13, 2005, 05:19:04 AM
The day I get a rim like that is the day I'm going to stop making pizza and start eating pizza.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 14, 2005, 11:33:38 AM
More failure -- I don't even remember what charamelized crust tastes like anymore.

Sequence of events:
1. Mix 2 cups of water with salt
2. Blend first two cups of flour (12.6% protein Italian bread flour)
3. 20 minute autolyse
4. Blend in next 3 cups over a period of 20 minutes
5. Work on bench until consistent
6. 30 minute autolyse (was having dinner)
7. Hand knead until smooth and non-sticky. Lower hydration that last time.
8. Cut into 4 balls (for 12") and refrigerate in freezer bags

20 hours later:
1. Bring to room temperature (2 hours+ since it's winter here)
2. Without punching down, use dough directly. At this stage the dough is like
a disk as you can see in the photo. The side you can see is the one facing the
plastic bag so that's why it has full of small holes. It took quite some bench
flour to keep it from sticking.
3. Slap into a 10" disc
4. Lift off board and it stretches instantly to 12"+
5. Bake for 3-4 minutes at 500~.
6. Cheese about to burn, bottom lightly charred, crust totally un-caramelized.

It wasn't very tasty. And the rim certainly doens't look anything like pftalyor's wormhole.
It was fairly dense but soft. I'm so tempted go going back to adding honey.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: dankfoot on July 14, 2005, 12:23:43 PM
My 2 cents,

1st picture looks like the dough is really wet?

Even when cooking at 500 I always have to cook longer than 3 or 4 min. More like 8 min.



Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on July 14, 2005, 02:17:45 PM
James,

Dankfoot is correct. You are still using too much water relative to the amount of flour. To confirm this, I went back to the Raquel recipe. It calls for 3 1/3 cups of flour (KASL) and 1 1/8 cup water. That will yield a hydration of 60%. You indicated in your recipe that you used 5 cups of flour and 2 cups of water. Extrapolating from the Raquel recipe to 5 cups of flour, you would have needed 1.69 cups of water, not 2. So, it appears that you are off by at least a quarter of cup (on the high side).

I also weighed some flours on my digital scale to get a rough idea of the hydration percent of your recipe. I don't have any Italian bread flour, but I do have some Caputo 00 Italian pizzeria flour that has a protein content of 11.5-12.5%, and can also be used to make rolls and other bread products. I weighed 5 cups of the Caputo 00 flour. I measured out the flour by volume in the following fashion. I filled a metal one-cup measuring cup until it was slightly overflowing by dipping a tablespoon into the Caputo 00 flour bag and transferring the flour into the metal cup. I then leveled off the flour at the top of the measuring cup with the flat back edge of a knife. This is the way that King Arthur recommends as the way to measure out volumes of flour. I did this 5 times and weighed the flour. The total came to 22.9 ounces. I also weighed 2 cups of water on my digital scale. That came to 16.4 ounces. On that basis, the hydration percent comes to 71.6% (16.4/22.9 = 71.6), or over 11% higher than called for in the Raquel recipe.

As a cross check, I also weighed 5 cups of KASL, which has a protein content of 14.2%. The weight came to 23.35 ounces. or just slightly more than the Caputo flour. Using the same weight of water as in the last example, 16.4 ounces, the hydration would be 70.2% (16.4/23.35 = 70.2). So, even if you had used KASL, you would have been far off with the amount of water. In your actual case, the numbers might have come closer to the 60% hydration used in the Raquel recipe if you measured your flour with a very heavy hand, as by dipping your measuring cup into the flour bag, filling it to overflowing, and shaking or tamping it to get as much flour into the measuring cup as possible. But, looking at the photos, that doesn't seem likely.

What puzzles me most about your pizza is the lack of coloration in the crust. I'd be interested in getting more information on the brand of your Italian bread flour as well as any other information on the bag itself that might provide a clue as to the type of wheat grain used, or any other characteristics of the flour. I suspect that there won't be much, but maybe having the brand name will allow us to do further research on the flour. In any event, unless your flour is a 00 flour with a low protein level, you should have gotten considerably more color in the crust. I agree also with dankfoot that 3-4 minutes bake time seems very short. I think what may have happened with your dough is that it was overly fermented because of the excess of water and that when you tried to correct it with bench flour you ended up with a lot of raw flour that didn't properly bake and interfered with the proper baking of the rest of the crust. If that was the case, that might have accounted for the poor flavor you noted. Usually this condition shows up as a bitter taste. You mentioned using honey, but I don't recall whether the recipe you used called for any oil. In either event, you should have had better browning even without honey and oil.

I think if you get your basic recipe in order and measure out the ingredients along the lines I mentioned, you should get back on track.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 14, 2005, 10:06:11 PM
My 2 cents,

1st picture looks like the dough is really wet?

Even when cooking at 500 I always have to cook longer than 3 or 4 min. More like 8 min.

I don't have a digital thermometer so I can't be sure but whatever temp it is (500+),
salami and cheese will be burning at the 4 minute mark. At 8min, cheese would unedible.

Pete,
I used more than 5 cups overall, as I used a lot of bench flour when I was doing the
final knead before refrigeration. But it still could be hydration overdone.

I don't think it's the flour. I've used general purpose flour too and the browning is on the
same level. I think it must be dough management. I mention honey from the ages back
when I first solved my "pale crust" problem. I used about 1 tsp of honey for each cup of
water. Caramelization was great.

I will try again today, with even lower hydration. Could you post a picture of what
your dough ball looks like just before shaping? Eg. After it reaches room tempeature
and put on the board.

Thanks everyone.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: varasano on July 15, 2005, 12:05:55 PM
Hey guys,

I haven't posted in a long time. Been really busy. Just want to report on one new thing. I've done 3 very successful batches using Marco's strategy of:

-No commercial yeast
-Very tiny amount of starter (2-3%)
-High hydration
-18 hour warm rise

The result has been excellent. The big thing I learned is that what creates spring is high hydration, good mixing and not letting the dough overrise.   I used to think that I needed the IDY, but now I realize that letting the yeast act too much makes the dough rise LESS in the end. If you let the dough rise too much, the structure weakens and when you spread it out it collapses and ends up having less rise, not more. I mentioned this months ago, but since then I've done pies with even less and less rise and they are getting more and more spring and ending with a lighter final product.

This strategy also has the advantage that I can make the dough almost any time - a week before or a day before. Since the dough has very little yeast, putting it in the fridge for a week has not seemed to hurt it any. Just take it out about 18 hours prior to use.


FYI I used both Caputo pizzeria and a blend of KA Bread and Caputo. Good results for both.

Jeff
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on July 15, 2005, 02:11:40 PM
No commercial yeast
-Very tiny amount of starter (2-3%)
-High hydration
-18 hour warm rise

"  I used to think that I needed the IDY, but now I realize that letting the yeast act too much makes the dough rise LESS in the end.
Since the dough has very little yeast, putting it in the fridge for a week has not seemed to hurt it any. "

I'm confused by your comment?Are you adding yeast  to your starter or not?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 15, 2005, 02:55:25 PM
varasano,
Glad to hear you are back. As usual you take strong positions. The courage of your convictions is refreshing. I have found that my best NY style doughs come when I use a pinch of commercial yeast and a couple of heaping tablespoons of your famous starter.

JF_Aidan_Pryde,
I just finished a batch of Raquel dough. Below are the pictures just after mixing but before placing in the fridge. The dough is perfect. It wasn't sticky at all. In fact, no bench flour was used to form the balls. I could tell the moment it came off the hook that the dough was stellar.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: piroshok on July 16, 2005, 10:06:09 AM
Interesting posts and great work just an artisan like you pftaylor
I would like to know if I could get hold of varasano starter? looked everywhere but can't seem to find it
Thank you

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 17, 2005, 07:40:33 AM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,
Here is what the dough balls look like after 2.5 days in the fridge. I also took pictures of the dough right up until the point where I slid the pie onto the TEC.

I don't use any bench flour at all during the mixing stages but I use all I can get at the skin-forming stages. It seems to help the dough relax somewhat. It certainly makes it easier to work with by removing any surface moisture whatsoever. The dough pictured was unrippable. Just for kicks, I was tossing it back and forth to my 8 year old daughter and her friend seconds before dressing it. I had no fear that their little fists would poke a hole in the skin.

piroshok,
The Varasano preferment is not for sale. He made it by going to his favorite pizza parlor and buying raw dough and culturing it. You can do the same thing with your favorite pizza parlor's dough. In fact anyone can. I think it is the single fastest way to develop the proper crust taste profile in a home setting. Sourdo.com is a retailer of two very highly thought of cultures which have been well recieved by our members such as Bill/SFNM.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 20, 2005, 05:38:57 PM
And here are the photographs to finish off the complete series.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on July 21, 2005, 04:35:59 AM
count me in on the people who love the sourdo.com starters.   The flavor is amazing, and you can totally throw away all your commercial yeast.
Jeff, Glad to see you back here again. I agree with everything you said.  Caputo mixes well with KASL as well.  I miss Johnny's.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 28, 2005, 03:41:40 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm sorry I haven't provided any update. All your help is appreciated. A lot has happened in the past few weeks
and only yesterday have I managed to get back into pizza making.

I have acquired some new pizza gadgets as per suggestions by pftaylor, Peter and others.

First, I have bought a digital scale. I didn't realise it can be had for so cheap -- I bought mine for A$40. This
translates to about US$30. It weights up to 1KG with accuracy of +/- 1g. I love it!

Second, not as high-tech, but equally as thrilling to a hand mixer like myself, I bought a new wooden spoon! :D
It's made in France using birchwood. Lovely.

In anycase, to the main point -- using my newly acquired gear, I gave Raquel another attempt. I found mixing
much more challanging with the new spoon. So I fixed the bowel and used both hands to mix with the spoon. I used the scale to
weight the water and flour. In the end, I used 450grams of water and 720grams of general purpose flour, yeilding
a healthy 62.5% hydration.

By the time I was finished, I could tell this dough ball was truely remarkable. It *looked* like the pictures pftalor
put up. It was smooth and silky in a way that could not be matched by any of my previous dough balls. I don't know
why though, since I measured the 720grams of flour and that turned out to be precisely 5 cups, which is the same
amount I used before but ended up with an over wet dough. But in anycase, perhaps it's due to the new scale, the spoon,
or the two hand mixing method, but the new dough is phenomenal.

As I type, it is fermenting in the fridge (yes I have one!) but I'm a little giddy and I just had to post. In the back of my
mind a horror little voice still echos: "What if this dough still comes out pale and un-caramelised?". We shall find out if
I can finally put that voice to rest in a few more hours.


 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on July 30, 2005, 10:00:02 AM
Unsuccessful.

The crust failed to colour -- it's pale white as before.

The issue of not punching down also still bothers me. I had two dough balls. I punched down one and
left the other untouched. The one that was punched down produced much better bubbles and strength.
The untouched one just didn't have 'energy'.

My bottom crust is nicely charred but the top is just pale. Maybe it is a heat distribution issue; too little
heat on top vs. bottom. But even broil only burns the cheese but not the crust. Very strange.

I did manage to char the crust by baking the pizza without the cheese and adding cheese half way.
But this is definitely not right.

I'm going to experiment more with hydration and my oven. This is proving quite a challange!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on July 30, 2005, 10:20:57 AM
James,

Because of your comments on the way the dough rose, I wondered how much yeast (and type) you used, and how long you refrigerated the dough.

Also, can you describe your oven setup and how you bake your pies?

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on August 17, 2005, 01:06:32 PM
Hi Folks,

I've been doing some more baking. Results are improving somewhat, but my central problem, that of
rim browning, remains largely unsolved.

I made two pizzas today using a strict 60% hydration. The flour was general purchase, with 10.8% protein.
Pizza was topped with mushrooms and salami.

I cooked this pie on the highest rack of the oven with broil on. The goal was to get better rim browning
without burning the cheese. After about three minutes, cheese began to brown but the crust was still
pale. At this stage, I transfered the pizza to the lower stone (bottom rack) and let it cook there for 2 minutes.
The final product is about a six minute bake.

There is some degree of browning but not as much as I'd like. The rim lacks a solid texture; it's still
fairly soft. But this is probably the best I've done without adding sweeteners.

After making tens of such pizzas, I feel the dough and the topping aren't cooking in the same time scale:
* The (block) mozzarella melts in 2min, forms initial brown spots at 3 and is boiling and screaming at 5.
   This is from a frozen state.
* Salami takes 5min before rim becomes crispy, but never fried to bits like Pizza Hut
* Mushroom is rather soft at 5min, but cooked. It does not have that dry, roasted texuture found in pizzerias.
* Dough bottom is lighted tanned at 5min using one stone. Using both, it has nice dark spots. Using one or
   two stones, the top rim does not brown well at 5min. I'm guessing it needs about 7-8, possibly with broil.

The biggest 'browning gap' is between the cheese and the top rim. If I use broil, cheese burns in 3-4min, dough
still needs about twice as long. I've overcome this before by adding honey, which closed the gap and allowed the
dough to brown at the 5min mark. But if I stick to a un-sweetend recipe, could it simply be that my cheese is
too sensitive? (Yes, I am cutting it before hand into big chunks and freezing it prior to use)

In anycase, I can't find fior de latte in Australia. Boccincini is everywhere though. What's the difference between the
two? I will see if fresh cheese improves the situation.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on August 17, 2005, 08:02:54 PM
Your most recent pizza looks good to me.

You might want to try adding some dairy whey to your dough to get better browning. I would try around 2% (by weight of flour). Ordinary baker's flour will not itself produce a crust with much browning because it is low in protein. The higher the protein, the more crust browning, generally. You can see and read about the browning improvement from using dairy whey by going to the A16 thread, where I reported on the results I achieved from using dairy whey with Italian 00 flour, which naturally tends to produce lighter crusts.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: GioTurano on August 19, 2005, 03:14:05 AM


The biggest 'browning gap' is between the cheese and the top rim. If I use broil, cheese burns in 3-4min, dough
still needs about twice as long. I've overcome this before by adding honey, which closed the gap and allowed the
dough to brown at the 5min mark. But if I stick to a un-sweetend recipe, could it simply be that my cheese is
too sensitive? (Yes, I am cutting it before hand into big chunks and freezing it prior to use)

In anycase, I can't find fior de latte in Australia. Boccincini is everywhere though. What's the difference between the
two? I will see if fresh cheese improves the situation.



First, let me say that that's a beautiful pie.  Yeah, maybe the cheese is a little more brown than you'd like, but there might be a simple solution to that.

I was also experiencing cheese problems, but I remedied the situation by lowering the temperature of my oven from 500 (as high as it will go) to 480, and introducing a "rest" period for the pie.  I take it out of the oven just as the cheese begins to bubble (after perhaps three minutes), let it sit on a wire rack for three minutes, then pop it back in until the crust is brown and eager to do my bidding.  This allows the cheese to cool long enough to give the crust a little extra time to do its thing, and it gives the stone a chance to reclaim a little heat, as well.  I'm thinking of experimenting with 460 a few times, just to see what might happen. 

This is not standard NY operating procedure, of course, but then again I'm living in pizza purgatory and have to make do with the tools at hand in order to produce the results that I desire.  The finest cheese available in my area is Sorrento fresh mozz (at a 40-mile round trip), and it seems to do best when applied cold beneath a few dollops of tomato.  Forget anything that says it's low-moisture; even the whole milk low-moisture cheeses that I've used have all been vastly disappointing, and will brown almost immediately. 

Good luck.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on August 19, 2005, 03:33:37 AM
Thanks for the kind words. :)

All the suggestions are good but something fundamental baffles me.
A pizza will cook, given enough time, from anywhere between 400-800
degrees. Ideally, all the ingredients cook 'in-sycn'. That is, at any given
temperature, when the pie is ready, all toppings and base is ready.

It seems this is only possible at certain temperatures or with certain
types of ingredients. At 700-800, this seem to work just fine. Numerous
woodfire and high temp ovens (Jeff's, Pftalor's) have shown this. Rim
and cheese will cook 'in-sycn'.

At 500, I (and a few others it would seem) can't get this to happen.
Not without some high-glutein flour anyway. But at 700-800, it seems
high-glutein is not as important anymore; browning will occur anyway.

I have also taken Tom's comments about lowering cooking temps into
heart. In my mind, they do and should produce a superior flavoured
crust. But this runs completely opposite to the Neopolitanan tradition
of 1-2min fast bakes.

All this is, quite franky, very confusing. But it sure is fun!  8)

Tonight I will try lower temps and a new cheese. Let's see how it goes.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MTPIZZA on August 19, 2005, 06:56:27 AM
one more little trick I have used is to just assemble the pie putting on all ingrediants EXCEPT the cheese...cook the pie to your liking heck take the crust all the way till almost charred if you like...the sauce, oil and toppings won't mind...then, about 5 minutes or so before its done...remove and spread your cheese around -- place back in the oven for an additional 2 minutes or longer,...and POOF!! perfect pie....no burnt cheese it melts and stays stringy etc.. --you get my drift!...have fun it works try it!...(it does'nt affect the taste one bit only makes the pizza excellent in the end result)...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 04, 2005, 04:57:22 PM
Well, I'm back. After traveling almost five days a week for the past couple of months, things have finally slowed down for this home pizza maker. It wasn't all work though. My only mistake was not bringing a camera along to record my stops.

Therefore, I'd like to share a few written pizza moments along the way. First, I had the opportunity to visit fellow member "bakerboy" in Wilmington Delaware. What a nice guy. He welcomed me into his new bakery and proudly showed off his baking toys and his prized possession; a huge oven which will no doubt produce some of the best pizza in the Delaware Valley.

His neighborhood is clamoring for quality pie and bakerboy intends on delivering. Now pizza isn't his first love as it most certainly is baking fresh bread. All kinds of fresh breads. I came away from our discussion thinking bakerboy could bake anything well from pretzels to rolls to artisan bread and pizza. It is his passion. Bakerboy shared with me a lot about baking. Who knew it was so complex? 

A couple of weeks later I had the pleasure of spending a free hour or two in NYC. The closest quality pizza joint was Naples 45 so I decided to try it. I have read mixed reviews about this place and wasn't sure it would be a pleasurable pie experience. And it wasn't at first.

I ordered a Margherita pizza and when it was delivered it contained none of the ingredients (other than Caputo flour) that a true Neapolitan Margherita should have. So I did what any red-blooded New Yorker would have done and I complained. Loudly I might add which is the only way to get attention in that city.

Where was my Bufala Mozz?
What about my San Marzano's?
And my perfectly charred pie?
VPN certified?  I don't think so!

I rained down my refrain to any Naples 45 employee who would listen. After complaining to uninterested hourly employees for what seemed like an eternity, an off-duty head pizzaiolo (been there for about ten years) responded to my concerns with a thoughtful 45 minute conversation about pizza. He tested my pizza knowledge by throwing a few easy pitches my way and after I pulled each one into the stands he confessed the truth. Simply stated, the restaurant still serves Neapolitans only with the changes I mentioned above. He made amends by making a "real" Margherita which was fabulous. It still didn't contain real San Marzano tomatoes. It still wasn't baked much above 500 - 600 degrees by the Woodstones. But it did have a mixture of Caputo flours (Red & Blue) and real Bufala Mozz and the biggest previously missing ingredient - the trained hand of a true pizzaiolo. He ended up baking the pie himself and raised the pie to the ceiling, for the last 30 seconds, to get the necessary char which any respectable char craving home pizza maker should expect from a certified VPN establishment. Truth be told, I bet they are no longer serving true Neapolitan pizzas except to those who specificially request it (off menu) and then it still won't be entirely up to spec. Still, nonetheless, the second pie was delicious.

The highlight of my pizza travels took me back to NYC last week and I had a chance to visit to my favorite all-time pizza joint to get even with Jose the pizzaiolo. Jose had a big laugh at my expense when he tried to convince me during my last visit that his recipe included sugar. He evened the score by making a Margherita for the ages - quidoPizza style. Which is to say, baked twice. What a great tasting pie. Twice as good as the second Naples 45 effort. I'm still grinning from the experience.

None of the problems I experienced from my last visit seemed to be present. Also, I managed to engage John the owner in a thoughtful conversation. What a relevation. His angle in all of this is purely business. He is not a pizza maker. He proudly states that he doesn't know and doesn't want to know how to make pizzas. That's Jose's job. John is in it for the real estate play which just happens to have a pizzeria located on his block (and a well hidden parking lot for those patrons that want a convenient place to park). Now I don't want to suggest he is just a money-grubbing investor who will run down the pizzeria into the veritable ground. Quite the contrary. He realizes the goldmine of pizza history he owns and is taking numerous steps to capitalize upon them. I now have the sense that Patsy's Pizza is in good hands. He is a true business man first and then a lover of pizza. I came away from our conversation thinking that he ended up investing in something he loves. Afterall, he grew up just a few blocks from Pepe's & Sally's in New Haven.

The once dangerous Harlem neighborhood is being revitalized all around him as I learned by having my driver take me around the nearby area as I was wasting time waiting for Patsy's to open on the day of my visit. As crazy as it may sound, there are million dollar town houses being built within walking distances. As John was showing me the numerous bullet holes in his store's facade, it was hard not to wonder how much money he will make in the next few years off his entrepreneurial vision. Patsy's Pizza is in good hands with John. I will go back every chance I get.

One last point, John allowed me to closely inspect the coal fired oven which Jose has labored with since 1976. I think I may have found out the reason why a Patsy's pizza tastes significantly better than any other pie I have personally put in my mouth. Simply put, the oven has a very low and slightly curved ceiling - much like what pizzanapoletana has discussed in intimate detail with his Napoli pizza ovens. I would be willing to bet that Patsy himself knew something about the difference between authentic Neapolitan ovens and the bread ovens that Lombardi's and Grimaldi's have. 

Finally, I have attached my Labor Day pizza effort just so that there is some relevance to my Patsy's visit. It was made with the Varasano preferment which is based on the Harlem neighborhood yeast strain which has been fermenting since 1933. It produced a truly delicious pie.

This is a great hobby!

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on September 06, 2005, 10:29:49 PM
Nice field report pftaylor, enjoyed every bit of it! What kind of questions did
the Naples 45 chef ask? Must have been fun. :)

Will definitely visit Patsy's next time to New York.

BTW, great looking pie as usual.

-James
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 07, 2005, 10:11:23 AM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,

The head Pizzaiolo was initially playing games with all his answers to my questions. For instance, when I asked why the pie I was served did not have Fresh Bufala Mozzarella on it he claimed it did. I assured him that fresh mutz doesn't look anything like the gue that was on my pie. He asked what should it look like? I responded with a white porcelain color not a yellowish tint. He conceded by saying that they have the "real" mutz in the back. I asked why I had to pay $16 for whole mutz when the menu clearly stated otherwise. He conceded that most people don't know the difference.

Flabbergasted, I moved on to the metallic tasting tomatoes. I guessed that they were not true San Marzano tomatoes. He claimed they were true Italian plum tomatoes. I continued by asking if they were DOP? He had to concede they were from California and were San Marzano style. What was that I politely asked? He claimed they were good enough.

I pressed further by asking how the restaurant could be VPN certified when they employed such inferior products. He then went on a rant about how Italians can't agree on anything much less how a real Neapolitan pizza should be dressed. I responded by stating that a traditional Neapolitan Margherita should at least have San Marzanos, Bufala (or at least fresh) mutz, and Italian flour (preferrably Caputo).

When the conversation finally turned to hydration levels he indicated that his was 85%. At this point I asked him to get real because no one on this planet can make a pie with that hydration level. He explained how he has no idea what his hydration level is due to not weighing any ingredients. His approach is to put a 5 gallon bottle of water to a mixture of Red & Blue Caputo. His basis for the approach apparently stems from one of the Molino boys who regularly visits from Italy. It turned out to be the turning point in terms of pizza respect and he stated that unlike most of the people that claim to know what a real Neapolitan pie should be, I proved to him to be knowledgeable. 

He then asked if he could make a pie for me at no charge and asked one of his bus boys to fetch a ball of cheese. He then made a great tasting Margherita which we shared over a pleasant discussion about NY pizza versus Neapolitan pizza. The resultant pie couldn't of been any more different from the trash I was originally served. It was baked to perfection.

He asked me to come back on my next visit and be sure to ask for him which I promised I would.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on September 07, 2005, 11:13:40 AM
pft,

When I first visited Naples 45, I was in the learning stage of Neapolitan style pizzas. I had read the Naples 45 pizza menu in advance (online) and saw the Margherita DOC pizza on the menu. However, I didn't pay much attention to whether I would get a truly authentic Margherita pizza because I had seen similar references in menus elsewhere where it was clear from the descriptions that they weren't authentic. I also knew from my reading that the VPN regulations were broad in many respects, not always strictly enforced, often reviled, and that there were holes in them that one could drive a truck through. I personally was more interested in the 00 flour and the crust since all I was using at the time were the Bel Aria and Delverde 00 flours which very few professional pizza operators were using at the time to make authentic Neapolitan style pizzas. Also, while I was full of book knowledge on authentic Neapolitan style pizzas, I had never had a Neapolitan style pizza baked in a high-temperature wood-fired oven before, only my home oven.

When I spoke at length with the chief pizza maker, Charlie, he made no effort to conceal what cheeses and tomatoes he was using. He pointedly said that he used both imported fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh local mozzarella cheese and both San Marzano and other plum tomatoes (my recollection is that he said they were imported). I specifically recall his mentioning that the fresh imported mozzarella cheese tended to get a "sour" taste fairly quickly (according to his taste at least) and that if he used only San Marzano tomatoes, his volume of pizza production (several hundreds a day just during the lunch period) would consume just about the entire production (he said this somewhat jokingly). He also mentioned that the restaurant was using a domestic source of water to simulate the chemical compostion of Naples water in lieu of importing the water as they had previously been doing. Our conversation could not have been nicer or more informative for this novitiate and, as I have reported elsewhere, it was Charlie's help, along with the importer, that I was introduced to the Caputo 00 flour and got my first Care package of the flour to experiment with and to report on at the forum.

I agree that it is not proper to sell something other than as represented on the menu, whether it is a Margherita pizza or anything else. And while I don't condone the practice, the fact is that it happens all the time, and diners apparently allow chefs and cooks to engage in a form of "license" in the precise ingredients used. Restaurant reviewers and critics frequently comment on this practice when they see a disconnect between what menus say and what they actually get (it's usually missing ingredients, substituted ingredients, or use of only trace amounts of important ingredients).

You did the right thing in holding Naples 45's feet to the fire (no pun intended). Knowing what I know today, I would do the same thing.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 07, 2005, 12:04:56 PM
Pete-zza,
Thanks for jogging my memory regarding the head pizzaiolo's name. Charlie was who I spoke with.

I also forgot to mention that the Woodstone oven was advertised as being wood-fired when in fact, according to my memory, it was burning gas. Charlie intimated that it could burn either and they routinely burned both. I saw no evidence of wood stacked anywhere. I asked how hot he could get the oven with gas and he didn't seem to know. He handled the question along the lines of it is easier to pump out pies with a gas oven.

It was clear to me that he was mildly annoyed (at both me and the restaurant staff) that he had to address the issues I presented on one of his days off. His entire staff knew little or nothing about pizzas.

According to Charlie, he gave up on true San Marzano tomatoes when the taste didn't match the price. He suggested that the California tomatoes they are now using taste better than what they could get from Italy. My tastebuds told me otherwise due to the citric acid aftertaste they imparted. I agreed with him that the best tomatoes probably do not leave Italy.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on September 07, 2005, 12:16:09 PM
pft,

When I was first there, I saw wood stacked up near the ovens.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 07, 2005, 01:30:27 PM
Pete-zza,
I could be wrong on the source of heat utilized by Naples 45. But I could swear it was gas. I noticed several bags of Red & Blue Caputo flour stacked up underneath the main pizza making station but alas, no wood.

The overall issue I had with the restaurant (and the industry in general) was the extent of the intentional deception. Everything other than their use of Caputo flour screamed "it's good enough." Yet all their advertising trumpeted their attention to authenticity. I noticed on their web site that they claim to use ovens imported from Italy. If I'm not mistaken, the two ovens I examined were Woodstones. A subtle but telling point.

The stark difference was brought to the surface when I visited Patsy's shortly after the Naples 45 episode. John (the owner) and Jose (the pizza maker) never proclaimed to use a higher quality ingredient list than what was actually used. I have often lamented the fact that they use "cheap" ingredients. I have often dreamed of what could be produced by Patsy's oven if only their focus was quality and attention to detail. The actual execution of what Naples 45 claims to offer.

When John freed up the time to speak with me about pizza, I decided to investigate the notion of what Patsy's means to him. He never imagined being the owner of a pizza joint. It just sort of happened. As such, he hasn't rocked the boat regarding the pizza making operation. But he was open to the concept of improvement and I jumped at the opportunity to discuss what could be possible.

My guess would be that since 1933, Patsy's used roughly the same questionable quality of ingredients available to them - canned tomatoes, local mutz, and American flour (fresh yeast was and still is used however). They probably bought ingredients on price in 1933, and still do today, but that is exactly what makes Patsy's so very perplexing to me - the use of semi sub-standard ingredients baked in an ultra-hot oven to produce what could be arguably the best NY style pie available.

Funny thing about Patsy's oven, it may be the most authentic Neapolitan oven in the city and John and Jose had no idea about the implication of that statement. They just knew that it's the original oven (although it was moved slightly from its original location where the bar is now). Wouldn't it be ironic if Patsy's has a real Napoli oven? I would appreciate it if other fellow members could weigh in on this aspect during future visits. To my eye, it appears to perfectly reflect the principles which pizzanapoletana has described in other posts.

John may not have the passion of a true pizza man, but he is the consumate business man and that is what it takes to produce gobs of profit but sadly not the best NY or Neapolitan pie in the city. When we openly discussed his decision to franchise the Patsy's name across the city, he seemed to think it was a great business decision. It was his way to keep the Patsy's flame alive so to speak.

And it very well may be, but as I very humbly inquired what his plans were to uphold the Patsy's tradition beyond franchising, he had a blank expression.  When the conversation eventually moved to trying to increase the quality of his pizza offerings by honoring the Neapolitan heritage of the original owner, it was as if I steered John into a higher level of thinking about what could be accomplished. The light bulb went off.

John seemed to be very interested in how he could make Jose's pizzas more authentic rather than less. I suggested he already made one of the best, if not the best, NY style pizzas available but that there were other variations that could be made that paid homage to Naples Italy and a higher quality NY style that would once and for all end the bickering (hopefully) as to who makes the best pie in the city. John expressed true interest in developing both a true high quality NY style with better cheese and tomatoes as well as an authentic Neapolitan pizza with Bufala mutz, Caputo flour, and San Marzano tomatoes. It made sense to him as he saw the coming market with all the rich neighbors streaming into the area. It was a concept he knew little about though because his New Haven upbringing never exposed him to either style.

Time will tell if he acts on the opportunity I vividly painted or not. We promised to keep in touch and exchanged phone numbers. I can only imagine how delicious a high quality Patsy's pie would be.

One day I hope to bite into that dream...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on September 07, 2005, 02:24:22 PM
pft,

Knowing the fallibilty of memories, I perhaps should have said that my memory was of seeing wood. At the time I had not heard of Wood Stone, but I do note from the Wood Stone website that they do sell units that can use both gas and wood. The original ovens were wood-fired only. My recollection of the ovens themselves is that at least a part of them, possibly a volcanic material (?), did come from Italy. I don't know if that makes sense, possibly to be in compliance with the VPN rules?

I did find my notes of my first Naples 45 visit and everything I said earlier today about the cheese and tomatoes was as I recorded it except that Charlie said (jokingly) that his production of pizzas would use up half of the entire San Marzano production, not all of it.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 07, 2005, 03:12:03 PM
Pete-zza,
Thanks for the clarification.

One other point, I actually have no issue with Wood Stone ovens (or any other for that matter). I want to be quite clear on that point.

My issue is with how the restaurant advertises their ovens versus my observations on the day I visited. I'm sure they could produce massive amounts of heat with wood. Whether Charlie uses wood or gas is nearly irrelevant because they had a very small flame anyway. I'd bet they were 500 - 600 degrees at the most. I silently timed one of the 10" pies being baked and it was just over 3 minutes. The standard 10" pie crust was very thin as well, so the oven could not of been very hot. Granted, I was there at lunch time so the place was not very full and they may not of had the oven cranked to a high temperature.

When Charlie slid his long-handled peel under my second pie after a couple of baking minutes, I noticed he lifted it toward the top of the oven. It produced a marvelous char as a result. It appeared to be perfectly cooked, something that I hadn't noticed from his other pizza makers.

Finally, I also remember Charlie telling me he used to maintain a Biga years ago. It is no longer being used due to the difficulty of keeping it maintained but he agreed it added plenty of crust flavor. For the record, Charlie was the first pizzaiolo I have spoken with that acknowledged it's mere existence let alone it's incorporation in a commercial venture.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 07, 2005, 07:16:48 PM
Rather than wait for Patsy's to improve the quality of their pizza, I decided to make my interpretation of a high quality NY style pizza. Here is the tale of the tape:
- KASL flour
- Sicilian sea salt
- Bottled water
- IDY
- La Valle DOP San Marzano tomatoes
- Garden grown basil and oregano
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Biazzo Fresh Mozzarella with a light dusting of Reggie Parm
- Perfect char compliments of a 3 minute bake on a Tec grill
- Varasano preferment based on fermentations and mutations since 1933
- Juicy and thick pepperoni

The above was prepared using the Pizza Raquel Formulary featuring a 3 day cold rise. The below lasted scant seconds before it was devoured by the Pizza Raquel faithful (my family).
 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 09, 2005, 06:28:19 PM
I'm not sure why the above pictures were blurry but perhaps the photographs of Pizza Raquel #2, shot this evening, will present a clearer picture of why I'm so satisfied with my current results. On the slice shot, it has just a hint of tip droop while handling like a great NY slice should.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 09, 2005, 06:28:45 PM
Final shots...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: GioTurano on September 10, 2005, 12:30:56 AM
PFT,

Beautiful, even in the blurry shots.

What do you think of the Biazzo?  I was able to get it for a few weeks at Wal-Mart, of all places, and then they discovered that I liked it, so they stopped carrying it.   ::)  I've also tried Il Villaggio fior di latte, which wasn't terrible, and Sorrento fresh, which was surprisingly good for a big brand.

Enjoyed your trip stories. 

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 10, 2005, 06:50:57 AM
GioTurano,
Thanks for your kind words.

I happen to think Biazzo Fresh mutz is a good value and a solid choice for elite NY style (Patsy's, Grimaldi's Lombardi's, etc.) home pie making. I prefer it to more expensive yellowish whole milk mutz such as Grande which may be better for NY street style pizza (think greasy, gooey, run-down-your-arm type pies). It is clearly not the finest example of fresh mutz, but I would rank it as a top tier cryo packed fresh mutz which is generally available to home pizza makers.

With a little tinkering here and there, such as freezing it ever so slightly before placing on a skin (to lessen the chance of burning), it is more than manageable. From a cost perspective it is hard to beat at roughly $2.25lb through Sam's Club. I have noticed that it doesn't perform quite as well when sliced in thin strips for some reason. The best performance I have been able to coax out of it has been when I rip small chunks off the ball and place it randomly on the skin. That way the stringy strength of the cheese remains intact and it seems to melt in place with a blotch without burning as easily.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Ronzo on September 11, 2005, 07:32:05 PM
pft...


*breathless* she's a beautiful thing to behold.




Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 18, 2005, 11:23:02 AM
nytxn,
Thank you for your comments. They are truly appreciated.

One of the lesser known aspects of Pizza Raquel, and Sophia for that matter, is that I endeavor to balance the macro-nutrient composition of their recipes. I am an advocate of creating a 40%-30%-30% balance of carbohydrates to protein to fat.  This is no small feat due to flour being a mega contributor to carbohydrates. Made in this manner, one can consume up to four slices of killer tasting pizza without any fear of gaining weight. Guiltless sleep alone is worth the price of admission.

Just one more reason to admire Raquel and Sophia...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 02, 2005, 09:45:54 AM
Yesterday I traveled to NYC for a one day business meeting which began at noon. My flight landed at around 10:30am and I caught a taxi into Manhatten via the Whitestone bridge which puts you in the vicinity of Patsy's Pizza. What was I to do with about an hour on my hands?

You guessed it, I directed the cabby to Patsy's which is located just a few scant blocks from the Whitestone. While Patsy's wasn't quite open yet, I managed to convince the cabby to park in front for a while until I could find John (owner) or Jose (pizzaiolo) to open early. Unfortunately John wasn't there. Jose doesn't work on Saturdays and I had to literally beg through a series of hand gestures through the window to a shadowy figure in the back for a pie to go. My request was granted, the employee opened the doors early and warmly greeted me. The oven was already white hot and quickly spit out my cherished order.

While I was waiting for a plain cheese masterpiece, Victor (a long-time Patsy's waiter) walked through the door. We shared a few minutes of pizza talk and I was made to feel like a regular. Wearing a business suit and armed with a large pie to go, I carefully weighed the impact of potentially walking in to a business meeting with pizza sauce splattered on my shirt. Throwing caution to the wind, I sat in the taxi eating slice after slice with Carlos (the cabby) who was brought to his knees by the greatness of it's coal charred crust. He genuinely couldn't believe how thin and delicious it was. I quickly concurred. In my mind, it was the most balanced tasting pie yet (from a pizzeria).

The business meeting went off without a hitch (no doubt due to the positive impact imparted by Patsy's killer pie) and after a few hours we decided to grab a late lunch and  the participants allowed me to pick the restaurant. Where was I to go? Naples 45? Una Pizza Napoletana (is that place ever open?), Grimaldi's? Nah, I choose Lombardi's in Little Italy. I hadn't been there in years and hoped for the best. What a disappointment. The Margherita was overly bready. The crust had no flavor and was stiff as a board. The sauce was pedestrian at best. The cheese didn't help matters. Compared to Patsy's, it was like eating a chain pizza. The contrast was that startling. My top three current rankings for elite NY pie are Patsy's, Grimaldi's, and DiFara. Lombardi's wouldn't crack my top 50. Suffice to say that, in my opinion, Lombardi's is a tourist destination at best. The pie at Patsy's cost all of $11.00, Lombardi's was $25 (with a single diet Coke). What a rip-off.

I ended up catching a 7:30 flight back to Tampa with a huge smile on my face anyway. As I sit here in Tampa this morning I can reflect back on my whirlwind experience and count my blessings. There is nothing better than combining business with pleasure.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: briterian on October 02, 2005, 10:57:08 AM
What a great story and makes me want to take a red-eye to NYC.  I tried Lombardi's back in 2000 and thought it was the bomb...maybe their quality has gone south...what a shame.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on October 02, 2005, 04:11:16 PM
Pizza at most of the high end places in America just seems to be totally inconsistent.  I am not surprised at all at your experience PFT.  Although too bready, my last four experiences at Lombardi's (in the past two years) have been quite consistant and not stiff at all.  I think the main problem with all these coal oven pizzerias is that the guys tending the oven think they are cooking at 550.  My guess is that they hire people with pizzamaking experience.  With so few coal ovens, or even wood ovens fired hot like they should be, I think these guys are used to working in Blodgett or Marshall deck ovens.   It appears as if they are accustomed to being able to have  a minute or two leeway between a raw and a burned pie.  Unfortunately the reality is that at 750 plus degrees that window is really measured in seconds.  This is my guess, or hope, at least.  I hate to believe that they really just don't care.

I think this is why places like Di Fara's are always going to stay on top.  One man that really cares about the pizza making the pizza.  Lately I have been dreaming about switching careers and becoming one of these people. All I want is a simple setup, a few tables, and a good wood burning oven.  The unfortunate reality is that it is looking like the rent in Boston is so astronomically high that there is no way that it will be financially possible for me to do it.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on November 30, 2005, 09:34:31 AM
A few days ago I made some pies. One of them turned out to be quite a something. When I looked at it, it reminded me of a certain kind of pie I've seen before, one that I've always admired, one that I wish I could make -- that pie was the Raquel. I am proud that I've finally made it, close enough that I'm posting it in this thread.

So without further adieu, Pizza Raquel, born down under:


Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on November 30, 2005, 02:29:55 PM
James,

Nice job. Did you use the Varasano or pftaylor process to make the dough and did you use your recently activated starter from sourdo.com?

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: OzPizza on November 30, 2005, 07:14:22 PM
A few days ago I made some pies. One of them turned out to be quite a something. When I looked at it, it reminded me of a certain kind of pie I've seen before, one that I've always admired, one that I wish I could make -- that pie was the Raquel. I am proud that I've finally made it, close enough that I'm posting it in this thread.

So without further adieu, Pizza Raquel, born down under:




Great looking pizza James, well done!

Keen to know if you used the sourdo.com starter too. If so, what was the taste impact on the crust? I stupid neglected my preferment when I went away one weekend a couple of weeks ago. I forgot to tell my partner to feed it and it was pretty tragic by the time I got back, really badly sour smelling and bad looking. I had a brief attempt at washing it but I ended up pooring both lots down the drain. If only my mixer was broken till this week, I'd have had a chance to try the preferment.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on December 01, 2005, 12:16:08 AM
Hi guys,

The pizza was risen using the Camaldoli starter with no IDY. To be honest, I really don't find the starter to be very demanding. For example, a great deal has been said about using a starter at its peak. I find that the starter kind of works in any state, so long as you give it a overnight counter rise.

The recipe is roughly inline with Jeff/pftaylor's methods -- mix 2/3rd of the flour, autolyse, slowly mix in the rest. I used about 3 tsp of starter for the above batch, which was about 1000g all together. Hydration was about 62%, using all purpose flour.

As for the taste, it was pretty mild. It was not sour at all in fact. Perhaps a hint of tang, but overall very good. Perhaps I'm taking it for granted, but the flavour is not jumping out and making me smile. I think I should try IDY again to remind myself of what I was eating before. ;)

PS. BTW Pete, I used spanish chorizos in the above pizza. They were homemade by a highly respected deli and tasted fantastic. I think it may have displaced my favourite pepperoni!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on December 01, 2005, 04:34:07 AM
Portuguese Chorizo is a topping offered at a number of pizzerias around the New England area.  I don't know how different it is from Spanish chorizo, but it sure makes an amazing pizza topping as well!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: OzPizza on December 02, 2005, 08:09:07 PM
Hi guys,

The pizza was risen using the Camaldoli starter with no IDY. To be honest, I really don't find the starter to be very demanding. For example, a great deal has been said about using a starter at its peak. I find that the starter kind of works in any state, so long as you give it a overnight counter rise.

The recipe is roughly inline with Jeff/pftaylor's methods -- mix 2/3rd of the flour, autolyse, slowly mix in the rest. I used about 3 tsp of starter for the above batch, which was about 1000g all together. Hydration was about 62%, using all purpose flour.

As for the taste, it was pretty mild. It was not sour at all in fact. Perhaps a hint of tang, but overall very good. Perhaps I'm taking it for granted, but the flavour is not jumping out and making me smile. I think I should try IDY again to remind myself of what I was eating before. ;)

PS. BTW Pete, I used spanish chorizos in the above pizza. They were homemade by a highly respected deli and tasted fantastic. I think it may have displaced my favourite pepperoni!

James, interesting findings. Thanks for sharing them. I am wondering if the 'mild' taste has anything to do with the fact you used AP flour. Just reminds me of the many counter rise doughs I used to make with AP and end up thinking they tasted a bit too light or as you say mild. I would describe it as not quite bready enough tasting in a pizza crust sense(if that makes sense) to make it compelling.

I had a piece of Neopolitan style Margerita at Mezzalina restaurant in Canberra the other night, which was ok, very light tasting, probably same day rise perhaps with 00 flour. It was pretty typical of the Neopolitans I've experienced in Australia, inoffensive but not compelling enough to have me craving more than one piece as a starter.

I wish I hadn't ruined my Camaldoli starter the other week. I'll have to try it again with the other packet. I'm quite keen to try a starter with my high gluten flour to see how the taste is impacted. May be a project for Jan., when I get some time off for it.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel With Sophie and Molly
Post by: pftaylor on December 17, 2005, 07:32:31 PM
Tonight I was with two women eating pure passion food - Pizza Raquel.

Neither of which were my wife of nineteen years.

Who says pizza isn't a women magnet?

But before I share pictures of Sophie and Molly, kindly take a quick look at my preparation of Raquel. The first couple of pictures show the sequence of applying ingredients. One question I get asked a lot in private messages from fellow members is about the surprising lack of a lot of sauce. I err on the side of more fresh mutz as a way of trying to create more balance between the macronutrients of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel With Sophie and Molly
Post by: pftaylor on December 17, 2005, 07:36:26 PM
As promised, here are pictures of two lovely ladies who might love Raquel more than me...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 18, 2005, 10:51:54 AM
pftaylor,

I know you are on the road a lot on business, but I wondered if that has posed a challenge to your keeping your preferment in peak form. Or are you leaning more on IDY as a result? Or possibly having a family member look after your preferment while you are away. Just looking at your most recent pizza, it doesn't look like it has suffered from your frequent absences from home.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 18, 2005, 05:49:29 PM
Pete-zza,
Great question and one which I've contemplated quite a bit. Here are a couple of observations;
Using the normal amount of IDY, the finished dough didn't seem to rise as much after three days of being in the fridge. It resembled a hard chunk of cold dough. However, with a two hour counter rise, it performed nearly as well as I remember. It was a little more bready than airy. That said, the grilled crust was fairly pale in color.

Tonight the grilled Pizza Raquel benefited from a four day rise in the fridge and it seemed quite normal. It was softer to the touch before forming and the crust puffed significantly more. I even had to puncture a couple of bubbles. Pictures are attached.
The lucky man in the middle is my son who enjoyed his slice of Raquel a little more than usual. No doubt due to the company.

Regarding maintenance of the famed Varasano preferment, I haven't made a Raquel or Sophia in over a month - maybe two. I hadn't refreshed the preferment the entire time and it still seemed to perform well. It was surprising to me it performed as well as it did without the weekly re-freshening it typically received. I would say it performed at about 80% of capacity.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 19, 2005, 06:11:35 AM
JF_Aidan_Pryde,
Your version of Pizza Raquel is simply beautiful. Speaking from experience, all the time, energy, and effort appear to have paid off for you. I trust it tasted as good as it looks because it looks great.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Wazza McG on December 24, 2005, 02:29:55 AM
Congrats on a great looking pizza James. Compared to the previous crusts you have shown us, I believe you have nailed it.   What do you think  was the most significant difference in preparation or procedure?

Wazza McG
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on January 12, 2006, 04:28:11 AM
Well, its been a few months since I posted, but its good to see the site is alive and well, growing even. I purchased the italian cultures from sourdo.com and finally got around to activating them and incorporating it into a pizza dough. Today's pizza was amazing! It was the best tasting crust I have made by far, and it seemed to handle just a little bit better than dough that I had made previously with IDY. I pretty much followed pftaylors Pizza Raquel recipe to a T, as I always do, except that I add a tsp of olive oil for every 8 ounces of flour in the recipe. In this case I used the following amounts:

24 oz KASL
14.4 oz water
3 tsp salt
3 tsp olive oil
3 T. of Camaldoli starter
1/4 tsp IDY

The results, again, were amazing:

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/camaldoli_011106/IMG_0467s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/camaldoli_011106/IMG_0469s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/camaldoli_011106/IMG_0470s.jpg)

(http://www.duckjob.net/pizza/camaldoli_011106/IMG_0471s.jpg)

For those interested, the Pizza Raquel kneading instructions were followed meticulously. The spent 3 days in the fridge and then two hours coming to room temp. The oven was heated to 550 for one hour, the the broiler turned on high and the pizza cooked for 5 minutes.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 12, 2006, 07:43:11 AM
Brian,

Good to see you back. Excellent job.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 14, 2006, 09:10:53 AM
duckjob,
You have continued to amaze me with your experimentation and dedication with the core Raquel recipe. The level of success you have achieved is notable simply due to the fine looking end product. Your pictures look quite familiar to me and delicious.

I am happy for you to be dating Raquel's sister, who is every bit as good looking. She is Everything You'd Want!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 16, 2006, 09:07:24 AM
Having seen duckjob’s (Brian’s) recent Raquel masterpiece made me jealous. I had to have a Raquel pizza too.

So, a few days ago, I started a dough using a slightly-modified version of pftaylor’s basic formulation for his Raquel dough. It’s the formulation that is set forth in Reply #24 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1258.msg11359.html#msg11359. For my purposes, I added a small amount of oil (1% by weight of flour), and I made only enough dough to make a single 15-16-inch pizza. I followed pft’s instructions to the letter, as he instructs to do (upon the pain of death no less). Doing this, I ended up with a first-rate dough and a first-rate pizza. The pizza was intentionally kept simple. It was a cheese pizza using fellow member Les’ grape pizza sauce, and a mixture of fresh mozzarella cheese (Bel Gioioso) and shredded Dragone low-moisture, whole-milk mozzarella cheese, and topped after baking with some freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano cheeses. The dough formulation I used was as follows:

100%, High-gluten flour (King Arthur Sir Lancelot), 8 oz. (226.80 g.), 1 3/4 c. + 3 T. + 1 t.
60%, Water, 4.8 oz. (136.08 g.), about 5/8 c.
0.0625%, Instant dry yeast (IDY), 0.005 oz. (0.14 g.), about 1/16 t. (a few grains)
2%, Sea salt (I used Sicilian), 0.16 oz. (4.54 g.), between 3/4 and 7/8 t.
1%, Oil (I used light olive oil), 0.08 oz. (2.27 g.), about 1/2 t.
8.125%, Preferment, 0.65 oz. (18.43 g.), about 4 t.(in my case)
Total dough weight = 13.69 oz. (388.25 g.)
Thickness factor (TF) = 0.068

One of the most interesting aspects of making the dough was that I had a problem making a roughly 14-ounce dough ball in my KitchenAid stand mixer. In essence, the dough ball was too small for my KA mixer to handle efficiently. I proceeded nonetheless to make the dough as best I could. Getting less than a perfect dough ball had the effect of piquing my interest in what I would end up with a few days later when I was ready to use the dough to make a pizza. In my case, “a few days” was a few hours more than 3 days. For all of that time, the dough was under refrigeration and, during that spell, the dough hardly rose at all. Since I was using principally a preferment for leavening purpose, with a trivial amount of IDY, I expected this. In my case, the dough started out as a round ball but after 3 days it had spread and flattened a bit as the enzymes in the flour (mainly the protease) attacked and softened the gluten structure. But it wasn’t until I started to work with the dough that I truly saw the benefits of the Raquel dough recipe.

The dough worked flawlessly. It was perfectly balanced from an extensibility/elasticity standpoint and I had no problems whatsoever stretching it out to about 15 inches. I actually played around with the dough for several minutes longer than I needed--just savoring the event--because I was having so much fun tossing and stretching the dough. So, if anyone feels they need practice tossing and stretching a dough without almost no likelihood of tearing the dough, the Raquel dough recipe is the recipe to use.

After dressing the skin, I placed it on a 16-inch pizza screen and baked it for about 4 minutes on the top oven rack position. I then transferred the pizza off of the screen and onto a pizza stone (on the lowest oven rack position) that had been preheated to about 500-550 degree F for about an hour. Shortly after I shifted the pizza onto the pizza stone, I turned on the broiler element. After about 3 minutes on the stone, the pizza was moved under the broiler element for about 1 minute.

The photos below show the finished pizza. It was an excellent pizza. It had very good crust flavor, color and texture. It was also fairly light (weight-wise), as I had expected based on the fact that it had a thickness factor of only 0.068, which is quite a bit less than the typical “non-elite” thin NY street style, which has a typical thickness factor of around 0.10-0.105. I also knew that the Raquel pizza was an attempt to replicate the famous thin-style Patsy’s pizza. All of this aside, it was a great pizza made from a great dough recipe.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 17, 2006, 10:32:08 AM
Pete-zza,
Your results speak for themselves. You must surely be one of only a handful of pizza makers who have the uncanny ability to pick up recipes and produce winning results on a consistent basis. It is always a pleasure reading about your adventures in pizza making. I am flattered you chose to produce Pizza Raquel this time. I am curious about a few aspects of your latest effort.

First, could you kindly describe which preferment you used and what process you used to heighten it's effectiveness. I receive emails from fellow members wondering if they can try a Raquel without the use of a preferment and would like your input on this related issue. What changes might you recommend in this instance, if any? Additionally, do you have an opinion on the "worm-hole" I noticed in the handle of your Raquel?

Next, I would like to get your perspective on the core Lehmann recipe vs. Pizza Raquel (in whatever dimension(s) you desire). A comparative analysis if you will. I have made both and recommend both and would be interested in your comments since you have also made both with considerable success.

I look forward to your comments.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 17, 2006, 11:22:23 AM
pft,

Thank you for your kind remarks.

The preferment I used was one that was given to me by a good friend who came to Dallas on business. He knew of my interest in making pizzas and wanted me to share what he felt was his best preferment. To prepare for the Raquel dough, I refreshed the preferment with flour and warm water the day before I planned to make the dough. On the following morning, I took the preferment out of the refrigerator and let it warm up and become bubbly. Since it was cool in my kitchen that morning, I put the preferment in my home-made proofing box for about an hour before using it. The temperature of the proofing box was around 80 degrees F. That did the trick. The preferment was nice and bubbly.

You have read my mind on the other questions, especially on the use of only commercial yeast and comparisons between the Raquel and Lehmann doughs. I have not personally made a commercial yeast version of the Raquel dough since I have preferments and like the results they produce. However, I suspect that the only way to know for sure is to do a commercial yeast version. I intend to do this at some point, and have put that experiment on my pizza "to do" list. I am as curious as the folks who email you.

One possibility that does occur to me as an alternative to using a natural preferment is to use a commercial yeast biga. I haven't personally done this with the Raquel formulation, but I would take, say, about 50% of the flour and about 50% of the water (both by weight) in the Raquel formulation and combine them (in a bowl by hand or by using a stand mixer) with all or a good part of the amount of commercial yeast (IDY) you recommend be used. The preferment will have roughly the same hydration and feel as the final dough into which it is to be incorporated. Hence, the preferment will be essentially a biga. I would then let the biga ferment for about 4 or 5 hours at room temperature (the warmer the better), and then combine it with the rest of the ingredients called for by the Raquel formulation. This might require some modification of your processing steps, but I believe it can be done while retaining the rest periods and the like. The objective of the biga, of course, would be to improve the crust flavor. The longer the biga ferments and ripens, the more intense that crust flavor will be.

I have no idea as to why the worm hole formed in my Raquel pizza. It was throughout the rim, just as seems to happen with a lot of your pizzas. I will have to think that one through to see if there is a logical explanation.

On the matter of the comparison between the Raquel and Lehmann doughs, I decided as I was making the Raquel pizza to try to incorporate the processing techniques you developed for the Raquel dough formulation into the next Lehmann dough I make. In fact, that was one of the first thoughts I had in mind when I awoke this morning. Since I am awash in leftover pizza slices from my recent pizza making efforts, I may wait until my inventory of pizza slices is reduced before making a Raquel-inspired Lehmann dough. Raquel and Lehmann. I think Tom would like the pairing.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on January 20, 2006, 02:34:09 PM
Thankyou both for the nice comments... On a seperate note, up until just recently I had made Pizza Raquel pretty much exclusively for about 7 months straight with IDY only. There was a noticeable taste difference going from the IDY to the preferment, but aside from that it handles and looks more or less the same. Also the pies that I made with IDY always got at least three days in the fridge, so there was ample time for flavor to develop as well. Now that I have cooked a few pies with a preferment, I don't anticipate going back, but I would say it is definately possible to make  a pretty good Pizza Raquel without a preferment.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 23, 2006, 12:36:06 PM
pft,

In an earlier post, Reply #199, you asked me about comparisons between the core Raquel and Lehmann dough recipes. Since I have never considered the two doughs to be particularly comparable--although there are obvious similarities--the question prompted me to make a Lehmann dough pretty much the way I usually do but using the Raquel dough making instructions instead of my usual instructions. This included using the two autolyse-like rest periods, one at the beginning and the other at the end. As our regular readers may recall, I have experimented on occasion with using an autolyse rest period for the Lehmann dough. However, except when I used an autolyse in conjunction with a natural preferment, I found the crust to be more breadlike and more tender than I personally prefer. So I have not made autolyse as a part of my standard operating procedure for the Lehmann dough, as you have done with your Raquel formulation.

For the experiment, I decided to use a standard Lehmann dough recipe for a 16-inch pie. I used only commercial yeast (IDY) and a small amount of oil (as I also did recently with the Raquel dough). The dough making process followed the exact sequence set forth in Reply #24 (page 2) of this thread, except for the use of IDY only (i.e., no preferment) and the incorporation of the oil into the dough (just before the final kneading step, as I also did with the recent Raquel dough). The dough was subjected to about 3 days of cold fermentation, just as I did recently when I made the Raquel dough.

When time came to shape and stretch the dough, it handled very well, somewhat better than my usual Lehmann dough, but it was still quite extensible. I did not feel that it handled as well as the recent Raquel dough, which had a better balance between elasticity and extensibility. I have no explanation for this. Maybe it was because I did not use a natural preferment as I did with the Raquel dough. The only other material differences were the hydration percent—63% for the Lehmann dough versus 60% for the Raquel dough—and the fact that the Lehmann dough weighed quite a bit more than the Raquel dough—about 21 ounces compared with about 13 ounces for the Raquel dough. The increased hydration and the added weight and the effects of gravity when stretching and shaping the larger amount of the Lehmann dough may have possibly contributed to the increased extensibility of the dough.

After dressing the dough (for a vegetarian pizza), I baked the pizza in the same manner as I usually do. The photos below show the finished pizza.

While I liked the pizza, I found the crust to be too breadlike and a bit too soft for my personal taste, particularly in the part of the crust away from the rim. This was just as I have experienced in the past with the Lehmann doughs when I used the autolyse rest periods and commercial yeast. So, for me the question remains open whether it is the use of a preferment that is the critical element of the process rather than the use of autolyse. A logical next step to try to find the answer is to either make another Raquel dough but use only commercial yeast, or make a preferment version of the Lehmann dough with a double autolyse. That will allow me to make more direct comparisons between the two doughs. 

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on January 23, 2006, 01:00:26 PM
Peter, I do notice a difference in the texture of my pies when I use a preferment vs. commercial yeast even when I utilize the exact same recipe and dough processing techniques.  For my tastes, the preferment pies are clearly better in not only flavor, but also in texture.  I am anxiously awaiting your next comparison pies.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 05, 2006, 02:54:36 PM
I made a batch of KASL based Pizza Raquel four days ago and decided to make three eleven inch skins before the big game. The TEC temperature was in the high 700's (as I think I remember it). So I did not achieve the char I normally like but hey it was close enough.

I also decided to try something entirely new for the first time. I know, I know, some of the membership are thinking that I try new stuff all the time and they are right. I will not give up. In my opinion, I have maxed out the available heat (till a Neapolitan oven is built), the crust recipe, the cheese, but not the sauce. But boy have I been experimenting with sauce.

I have tried every combination of spices and brands of canned tomatoes known to mankind. I kept on getting closer and closer to my ideal as I moved from canned tomatoes to whole raw tomatoes. In particular Ugly Ripes. But everytime I would advance one step I would inevitably take a half step back by spiking the ground up tomato pulp with still yet another concoction of spices.

Here's the breakthrough: I didn't add any spices to the sauce at all.

Guess what? The pie tasted better. Lots better. It was in more overall balance. The sauce tasted like fresh tomatoes and not some variation of spaghetti sauce. Some of the better pizzerias in NYC, like Grimaldi's, must use freshly ground up tomatoes of some sort (or high quality canned) and then add a sweetener because their sauce tastes just like that - sweetened tomatoes. Objectionable to me on certain levels but it does convey a sense of freshness which has eluded my home efforts these many years.  What prompted my line of thinking in this area was my recent trip to NYC and Patsy's Pizzeria. Their canned sauce had no spices added at all from what I could tell and yet somehow I thought it still tasted better than what I had developed. Patsy's uses just plain canned tomatoes and probably adds just a spoon to spread it out on the pie. Their sauce tastes extremely fresh and while they put a tad too much on for my personal tastes, it serves its purpose gracefully. That grace, in my opinion, is to blend the flavors of bottom crisp crust, fluffy middle crust, gummy top crust, tomatoes and cheese perfectly by allowing each flavor to come through on their own terms. No one ingredient is overpowered by the other but rather exist in harmony.

That's what I have been looking for all this time and it was so simple I didn't even think to go there. So here is my new position; I will only buy fresh tomatoes and add spices such as oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic AFTER the pie is baked not before. No longer will I add countless spice variations to my sauce. I have finally concluded that doing so masks the fresh flavor profile I desire. Sounds too simple right?

But sometimes simple is more when it comes to home pizza making.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on February 06, 2006, 04:24:21 PM
Pftaylor,
Its tough to improve on the flavor of fresh tomatoes.  When I use fresh tomatoes to make a sauce I usually let them ripen on the counter for a few days.  This time of year the tomatoes in the store can be a little grainy if you don't let them soften a bit.  I like to put them under the broiler for just a few minutes until the skin blackens in a few spots.  I peel off most of the blackened skin but I like to leave a little in there for flavor/coloring/texture.  To get the right texture I run the broiled tomatoes through a food mill. 

Yesterday I made a Margherita with tomatoes processed in this way.  For 4 roma tomatoes I added about a teaspoon of sea salt.  Delicious!

Those look like nice pies, I am sure the family was pleased.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Wazza McG on February 06, 2006, 04:51:07 PM
I agree with you as well foodblogger - I remove the seeds however to prevent too much biiterness and process the flesh only and then add equal amount of sea salt, sugar, minced garlic and basil.   I will only pre-cook the tomato flesh if it looks too watery - so a slight reduction in liquid may be required.  >:D

Wazza McG

PS.  PFTaylor - did I detect a slight pinkish tinge to your crust in your photo's on this page with those great pics? reminds me of a dab of red wine in my early days to the dough ;-)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 06, 2006, 07:58:45 PM
foodblogger,
Much of the humble success I have achieved with home pizza making required questioning conventional wisdom. When I finally got around to scrutinizing pizza sauce I had to think outside the box in order to climb higher up the pizza mountain. I now hold a heterodox belief with respect to pizza sauce and am very proud of my newfound position. The view is delicious.

I also added Sicilian sea salt to my latest effort - immediately after grilling though. The flavor quotient sky-rocketed as a result. This experience has also reminded me of the trip I took to DiFara's in Brooklyn last year. Dom had a host of spices laying about his counter area for all to use. He is generally considered to be the king of quality ingredients and I do not seem to remember him adding anything to his sauce either. My current tomato of choice is the Florida Ugly Ripe. It is expensive as tomatoes go but only costs a few pennies more per pie. I have yet to find it's equal - though I'm told some exist. I look forward to enjoying those varieties some day. I also have San Marzano seeds which I hope to plant this spring.

Wazza McG,
No I didn't add any wine to Pizza Raquel - but I did have a glass with my slices!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on February 07, 2006, 09:18:53 AM
pftaylor,
Your family is very lucky.  :pizza:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 11, 2006, 01:16:23 PM
Not only is my family lucky, but my special friends as well. Take a look at what I am planning for their arrival to Chez Taylor tomorrow.

Menu for February 12th, 2006

Pizze Raquel

• Fior Di’ Latte Fresh Mozzarella,
• Locally Grown Heirloom Tomatoes,
• Fresh Basil From Chef’s Personal Garden,
• Sicilian Sea Salt


Pizze I Funghi Conj Pepperoni

• Fior Di’ Latte Fresh Mozzarella,
• Locally Grown Heirloom Tomatoes,
• Sautéed Cremini Mushrooms,
• Boars Head Pepperoni


Pizze Paisano

• Fior Di’ Latte Fresh Mozzarella,
• TEC Roasted Onions,
• TEC Roasted Hot Italian Sausage,
• Locally Grown Heirloom Tomatoes


Personalize Your Pizze

• EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil),
• Classic Basil, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage,
• Fresh Basil and Arugula From Chef’s Personal Garden,
• Sicilian Sea Salt, Crystal Kosher Salt, and Fine Mediterranean Sea Salt,
• Parmesan, Asiago, Pecorino Romano, & Aged Provolone Cheeses,
• Five Seed Flavored Crust – Caraway, Flax, Poppy, Sesame, and Fennel

Hopefully my friends will allow time for photographs of my work.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on February 11, 2006, 02:09:05 PM
Can I be a member of your family? A special friend? I have references. ;D

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 11, 2006, 02:14:30 PM
Bill/SFNM,
You already are a special friend. Bring Pizza Lolita over and we'll have a great time...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 17, 2006, 09:57:18 AM
The last time I made the Raquel dough and reported on my results, at Reply # 198 of this thread, I mentioned that I was planning to attempt another Raquel dough based on the use of only instant dry yeast (IDY) as the sole leavening agent, along with two rest periods. What I was attempting to determine is whether an all-IDY Raquel dough produces results comparable to a Raquel dough using a natural preferment.

Over the last few days, I attempted an all-IDY Raquel dough. In doing this, I simply used the amount (by baker’s percent) of IDY recommended by pftaylor for the all-IDY version of his Raquel formulation--which is more than he recommends when he uses a small amount of IDY with his preferment. The formulation I ended up with was as follows:

100%, High-gluten flour (King Arthur Sir Lancelot), 8.40 oz. (237.79 g.), 1 c. + 1 T. + 1 t.
60%, Water, 5.03 oz. (142.67 g.), 5/8 c.
2%, Sea salt, 0.17 oz. (4.76 g.), a bit less than 7/8 t.
0.23%, Instant dry yeast (IDY), 0.02 oz. (0.54 g.), 0.18 t. (about 1/8 t. plus half that again)
Total dough ball weight (for one 15-inch pizza) = 13.64 oz. (385.76 g.)
Thickness factor (TF) = 0.077

The processing of the dough was essentially identical to the procedures I used the last time, including the use of the two rest periods. The dough was cold fermented for a bit over 3 days, as was the case with the last Raquel dough. During that time, the dough hardly rose at all. It simply spread and flattened out. When I used the dough, I allowed it to warm up at room temperature until it reached a temperature of around 62 degrees F. I then shaped and stretched the dough into a 15-inch skin. I had no problem doing this although the dough was quite a bit more extensible and therefore more difficult to handle than the last Raquel dough in which I used a natural preferment. This leads me to believe that using a preferment alters the dough texture characteristics and handling qualities in a way that appears to be materially different than when only commercial yeast is used. In fact, it's possible that the use of a preferment is as critical to the final dough characteristics as the use of rest periods.

Once I dressed the skin, I baked it in the same manner as the previous Raquel pizza. This time, I got fancier with the toppings. In keeping with the high-class nature of this thread and pftaylor’s high-quality productions, my “menu” for my pizza was as follows:

Pizze Pietro
 La Regina DOP San Marzano tomatoes, with a reduction of can juices
 Fresh fior di latte mozzarella cheese
 Imported Italian provolone cheese
 Spicy Italian sopresatta, julienned
 Hand-cut pepperoni sausage
 Sweet onion confit, with 10-yr.old Balsamic vinegar (from Trader Joe’s)
 Dried Sicilian wild oregano (origano selvatico)
 Imported extra-virgin olive oil, first cold press
 Sicilian sea salt infused with basil (sale al basilico)
 French white truffle oil
 Freshly-grated Reggiano-Pamigiano and grana padano cheeses
 Wine accompaniment: Allegrini Valpolicella Classico, 2003

The finished pizza was very good. The crust had nice flavor and all of the toppings harmonized and balanced very nicely. But my attentions this time were directed primarily to the crust. It was chewy and flavorful and I fully enjoyed it. But I would definitely give the edge to the Raquel version using the preferment. This is consistent with my past experience (and, I believe, those of other members) in making both preferment and non-preferment versions of otherwise identical doughs. In my opinion, preferments are in a class by themselves, and using them will invariably produce superior results. That is not to detract in any way from an all-IDY crust. It’s just hard for IDY or any other commercial yeast to compete in the flavor and texture departments with preferments. Consequently, if a preferment is available, I would recommend its use.

The photos below show the finished pizza.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on February 17, 2006, 10:27:08 AM
Man that looks delicious pete!  I would tear that up.  How did you use the white truffle oil?  Just drizzle it on or spread it with a brush or blend it in with other ingredients?

The first time I had white truffles was at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago.  They have the most amazing flavor, very similar to aged parmesan cheese.  The oil would probably taste very good on a pizza.

On the subject of preferments - I definately agree that they make the crust taste better.  In fact, my company last week prefered the pre-ferment crust to the regular IDY crust.  I have since abandoned straight IDY thin crust pizzas. 

One problem with wild-yeasted preferments is that you can accidently use the culture at different activity levels and rise times/dough characteristics become difficult to predict.  To solve that problem I add a tiny amount of IDY to the final dough.  I used to make a ton of sourdough bread and I had the most amazing wild-yeast culture growing but my wife threw it out.  The IDY trick added consistancy to my breads and widened the margin of error a little.  Sadly, the most I can get away with right now is a 48 hour preferment using IDY.  No wild-yeast cultures for me for a while until she forgets that I am banned.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 17, 2006, 10:58:24 AM
foodblogger,

I just drizzle a bit of the truffle oil on each slice of pizza as I am ready to eat it. I don't drizzle it over the pizza before baking because I am not sure what the oven heat will do to the truffle oil. Also, not everyone likes the taste of truffle oil. I got the idea of using the truffle oil with pepperoni from Fireside Pies, a local pizza spot in Dallas. I like the combination a lot. The sopressata is also a nice addition.

I have been more fortunate than others with my Texas-bred preferment. However, I use a proofing box to help get the preferment to work faster, especially in the winter where it is harder to get the preferment really active at room temperature. I think the trick with preferments is to use them as much as possible. In fact, fellow member scott has abandoned using commercial yeast altogether. Many people would consider that tantamount to walking a high wire without a net. Neither he nor I use any commercial yeast with our preferments. Both of us feel that a pure preferment works best all by itself.

One of the things I would like to try sometime with the all-IDY Raquel formulation is to see if there is a way of getting better crust flavor without using a natural preferment. I am thinking along the lines of a 4-5 hour, room-temperature fermented biga using only commercial yeast, which would be easier to make and more predictable I think than a natural preferment.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on February 17, 2006, 11:45:08 AM
Quote
I don't drizzle it over the pizza before baking because I am not sure what the oven heat will do to the truffle oil.

Thats probably smart.  I bet it would smoke like crazy or denature enough so that it didn't taste the same.

Quote
However, I use a proofing box to help get the preferment to work faster, especially in the winter where it is harder to get the preferment really active at room temperature. I think the trick with preferments is to use them as much as possible.

Yeah.  Using a proofing box controls the environment so much better.  It reminds me of my time in the lab.  We had 37 degree celsius humidified cabinets to grow our bacteria in.  When I get all done with my training I am going to do a serious upgrade to my baking setup.  I am going to go crazy!  We're talking temperature and humidity controlled proofing cabinets, a wood-fired brick oven, the works.

When you say use them as much as possible do you mean use a large amount of it in your dough or use your culture often?  When I was doing a lot of sourdough I was using my culture very often and refreshing it a lot.  My culture did get a lot better with so much culling/maintanence.

Quote
I am thinking along the lines of a 4-5 hour, room-temperature fermented biga using only commercial yeast, which would be easier to make and more predictable I think than a natural preferment.

From my experience it takes at least 12 hours for an IDY biga to start getting a hint of sourness.  Letting it go 48 hours makes it pretty darn tasty, although not as tasty as a wild-yeast culture.  You should try my method for using an IDY preferment and adding it to the dough.  For pizza-raquel you would just need to figure out what 20% of the dough would weigh and go from there.  For example if the dough you were making up was going to weigh 400 grams, your preferment would weigh 80 grams.  I then make up an preferment with 40 grams water, 40 grams flour and half the yeast, although it sounds like you would be more likely to add all of the yeast.  Then to finish the dough I subtract the 40 grams flour and 40 grams water from the recipe amounts and go from there.  I have a hard time planning what I am going to eat more than 72 hours in advance so I only do a 24 hour cold fermentation after mixing the dough.  Doing all that would probably be too much of a departure from the pizza-raquel method to make a good comparison though.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 17, 2006, 12:21:30 PM
foodblogger,

I was referring to the frequency of use of the preferment, not the amount. Like you, when I use my preferment I use around 20%.

The idea of using a short room-temperature fermented biga came from Tom Lehmann, who recommended it (without calling it a biga) as a way of getting better crust flavor in a dough that is to be used as part of a take-and-bake pizza. I tried it--using his NY style dough formulation as a baseline--and thought the pizza crust was one of the tastiest I had made. However, I changed a lot of other things--from the formulation, to the dough preparation and the baking of the pizza--so I couldn't tell whether it was something else that was responsible for the good crust flavor. I have been doing more work on take-and-bake to see if I can come up with something that can be prepared in advance and be baked in a normal home oven directly on an oven rack. The last take-and-bake pizza dough I made used a classic poolish approach but the results were not as good as the biga approach. I think that some of these principles can be applied to the Raquel formulation. I was thinking of something that would be simple for others to make and use, which led me to the idea of using the short-term biga approach.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 18, 2006, 07:14:48 AM
Pete-zza,
Thank you for the chuckle from your latest posts. It is always a pleasure to read about another truly having fun with Raquel or one of her sisters. They bring a broad smile to my face every time I think about them and it appears they have accomplished the same for you.

The two main points you brought up - rest periods and use of a preferment, do add significantly to what I feel makes Raquel special and unlike any other. During the trail and error period of Raquel formula experimentation, incorporation of rest periods and use of the preferment resulted in huge and immediate leaps in the quality of Raquel. It was almost as if, after months of relentless effort, everything finally clicked. 

Your results mimic my own experiences. Pizza Raquel is superior in every way when a preferment is used. I shall not knowingly go without it's use again.

On another note, our good friend, Rose of Penn Mac (who seems to be smiling a bit more these days since the ref ruled Ben crossed the goal line), shipped four pounds of a cheese I had thought was discontinued. Sam's Club stopped carrying Polly-O's Fresh Mozzarella log about a year ago. Upon calling Kraft, they informed me the product was discontinued. Thinking the pizza gods had cursed my hobby I woefully moved on to Biazza cheese. Biazza was more expensive but didn't perform as well as the Polly - O. This move had a material negative impact on the taste of my pizzas and also made them look different. I had to resort to chunking the cheese on rather then my preferred sliced look. I also had to add more salt to extract any kind of taste on top of the pie after grilling and sometimes I added EVOO as an extra booster. With the Polly - O, I found that adding salt and/or EVOO was purely optional and not a necessity as the cheese contained wonderful flavor on its own.

When I called Rose a few days back to inquire about restocking some various pizza supplies, I happened to ask about the Polly - O cheese listed on their web site. She confirmed that it was the porcelain white two pound log I was looking for. So I decided to buy a couple of logs just to make sure. The truth is Kraft did discontinue their Fresh Mozzarella two lb log through retail channels like Sam's Club. However, it can still be sourced through food distribution channels such as Penn Mac.

Long time readers may remember I concluded this cheese to be ideal for a NY pie. It can be sliced thin. It holds up to blistering heat very well, and it tastes great. Only problem now is cost. All in it cost about $.50 per ounce (including shipping) to source which is considerably more than what I paid Sam's in the past. But the point is this, try Polly - O's Fresh Mozzarella and see if it works for you like it has for me. Price then won't be so much of an issue because of the value it delivers.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 18, 2006, 09:06:38 PM
Last weekend I had friends over for the Pro Bowl and we had pizza. I unfortunately did not have time to take any photographs. Tonight however, I was able to take a handful of shots of Pizza Raquel adorned with Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella.

All I can say is, there is a huge difference between Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella and Biazzo Fresh Mozzarella. Polly - O is so much better it isn't even a contest. The flavor profile is nearly identical to what the elite pizzerias use in NYC. When you factor in the fact that it doesn't easily burn, you have a solid winner.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 19, 2006, 12:00:10 PM
I recently had occasion to try a Polly-O mozzarella cheese for the first time. It came in an 8-oz. package labeled "Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese". It was soft and flavorful and held up very well to baking, without much in the way of browning even after a long bake time. I was able to slice it into thin slices despite its softness.

Since I found the cheese at the Central Market, possibly the most expensive food market in Dallas, if not all of Texas, it was not cheap. But it's the only place where I have seen any Polly-O cheese in the Dallas area. 

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 19, 2006, 08:29:52 PM
Pete-zza,
I made another Polly - O adorned Pizza Raquel today. The cheese is simply delicious.
Title: Re: Pizza
Post by: David on February 20, 2006, 01:58:38 AM
Looks as though Raquel's red dress is getting  a little bit  on the skimpy side,and just like a turkey at xmas she likes to show how good the white bits can be.................. ;)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 26, 2006, 06:24:49 PM
David,
You added another dimension to Pizza Raquel by describing her as the lady in the Red Dress. Better men than I have succumbed to the ways of that lady. The reason why her dress was so skimpy was because I welcomed back Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella cheese.

Speaking of cheese, I have a major update to add. This update is not for the faint of heart in the pocketbook area due to its high cost, but if you want to produce an authentic NYC pie at home and climb another few steps on the pizza mountain of enlightenment, jump on and hold on.

After paying nearly fifty cents a ounce for the Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella from Pennmac, my son asked an innocent question "dad, at those prices, why don't you get your cheese from little Italy in NYC where all the best cheese comes from." Astute statement on the part of a fifteen year old and undeniably accurate. I stopped complaining about all the additives in Polly - O and started reading old emails until I found the one I was looking for. A master pizzaiolo sent to me the name of a cheese store which he felt would add to my journey of making the best elite NYC pie at home - Pizza Raquel.

So I decided to go straight to the source for the special kind of Fresh Mozzarella that a majority of elite pizzerias use in NYC. I am not referring to street pizza. I specifically mean the joints like Patsy's and Grimaldi's. I have found the Fresh Mozzarella in NYC is somewhat an anomaly in the cheese world. It is porcelain white like bufala but firm so it can be sliced. It is moist but not wet. It also holds up to the intense heat of coal-fired ovens quite well yet leaves not a trace of a puddle on the pie. Now I'm not saying that this store supplies all the elite pizzerias in NYC. What I am saying is that most of the elite pizzerias in NYC use this special kind of Fresh Mozzarella. If you've ever had it, you know exactly what I'm referring to. There is one cheese store in NYC that has been making this special cheese for over 100 years. Alleva. In fact it is the oldest cheese store in America, according to Robert Alleva.

The best part of finally sourcing Alleva cheese is that I have now aced the cheese portion of my journey once and for all. To top it off, it turned out to be somewhat less expensive than the Polly - O. How lucky can a guy get?

Enough of my rambling and on to the pictures of the cheese and a pair of calzones - a tribute to Di Fara and a house special with Ricotta, Alleva Fresh Mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh mushrooms sauteed in EVOO, pepperoni, and finally fennel sausage. Yes they tasted good. My guests thought they were fantastic.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: duckjob on March 03, 2006, 02:59:20 AM
Wow, looks amazing. I'll be calling them next week to place an order. I can get polly o localy from an Italian market, but it is $8 a pound. And I think you've inspired me to hack up another calzone. Have you tried freezing this cheese yet, or is demand for Raquel so high that that is not an issue :)

Brian
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 04, 2006, 08:34:34 PM
duckjob,
The cheese freezes extremely well which is a good thing because I have a lot of it.

Below are photographs of tonight's Pizza Raquel in various stages of dress.
Pie #1 - Margherita with freshly ground ugly ripes, Alleva Fresh Mozzarella, and Fresh basil

Pie #2 - San Daniele (Pizze con Rucola e Prosciutto) Thinly Sliced Prosciutto di Parma, freshly ground Ugly Ripe tomatoes, Alleva Fresh Mozzarella, organic Arugula, and Parmesan shavings.

Pie #3 - Georgio - (Quattro Formaggi) with Alleva Fresh Mozzarella, Alleva Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta, and Percorino Romano (white pizze no red sauce)



Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on March 04, 2006, 09:27:24 PM
pftaylor,

Those are spectacular looking pies.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on March 04, 2006, 10:24:30 PM

Pie #2 - San Daniele (Pizze con Rucola e Prosciutto) Thinly Sliced Prosciutto di Parma, freshly ground Ugly Ripe tomatoes, Alleva Fresh Mozzarella, organic Arugula, and Parmesan shavings.



pft,

Great looking pies!

Don't you find the high heat make the prosciutto tough? I've taken to draping slices over the pie just as it comes out of the oven. It heats up, but retains its soft, silky texture.

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on March 05, 2006, 08:49:53 AM
Ditto Bill ........
 PFT !
The only thing I personally would like to add would be to see Raquel wear a little EVOO  when she  adorns herself with Rucola for San Danielle ;)It looks like you have her almost exactly where you want her to be now,no?I wish I had more time now to devote to my concubines !
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 05, 2006, 01:13:57 PM
Thanks for the insightful comments guys. I have learned a great deal from fellow member comments so please keep them coming. Here is an update as to where I am in my journey of home pizza making.

In the absence of better tools (a wood burning oven and perhaps a better mixer come to mind), I have perfected every facet of the dough making process. The lone caveat being perfection was specifically achieved for me. For my tastes with my available tools. I have literally tried every known combination of process steps, hydration levels, oil/no oil, sugar/no sugar, malt/no malt, preferment/no preferment, fresh yeast/IDY, etc. Hopefully you get the point.

I have challenged conventional wisdom at every juncture with all available ingredients and with all known procedural steps, irrespective of time and cost. The fun part for me was I did not know exactly where I would end up. Once I surpassed the Patsy Pizzeria standard I was in no-man's land. So it wasn't as if I was rigging the experiments in any one direction to produce a particular outcome I wanted. I really didn't know what I didn't know. The goal of producing the most robust handling dough and most flavorful crust was my goal. I humbly state that I have principally achieved that target.

So the current Raquel is the very best American based dough I can produce. If there is some other magical combination of ingredients out there, I couldn't find it after months of assiduously detailing every effort and changing a single variable at a time. I have developed a new appreciation for the phrase hand-crafted as a result. 

The same level of bravado cannot be articulated with respect to toppings however. I have not experimented anywhere near to the same extent I have with dough, cheese, and tomatoes. But the time for inventing flavorful new topping combinations is upon me. Until I move to the next level of baking with a wood burning oven of some sort or mixing dough with a fork mixer, I have little left to accomplish other than in the area of toppings.

Bill/SFNM brings up a valid point. The prosciutto did taste a little like shoe leather - which is exactly how my Virginia bride likes it. It reminds her of Country Ham which is a favorite of her Danville, Virginia based upbringing. I am originally a Yankee so heavily salted shoe leather is lost on me but it makes her real happy so who am I to argue.  Come to think of it, small chunks of Country Ham is worth trying. I've not heard of anyone putting it on pie before but who says we have to stay within the lines when it comes to home pizza making?

David brings up another good point with respect to EVOO or the lack thereof on Raquel. My family prefers a somewhat dry pie. When oil is added they feel Raquel is being moved closer to chain pizza instead of the utterly light crust they have come to love. To date, I have not pressure tested my taste testers on things like a splash of EVOO and chopped up prosciutto much but then again the time is now. I need to be every bit as creative with toppings as I have with developing every other facet of Raquel.

I do have another goal which is somewhat different than most home pizza makers. It is simply designing the appropriate macro-nutrient composition of my offerings so that the bloat which typically comes from eating pizza is minimized or avoided all together. On this note I can report that my tinkering in this area has yielded promising results. My stated macro-nutrient goal is to have 40% of the calories come from carbohydrates, 30% each from protein and fats. The 40-30-30 ratio seems to allow one to eat 3 -5 slices of pie and be fresh as a daisy. More to come on this pivotal point.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on March 05, 2006, 03:21:13 PM
pft,

Please explain: if your target macronutrient distribution is 40-30-30, then you should be able to eat 10 pies and still be in the zone? No?  >:D

I guess Southern country ham is an acquired taste or one of those things that you have to grow up eating. Even after long soaking, it is, exactly as you describe, salty shoe leather.  I have a similar aversion to grits - tried it every way possible and it still sucks! Hey, how about a pizza with country ham and grits. You could call it Pizza Scarlett.  :D

Seriously, your efforts and dedication to achieve perfection are most admirable. My respects.
 
Bill/SFNM

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 05, 2006, 07:27:49 PM
It has been written pizza is crust.
It is an opinion I wholeheartedly agree with. Take a look at the tag-line located at the end of my posts if you don't believe me.

So if pizza is crust, then a calzone (means trouser leg in Italian) is most assuredly about toppings. To be more precise, the fillings. Tonight I decided to take the gloves off and make the very best concoction I could with the ingredients available and I came up with an out and out winner. Had a ball making it to boot. This is a great hobby.

The calzone below was beyond good. It was illegal. Here is what I did to expand my base and extend the reach of my home pizza/calzone making:
- Pizza Raquel dough (12" skin) as the base layer
- A lining of Alleva Fresh Mozzarella sliced thin to coat the bottom and stem potential seepage
- A healthy layer of Prosciutto (to appease Mrs. T)
- Alternating little dabs of Ricotta and freshly ground up Ugly Ripes
- Quartered slices of pepperoni
- Slivered red onions
- Organically grown baby Arugula
- A splash of David inspired EVOO spiced with fresh cracked pepper
- Raquel dough was folded over with ornately sliced edges in tribute to the DiFara original
- Baked in our home oven at 500 degrees for 12 minutes which percolated all the fillings
- Another splash of David inspired EVOO over the outside top and accentuated by a sprinkling of 4 cheeses
- Finally, an off the shelf beer in the hopes that Candianbacon will come to Tampa and teach me his craft
- Make that a light beer to better balance the carbohydrate load as thoughtfully pointed out by Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on March 06, 2006, 06:52:04 PM
PFT --
I have been marveling at your pies for months now, and I have a question.  I've tried lots of fresh (cryo and wet packed) mozzarella products, and the one that does it for me in terms of flavor and melting characteristics is Belgioso.  Lately I've listened to you rave about the Polly-o fresh, and I was wondering if you had tried Belgioso, and if so, how the two compare in your estimation.  I share your passion for the pie, and would like your thoughts.

-- Glutenboy
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on March 06, 2006, 07:45:36 PM
pf,
That is an awesome calzone. Last time (also the first time) I made calzone, the leakage almost destroyed my stone. It looked like lasagne on pizza stone by the end. What a mess. But for the bits that were edible, the lovely camaldoli flavoured crust and yummy fillings made an incredible eat. I'm going to try again soon.

Been real busy in the last couple of months so I haven't been able to post. Was in Naples in January and paid da michele a visit. Will post thoughts in Naepolitan forum soon.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 07, 2006, 11:43:29 AM
Glutenboy,
I have used BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine extensively in the past and may do so in the future. It is a good solid choice in my experience. It is generally available in the Publix supermarket chain here in Florida. I can completely understand why it works so well in your application.

Compared to the Polly - O and the famed Alleva Fresh Mozzarella it is close in flavor but I have found it to be much wetter. Since I grill for only 2-3 minutes (now much closer to two minutes) upon melting, the cheesy pool doesn't have a chance to dry out much. My grill simply doesn't create enough top heat. Just before switching to the Polly - O, I found an effective method for the BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine which required draining it on the counter for a few hours. In the end it proved to be too much work for me to overcome a problem which other cheeses didn't possess. I can imagine with a longer bake or a wood-burning oven which produces a higher top temperature, the pooling problem would be virtually non-existent.

Currently, the Alleva Fresh Mozzarella is the finest all around Fresh Mozzarella cheese I have personally experienced. It's flavor is instantly recognizable as authentic Elite NY cheese.  It melts perfectly without burning. I couldn't be happier.

JF_Aidan_Pryde,
I too have experienced the leakage problem and resorted to placing the calzone in a brownie tray as my last gasp solution. Try it and see.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on March 07, 2006, 01:36:46 PM
PFT --

I wish I had access to the Alleva brand here in LA.  I'm going to order a Polly-o log from Penn Mac just so I know what I've been missing.  It sounds like your experience with Belgioso has been with a wet-pack fresh mozzarella.  The stuff I get here is cryo-packed just like the Polly-o log.  I wonder if this could account for my satisfaction (less moisture).  Anyway, thanks for the info.  I'm sure I'll have more questions in the future!

-- Glutenboy
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 07, 2006, 07:59:16 PM
Glutenboy,
You can buy Alleva cheese in LA. Go to allevadiary.com and stock up. They have an array of the finest cheeses in the US.

Robert Alleva is a genuinely nice person who knows cheese inside and out. Ask him about your specific application and he will make a recommendation. It may be different than mine but one thing is for certain, you will have an exact fit for the type of pie you want. As an example, he will ask you if you want salted or unsalted. Balls or loaf. Shredded or unshredded. The list of questions goes on and on. Before you know it, you have a cheese which exactly matches your needs.

Report back with your success.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on March 08, 2006, 04:29:11 PM
PFT --

One more question.  If you don't mind sharing, what are the choices that you made for the cheese you purchased from Alleva?  The pic you posted looked like a loaf, but I'd love to know more.

-- GB
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 09, 2006, 07:50:55 AM
Glutenboy,
My application may be different from yours, I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve. You may think I am nuts researching cheese to the extent I have but I wanted Raquel to be beholden to no pie. My goal was to mimic the cheese used by the traditional elite pizzerias in NYC - those with coal-fired ovens. I also felt like a significant improvement could be achieved with the process of constructing an elite NY style pie. My reasoning here was simple, I am not subjected to the commercial concerns of a pizzeria and so I am able to take the time necessary to take an artisan approach. Trust me, putting down cheese first takes time. A lot of it.

My primary requirement was for a cheese which could hold up to intense heat in the 750 - 900 degree range. My definition of holding up is to not leave a cheesy puddle upon melting. A secondary requirement is a creamy splotch without scorch marks upon melting. The relative importance here for me is that a Raquel is constructed by laying the sliced cheese (which covers greater surface area than chunks) down first and placing the sauce in between the cheese.

It renders a completely different taste profile than when one lays the sauce down first.  When you bite into a Raquel, there are three distinctly different taste zones;
crust and cheese,
crust with sauce,
and finally crust, cheese and sauce.

The notion I have labored many months to perfect then, is a buildup of flavors and textures which eventually lead to varying degrees of homogeneity with the big three ingredients. That's why a Margherita, in my opinion, is the most difficult type of pizza to construct. It's sheer simplicity reveals the slightest imperfection in one's dough, crust, sauce, cheese, and more importantly in the resulting mouth feel. A seasoned pizza eater instantly knows when it is right or wrong because there aren't mountains of toppings to hide behind.

Now that you know a little bit more about my reasoning, here is the description of the Alleva cheese which has met my requirements: Alleva Fresh Mozzarella in a salted loaf.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on March 09, 2006, 07:37:47 PM
PFT --

I grew up just outside of NYC, and I'm aiming for exactly the same result you are.  That's why I came to you.  Thanks for your prompt and thorough responses.  I can't wait to get my hands on that loaf of Alleva.  I've been working on my pizza for years as well, and am only now becoming truly satisfied with my results.  I am in complete agreement with you about the Margherita -- It lays bare the quality of the ingredients and the skill of the maker.  Keep making 'em and keep posting the pics.  They give us all something to shoot for.

-- Glutenboy
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 10, 2006, 08:21:41 PM
Glutenboy,
I look forward to your results. Speaking of results, below are mine from tonight. The Alleva handled perfectly and I noticed a unique property as well. It is very light compared to other cheeses I have used. Must be because there are no heavy chemicals added. LOL!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on March 10, 2006, 08:46:23 PM
Wow...  A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

-- GB
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 11, 2006, 11:49:50 AM
Glutenboy,
I appreciate the encomiums. Pizza Raquel adorned with Alleva Fresh is a pure delight.

There are but two more tiers of the mountain I need to climb before the beginning part of my journey is completed. The view would then be totally unimpeded and I could really start to innovate with much more latitude. The first is procuring a fork mixer. My thinking is that a fork mixer, like a Santos, would craft the dough to its highest possible point in a home setting. 

The second tier I need to overcome is also the most expensive. Heat. Not any kind of heat but the right kind. Natural heat generated by burning wood. My dream would be to bake a Raquel, and a Sophia for that matter, in a wood burning oven. Research I have performed has confirmed my desire is not merely an attempt to preserve a folk tradition or to recreate a quaint old-world atmosphere. There is, in fact, a culinary principle involved. However dry the firewood and however good the draft, the interior of the oven will always have a little smoke inside, which will contribute a very slight but distinctive aroma and taste to the pizza. I simply cannot achieve this with my grill no matter how hard I try. Therefore I am at the end of the trail so to speak with where I am currently at.

Back to the wood burning oven. No matter how much pride a pizzaiolo takes in keeping the wood burning oven clean, there is no way to prevent a microscopic layer of ash from adhering to the bottom surface of the pizza. This ash, in minimal quantities (totally harmless to the body), actually uniquely enhances the crust's flavor.

Once I scale the final fundamental tiers before me Pizza Raquel and Sophia will then exemplify the Italian phrase "Farsi Una Pizze Assime" which translated means "Let's Have Ourselves a Pizza." I will no longer have to make excuses for this or that. It will represent a unique reflection of who I am at my core. I am of the opinion that Pizza Raquel and Sophia reach beyond the senses of taste and smell, playing pleasurably upon the gift of sight.

And in order to fully realize taste, smell, and sight, a wood burning oven is required.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mivler on March 31, 2006, 10:30:47 PM
Hi:

This is my first post. I followed this thread for about a month and finally decided to try making Pizza Raquel. I have since made it about 10 times. I wanted to make sure that I was getting consistant results before asking any questions. Here is my problem. Either I add too much tomato sauce and the pizza is literally soaked through, or (in my opinion), it is too dry and needs sauce (but the rest of it is great). Any thoughts?

I have attached three pictures from a pie with what I consider very little sauce and then a last photo of a pizza that was wet and basically had to be eaten with a knife and fork.

Thanks
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 01, 2006, 05:24:57 AM
mivler,
I know a thing or two about Raquel, so if it is okay with you I'll try to help.

A few questions are in order first however. You stated that you have consistently gotten the same results. That is actually a good thing. It means you have reproduced the recipe. Consistency is very difficult to achieve. Here we go;
- It sounds as if you enjoy the crust but can't find a happy place with your tomato sauce viscosity. Do I have that right?
- Tell me, did you follow the Raquel dough Preparation steps exactly?
- Did you follow the Stretching steps exactly?
- If not, where did you deviate? Be specific and candid here (i.e., did you actually weigh ingredients?).
- Also, you have some nice char going so could you share some details on baking method? You appear to have access to a lot of heat. Much more so than a typical home oven. I will be interested in learning about this piece.
- List your ingredients (what type of cheese, tomatoes, flour, etc)
- Finally, are you putting down the cheese first or the sauce?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mivler on April 01, 2006, 05:03:39 PM
First let me apologize for the length of this answer, I want to answer the questions as fully as possible to improve my pizzas, hopefully as some point down the line I will be able to help others.

I want to clarify, I am now consistently making great pizza. The dough has a similar feel to it each time. However as I will explain, due to sauce, cheese, thickness and the length of time it cooks, the results are not 100% consistent.

You are correct, the sauce seems to be the problem. When I add what I consider enough of if it, it soaks through. 

I follow the recipe as precisely as possible. I have a scale accurate to 1 gram. I follow all of the steps; each time I have made the recipe I follow the timing. I have a KitchenAid which I think holds 5 quarts. When tripled the recipe one time my mixer really struggled. I had to break the mixing into a few shorter mixes because my mixer couldn’t handle it. I also had to supplement with a longer hand knead. Usually I do a double batch. This is enough of a strain on my mixer, but it gets through it.

I made my starter a few months ago from Dan Lepard’s book “The Handmade Loaf”. Basically started with a little yogurt flour and water. Once it became active I just add water and KA all purpose flour. It is sometimes on the thin pancake batter side and sometimes a lot thicker.  I use King Arthur high gluten flour. I am not sure exactly what yeast I bought because I got a pound of it a year ago and I keep it in a Tupperware in the freezer. I use Diamond Crystal salt

After the hand knead I usually cut the dough into quarters. I do not weigh each before dividing but they are generally pretty close in weight. I have let the dough sit in the refrigerator from one day to three days. When I get to the stretching step I follow the steps pretty closely. (Every now and then I do a toss or two into the air.) I had never had dough that was nearly as easy to work with before I was introduced to Raquel. I generally make 11 to 14 inch pizzas. I have played around with that a little because I thought the problem might have to do with the thickness. I do not measure it but the picture I sent is typical something slightly thicker.  After it is the right size I may make slight adjustments so that it looked more circular.

I have not been very scientific about sauce and cheese. I have tried Redpack whole tomatoes (in puree) Progresso and Hunts whole tomatoes in tomato juice (I strained out the juice). I blended it all and added a little sugar and salt. I have used store brand (stop and shop) fresh mozzarella (from a fresh bulk containers at the supermarket. This turned into a soggy mess. I wanted to pour off the wetness from the top of the pizza. I put the cheese on first and then the sauce on top of it. This was the last time I used fresh mozzarella, I really felt that it added way too much moisture to the pizza.

In my most recent pizzas I have been putting on the sauce first but my first few batches I put the cheese on first.

After I gave up on canned tomatoes and I tried Emeril’s kicked up tomato sauce and Moma’s (I was amazed how much better the canned tomatoes are). I have never measured the amount of cheese or sauce. I realize this could be critical information, however, I vary the amount of sauce to find the right amount and I have never been totally happy. Now that I stopped using the fresh cheese, I do not think the cheese is adding moisture to the equation.

After I get the sauce and cheese on I get it into the oven as quickly as possible.

I preheat my over for a little over an hour. It is a Masterpiece self cleaning oven by Thermador. Here’s the info I have about the oven. I recently moved into this house and as far as I know the oven is from the early 80’s. It is a double wall oven. The doors do not have seals on them, so when food is cooking the door isn’t sealed closed. From the first time I used it I knew that it cooked too hot but I did not know how hot. I finally got a cheap oven thermometer that went to 600. Even though my oven says it’s cooking at 550, it clearly goes a lot hotter than that. It looked like it read in the neighborhood of 750 (estimating based on where the needle was), however the thermometer cracked so I really don’t know how hot it gets. This brings me to question for another forum, I am going to be renovating my kitchen and I obviously am going to be looking for a very hot oven. Anyway I have no idea why the oven gets so hot, but I’m not complaining. I do not time the pizzas but I think they are in the oven about 5 minutes, but I’m really not sure because I pull them out when they look done. I usually peek once. I attached a picture of one of my earlier attempts, where I tried three pizzas in a row to not peek and three pizzas in a row came out charred.
 I am usually so busy getting ready to eat my pizza and getting my next pizza ready that I lose track of time. I have this idea in my head that I should have a feel for it and not need to time it.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 02, 2006, 07:33:01 AM
mivler,
Thank you for the very well articulated response. It sounds like you may have solved your own problem. Your type of conundrum is what makes pizza so mysterious for me. It is so simple yet so very complicated. Everything is inter-related and if you get one thing wrong it can literally drives you nuts.

After reviewing your photographs I have another question before we move away from identifying the crust as a culprit. You described your crust as being wet. Could it also be gummy? Let me know. Gummy is a dough preparation and mixing problem. Wet is an ingredient problem.

Objectively, the wetness issues you mention either come from the dough, the sauce, the cheese, or some other topping. I would stop making anything but basic Margherita styles. You need to focus intently on the cheese next as you have already played with the sauce ranging from too little to too much without a satisfactory solution. 

I still do not know what type and brand of cheese you typically use. I would be willing to bet that switching to a good fresh mozzarella like what Sam's Club sells (Biazza or a Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella, etc) will help. They are relatively inexpensive and do not break down into a puddle of seeping mess. At the high heat your oven operates at you must have a cheese that can handle it.

Another related thought is to reduce the amount of whatever topping you use. Human nature is to load up sauce, cheese, and whatever else your better half is fond of. Experience tells me that proper balance of a pizza comes from using less ingedients not more. I call it the Pizza Hut syndrome. Try it and see for yourself.

Good luck and report back with your changes and findings.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mivler on April 02, 2006, 09:10:57 PM
It’s hard to tell from the pictures of the back of the pizza so I attached a side view. My pizzas have been wet on the bottom 2/3 of the pizza. Regarding the cheese, I often used whatever was the least expensive because I did not think it was a factor in the moisture, but I guess you can’t take anything for granted.

I didn’t remember anyone mentioning having a similar problem. I’m going to do some more experimenting (and measuring) of cheeses and sauces. In the past I have generally keep the toppings simple. I sometimes add basil. I may add dried tomatoes, roasted peppers or fried mushrooms. For now I’ll just stick to Margherita pizza. I’ll report back when I come up with a combo that works. Thanks for the advice.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JF_Aidan_Pryde on April 04, 2006, 11:25:30 AM
mivler,
I have not seen a pizza as charred as the ones you posted. This is a good thing mind you, I have had to struggle very hard to get decent charring. It does seem your pizzas are a little over cooked though. Or do you prefer the extra char?

I suggest you hang on to this oven. Today's home ovens just doesn't break 550. Just looking at your results, I would love to have your oven. :D
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mivler on April 04, 2006, 01:49:27 PM
I like char, but in my opinion there is good char and bad char. Some of the pizzas have been charred so badly that they were hard to eat. The last picture I posted was the third in a row that I had overcooked. The outside crust got by far the most charred. The bottom was charred, but not as much as the crust. Again, going back to my original problem, the top was more of a puddle (no char problem on top). I realize that I just need to keep a better eye on how much time the pizzas are in the oven.

On the oven issue, I am about a year out from haveing my kitchen redone, and therefore I haven’t started doing the research. My current oven has a cracked glass case for a light that doesn’t work inside, the door has a crack and (as I mentioned above), there is no seal on the door. When I am ready I am going to consider a commercial pizza oven. (I don’t know anything about them yet.) I guess the alternative is to have my oven repaired, but I was also hoping for a larger oven. Right now I can only make 12 inch pizzas. Also, I would much rather get a new oven than design a kitchen knowing I have an oven that is over 20 years old. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mivler on April 05, 2006, 10:07:33 PM
Here is an update. I made a few changes. First I took the extra time to carefully layer the cheese first. This was a step I rarely did before. Even when I did it in the past, after I added the sauce, I would spread it with the back of a spoon on the pizza. By the time it was ready to go in the oven the sauce and cheese were mixed up. Second I tried new cheeses. I used Il Villaggio for my first pizza and Lioni Latticini for the second. For the third, I used the part skim processed mozzarella from the local supermarket. (my control pizza). For all the pizzas I used Progresso whole tomatoes. (I blended the tomatoes with the tomato juice in the can)

Layering the cheese first helped significantly. My control pizza was dry.

Il Villaggio – Dry. I was happy with the results
Lioni Latticini – Wet on the bottom. Based on my results I wouldn’t use this cheese again. However after looking at the picture it looks like I added more sauce even though I think I measured pretty carefully. (pictured)

I made 4 pizzas. In the last one I pushed the tomato sauce envelope. I added more than I needed and the pizza was still mostly dry on the bottom.

The other thing (which is probably obvious to everyone) was that I waited a few minutes to cut the pizzas. I think some of my previous pizzas were cut too early. As far as I can tell it looks like the liquid continues to evaporate for the first few minutes out of the oven.

I timed all of my pizzas for 5 minutes and that time worked very well for me.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mivler on April 07, 2006, 10:38:27 PM
I don’t know if there is anyone else out there that is as addicted to Raquel as I am, but I have never made a dough that feels the way she does right off the hook. Thanks to pftaylor for the great recipe and advice and to many others who have helped me without knowing it by their posts on this website. I hope that as some point I can add insight or provide at least one person some information that will improve their pizza.

Has anyone tried making Raquel without gradually adding ½ the flour after the first 20 minute rest but instead adding it all at once? There are so many aspects of this dough that are different from what I had done in the past. I haven’t wanted to take any chances at not getting the great results I have consistently been getting.  I would be happy to test this and report back the result if no one has tried it. I am by no means an expert, but I have made Raquel enough times that I think would be able to identify if there were any impact. I know that pftaylor spent a long time coming up with this formula, so I assume there is a reason for gradually adding the flour. Sorry if this has already been asked, I don’t remember seeing this question.

If I change it, I was thinking that after the 20 minute rest I would add the rest of the flour then mix for 5 minutes, waiting another 15 minutes mix for another five minutes. Then continue with the recipe from step #10 from the recipe http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1258.20.html. (reply #24)

Unfortunately I will not be able to make pizza again for about 2 weeks, but I’m ready to attempt to give Raquel a makeover if I am exploring new territory.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on August 26, 2006, 07:17:34 AM
Well, well, well.

It has been a long time since I cranked up the old Kitchen Aid to make Pizza Raquel. My have I missed her beauty.

Pizza for me is just a flat out blast. I unabashedly admit I can't ever get enough. If a little is good, more is better. There is nothing like pure excess itself. Raquel is as pure as freshly fallen snow on a New Hampshire winter morning. That is to say deep. Pizza is my number one vice. Number two and number three. Well you get the point. As vices go, its not a really bad one considering the alternatives.

Last night Chez Taylor had a number of guests visit for the sole purpose of gorging on pizza. Kids, adults, pets. You name it, we all knew why we were there. No one wanted to be anywhere else. The singular focus was on pizza and where it would collectively take us. In the end we all ended up with distended bellies but what the hell. I'll take a long walk today and be good for the next month. I have found that the better the pizza, the worse I am. I am the exact inverse of pizza. I also could have cared less about the saturated fats, and incalculable carbohydrate levels we were consuming because this was worth it. It is the best value on the planet.

Though I grilled twelve different 12" pies last night I managed to only snap a few pictures of the carnage. More will be downloaded from my son's camera as they become available.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Boy Hits Car on August 27, 2006, 09:52:49 PM
So I tried the Raquel recipe last night, and had some decent results.  I've been using the Lehmann dough recipe for the last three weeks and was happy with it.  I stumbled across this thread last week and decided to give it a go.  Of course, being a newbie to pizza, I don't have any preferments.  I used Pete-zza's recipe from page 11 of this thread and fermented for 46 hours using IDY.  Pics are below.

I'm not sure if I liked it better than the Lehmann dough, although it was very good.  It has to do more with the way I like my crust texture.  The Raquel dough made a more airy crust with larger air pockets.  I thought I would have perfered that over the more dense Lehmann dough.  I think I'm going to give it another go at it next week, just to make sure I did everything right.

One great advantage of this dough is in the mixing procedure.  My KA mixer just doesn't knead well at all, even doing one dough ball at a time.  Doing the Raquel method really seems to make the kneading part, easier in my case.  It seemed easier to handle and stretch and just seemed more forgiving.  It was, however, harder to get it to keep it's shape.

EDIT:  I added some pictures of one of my Lehmann dough's for comparison.  The last two pictures are of the Lehmann dough.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on August 27, 2006, 10:15:51 PM
Mike,

For a newbie you seem to be hitting on all cylinders. That's a great looking pizza.

One thing to keep in mind about the Raquel dough is that it is quite a bit thinner than a Lehmann dough for the same size pizza. The Raquel thickness factor as I previously used it is under 0.08, which is more in line with the "elite" NY style as exemplified by Patsy's, Grimaldi's, etc. So, it will have a "lighter", less dense feel to it. And, even though the Raquel dough has a lot of similarities ingredient-wise to the Lehmann dough, the results will taste different. In my own mind, I treat the Raquel dough formulation as separate and distinct from the Lehmann dough and not as a style that competes with the Lehmann style.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Boy Hits Car on August 27, 2006, 11:00:23 PM
Mike,

For a newbie you seem to be hitting on all cylinders. That's a great looking pizza.

One thing to keep in mind about the Raquel dough is that it is quite a bit thinner than a Lehmann dough for the same size pizza. The Raquel thickness factor as I previously used it is under 0.08, which is more in line with the "elite" NY style as exemplified by Patsy's, Grimaldi's, etc. So, it will have a "lighter", less dense feel to it. And, even though the Raquel dough has a lot of similarities ingredient-wise to the Lehmann dough, the results will taste different. In my own mind, I treat the Raquel dough formulation as separate and distinct from the Lehmann dough and not as a style that competes with the Lehmann style.

Peter

Peter,

Thanks for the kind words.  I only compared the two because they are the only two recipes I have tried.  Didn't mean to give the impression that they are competing.  You did bring up a great point, one that I forgot.  The thickness factor I used for the Raquel was 0.077 and for the Lehmann I've been using 0.09 for the same sized pizzas.  That really shows the strength of the Raquel recipe.   I was always fearful of tearing holes when stretching the Lehmann dough to 14 inches, but felt very comfortable stretching the thinner Raquel dough to 14 inches.   I guess that is what I meant about it being more forgiving.

Mike
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Boy Hits Car on September 04, 2006, 11:33:17 AM
My second attempt at the Raquel modified with no preferment came out quite a bit better than my first.  It was easier to shape and was even more airy than before.  I enjoyed the crust as much as my Lehmann attempts.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on September 06, 2006, 07:32:38 PM
Boy Hits Car,
I'm glad Pizza Raquel is working out for you. While it is not the easiest of recipes on this site to master, with practice it yields consistently favorable results. I have been smitten by Raquel for a couple of years now and have yet to meet her overall equal. In particular, the robust nature of her skin amazes me. She can be stretched, tossed, dropped, loaded up with impossibly heavy toppings and she never once complains. The margin of error is quite wide if one follows the formulary. Additionally, should you begin enhancing the recipe with a preferment, her flavor will climb through your roof.

I look forward to your results.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 02, 2006, 07:51:07 AM
I vowed to myself that I wouldn't attempt to fiddle anymore with the tried and true Pizza Raquel dough preparation didactics. My sense was that I sorely needed a better mixer (hand or fork) and a better heat source than my TEC (a wood burning oven would fit the bill nicely) to climb higher up the mythical pizza mountain. Unless I had a clear vision as to why I needed to change some facet, I simply couldn't justify it. Afterall, I had systematically adjusted each and every variable of the process until I found the sweet spot which largely produced the results I set out to achieve. The resultant dough was the more robust than one could reasonably expect to achieve. Case closed right? 

I now think I was mistaken. Perhaps ignorant is more appropriate. It is human nature to try a tweak here or a tweak there. Tweaks sometimes work and sometimes they don't. I didn't want to tweak for tweaks sake. While I believed I maxed out Raquel with the tools available to me, I forgot one tool which my Grandmother willed to me many many years ago. It is now time to step up and admit the truth.

It is the "Bromwell's Measuring Sifter Guaranteed." I never would of even given a passing fancy to the Bromwell's were it not for the recent collaboration between November and Pete-zza with their new thread "Kitchen Aid Dough Making Method" located in the General Pizza Making area. It took Pete-zza's zest for learning to make me remember that my Grandmother used a sifter for making her pizza. How could I have forgotten that now seemingly crucial step? Will sifting flour make for a better Raquel? I don't know and that is exactly why I need to know. The science behind the logic would seem to dictate that it will. I'm still not sure I understand all the science surrounding yeast that November apparently has a handle on but I can introduce the sifter and gauge its impact as a first step.

Heck, I don't even know whether the Bromwell's is the type of sifter which Pete-zza is even referring to or not. But since it was good enough for my Grandmother, I suspect it will be good enough for Raquel. Attached are photographs of the original Bromwell's sifter I will incorporate into my trials. I will faithfully report back to the community on my efforts - good or bad.

Now off to refreshing the famed varasano preferment. I have some pizza to make!

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on December 02, 2006, 08:43:20 AM
pftaylor,

I'm convinced the difference between good pizza and great pizza is the attention to detail every step along the way, from selection of ingredients, to mixing/kneading, fermenting/proofing, balling/shaping, topping, and finally baking (well actually the final step is eating: crust first? point first, folded?  ;D).

Others may scoff, but little things like the one you are proposing can indeed make a difference. I've never tried sifting and look forward to your results.

Bill/SFNM

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 02, 2006, 08:51:44 AM
pftaylor,

As it turns out, I have the same "Bromwell's Measuring-Sifter Guaranteed" crank-operated model as you. From your photos, it looks like your model is the 5-cup model, as is mine. The Bromwell apparently is still sold but it really doesn't matter what kind of sifter is used. The new models are fancier with single lever operation, battery operated, etc. An ordinary sieve will also work. I tried three different ones this morning and they all worked fine. You just have to rap the rim of the sieve with a butter knife or something similar to get the flour to fall through the sieve.

Several members before have used sifting but I look forward to your results anyway.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 02, 2006, 09:09:35 AM
Bill/SFNM,
Thanks for your keen observation. The lack of implementing the Bromwell's sifter potentially could turn out to be a rather large oversight. I had it in my cabinet all this time and never connected the dots on its application with pizza. 

If my understanding of what Pete-zza and November have stated is correct, the attendant benefits from the Bromwell's usage might allow the following:
1) A better, more complex crumb structure which might get Raquel all the way to the "Wafer thin exterior and silly-soft interior"
2) More flavor in the crust whether with IDY or wild yeast
3) A longer rise - up to 10 eye-popping days in the fridge
4) Significantly higher hydration without jeopardizing the robust handling characteristics

The possibilities are endless due to the cascading effect of this one change. Who knows how it will impact everything else but it will be fun trying.

Pete-zza,
We have the same 5 cup sifter. Small world isn't it. One further question if I may impose. Have you tried double sifting and if so, is there a benefit?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 02, 2006, 09:29:15 AM
pftaylor,

I viewed the sifting of the flour simply as a mechanism for improving the hydration of the flour by taking a flour that may have compacted over time and separating the grains of flour so that they might absorb water more efficiently. I also used the whisk and other implements, a low machine speed, and I also added the yeast toward the end, which I suspect played a role in the overall results. I was not looking for a 10-day old dough. I was just looking to produce a superior handling dough, just like your Raquel dough. I don't even know if there is a demand for a 10-day old dough. All I can say for now is that it is possible to produce such a dough. I really don't know what is material and what is not at this point.

As for double sifting of the flour, that is the only way I have done it so far. Maybe a single sifting is sufficient. I just haven't gotten around to trying it yet. I have been focusing my efforts to date on the principles that seem to have the best potential payback. The ultimate objective is to produce a better pizza, not merely a different pizza.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 02, 2006, 10:05:14 AM
Pete-zza,
I understand your point(s). Consider my work to be an adjunct to what you are pursuing. We will probably take a different path from where each other are headed but we may both end up in the same spot - or not.

If sifting flour leads to better absorption capability for flour then I am hopeful that by being able to dramatically increase the hydration percentage (hopefully without changing the handling characteristics) it will lead to a better crumb structure and ultimately a better crust. I know, I know, that's a lot of ifs but so what. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Another point I would like to investigate is something scott r mentioned to me some time ago. Perhaps he can clarify my memory but I seem to remember him stating that he began using the DLX only for the "messy" part of mixing dough. Once the dough came together he reverted to a hand kneading regimen which seemed to elevate his crumb. What I want to do is investigate that premise (if I remember it correctly) and combine it with multiple variations along the lines of what you are doing with the Bromwell's and ultimately with yeast.

That's how I plan to get a better Raquel.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on December 02, 2006, 10:13:14 AM
pftaylor,

I wouldn't over-think it too much.  If I were choosing from your list of benefits, I would say the only intended and perceivable ones would be half of #1 and all of #4.  It will definitely provide for a better crumb, but I wouldn't say it is any more complex.  If anything, it's really less complex because you don't have such an unpredictable amount of non-hydrated flour particles mixed with the hydrated ones.  It's far more completely hydrated, which makes the crumb simple, and the outcome predictable.

If you sift the flour once, that is double-sifted.  The flour already comes pre-sifted.  I see no need in triple-sifting.

I use a stainless steel bowl sieve because I can operate it with one hand and sift 500g of flour in about 6 seconds.

- red.november
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 02, 2006, 11:33:42 AM
November,
Thanks for your considerable insight. You must be employed in a field which requires ultimate precision with the English language. I will try to choose my words much more carefully in the future. Hence, I ask for forgiveness. Complex is not what I really tried to convey. My goal is to design a crust with a compressive nature which exhibits ample spring. Perhaps an even  more precise term would be a high coefficient of restitution. I want to be able to squeeze the rim between my fingers and have it return to its original state. I desire the crumb to be airy with numerous irregular shaped holes. That's a tall order but hopefully achievable.

Here are my notes from this morning's mix:

I sifted the flour twice (for a total of three times - thanks November) with the Bromwell’s. I normally mix for only ten minutes (adding flour for the first five and mixing for the final five). However this time I was adding the flour over the complete ten minute mixing period on stir speed. It seemed a shame to add the flour at a faster rate. I remembered pizzanapoletana’s words “slowly rain the flour down” so that is exactly what I did and it naturally took the entire ten minutes. Once all the flour was added I mixed for another two minutes for a total of twelve and then followed my standard Raquel procedure.

The dough was finished at a 74.5 degree temperature and appeared somewhat tackier than normal. Which is an odd observation since I did not adjust the hydration percentage upward on this batch? I will be interested in seeing if it remains so after the 15 minute rest period after mixing.

After the rest period, the dough was still tacky. The attached photographs support my observation. How can this be? Like so much in pizzamaking, change one variable and who knows what to expect.  I thought sifting was supposed to result in the exact opposite result I witnessed.

And perhaps it did. I must have unknowingly upped the hydration without realizing it. Where to point the finger though?

Could it be the ultra precise digital scales I use? Maybe but I doubt it.

Could it be the thin layer of flour which stuck to the sifting bowl I used for the first time? I doubt that too since all that was left was a fine dust of KASL.

Ah! I think I figured it out. In my haste to freshen the famed Varasano starter, I left it with a very low coefficient of viscosity. So perhaps that will explain the apparent additional hydration when it isn’t supposed to be there. My guess is the hydration which is shown in the dough balls is closer to 65% than not. I really don’t like cleaning gooey dough from my hands but let’s see where this takes me.

Tomorrow I will grill one or two of the three balls. The last one I will leave in the fridge for a few days.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on December 02, 2006, 11:44:17 AM
dramatically increase the hydration percentage (hopefully without changing the handling characteristics)

I've always found the handling to change at one stage or another with increased hydration.I think that the initial appearance of an increasingly hydrated dough can be deceptive and IMO only when you actually come to divide your dough do the difficulty of the handling characteristics become apparent.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 02, 2006, 12:07:10 PM
If you sift the flour once, that is double-sifted.  The flour already comes pre-sifted.  I see no need in triple-sifting.

November,

Would it matter if the flour came in a 50 lb. bag, as it did in my case with the KASL? That was the reason I sifted twice (thrice), thinking that it was perhaps more compacted than in a small bag, but if it is unnecessary even in that case I would dispense with the additional sifting step.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on December 02, 2006, 12:43:03 PM
pftaylor,

Yes, precision in both diction and everything else is prerequisite for me.  A tackier dough is what would be generally expected when more thoroughly hydrating your flour.

Peter,

Although there is more compaction in a 50 lb. bag of flour, I still can't conceive of a reason to sift it for a third time.  If you notice a difference, by all means continue, but I imagine there is a steep diminishing return on your extra effort.

- red.november
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on December 03, 2006, 12:38:30 AM
Hey guys,
        Not sure if this is the right place to post the results from my latest experiment but hopefully someone will find this helpful.  This experiment came as a result of pft’s comment about Italian fork mixers producing a far superior crumb than our KA’s are capable of.  The test consisted of making two different sets of dough made to the exact same standards.  The only difference was that one was mixed in the KA for 20 minutes while I hand kneaded the other.  The recipe is the same that I have been using for some time now consisting of Caputo, water, salt and fresh starter.  The hydration for both was almost exactly at 61% and the starter weighed in at 35% the weight of flour.  I’m posting this here because for the first time, I double sifted the flour before mixing.  Pizza and November certainly deserve a great deal of credit for convincing the rest of us to remember this often overlooked step.  I for one don’t see myself ever making a pizza without taking the extra minute to sift the flour.  As far as the rise goes, it was roughly a 20 hour warm rise.  I say warm but a warm rise for me is much different than for Pizza, PFT or Varasano.  With that said my warm rise occurred at roughly 63 for the first ten hours in bulk rise and once portioned rose for another 10 at roughly 55.  On to the results, the crumb structure in both pies were somewhat more consistent than my typical pies with the same percentages.  This I can only attribute to the sifting of flour.  As for the difference between the two and whether there is a clear reason to hand knead or purchase a fork mixer instead of the KA, it was close with the upper hand going to the hand kneaded pie.  In the pictures that follow you’ll see greater voids and nice hole structure from the hand kneaded dough.  The KA dough was close but not quite there.  The KA dough also felt considerably more wet than the hand kneaded dough which tells me that the mixer doesn’t do as complete a job as a man or another machine possibly could.  The first two pics are from the hand kneaded dough and the second two from the KA dough.  By the way, the rest of the dough is in the fridge right now and since my best pizzas are typically after a 3 day rise, I’m looking forward to Monday.  Hope this helps, Peteg
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 03, 2006, 07:01:35 AM
Peteg,
Thanks for sharing. Your pizza looks delicious and appears authentic. Where did you say your pizzeria was located?

Photographs are an invaluable tool in our hobby as I can visually discern a difference in crumb from the hand kneaded and the KA crusts. The hand kneaded crumb has larger and more irregular holes and looks less like bread. Very nice work.
Did they taste any differently?
Was the tooth and mouth feel any different?
Was the texture any different?
If so, how?

So that I can clearly point to my crumb goal, the attached photograph from pizzanapoletana's friend, Ciro, serves as the reference standard (in my opinion). Now I just have to get there.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on December 03, 2006, 09:35:27 AM
Peteg.Outstanding.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on December 03, 2006, 09:36:51 AM
Pft,
   No pizzeria, just homemade pizza the way I like it.  I’m in Madison, WI where temps are in the low 20’s this weekend which has a lot to do with my last low “room temp” rise.  You mentioned the difference in flavor and texture.  The difference in flavor was absent while there certainly was a difference in texture.  The cornicone of the KA dough was more bread like which led to a chewier crust.  Over all, I much preferred the texture of the hand knead as it had the interior structure that I have always been striving for.  As for feel, the hand knead was a bit more moist than the KA but that could very well have been because the KA cooked for 15 seconds longer than the hand knead.  The hand knead cooked for 2:40 while the KA cooked for 2:55.  I’ve got three more dough balls from each batch so I should get a chance to run this comparison again over the next couple of days.  I think for the next set, I’ll give them the initial 2:30 blast of heat and then reduce the heat for an extra 30-40 seconds.  This always seems to give me the crispness that I’m looking for.  Take care, Peteg
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on December 03, 2006, 09:37:53 AM
thanks david.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 03, 2006, 09:54:48 AM
Peteg,

Thanks for conducting the experiments and posting your results. The pizzas look great.

As I noted previously in another thread, the idea of sifting the flour was not new with me. I last contemplated the idea after I had an exchange in Nov. 2005 with member dodude who, in response to a question I posed to him about why he sifted his flour, responded as follows:

As for sifting the flour...I think it just comes from my breadmaking experience. I was of the mind that packed flour tends to compress, and before combining with water you'd want to expose more surface area on the flour particles for quicker and more complete absorption. You're probably right that it shouldn't matter either way, but I guess it's just an old habit.

I replied that I planned to try sifting the flour sometime but it wasn’t until November mentioned sifting in a formulation he posted that I figured that he was onto something since he doesn’t do anything without a purpose and knowing why.

The next step you might want to consider is to use the whisk attachment of your mixer to further improve the hydration of the flour. That step is simply an extension of the cold knead that Jeff talks about and, I believe, is consistent with what pizzanapoletana (Marco) has advocated in that the flour is more completely hydrated without significant, if any, gluten development. If one doesn’t have a whisk attachment, a simple hand beater or electric hand mixer can be used. I suggested this option recently to one of our new members, rende, who chose to use an electric hand mixer (he doesn’t have a stand mixer) and, as noted here, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4152.msg35189.html#msg35189, apparently achieved good results. While I haven’t tried it myself, I think that one can switch to hand kneading to finish making a dough after using the beater to its maximum potential (just when you can’t add more flour to the water and easily mix them). Under these circumstances, one wouldn’t need to have a stand mixer, just a sifter or sieve and a hand or electric hand mixer.

Maybe you've covered this before, but can you tell us how you are baking your pizzas, in terms of oven method/temperature, stone, etc.?

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on December 03, 2006, 12:14:39 PM
Pete-zaa,
              I was actually planning on trying the whisk with my next dough.  I typically try to change only one thing at time.  With the last dough, I was already adding sifting to the typical mixing regimen so I thought it was best to stop there.  My oven is a regular home oven on the clean cycle. I keep the stone on the rack second from the top where it’s flanked with clay tiles to add surface area.  Peteg
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on December 03, 2006, 05:15:46 PM
  The hydration for both was almost exactly at 61% and the starter weighed in at 35% the weight of flour. 

 ???.....I'm not understanding this?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on December 03, 2006, 06:17:21 PM
David, hopefully this helps.  The starter consists of 50% water & 50% flour by weight.  In other words, 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water.  The total starter at 200 grams is 35% of the flour weight at 571 grams.  Of course by adding 200 grams of starter were also adding 100 grams of flour and taking the total flour weight to 671 but why complicate things.           

Ingredient   Grams    Bakers %  Total %      
Flour         571.00    100.00%     53.77%
Water       277.00    60.98%     26.08%
Salt           14.00        2.45%         1.32%
starter       200.00    35.03%     18.83%
               1,062.00       
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 03, 2006, 07:38:34 PM
I made all three pies tonight as my family wanted to compare against the recent NYC pies we ate. Good news is, everyone chose Pizza Raquel over anything we ate up north. It really wasn't a fair comparison either. Even though the famed varasano preferment was not at its peak, it still infused significant flavor into the crust which left the others in the dust. Texture wise was hard to tell because we all loved the flavor and the softness of the crust.

Regarding the impact of sifting the flour, here are my observations:
- The dough was much wetter than normal
- The robustness and overall uniformity were still present but the dough was softer
- The texture really wasn't improved like I had hoped
- Once the crust cooled it still stayed soft which was in stark contrast to the NYC pies we ate

To be fair the results were a little skewed since the dough was only 29 hours old. Normally I make pizza at least three days after the dough is made and the preferment is normally raging with activity.

A few other changes crept into my pizza making tonight and I blame it all on a new BJ's which opened near my home. I used a different type of tomato which was chock full of seeds. Nice bright and fresh flavor but too many seeds to recommend. Second I tried a new type of fresh mozzarella cheese which was really wet and required all sorts of drying effort. Shame because it tasted okay.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 03, 2006, 07:41:43 PM
More
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 03, 2006, 07:42:22 PM
Final shots and final thoughts. I need to make more pizza more often. I was not nearly as confident tonight as I should have been. Practice does make perfect and when it comes to pizza truer words were never spoken. Raquel knew I was out of practice and it showed...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on December 04, 2006, 12:19:31 AM

Another point I would like to investigate is something scott r mentioned to me some time ago. Perhaps he can clarify my memory but I seem to remember him stating that he began using the DLX only for the "messy" part of mixing dough. Once the dough came together he reverted to a hand kneading regimen which seemed to elevate his crumb. What I want to do is investigate that premise (if I remember it correctly) and combine it with multiple variations along the lines of what you are doing with the Bromwell's and ultimately with yeast.


Pete, you are right, I tend to start my mixing in the dlx, then finish by hand.  That initial adding of the flour to the water by hand is quite messy, and doing it with the DLX makes it move a bit quicker as well as allowing me to keep my hands clean.  When I started practicing this method I found it to be an improvement over the all DLX mixes, plus it allowed me to get a lower hydration than the DLX can handle.  This provided me with a slightly crispy outer layer to my crust because of the lower hydration, and a softer internal crumb thanks to the superiority of the hand knead.   I would imagine starting with a hand (cake style) mixer would yield similar, and possibly even superior results.

On another note I hit Luzzo's, UPN and Pepe's (new haven) this weekend and they were all huge dissipointments.  UPN was nothing like the old days.  I really think he may have switched to commercial yeast.  At first UPN had good texture and exceptional flavor.  The texture started to go down hill sometime last year, then the flavor just dissipeared in the past few months.  What a shame.  Still there was a huge line for his pizza.

Luzzo's had that amazing soft/crispy texture but had very bland crust and a very inferior brand of buffalo mozzarella.  If you are going to spend that kind of money on cheese you might as well taste test the brands and get a good one, right?   All texture, no flavor on those pies.  Once I salted them and added some olive oil at the table they were much better.

Pepe's was the worst of the bunch.  One of my friends actually got up and left the table because the signature clam pie made him feel sick.  All three pies we ordered were burned and it was like chewing shoe leather even though I asked for them "light baked".  The cheap dry mozzarella was all burned and dried out without any flavor.

The good news is that I picked up some alleva mozzarella in NYC and it is out of this world good.  I can't wait to make some pizza's with it.  I want to thank you so much for bringing that to our attention.  Does anybody know if any of the pizzerias in New York actually use the Alleva?


Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 04, 2006, 06:54:49 AM
scott r,
I'm glad someone verified my findings at Una Pizza Napoletana. I couldn't believe how bad it was relative to all the positive press this guy has been receiving. I was beginning to think I was all alone in the wilderness. It wasn't in Pete-zza's genes to write a really bad review like I did or even agree with my basic premise because he has not been to Bianco's. Even so, Pete-zza mentioned the pizza was better the time before. So perhaps Anthony's outside interests have finally caught up with him. Objectively, UPN feels like a tourist trap to me along the lines of Lombardi's. But then UPN would have to be open more than four nights a week for that moniker to be accurate.

I also mentioned to Pete-zza that I felt Luzzo's had slipped a notch as well. From a price standpoint Luzzo's jacked up the prices a solid two bucks a pie since I had been there in March. Quite a price increase if you ask me. That pales in comparison to what Anthony did. A year ago his pies were sixteen bucks. When I went last week they were twenty-one. Yikes. Another Bianco comparison is in order; Bianco's Margherita was priced at a scant eleven bucks! So that makes UPN a buck shy of double the price for the best pizza I have ever eaten. Both establishments make a twelve inch pie so the sizes are the same. Frankly, size is the only trait UPN shares with Bianco's from what I can tell. 

Nothing really stood out at Luzzo's other than the wonderful texture and the complete lack of salt in the crust. The ironic part of all this is that two of the so-called better pizzerias in the city, which happen to be located right around the corner from each other, have salt problems. They are just at opposite ends of the spectrum. One uses too much, the other uses too little. Funny.

Thanks for confirming my memory of how you use the DLX and then hand knead. I will begin implementing the whisk method and then shift to hand kneading when the KA Professional begins to moan. Sort of sounds in line with how a Raquel should be made so I think I'll go for it. If you have any tips for hand kneading I'll take all the help I can get. I'm excited about employing a technique which gets me closer to the dough. That is another Bianco tenet which just happens to be in alignment with my pizza philosophy.

Regarding Alleva cheese. I would ask Robert next time you are there but I do know that Ron at Il Pizzaiolo has and/or still uses it.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 05, 2006, 12:59:32 PM
Below is the revised Pizza Raquel formulary. The various updates I will be working on over the holidays are:

1) Incorporation of flour sifting with Bromwell's Guaranteed 5 Cup Sifter
2) Incorporation of dough whisk in lieu of dough hook
3) Incorporation of hand kneading technique when dough "comes together"
4) Slight adjustments to ingredient ratios to drive toward a less "bready" crumb

                                            Pizza Raquel - Everything You'd Want (TM Pending)         
 
Weight                            Description                                         Bakers Percent
20. Oz/567. Grams          High Gluten Flour                                       100% (KASL or equivalent)
12. Oz/340. Grams          Bottled Water                                              60%     
.01 Oz/.283 Grams          Instant Dry Yeast                                    Not much (Baker’s pinch)     
.40 Oz/9.10 Grams          Sicilian Sea Salt (fine cut)                               2%
1.0 Oz/28.4 Grams          Preferment (Varasano or sourdo Italian)       5% (Peak activated)
33.41Oz/947.16 Grams

Note: Produces three dough balls weighing approx 11Oz each. Enough for three 15" - 16" pizzas. Flour must be sifted to maximize absorption.

Preparation Steps
1 - Stir water and salt with spoon until dissolved in stand mixer bowl. Fit mixer with whisk attachment.
2 - Add approximately half the flour first, then the yeast. Mix 1 minute on stir to fully incorporate yeast.
3 - Add preferment. Mix 1 minute on stir to fully incorporate preferment.
4 - Allow soupy dough to rest for 20 minutes.
5 - Mix on stir speed. Rain the flour down slowly in the bowl until mixer groans.
6 - Remove dough from stand bowl and slowly incorporate remaining flour by hand kneading on bench. 
7 - Check dough temperature with digital thermometer; 80 degrees for a cold rise/75 for room temperature rise
8 - Rest dough for 15 minutes.
9 - Hand knead dough until it becomes springy. Typical time is approximately 1 minute.
10 Cut into 3 equal pieces, form into balls, place dough into bowls, cover with shower caps.
11 Place dough in refrigerator for 1+ day(s). Longer times (3 up to 6 days) equal more crust flavor.
12 On the following day(s), remove dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Note: Do not punch down, reform balls, or do anything to the dough other than let it warm to room temperature.

Stretching Steps
1 - Place dough ball in flour bowl. Dust both sides well. Dust prep area with flour.
2 - Flatten ball into a thick pancake-like shape with palm of hand, ~ 2" thick. Keep well dusted.
3 - Press fingertips into center and working toward the rim until skin is 10 inches round. Keep well dusted.
4 - Place hands palm down inside rim and stretch outward while turning. Stretch to 12" round.
5 - Place skin over knuckles (1st time dough is lifted off bench) and stretch to 16"+/-
6 - Place on floured peel and dress with favorite toppings.
7 - Peel dressed skin into preheated oven (1 hr+ at max temp) outfitted with unglazed quarry tiles.
8 - Bake until lightly or heavily charred (more flavor).
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on December 07, 2006, 12:29:38 PM

So that I can clearly point to my crumb goal, the attached photograph from pizzanapoletana's friend, Ciro, serves as the reference standard (in my opinion). Now I just have to get there.

Peter,

The pizza in that picture is MINE, very much done my myself in US actually.

Off course these seams the same as Ciro's, but if you go back and check Ciro's you will see a different background/setting.

Ciao
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on December 09, 2006, 07:57:04 AM
The following pictures for your reference (Ciro's and mine)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on December 09, 2006, 04:37:09 PM
I spent this week testing out the alleva cheese I picked up in NY.   Before I used this on my pies I thought that it might even taste better than buffalo mozzarella.  It was so fresh and tasty.  After making a bunch of pies I have come to the conclusion that it is far too dry to cook properly at high temps.

I noticed another cheese store about a block from Alleva.  They actually had much more traffic in the store, and also had what looked to be house made fresh mozzarella wrapped in plastic.  Does anybody know the name of the place, or if the cheese has a higher moisture content than the Alleva?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 09, 2006, 05:39:14 PM
scott,

There are two Italian food stores near Alleva--Italian Food Center and DiPaolo's. The Italian Food Center is right across the street from Alleva, on the same side of Grande. DiPaolo's is also on Grande, I believe on the same side as the two other stores.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on December 09, 2006, 05:45:15 PM
Thanks Peter, the place I went into is Di Paolo's.  The balls of mozzarella were HUGE!  Has anybody tried them?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 16, 2006, 09:45:27 AM
pizzanapoletana,
Sorry for the erroneous assertion. The two crusts were visually so close to one another that they are difficult to tell apart.

Pete-zza,
I made a batch of dough this morning with the revised Pizza Raquel formulary. I have to laugh to myself for everytime I have an end-state in mind, Raquel seems to play hard-to-get. My assumption was that I would use the KA whisk and mix the soupy dough until it came together. Then as more flour was added I thought it would require the use of hand-kneading. Else the gears would be stripped or the motor would be strained beyond the point of reasonableness. The point I was trying to get to was a groan by the KA. That sound should have signaled the need for hand-kneading.

Only thing is, it never happened. Not a groan or a moan. In fact, the KA never had a problem mixing all the flour with the whisk. What was I to do? So I fumbled around in what I thought might be the proverbial ditch for a while counting the endless arrray of options.  Then I decided to hand-knead but only for only a minute or two. In the end, the dough came out extremely robust. It felt great and wasn't as sticky as when I used the spiral hook for the initial mixing.

Time will tell what the overall impact will be but my sense is the amount of whisk mixing time will have to be artificially truncated so that I can begin hand-kneading and get a feel for the proper dough point.

Do you have any suggestions?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 16, 2006, 10:18:06 AM
pft,

My suggestion is that you trade in your fancy and powerful Professional Series KitchenAid mixer for a cheap one like mine ;D. Then you will get the grunts and groans. Seriously, if your mixer was able to handle all of the dough using just the whisk attachment, then that might be a blessing in disguise. Based on your long experience with making Raquel doughs, I'm sure you will be able to tell if that helps or not. I recently made a batch of dough using just the whisk and the flat beater plus some hand kneading. I noticed that the dough looked very good as I was using the flat beater that I decided to forego the C-hook entirely and replace it with some hand kneading. I am beginning to think that it is possible to make a pretty decent dough, possibly even a Raquel dough, without using a KitchenAid or similar mixer at all. I am kicking around some thoughts on this and will report on the results if they pan out, for the benefit of those who do not have mixers and rely a lot on hand kneading.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 18, 2006, 05:55:35 AM
Pizza is a wonderful thing. My family begged me to end my experiments early last night as they were hungry for pizza. So I'm sad to report that I still don't know how a three or four day rise will turn out with all the changes I've made. Call me crazy but the thought of making an immature batch of Pizza Raquel and having it turn out medicore at best didn't exactly excite me. So, I began to think of ways to change things up a bit.

Longing for the pizza of my youth I strolled into my library and just happened upon Evelyne Slomon's masterpiece entitled "The Pizza Book." Quickly turning to the New York Style Pizza section, my eyes immediately fixated upon the description of the original Lombardi formula. Now I must admit, Eveylene is very spend thrift with her words. She doesn't wax on and on to make a point. I found myself having to re-read the section to catch all of its intended meaning. So precise is her writing style that tiny sentences convey volumes of information when viewed in the proper light. Frankly, I find Evelyne's style as very engaging but it must be read like a hawk. It is only now that I am beginning to understand her book after owning it for years. A hidden gem that all members should pick up - especially if your pizza palette leans toward NY.

I have always reasoned that pizza is crust first and foremost. Pizza Raquel can have many different toppings but the one which is welded into my memory as the ultimate truth is just a plain cheese pie. Since childhood I have always been suspicious that fancy toppings, like those used on California style pies, were used to cover up for bad crust. Good crust, I reasoned, didn't need anything more than fresh tomatoes and cheese. Now that I've matured with my understanding of pizza a wee bit, I certainly know that isn't true but it sure seemed like that was the case growing up.   

Back to Pizza Raquel. I decided to faithfully recreate Evelyne's description of how Signore Gennaro Lombardi made his pies as a way of spicing things up (or perhaps covering up for bad crust). It was just what the doctor ordered. What I found was a taste reminiscent of my pizza childhood and boy was it good. Glorious in fact. Here is an excerpt of Evelyne's descrption:

"The cheese, freshly made mozzarella, is cut into thick chunks (never shredded!) and laid down on the dough before the tomatoes. The tomatoes, either fresh or canned, are then coarsely crushed right on top of the pie. Then comes the sprinkling of fresh chopped garlic, Sicilian oregano, grated Parmesan cheese, and imported Italian olive oil. The pie is then slipped into a searingly hot coal oven and baked to perfection: Its edges are puffed, crisped, and browned, its bottom has a charred bake and its topping is fused into a sizzling, heavenly scented whole."

Now I had never made pizza Raquel with an ingredient sequence exactly like that in the past. Shame on me. I had all the ingredients necessary to make the real thing but had somehow lost my way. So I went to my pizza garden and instead of picking Neapolitan basil I plucked fresh Sicilian oregano. This morning I can easily remember the taste profile of the fresh Sicilian oregano pinned underneath the olive oil and brought to a razor sharp point with the fresh garlic. The level of brightness it added to the tomatoes was blindingly apparent. The Parm somehow aided in things as well. It was a taste combination which had been missing from my previous efforts. I don't know why but all the pies I have made in the past couple of years all had basil on them. Oregano was a spice I relegated to the sauce from time to time and nothing more.

So, for once, I learned that pizza is not just crust. It is the whole of its ingredients. Thanks Evelyne for bringing this to my attention. It won't soon be forgotten. As far as pictures go, I managed to snap a couple of semi blurry ones to share.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Carlton on December 18, 2006, 04:37:26 PM
"The cheese, freshly made mozzarella, is cut into thick chunks (never shredded!) and laid down on the dough before the tomatoes. The tomatoes, either fresh or canned, are then coarsely crushed right on top of the pie. Then comes the sprinkling of fresh chopped garlic, Sicilian oregano, grated Parmesan cheese, and imported Italian olive oil. The pie is then slipped into a searingly hot coal oven and baked to perfection: Its edges are puffed, crisped, and browned, its bottom has a charred bake and its topping is fused into a sizzling, heavenly scented whole."

pftaylor,
De-lurking for a moment to say thank you sir. For those of us that have been searching for that particular flavor tasted so long ago but never forgotten, this is truly the golden paragraph... pure and simple.  :chef:

Again thanks,
Carlton
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 19, 2006, 10:21:57 PM
Carlton,
Thanks for the kind words. I'm really gratified that you "got it." I was hopeful that this particular post would not go unnoticed for a couple of reasons.

First, all too often, I and perhaps others, have shared what we consider to be invaluable advancements in the understanding of pizza only to generate little to no interest on the part of the forum membership. The endless posts about how to recreate crummy chain pizza drowns out these important posts more than they should - in my opinion. So I thank you for you have just validated my entire reason for being here. I truly have no commercial interest in pizza whatsoever. It is my passion. I simply want to help others and along the way learn a thing or two for myself.

Second, I deserve no credit for the post in question. In this case, Eveylene Slomon deserves all the thanks as she originally did the research to bring these facts to light. The more I read Evelyne's book, the more I realize that she single-handedly uncovered a number of major breakthroughs that we now take for granted. Only thing is, she discovered them back in the early 80's. Things like unglazed quarry tiles for your home oven, high quality ingredients, and the skill of the pizzaiolo are all necessary for pizza at its best. When I first read her book, I frankly took those concepts for granted. I would be willing to bet that she was an original pizza thinker. Who knows where the home pizzamaker would be without her contributions?

Fast forward to now. To this forum. We have some of the leading minds in pizza who regularly and freely share thoughts and ideas about how to make better pizza. All kinds of pizza. No style is excluded from what I can tell. The collective knowledge about pizza making is astounding when viewed in that light. I know of no single place on the planet that can go toe-to-toe with our collective pizza knowledge. For that, I am grateful.

I'm just happy that you decided to join and become part of a very special place.

Welcome.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Carlton on December 22, 2006, 07:50:31 PM
pftaylor,

I kinda' jumped the gun there in my posting. That little tid bit you were kind enough to point out, just scratched another itch I'd been trying to get at for quite some time now and that took care of that. I've read many of your posts and amongst them found a good read and many a gem (as with so many others here), so it just seemed like the opportune moment to step in and say so.

Before reading your post, I'd been thinking it was about time I chimed in to show my gratitude and say thanks to you and all the rest, for helping make me a better home pizza maker. The lessons learned here have been invaluable.

I have made quite a few, decent home pizzas in my lifetime, but there were always those little somethings that eluded me. In other words, “I made great sauces and added topping to cover up a lackluster crust.” That's all changed now. Since reading and implementing many of the techniques generously supplied here, my pizza making has improved ten fold. The complements, requests for recipes and tips have been a bit overwhelming to say the least.   

So again, I thank you and the others, who have so graciously shared your knowledge, time and patience with the rest of us. Yes, “a very special place,” indeed. For that, I too am deeply grateful. I think my friends and family are as well.

Carlton
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: gschwim on December 22, 2006, 09:31:53 PM
pf,

Amazon doesn't have The Pizza Book.  Apparently, it's out of print.  Could you post the "original Lombardi" recipe to which you referred?  After viewing your photos, I'm sure a lot of us would like to try it.

Thanks.

Gene
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on December 23, 2006, 12:17:59 AM
http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&qi=ABDVTIiQnA1n4csn7orsb8v8SCE_0097943433_1:1:4

Plenty of used copies of this book are available here.
Merry Christmas. :pizza:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: gschwim on December 23, 2006, 08:18:03 AM
Thanks, David.  Actually, it now turns out that Amazon.com has several used copies; I had spelled the author's name wrong.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 23, 2006, 10:14:42 AM
gschwim,
I would love to know the exact Lombardi dough formula myself. While I have a very good idea what it might be, I cannot be 100% sure as the book never actually revealed it. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one member who knows the original Lombardi formula - Evelyne Slomon.

If it is okay, I would prefer to allow Evelyne to comment further or not.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: SLICEofSLOMON on January 06, 2007, 03:02:53 PM
Happy New Year Everyone,

I just came upon this thread...Thanks for the kudos regarding The Pizza Book. Please remember that I researched that book in the late 70's and early 80"s, well before anyone thought of pizza as anything other than junk food. Pizzeria pizza was in a sad state of affairs. Oh what a difference a decade or two makes. A good part of the reason that pizza has risen in its status and craft came from The Pizza Book and my subsequent 20 year stint at Pizza Today Magazine, hammerring in my mantra to the "industry" both in writing, teaching and seminars.

As for the Lombardi formula, you are right, I do know it, and Totonno's as well (they are both slightly different) In reality, they are both Lombardi's formulas. Totonno was still using the original formula and method from 1905 and the grandson, Gerry Lombardi was using a more modern version that his father used. Are we splitting hairs here? Why yes, of course we are, and that is why we are so fanatical about great pizza.

Let me add some points to the recipe in my book that my publisher didn't think the home cook needed to know.

Flour: use a medium gluten flour at around 12-13 percent. The flour should be a blend of hard winter wheats. Italian 00 flour is not suitable for this formula. Flour at the turn of the century was bleached, all of the old time pizza makers and most pizza makers in NYC (except for the artisan type) still favor bleached. The flours used for the actual 1905 Lombardi formula came from local millers from the Northeast, but during the depression and WW2 Lombardi told me they got flour from any source that they were able to. The flours also contained bromates and malt. I used those flours when I was first making pizza in NYC, but completely changed my formula when I moved to California and came into my mature pizza making style. Do you need bromated flour? No, but you are asking what was in the original formula.
The original formula has undergone a number of changes in the flour department over 100 years.

The hydration is high 65%, salt is at 1% and yeast is pretty minimal at about .25%

The recipe in the book is actually pretty darn close, except that I would change it to 1/4 to 1/8 of a teaspoon of yeast and I would use IDY.

You can see why my publisher wasn't interested in providing the commercial information behind the flour, because the average home cook was not intertested in those facts--just in the results.

By the late 80's, I entered my own as a pizza maker and altered the ingredients and the techniques I'd learned from the old masters. I became a purist and became obsessed with obtaining all of my crust flavor from the flour I was using and fermentation. My formula, while based upon the old, is quite different from the original.

Back to the recipe in The Pizza Book, if you follow my changes and give the dough a 2-4 hour room temp raise (at no higher than 72 degrees room temp) degass, and form and refrigerate for at least 12-24 hours before using, you will have a Lombardi style crust that is far better than what is currently being produced at the pizzeria. It saddens me to know how much Lombardi's has gone downhill.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that you want to bake it as hot as you can get your oven to go. But not as hot as Neapolitan. The optimum temperature is 750-850 and the pizza should bake for 4-5 minutes--yes, it cooks longer than Neapolitan pizza does too. The interior temperature of the dough should be at 205-210 degrees for this type of pizza to be properly cooked. The crust is not soft like Neapolitan pizza, it should be crispy and extremely light  and open-holed in the crumb. The coal oven does give it a nice char, but a wood-burning oven works just as well. The old timers all cooked their pizzas until they were really well-done--dark brown with some black. A well done crust has a different flavor than a lightly charred crust.

To me, this type of pizza is worlds away from authentic Neapolitan pizza--they are two different animals. I appreciate both for their respective qualities, flavors and textures, but they really are two very distinct styles.


Evelyne
Evelyne
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 07, 2007, 12:24:51 PM
Evelyne,

According to the Lombardi's website, there are two sizes of pizzas offered, 14" and 18". In the early Lombardi days, even at the time you wrote your book, were those the sizes offered? In your book, The Pizza Book, you indicated that your NY dough recipe could make a pizza from 15"-18". Do you know what weight of dough ball would have been used in the early Lombardi days to make a particular size pizza? They perhaps weren't all that exact about those sorts of things, but I assume that they had some rough dough ball weight in mind. I played around with your Pizza Book recipe this morning, as you indicated that it should be modified (65% hydration, 1% salt and 0.25% IDY), and assuming that 3 1/2 cups of bread flour are used, I get something around 25 ounces for an 18" pizza and 15.3 ounces for a 14". Do those numbers sound right?  Thanks.

Peter

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abc on January 07, 2007, 07:35:29 PM
The old timers all cooked their pizzas until they were really well-done--dark brown with some black. A well done crust has a different flavor than a lightly charred crust.

To me, this type of pizza is worlds away from authentic Neapolitan pizza--they are two different animals. I appreciate both for their respective qualities, flavors and textures, but they really are two very distinct styles.


Evelyne
Evelyne

'really well done'... nice...   it's funny how perhaps almost most people? would say that would be a burnt pie.  All I know is when i walk into my nyc pizza shops i always tell them well done for my pie.  But i'm also the same guy that has become to like crusty bagettes, artisan breads, and long dropped the brainwashed attraction to tasteless 'American' white bread like Wonder (unless I toast them).
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 22, 2007, 07:37:03 AM
I'm also interested in Evelyne's really well done pies.

In the meantime, here are a few photographs of my "well done" pies. One item to note, I strive to produce an extremely thin crust to reduce the unnecessary carbs and calories. Right now my family is on a caramelized onion and sauteed mushroom kick. So I've been experimenting in this area with various combinations.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 22, 2007, 07:38:49 AM
Final Photos
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on January 22, 2007, 08:24:51 AM
Hi pftaylor,

Lovely pics of some tasty looking pies !  I really appreciate the structure of the open holes in the crust.

My son asked to go on a crash course on pizza making, so I told him to get some serious inspiration by reading your article on Pizza Bianco. It did the trick !

Kind regards

Barry in Johannesburg, South Africa
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: SLICEofSLOMON on January 22, 2007, 01:51:39 PM
Hi Pete,

Sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner but I missed your post.

When I was researching The Pizza Book, Lombardi's was no longer a pizzeria, they were a full service restaurant that served appetizer sized pizzettas that were produced from a conventional gas fired range oven. Gerry Lombardi told me how they made the pizza. He explained what type of flour they used, that the dough was very wet and soft and that the key was to let the dough rest at least over night before using it. Now, you must realize that none of these guys ever spoke in terms of formulas, recipes, hydration, fermentation, etc. For them it was a natural process that they'd been practicing for decades. They used their senses of touch, feel and sound along with their history to produce the results. I've enjoyed a nearly 30 year friendship with Gerry Lombardi and believe me, he has shared so much with me that he considers me as part of the family, kind of like his kid sister. At our original meeting, it was Gerry who sent me to Totonno's because he told me that "Jerry Pero is the only one left who still makes pizza exactly the way my grandfather did back in 1905". That's when he showed me the picture of his grandfather and Pero's father standing in the doorway of Lombardi's Pizzeria Napoletana in 1905 and said: "That's Jerry's father standing there with my grandfather. If you really want to know how they did it back then, go talk to Jerry. But, I gotta warn you, Jerry is a real recluse--worse than me and he doesn't talk to no body. Once in a while he comes here by me to eat late at night. He wanted to work the steeple chase at Coney Island but his father made him stay with the family business, so he might not want to tell you anything, but you really have to taste his pizza because that's the way pizza was when my grandfather made it. Oh, yeah, he's only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday until he runs out of dough, so you wanna get there early."

As it turned out, Jerry Pero was a curmudgeon, but I did manage to get under the surly crust and he opened up to me, in fact he loved me, as soon as I would poke my head into the pizzeria, his face would light up and he would greet me with a great and floury hug. Learning from these guys took lots of time because the would impart information along with a wealth of stories and they would show me things, a few things at a time but never the whole process at once. They did not approach what they did scientifically at all, nor did they approach their "business" in a real commercial mode. It took plenty of patience and tenacity to know when and how to press for more information. I learned over time and it took me a while to put everything together. Eventually it did all come together and I realized that the way they explained things by showing me and couching the information in stories was their way of teaching.

I don't recall ever seeing a scale at Totonno's, but I am sure that his hands were just as accurate in scaling out dough. His crusts were thicker than John's and the reincarnation of Lombardi's--not that they were thick by any means, but they had more structure and were crisper on the bottom. He did utilize more dough per pizza. John's had the thinnest crust of all and the smallest rim. Lombardi's was just a bit thinner than Totonno's, but not much.

So where does that answer your question? The recipe in my book calls for more generalized results. If the dough was stretched out to 18 inches, the pie would resemble more of a John's type of crust, at 15 inches it would resemble more of a Tottono's type and at 16 inches, a Lombardi.

The recipe calls for 3-3 1/2 cups of flour (around 1 pound) but because the actual amount of flour could vary quite a bit between type of flour used and method of measurement. The optimum for that recipe is the Totonno version which weighs in at about 15-16 ounces.


Hope this helps,

Evelyne
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 22, 2007, 04:10:54 PM
Barry,
Thanks for the very kind words. Passing on passion is vital. I'm honored to be considered a helpful resource. Kindly have your son pm me if he would like to.

Evelyne,
Your most recent post has awakened my pizza spirit. As a fan of authentic NYC style pies, and self anointed president of the Evelyne Slomon fan club in Tampa, I have a favor to ask; would you inform us how you make a pie when you want an authentic NY pie in the vein of Totonno's? Specifically I mean the steps of the dough preparation process.

I would personally consider the information to be priceless.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 22, 2007, 04:14:06 PM
Evelyne,

What you provided is of great help.

I have been kicking around different possible dough formulations based on the information you have provided and from your book. Would you object if I post something on the subject--maybe a dough formulation or two for the members to try out if they are interested? I would perhaps do in in a new thread so that this one doesn't get too far off topic.

Thanks again.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: SLICEofSLOMON on January 22, 2007, 06:34:15 PM
PFTaylor

An Evelyne Slomon Fan Club?? That would certainly be a first, and you would probably the only member :-D But it's a nice thought. I'll post a Totonno's variation that you guys can try when Pete sets up another topic because we don't want to get any further off topic here.

Pete,

I have no problem with your suggestion, so go ahead.

I know that this is further off topic, but while we're here after what I just posted, I would like to know for my own writing purposes and future projects,, if you find the actual accounts of my experiences with my mentors and with all of the other pizza legends I've had the honor to work with and talk to, of interest. I've got 30 years worth of people from the humblest hole in the wall to the super stars. Unfortunately, I don't think enough of the general public would be interested in it enough to pitch to a publisher...unless I spiced it up with some drugs and sex >:D,

Maybe I can find a way to weave those stories into my next book on pizza. Right now I'm trying to get The Pizza Book revised and republished--who knows maybe I can put those stories in the new edition--it would make so much sense to include all of the information that led to that book and that never made it inside because my publishers didn't think the readers would be interested...

I don't want to take any more from this topic, so maybe this post should start off another topic about what you would all like to see in the revised edition of The Pizza Book. I might just use it as part of my proposal to illustrate how passionate and knowledgeable pizza makers are.

Evelyne
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 22, 2007, 10:55:16 PM
The recipe calls for 3-3 1/2 cups of flour (around 1 pound) but because the actual amount of flour could vary quite a bit between type of flour used and method of measurement. The optimum for that recipe is the Totonno version which weighs in at about 15-16 ounces.

Evelyne,

As a point of clarification, I assume that the 15-16 ounces referenced above is dough ball weight, not flour weight. Is that correct?

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ELeight on January 23, 2007, 12:33:46 PM
Evelyn,

     You can count me as the second member of your fan club!  I find your posts very interesting and look forward to each new one.  I would definitely be interested in reading all 30 years' worth of your experiences if you were to publish them. 
     Recently you posted the Lombardi formula to be 65% hydration and 1% salt.
I find this very interesting in that this is off the low side of most everything I've seen here and elsewhere for pizza and bread.  Any further historical information about salt content in pizza dough and its effects would be welcome knowledge to me.
   
Thanks,
Erik
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: SLICEofSLOMON on January 30, 2007, 02:34:39 PM
Hi,

Pete: yes, the 15-16 ounces refers to the finished dough ball which is right around what the recipe in TPB yields. Remember the recipe is for general results and not specific. If a higher gluten flour (13%+) is used, more hydration will be necessary and the dough ball will be a couple of ounces bigger. As you know, not all flours can accept high hydration, even if their protein content is similar. The recipe in the book was not formulated for all of the choice in flour the home cook has now.

I may have already posted a version of the recipe somewhere on this site, or was it my own current formula?

I'm not very proficient about being able to search for my own posts so that I can see what I've already posted. :-[

It looks like I'll be able to get some time in the kitchen next month, so I hope to get some pictures together for you guys. Right now, I'm waiting for a case of Grande special ricotta that's supposed to be just like the stuff that is hand-produced at old time latticini stores like Alleva in NYC. I even think it's supposed to come in the metal cone shape containers with holes for draining. Grande wants me to put it through some cooking tests. I'm looking forward to playing with it. :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 30, 2007, 02:50:28 PM
Evelyne,

I was basing everything on your Reply 298 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1258.msg37081.html#msg37081, and also the follow-up posts at Replies 299, 304, 306, and 308. I assume the numbers you gave may be for the formulation you would use now rather than what was recited in your book.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: SLICEofSLOMON on January 30, 2007, 03:43:30 PM
Hi Pete,

Yes, that's right, because the recipes in TPB are not based on baker's formulas, but on the formulas I learned from my teachers as their recipes were volumetric. The results of that recipe are pretty darn authentic. I got to test it out at John's Pizzeria in their 80 year old coal-fired oven. I was the first woman to ever make a pizza at their place. They thought it was a novelty--until they tasted my pizza--then they looked at me with amazement: she really knows! That was one of the greatest moments of my pizza making career. :pizza:

Pete, I'm such a space cadet, you are right, I posted the basics earlier in this topic...Duh!

Evelyne
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 07, 2007, 04:45:39 PM
An interesting opportunity has presented itself tonight. A pizza maker with 15 years experience (currently working at Alessi Bakery) has accepted my invitation for Pizza Raquel and Sophia tonight. I will attempt to post photographs of our pizza making activities.

Why did I invite him? Well, he invited me a couple of weeks ago to his bakery for New Haven style pie. I ended up spending a couple of hours discussing pizza with him. In the spirit of reciprocation, I offered to make him a pie or two.

More to come...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 24, 2007, 04:05:51 PM
Sorry for the delay in posting however I have been in travel status so much I'm beginning to think the Admirals Club is my home office. Anyway, attached is the lone photograph I managed to take during my first professional pizzaiolo collaboration visit.

More photos will be taken tomorrow night when he returns for another visit. How do we home pizza makers stack up against the pros? Well, in this particular case, suffice to say that my three years of learning on this board has left a 22 year veteran of the pizza scene gasping for air. The phone calls haven't stopped since...While I'm glad to teach, this stuff takes real time. Now I know why some members charge for their services.

An unintended outcome has arisen as a result of plating Pizza Sophia and Raquel for a true pro. He wants to open a high end pizzeria with my exact recipes and concepts. While I will take a pass on the new business venture, it is comforting to know that my humble efforts to produce the best pies I'm capable of are appreciated by others. It's one thing for one's neighbors to beg for a pizza night every now and then. Its an entirely different ballgame when a guy opens his wallet wide and says "let do this." 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 24, 2007, 04:21:32 PM
Here is my plan for tomorrow night. I feel like flexing my pizza muscles a little bit and will go bold by plating the following pies:
- A clam pie in honor of Pepe's (with freshly shucked cherrystones)
- A Rossa and Biancoverde in honor of Chris Bianco (the Rossa will have pistachio kernals just like the original)
- A Pizza Raquel in honor of my all-time favorite actress (with Alleva NYC Fresh Mutz)
- A Pizza Sophia in honor of my second all-time favorite actress (Caputo based...)
- Maybe a Calzone in honor of Dom DeMarco (as my grill is cooling down so as to not burn any more fuel than is necessary)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Green Hornet on February 25, 2007, 05:30:10 AM
Bravo!
Take lots of pictures! 8)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 26, 2007, 07:44:33 AM
Here you go Green Hornet. My camera is taking blurry photographs for some reason but these photos will give you a sense of what fun we had. Below are my general comments.

A couple of my pizza inhaling neighbors came over for the festivities. What a great way to say goodbye to the weekend. Pizza is the consumate communal food and lends itself well to gatherings with friends and family.

We managed to take photos of all the pies but the Rosa and everyone agreed that it was the most flavorful of the bunch. I don't know how Chris Bianco ever figured out that putting red onions, pistachios, Reggie Parm, Rosemary, and EVOO would work but I'm thankful for his imagination.

The digestibility of the pies were mentioned by the crew as well. These were very light and no one left feeling bloated - even though we all overate like ravenous dogs. Speaking of dogs, mine were especially grateful for the crust I shared with them.

Another interesting point which should make scott r and pizzanapoletana happy is that everyone agreed that the Caputo based pies had a more flavorful crust. I made two different types of crusts - one with high gluten flour (KASL) and the other with Caputo Pizzeria flour. Both doughs were naturally leavened with the Camaldoli starter however, the Caputo based dough enjoyed a 24 hour room temperature double rise (20 hr bulk rise then cut and balled) at a controlled temperature of between 64 - 68 degrees. The KASL based dough was subjected to a 3 day cold rise in my fridge. 

The take home message is that a properly controlled room temperature rise significantly enhances the crust flavor. I'm not sure my dough whether it be Raquel or Sophia will ever see the inside of a refrigerator again.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: chrisgraff on March 02, 2007, 09:21:18 PM
I've been making the Raquel dough with kosher salt.  Anybody else tried that?  I'm having a bit of a debate over whether grinding the salt makes a difference.  I think it does.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4779.new.html#new
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 18, 2007, 08:52:56 AM
One of the ongoing challenges facing those who choose to grill their pizza is how to bake the top and bottom evenly. In my case, I had reached a suitable trade-off point with a two minute overall bake time. A two minute bake produced slightly more bottom heat than what would be considered ideal but overall it was acceptable. Until I decided to tinker with it.

The change I employed yesterday was designed to achieve a more uniform bake. It occurred to me that putting a barrier of sorts between the pizza skin and the tiles would be beneficial. The barrier I chose was a 15" pizza screen which fit my grill hood perfectly. An unintended benefit of using the screen was that it made peeling the pizza into the grill easier. Much easier.

But did it work for its main objective? Well, not quite. The first Raquel stuck to the screen and had to be forceably removed with a knife. I trust the membership can offer tips on how to season the screen so that sticking is not a problem. Also, the bottom was undercooked after two minutes.

So much more experimentation needs to be occur in order to achieve the best bake possible for my particular situation.

The photographs below show the results of my efforts. I made six pies using the Camaldoli starter as the yeast source. The first three pies were cold fermented since last Tuesday night. The remaining three employed a 24 hour temperature controlled rise. I could denote a slight flavor edge to the room temperature rise but no one else did. The crumb structure of the last three pies was more puffy and blonde.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on March 18, 2007, 09:40:55 AM
pft,

For typical instructions on how to season your screen, see this Lehmann PMQ Think Tank post: http://www.pmq.com/cgi-bin/tt/index.cgi?noframes;read=14935.

One thing you might consider to get better bottom crust browning than you got with your screen is to use a dark, anodized perforated disk in lieu of the pizza screen. Examples are shown at http://www.pizzatools.com/productdisplay.aspx?catid=56&c=Quik-Disks. American Metalcraft also sells its versions at http://www.amnow.com/pizzaTrays/perforatedDisks.html.

My principal concern in using a perforated disk is that it might buckle or warp from the high heat you use with your grill. Perforated disks are intended to be used in ovens—mainly conveyor ovens—that operate at much lower temperatures, say, around 450-475 degrees F, although they can be used in the same manner as you used your screen on a deck surface to reduce bottom browning or burning. Most commercial deck ovens operate between about 450-550 degrees F. I mention my concern because perforated disks, especially the high-quality ones, cost multiples of what screens cost, and I'd hate to see you waste money on an experiment that doesn't work even though the disks are of high quality and perform well for other applications.

A possible alternative may be to use a perforated cutter pan, such as shown at
http://www.pizzatools.com/productdisplay.aspx?catid=51&c=Cutter_Pans_Perforated. Because the cutter pan has a rim around the edge, it may resist buckling and warping forces better than a flat perforated disk. Like an anodized perforated disk, it has better heat transfer characteristics than a pizza screen. Since my oven operates at much lower temperatures than your grill, I don’t have any idea as to how the bake time would be altered with your grill. A perforated disk can typically weight about 1 ½ times what a comparbably sized pizza screen weighs, which might impact bake times.

BTW, the pies look beautiful.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on March 18, 2007, 02:19:53 PM
Those pies look amazing Pete.  To me they look perfect.

I don't know if you have ever tried this, but the trick in my oven for an even top to bottom bake is to slide the pizza stone in just a few minutes before the pie goes on top of it.  I use a thin stone, so I don't know how this would work with a thicker one like yours, but it definitely does the trick for me.  If my oven is really cranked I just slide the stone in there a little later.   The bottom of the pies always bake evenly, no hot spots.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 20, 2007, 12:21:19 PM
Pete-zza,
Thanks for the knowledge. I wonder if there are any other members out there who are using screens in an ultra-high heat environment? I would be interested in their experience.

scott r,
You have described an interesting alternative and one which just might work. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 10, 2007, 11:37:33 AM
I have constructed over the past several years my definition or interpretation of what artisan pizza is and isn’t. Simply put, artisan pizza for me is embodied by Pizza Raquel and has been expressed through exhaustive effort in three primary areas:

1) Knowledge and technique around dough formulation and management
2) Utilization of the highest quality ingredients available and,
3) Use of appropriate tools like scales, mixers, and high heat sources

The extent to which I have executed and enjoyed success against the big three above has been uneven. The journey has been grueling at worst and stupendous at best. Most of which I have attempted to document here in this wonderful forum. Recently, I lost my passion for trying to improve Pizza Raquel because I had hit a plateau of sorts. Objectively reviewing my efforts identified one overarching constraint which has thwarted my every effort to dramatically improve. It was not related to bullet point one or two above. I am blessed to have wandered in the pizza wilderness and come back with a robust dough formulation and management process which produces exquisite crust. I have also been fortunate to have access to the highest quality ingredients. Frankly, I could not have developed the Pizza Raquel formulary without the helpful membership here. Admittedly though, I had reached the point of diminishing returns. I needed better tools to work with. I narrowed the more blatant culprits down to mixers and heat. I have decided to tackle heat first since I feel it will have a greater overall impact on Pizza Raquel than say a fork mixer.

While it is true the TEC grill is capable of a two minute bake by producing prodigious amounts of heat, it is not balanced. It is also a pain in the you-know-what to bake a pie due to a complete lack of visual feedback. It is also not the right kind of heat for pizza. This leads me to the next logical step in the seemingly never-ending journey I am on. I want, no I have to have a sub-one minute baked Pizza Raquel. There are perhaps dozens of methods to get there but I have my eyes fixated on just one.

I have decided to embark upon building a dedicated wood-fired residential oven to produce Pizza Raquel under the guidance of a master oven builder. Why not just buy one and be done with it you ask? I wouldn’t even consider trying to build an oven on my own. I do not possess the skill necessary to produce a residential oven equal to, let alone demonstrably superior to, what is currently available on the market today. I know it sounds crazy but if you’ve invested your valuable time to read this far, please bear with me.

A little background is in order to put things in proper context. You might remember reading in this thread last year about a golfing buddy of mine whose neighbor builds and repairs wood and coal burning ovens for a living. Turns out he is a mechanical engineer for a refractory company and has been hand building pizza ovens for the past twenty years or so. He has a very recognizable brick oven ristorante client. As a result, he has specialized his field of study in hand-crafted pizza ovens. He also has never forgotten the one time he ate Pizza Raquel. Well last month he decided to make an offer I simply couldn’t refuse (The Godfather reference seemed appropriate at a time like this). He suggested he was exploring the construction of an ultimate residential pizza oven and wanted me to wade into the deep end of the pool with him. As he put it; the ultimate oven meets the ultimate pizza.

Yes he did a fine job of sucking up but the real answer as to why I would venture down this path is multi-faceted and centers around two key fundamentals. First, I stand a 50/50 chance of having to move in the next year or two for professional reasons. If I were to spend the better part of fifteen thousand dollars for a commercial unit (my all-in estimate of what it would truly cost) and end up moving, the cost for a wood-fired pie would be astronomical. Even if I didn’t have to move or I could bring it with me, the math just doesn’t make sense. At my current rate of pizza consumption I calculate that there would be a surcharge of $12.50 per pie over a ten year period. Artisan or not, that is crazy and simply unjustifiable. I need a solution which mitigates my fear of loss.

The second reason is even more troubling. Even though I might be fortunate enough financially to afford a fifteen thousand dollar oven, I submit none of the commercially available ovens on the market today fully meet my requirements. They all have at least one fatal flaw as far as I can tell. Some have several. Again, taking cost out of the equation, there are flaws which no one oven has been able to completely eliminate for a residential user baking only once or twice a month. Things like elongated warm-up times lasting three to five hours strike me as bothersome. Who has an entire day to devote to stoking an oven that long? I need an oven which can get there in a couple of hours max. Less is better. In order to achieve that, I need an oven which incorporates the latest technology and the latest refractory and insulation materials. How about efficiently handling the intense Florida humidity? I understand that if one fires an oven too quickly humidity can crack the dome. Unacceptable to say the least. Then there is the elusive sub-one minute perfectly uniform bake. I don’t care to raise the pie to the dome to achieve balance.

So my high-level requirements are simple. I just want a reasonably priced oven which can achieve a perfectly uniform sub-one minute bake. I want it to be ultra efficient and able to get to 900 or so degrees quickly - in a couple of hours not three to five. I also need it to be designed to handle high humidity (which ravages the Tampa area most of the year) without cracking. In short, I want a state-of-the-art residential pizza oven. I could care less about baking anything other than pizza. Bread? Forget it. Roasts? Not for me. Anything else can go on the TEC.

The master oven builder indicated he has access to the latest refractory technologies and materials to produce an oven which has the optimal thermal characteristics I am interested in. We are nearly ready to test several dome designs with a specialty CAD CAM program designed for ovens. Since he is also able to source nearly all the specialty materials at wholesale cost, I figure our mutual goals are in alignment.

By the way, I’m not interested in a reverse engineering effort of an existing oven design. It does mean however, that I get to participate with a project to see what is possible in the world of residential pizza oven building. How many of you can honestly say that you wouldn’t dive in the deep end of the pool if you had the same opportunity?

I mentioned earlier the ultimate residential pizza oven doesn’t exist yet in my mind. Quite a statement and one which will no doubt be challenged and scrutinized. But I’m not here for a fight. I am simply sharing the utterly intriguing opportunity I have to build an oven dedicated for residential pizza. An oven which will take me closer to my life-long goal of producing the best pizza I am capable of. The master oven builder claims NASA has led the way in the area of insulation. When combined recent improvements in the world of refractory materials, it has led to an opportunity to build a higher performing oven than what is available on the market.

Humbly, I am told we can break new ground and produce the ultimate residential pizza oven. Over the coming months I’m going to find out if that is true and I plan on sharing with this community.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: DWChun on June 10, 2007, 05:25:20 PM
Now that is quite an opportunity, pft! I eagerly await the unfolding of this next chapter in your journey.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on June 10, 2007, 11:31:53 PM
pftaylor,

Sounds like a fascinating and ground-breaking trip. Really looking forward to hearing about the process and the results.
 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on June 12, 2007, 08:52:18 AM
pftaylor,  I cant wait to watch your project unfold.  I just finished my 1/3 brick 42"X16" brick oven and have had a few pizza parties so far.  I used the forno bravo list and lots of research.  heat up times are around 2 hours (with a raging fire) with nothing but 6" of loose vermiculite as insulation.  My oven after a full fire is about 450 degrees the day after a pizza fire, and stays above room temp for nearly a week!  Heat up time seems to be very affected by how much heat is in the oven to start with.  I know you say nothing but pizza,  but i have not turned on my gas grill in over a month, and have not turned on my oven in the house but once.  Grilling over wood,  in an oven that already has heat left in it is unbelievable!  Thanks to bill SFMN and his well documented lightest yet thread,  I am already making great progress in the pizza dept.  Carls sourdough starter/caputo are treating me well.  here is what I pulled from the oven sunday night.  It baked in about 80 seconds and was possibly a little over done.  when I saw it I said to my friends, that is the best pizza Ive ever made and years of experimentation, research , and effort finally resulted in the most amazing pizza Ive ever eaten.  Of course there is room for improvement from here,  which is exactly why you are going to the next level.  it is a great trip.  enjoy it.  -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on June 12, 2007, 05:59:54 PM
How many of you can honestly say that you wouldn’t dive in the deep end of the pool if you had the same opportunity?

What?...........I wouldn't even check the water was in it!
Great stuff,

David

ps.looks good widespread ;)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 02, 2007, 06:35:43 PM
Hey guys, thanks for the kind words of encouragement. Progress is deliberately slow at this juncture. Sourcing of the specialty materials and the computer aided design are nearly completed. We are still in the planning stage. The project will heat up at the end of July and transition into the construction phase.

I wanted to share a photograph of the deck in the meantime.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on July 24, 2007, 02:37:07 AM
Hey guys, thanks for the kind words of encouragement. Progress is deliberately slow at this juncture. Sourcing of the specialty materials and the computer aided design are nearly completed. We are still in the planning stage. The project will heat up at the end of July and transition into the construction phase.

I wanted to share a photograph of the deck in the meantime.

pf, Are you going to create a new thread for this or keep a website/blog going on the progress?  Very interested in this oven..  Any info on the deck tiles?

- Aaron
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on July 24, 2007, 07:01:33 AM
Quote from pftaylor on 2 July ..
Quote
I wanted to share a photograph of the deck in the meantime.

Hi pftaylor,

I am also very interested in your oven building project. If you approach this project the same way you approach your pizza making, it should be amazing, and very well researched,  and right on the button !

I am fascinated with your oven floor. Are those tiles cast from a refractory material ? I recently built an oven, and opted for using thin (38 mm) refractory bricks laid on a bed of refractory insulating material about 50 mm thick. This seems to work very well, and, once the floor bricks are "heated through", the heat is then reflected off the insulation layer, back up (into the pizza base). Because the bricks are thin, they only need about 1 - 1.5 hours to heat up sufficiently.

I now await further posting from you on this fascinating subject.

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 25, 2007, 09:45:04 PM
Barry & Aaron,
Regarding potentially moving this thread, I suppose the moderators will have the final say so. But I would greatly prefer to keep all information in this thread. My reasoning is simple. Pizza Raquel represents a cost-no-object standard of quality. The Raquel oven project is a significant part of my evolution as an artisan pizza maker. I view it as the next area of exploration in my progression of maxing out each and every aspect of home pizza making.

The floor tiles were originally sourced from Italy. I spent several weeks evaluating most, if not all, other known deck materials (bricks, pourable refractory materials, etc.) and found the refractory tiles to have the best overall performance fit for the Raquel oven project. They measure approximately 43" in diameter.

Deck insulation material obviously plays a crucial role in building a high performance pizza specific oven like the Raquel. The latest array of high tech insulating materials is quite broad and immensely effective. My refractory guy is still in the process of evaluating the latest alternatives available. Frankly, I'm not sure one can go wrong with the latest deck insulation materials. They all excel at keeping the heat where it should be. In my case, it comes down to the best fit for my overall design goals.   

A minor update to report on the dome which I consider to be the single most challenging aspect to the project. My Cad guy is nearly finished with the isometric views of the dome. The birth of his first child has slowed his progress somewhat. Since I'm traveling on business five days a week right now, I'm not losing much ground due to his new addition. Once I receive the drawings, we will be able to design the forms to cast the various dome pieces. With the level of design quality I'm shooting for, I would rather take more time to get as close to perfection as is humanly possible.

I wouldn't have it any other way.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Vince in Jax on July 26, 2007, 06:12:38 PM
Hi pftaylor,

I am very interested in what you are doing with your oven.  I will be following intently as I may learn something and incorporate it into my plans.  Since I am working on my 42" oven design right now I can easily wait to see your finished oven and how it bakes.  The paramaters I am using are height = width/3, opening height o= 63% of dome height.

I live in Jacksonville, FL so I understand the issues with humidity and it has been a concern for me as well.  I am currently looking for sources for materials.  Atlantic firebrick in Jacksonville may have everything I need but they seem a bit pricey.  I'm not even sure at this point if the materials they have are the correct ones.  In their list they show high duty firebribricks and a fireplace brick (2000 degrees).  I will be calling them next week to discuss my plans and find out their recomendations. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: KAMarks on August 18, 2007, 09:12:21 PM
My attempt at Pizza Raquel, also first use of a preferment. Never going back. Thanks for the research and recipe.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: KAMarks on August 18, 2007, 09:13:58 PM
Top view
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 06, 2007, 10:19:35 AM
Here is an update:
A couple of weeks ago I managed to begin construction of the legs for the hearth. Fully cured, this weekend I should be able to lay the hearth with concrete lintels. The legs will be finished consistent with the existing architecture in the pool area.

The design of the dome is finally completed, forms are finished, all refractory materials are present and accounted for. The major sequence of events and timing from here appear to be:

- Lay lintels (this weekend)
- Lay insulating layer on hearth (next weekend)
- Lay deck tiles (next weekend)
- Construct dome and chimney (week of Oct 29th)
- Test fire to determine go/no go. If a go, (week of Nov 12th)
- Insulate dome & complete finish (week of Nov 19th)
- Pizza Raquel kickoff celebration (Thanksgiving holiday)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on October 06, 2007, 12:17:05 PM
- Pizza Raquel kickoff celebration (Thanksgiving holiday)

pftaylor,

Have you booked a block of rooms at the nearest hotel for those of us flying in for the celebration. What time will the limo be picking us up? Can't wait!!! Who needs turkey when there is Pizza Raquel?

Please continue posting photos of the progress. Very interesting. BTW, that is some swimming pool in the background! ;D

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 07, 2007, 02:37:47 PM
Bill/SFNM,
You sir, have a standing invitation at Chez Taylor. I would be honored to make pie with you.

Updated photographs documenting the weekend's effort are below. Next weekend can't get here soon enough.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on October 07, 2007, 03:14:08 PM
Looking good man
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 13, 2007, 05:20:39 PM
Here is today's visual update.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 13, 2007, 05:22:13 PM
More
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 14, 2007, 02:30:05 PM
The Raquel Oven project is still on track for completion by Thanksgiving. It will be shrink wrapped for the coming week to keep any moisture out.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Boy Hits Car on October 14, 2007, 03:40:47 PM
Immensely jealous.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 14, 2007, 04:38:48 PM
Boy Hits Car,
I haven't had this much fun in years.
I forgot to post a photograph of the shrink wrapping.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on October 14, 2007, 06:42:08 PM
Pft,
      That looks awesome.  I'm looking on with great anticipation.  Have you and the mason been splitting up a lot of the work?  It looks top notch!  Pete G
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 15, 2007, 05:53:30 AM
Hi Peteg,
I'm enjoying the division of labor quite a bit actually. We share what one could call an "equivalence of actions." No one is doing more than the other. We are truly doing this together.

I built the entire stand, hearth, placed the insulation and cooking deck. He leveled the cooking deck and slapped mud on the bricks and expertly placed them around the deck. I sponged them clean. We both lugged the bricks, he ran the saw (3 bricks required cutting plus the entry way). He mixed the refractory cement with a mean looking mixer (photograph attached). Finally, I wrapped the Raquel Oven for safe keeping.

We both drank our fair share of summer refresher along the way.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on October 16, 2007, 11:02:34 AM
Hi Pft,

I can't wait for the pics .....

How high is your dome going to be above the oven floor, and what is the internal diameter ?

Kind regards.

Barry in Cape Town, South Africa
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 17, 2007, 06:13:13 AM
Hi Barry,
Glad to hear you are following the development of the Raquel Oven. Since the Raquel is a pizza specific oven, it naturally has a low dome. The plans call for sub 13 inches. I won't know the exact height until it is actually in place.

The diameter of the deck is a little over 43 inches.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 21, 2007, 01:46:48 PM
Here is this weekend's update. Most of the photographs are self explanatory. A few require additional detail.

Like the ones where I got to use the industrial vibrator. Hilarious. It kind of made me feel like a pizza proctologist of sorts. One of those necessary evils pizza guys have to endure at some point in our lives.

In another we found our mixer was wired to run in reverse so we had to rewire it on the spot. In yet another I misread the scale and added in 7 pounds of water instead of 3.5 and we had to double our use of material. What a waste...

The ambitious undertaking of building a castable dome requires the use of really big equipment. Cleanup is not simple.

I trust the membership enjoys the process.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 21, 2007, 01:48:44 PM
More
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: csacks on October 21, 2007, 06:12:35 PM
That must be a cast section for the dome.  The base must be the same size as a brick.  I indeed have enjoyed this storyline.  Thanks!  CraiG
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 24, 2007, 08:34:12 AM
Hi csacks,
You are correct, it is a cast section of the dome.

Here are a few interesting tidbits about the latest photographs:
- The thickness is the same as the arch brick.
- The form's custom nature took over 43 hours of professional design effort. Not counting the manufacturing time.
- Each section takes a day or more to set up properly.
- There is only one form in the world so we are only able to pour one section at a time.
- The dome has eleven total pieces so the process will take nearly two weeks, at a minimum.
- The entire process has to be repeated exactly the same for all sections; disassembly of the form, removal of the dome section, re-assembly of the form, gathering of the right stuff (forklift, mixer, air-compressor, vibrator, scale, materials, etc), mixing, pouring, vibrating, then general cleanup.

Painstakingly complex and slow but worth it to get exactly what I want.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 28, 2007, 08:10:17 PM
Another weekend brings slightly more progress. The header blocks will serve as support for an oversized landing.

Rain permitting, the dome construction will begin next weekend.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on October 28, 2007, 09:10:21 PM
pftaylor,

Looking good!

What are you using to cover the landing? I made the mistake of using the same bricks as the floor of the oven. The landing became a total stain magnet, not so much from baking pizzas, but from roasting meats. I ended up removing replacing those bricks with glazed ceramic tile. Much better. FWIW.

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: 2stone on October 28, 2007, 10:19:15 PM
PFTaylor,

Your oven looks great. Just out of curiosity...how high is it to the deck
or floor of the oven? and what brand of refractory cement are you using?
I really like the clean looking design. Did you make the floor out of the same
refractory material as the dome is made of?

keep up the
good work,

willard
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ratana on October 29, 2007, 11:09:55 AM
Nevermind the oven, look at that backyard view with the lake!

To be eating some homemade pizzas back there in the summer, life is good..... :)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 29, 2007, 12:24:09 PM
ratana,
You are quite correct. Gazing out at over five thousand acres of untouched conservation water and land is a special treat. Being able to eat Pizza Raquel produced from a one-of-a-kind high performance pizza specific oven with friends and family will bring it to a whole other level. Truth be told, I prefer winters to summers though.

2stone,
Thanks for your questions. I'm glad to answer them.

The height from the pool deck to the cooking deck is exactly at the height I won't have to bend over to peel a pie in or out; 43.5 inches. One of the benefits of building a customized oven is that it affords one the opportunity to build it to exacting specifications. Being six feet four inches tall, my back appreciates every little nuance.

The brand of refractory cement utilized for the arch bricks is shown in the attached photograph.

The refractory cooking deck came from a prestigious manufacturer in Italy known to produce some of the best decks in the world. The dome is hand crafted to my specifications from a custom blend of refractory materials.

Bill/SFNM,
Thanks for the heads up. The landing will likely be some sort of marble or granite. My wife is in the process of mixing and matching colors. She has a real eye for that sort of thing.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 04, 2007, 03:07:45 PM
Progress to report. The dome is targeted for completion next Thursday evening. We placed all but one piece.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 04, 2007, 03:10:08 PM
More
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on November 04, 2007, 05:40:59 PM
Looking good.  Almost there....  ;D

- aba
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on November 04, 2007, 06:07:13 PM
It has been fascinating watching all the steps with this project!
I notice that the oven seems to be in an enclosure, looks to be glassed in, but I guess it could be fine screen... I was wondering about ventilation?  Is there a roof of some sort on this enclosure or is it just a windbreaker?

Sure looks like an idyllic spot to cook pizza!!

~sd
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: 2stone on November 04, 2007, 06:44:29 PM
pftaylor,

do you have to wait for the standard
21 day concrete curing cycle, or can
you fire up the oven before that?

willard
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 05, 2007, 10:07:54 AM
Hi sourdough girl,
The Raquel Oven is located on our pool deck which is enclosed with what Floridians call a "bird cage." A bird cage is a screened enclosure which promotes the year-round Florida outdoor lifestyle.

You bring up a good point about ventilation. The top of the bird cage is some twelve feet above the pool deck. The chimney should have plenty of space to dissipate heat.

2stone,
Not sure where the 21 day cure cycle came from but refractory materials generally require both heat and time to fully cure. Moisture needs to be slowly baked out of the oven. Chemical bonds require the presence of heat to properly develop.

We plan on doing this over a seven day period where the oven temperatures will be increased a little more each day. We have been casting the dome sections for the past two weeks so once the chimney is placed this weekend, we will fire Raquel up the following weekend.

BTW, I have read about your oven design will great interest. A couple of years ago, I commissioned an engineer to develop a similar enclosure for my infra-red TEC grill. We developed a few prototypes but never advanced the project due to my yearning for an authentic wood-burning oven. You are a true innovator and I wish you success.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 07, 2007, 06:35:07 PM
Today's update is quite minor in nature. I thought the community would enjoy seeing the load of oak which was delivered today. Cost for the "face cord" was $180 delivered and stacked. Cash only. Also included was a giant trash bag full of wood chips (perfect for flash blazing a pie without jacking up the heat too much).

How does that stack up with wood prices elsewhere? The wood was cut in 16" lengths and feels pretty light. According to the delivery driver, he estimated the wood has been seasoned for a minimum of 8 months and more likely 12 - 15.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on November 07, 2007, 09:11:34 PM
My mom was paying $180/cord up in maine for seasoned hardwood for her wood stove, but that's not all oak... stove length and split but not stacked, just dumped in the yard. 

- aba
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 17, 2007, 11:53:15 AM
abatardi,
$180 for a full cord is a killer price. I paid $150 for a third of that and another $30 for delivery and stacking.

I have another update to report. The dome is finally finished. The vent and chimney are revised for initial placement this upcoming Wednesday. I know, I know, I fell victim to a two week "uncontrollable" delay. I wish it weren't the case.

We opted to go with an insulated double walled 10" chimney. Costs more, in fact a lot more, but it really is the optimum system available. The cap is significantly larger than what I imagined...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on November 17, 2007, 01:03:52 PM
cool.  so where is that pipe going to fit in?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 19, 2007, 03:01:31 PM
abatardi,
The chimney pipe will fit into the cast vent which was poured yesterday.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 24, 2007, 06:01:24 AM
Some progress to report from yesterday's activities and an update.

We should be able to test fire the Raquel Oven today after wrapping her in a ceramic blanket. The specific purpose will be to determine what oven builders call the "draw." Ultimately, the curing procedure we will follow will be to bring the temperature up to 250 degrees F for 5 hours, then raise the temperature by no more than 50 degrees an hour. Unfortunately, the curing fire may have to wait. A lot.

My travel schedule has finally caught up with me. As fate would have it, I now find myself on the brink of finally being on the verge to properly bake pizza only to have to be in travel status through mid-December. The pizza gods are really testing my resolve...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: csacks on November 24, 2007, 10:55:06 AM
I can't tell where the vent is.  Please show some more pictures when you get the chance.  Craig
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 25, 2007, 08:33:49 AM
After wrapping the Raquel Oven in a ceramic blanket, the first firing went off without a hitch. The draw was impressive. It was tempting to fire her all the way up but we went the conservative route and stayed with the program. 

My son said, upon seeing the white smoke billowing out of the chimney "it looks like a new Pope was elected." Funny how a younger generation sees things...

csacks,
Sorry for not posting better photographs of the vent but it was intentional on my part to not show it. Why? Well, we constructed a temporary section on the front to test the draw. The final section will be finished upon my return from Europe. 

The ceramic blanket insulating the dome will ultimately be four inches thick. Four inches of 2,300 degree rated ceramic blanket may be a bit of overkill for a residential oven but I'm convinced more insulation is better than less. While two inches could probably do the job, four inches removes all doubt.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on November 25, 2007, 01:19:39 PM
In upstate NY full cords of mixed hardwood run around $200 wet-$240 dry. Unstacked!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Amir on December 01, 2007, 04:14:10 PM
pftaylor, great thread and great project!  I am in the same boat, researching the best oven I can get for our kitchen remodel.  In the process, I have learned a few things which you seem to be incorporating in your design.  Was curious whether they were intentional or not :) :

1.   You are putting the floor inside of the dome.  I assume this lets it maintain its heat better as opposed to having the dome sit on it.

2.   You are using wedges instead of larger casting.  I assume you are doing so to avoid cracks from expansion of much larger castings.

3.   You have a low dome as to get more heat to the top of the pizza and also to reflect more of it to warm the floor.

4.   You are using ceramic blankets which achieve better insulation factor as opposed to insulating refractory material.  You get to have more insulation for less space.  I assume commercial companies don’t like to go this route due to higher cost.  For me though, given the indoor situation, lower weight is important.

Now the part that I don’t quite understand is the poured refractory for the center piece.  Other designs have that be a separate casting.  By pouring it, aren’t mechanically bonding the pieces together and hence, increase the chance that there will be cracks?  I assume this is helpful in one dimension as it reduces the thermal impedance of the pieces due to lack of seams there, where most of the heat is concentrated.  But still, if you have a crack in the dome in the center, that would be an awfully bad place to have it I would imagine!

Did you make the above decision because it would have been too expensive to make the cast for the top piece separate from the others?

One other point Marco has made which kind of made sense to me was to curve the flu as to hug the dome.  This is said to warm it faster and/or to higher temp, aiding in combustion of the wood.  I notice that a number of Italian designs use metal flu formed this way.  Of course, others argue that a cast flu section has more thermal mass but I have seen no explanation as to why I would need to have thermal mass in the flu compartment.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on December 11, 2007, 10:54:03 PM
Hey pftaylor any updates?  just waiting to see how its working........ -marc
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 18, 2007, 09:49:32 AM
widespreadpizza ,
I have just returned from traveling abroad and intend on reigniting the Raquel Oven Project as soon as my sleep patterns return to normal. I haven't been home a single day since Thanksgiving weekend so needless to say, I'm behind.

The oven will be fully functional (though not cosmetically finished) around New Year's day. I expect to serve Pizza Raquel then as I have no more travel planned for this year. The curing process has to be restarted and we may place the vent this weekend. There are no other obstacles to overcome.

Amir,
I look forward to your results as well. An overarching statement about the Raquel Oven Project is that every single aspect of the design has been painstakingly researched and implemented without regard for cost. The design goal was and is the ultimate oven for wood-fired pizza at home. Not in a commerical setting but in a residential setting. More to the point, in my specific setting. 

The Raquel Oven is primarily based upon my personal field research and incorporates the best design features of what has been accomplished till now by others and some new original ones as well. Frankly I owe a great deal to pizzanapoletana, Jonathan Goldsmith of Spacca Napoli, Bill/SFNM, and the community here in general. Without their guidance I would be eating potentially unhealthy coal-fired pizzas right now instead of being on the verge of wood-fired heaven.

Perhaps my largest influence came from pizzanapoletana with his precious posts and advocacy for all things Neapolitan. If I owned a pizza shop, and wanted to serve the best Neapolitan pizza in the US, I wouldn't hesitate to buy all his wares, including his Forno Napolitano oven and hire him as a consultant to boot.

Spending time with the exquisite oven at Spacca Napoli also greatly influenced my design choices. It was there that I saw first-hand a perfectly uniform 40 second or so bake. Spacca's oven was hand built by one of the premier families of oven building in Italy. In fact, it is the only true low dome oven I have personally encountered.

My affiliation with a professional oven builder of twenty-six pizza ovens gave me the courage to embark on this journey even though I'm likely to relocate in the next year or so. And that very reason is why we cast the dome. If I'm forced to move, I will build another.

Your question about why we didn't cast the center piece is a good one. The Raquel dome is 4.5" thick and very well may crack over time. Though with our time-proven curing process, and the very nature of our material composition, the likelyhood is lessened greatly. No one however can flatly state cracks won't occur in the future with complete certainty. That said, any cracks likely to appear can easily be filled.

If my design goal was to make a commercial offering I would certainly make the center piece out of cast. But that is not my goal. I also would not of incorporated the use of bricks lining the deck.

Keep the questions coming. That's how we all learn.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on December 18, 2007, 12:20:09 PM
Peter,

Thanks for the aknowledgment.

I understand your goal and the reason for the project but I am worry you have made few design and material choice mistakes that even in a home setting will potentially result in quite few problems.

About Spaccanapoli, as far as I know together with Il Pizzaiolo are the only true Neapolitan ovens built on site in America by the ONLY two rival families that have common design origin and teacher. Other then that there are only few (but increasing) number of pizzeria in US using mobile ovens built by the same criteria).

Anyway, I also did not understand the choice of the two sharp angles in the dome casts???

Anyway good luck for completing your project and I have no dubt of the step up you will achieve compared to your grill or any modified home electric oven.

Regards

Marco

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 20, 2007, 10:26:45 PM
Tonight I had the pleasure of baking the first "test" pies in the Raquel Oven. The focus was not on the pizza just the oven. I needed to determine the answer to the big question - does the Raquel Oven work? The final vent is still not completed and now likely won't be for a few more weeks (due to my engineer being in Boston for the remainder of the year) so I decided to give it a go rather than wait. As such I put together a quick dough and hoped for the best. Temperatures were not quite at maximum as I am still being cautious and conservative but none the less we recorded a consistent bake range of 80 – 87 seconds for all of the 12 inch pies.

Temperatures recorded just before the first pie was baked were as follows:
Dome temperature directly above wood: Maxed out the Raytek MT6 laser gun (932+ degrees)
Dome temperature at center: 887 degrees
Dome temperature at far end: 781 degrees
Side wall temperature nearest fire: Maxed out laser gun
Side wall at center rear: 833 degrees
Side wall temperature at far side: 717 degrees
Deck section temperature left front (partially supporting fire): 751 degrees
Deck section temperature left rear (partially supporting fire): 768 degrees
Deck section temperature right rear: 723 degrees
Deck section temperature right front: 719 degrees

The Raquel oven only took six small logs (triangle cut 16” long) and slightly less than two hours to get up to the above temperatures. I must admit, I was very tempted to jack the temperature sky high but I remained disciplined. The Raquel Oven felt responsive and was itching for more. A lot more.

The dough was a hybrid Raquel formulation utilizing San Felice flour with a short 24 hour cold rise and the famed Varasano preferment. As fate would have it, my wife had my camera this evening at a school event and I ended up using my Son's camera which had no flash. Sorry for the yellow hue.

A few new oven toys showed up today which are also shown with the pizza photographs. Special thanks go out to Bill/SFNM for his expert recommendation on oven tools. I still have an 8” peel coming which I could have used to spin the pies easier. One important note was that the pies seemed to bake uniformly. In fact, there was no need to hoist the pies to the ceiling for a uniform bake. While there is no law against hoisting, the Raquel Oven didn't need it - at least for tonight's experiment.

All in all, the Raquel Oven surpassed my humble expectations. Frankly, I had set a rather low bar since this was my first time operating a wood burning oven, the curing cycle wasn't fully completed, the vent wasn't completed, and my dough formulation had never been tested in a wood burning oven before.

This weekend I plan on achieving a sub 60 second bake. I trust the membership will enjoy the attached photographs of tonight's affair.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 20, 2007, 10:28:01 PM
More
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on December 20, 2007, 10:40:11 PM
Peter, congratulations!  Who likes wood?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: 2stone on December 20, 2007, 11:04:18 PM
Congratulations
from me too!!

By the way what is the little gizmo
on the floor with your tools used for.

willard
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: snowdy on December 21, 2007, 12:07:04 AM
holy crap!!!!! awesome  :o
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on December 21, 2007, 07:26:19 AM
Bravissimo!!

No can make an a priori statement that computer-aided design and high tech materials aren't as good or even better than traditional construction. The proof is in the pies and the photos of your first pies indicate great success, I know how long and hard you have worked on this.

You don't mention anything about how the pies tasted? Do tell. Although I have often insisted that visual cues are not a reliable indicator of doneness, I would guess you could have pulled them out a little sooner. As you get higher oven temps, that window gets very small. In my experience, by the time pies look like that they have been overcooked. 

Can't wait to see more. I'd like to learn more about how long it retains heat. Looks like you have a major breakthrough. Congratulations!

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on December 21, 2007, 11:19:02 AM
Hi PFT,
Seasons Greetings and congrats on your project.I'm guessing there will be one family in Fla. who aren't going to be tired of turkey this Xmas !
Now pizza.....that's another story ;)
David
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 21, 2007, 12:47:09 PM
November,
Thanks for the compliment. Coming from you it is especially meaningful. When designing the Raquel Oven, I kept on asking myself what would November do if he were building a wood burning oven? Of course I knew the true answer which was November would likely never build a wood buring oven because it is too inefficient. Nonetheless, your scientific approach to projects was never lost on me for a moment.

2stone,
The little gizmo is nothing more than a log holder. It helps circulate air underneath the fire promoting a hotter burn. Turns out it was especially useful since the Raquel Oven has such a low dome I'm sure it helped keep logs out of the ash.

snowdy,
I love your unbridled enthusiam. You have passion for pizza.

Bill/SFNM,
With enough practice I hope to achieve "Lolita" levels of quality. In answer to your question about how did the pies taste, I would say okay. They were really a rush job of sorts without my normal quality of toppings - dry basil & oregano, BJ's Mozzarella Fresca, a one day cold rise, etc all added up to okay pies. Fact is I thought the initial bake would be Saturday or Sunday but after the tools arrived I decided to give it a go. I know it sounds like a half baked excuse but I truly wanted to focus on how the oven baked and develop a feel for the new process more than anything else. Sunday's pies will be a better gauge and I should have my camera back to take better photographs of the proceedings.

The last log was placed in the Raquel Oven at 5:30pm last night. Today at 11:30am (some 18 hours later) the temperatures recorded were:
Dome temperature directly above wood: 457 degrees
Dome temperature at center: 386 degrees
Dome temperature at far end: 376 degrees
Side wall temperature nearest fire: 443  degrees
Side wall at center rear: 368 degrees
Side wall temperature at far side: 306 degrees
Deck section temperature left front (partially supporting fire): 324 degrees
Deck section temperature left rear (partially supporting fire): 324 degrees
Deck section temperature right rear: 332 degrees
Deck section temperature right front: 304 degrees

One final point to make about the residual temperatures. The insulation on one side was only three inches thick and the vent was not insulated. I can well imagine that when the oven is fully draped in ceramic blanket that it will retain heat much more effectively. That said, the results are the results.

pizzanapoletana,
I appreciate your concerns about the dome design and perhaps others. I had and have them too. Last night I was holding my breath in anticipation of the outcome. While it is still too early to claim total success, sometimes a new original design can really work well. In this case, I went with what the computer modeling came up as the best overall solution for my design goals. So far, the dome design seems to be working quite well. I will continue testing and will keep an eagle eye out for any deficiency in that or any other area. If you could share what you would consider key criteria for best-of-breed performance, I would be happy to provide feedback as I finish the Raquel Oven and break it in at optimum operating temperatures.

David,
How is your potential new design coming along? Are you planning on another low dome project?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on December 21, 2007, 01:10:16 PM
Of course I knew the true answer which was November would likely never build a wood buring oven because it is too inefficient.

I'm not sure where that came from.  I have wood burning cooking appliances now in addition to the (hybrid) wood burning oven design under consideration I showed you a while back.  I also have approximately 364 square feet dedicated to cooking appliance (I have no fireplace) firewood, kindling, and tinder storage.

For the uninitiated, the phrase "Who likes wood?" comes from the Dilbert comic strip.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 21, 2007, 04:05:40 PM
November,
More precisely, I meant you would not likely build a traditional style wood burning oven due to it being too inefficient. The oven we discussed recycled the exhaust heat if I remember correctly.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on December 21, 2007, 05:19:13 PM
Peter,

On that point you are absolutely right.  I would want less waste heat in an oven.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peteg on December 21, 2007, 10:20:16 PM
Congrats Peter!  Your first pizza's look great.  They remind me of the pizza's at Coal Vines in Dallas.  I recently went there on your recommendation and was very impressed.  I look forward to seeing more pictures of your progress!  Pete G.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on December 22, 2007, 02:50:07 AM
Peter, congrats on getting everything going.  Pies look great, I am anxious to see pics from your next batch!

- aba
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 23, 2007, 08:52:51 PM
Tonight's pies were baked slightly faster than the first batch. I wanted to build an even larger fire but weather was poised to potentially move in and I didn't want the oven drenched (ceramic blankets are covering the dome) so I moved the proceeding up a few hours in anticipation of storm clouds.

The bake ranged anywhere from a low of 63 seconds to a high of 70 seconds. The hardest issue for me at this point is having to spin the pies without the right tool for the job. I have an 8" round peel on its way to me and I really need it.

The pies were delicious. In fact, they were easily my best ever. And not by a small margin. I opted to blend KASL (65%) with San Felice (35%) and the resulting crusts were light, fluffy, and tasty. Next time I will make straight KASL pies and or straight Caputo or San Felice. I no longer have any fear that KASL will not be able to handle the extreme heat.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 23, 2007, 09:09:51 PM
Final
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on December 23, 2007, 09:27:14 PM
pft,

And I remember when you first came onto the forum in December of 2004 with your great grandmother's dough recipe using vanilla malt (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,690.msg6236.html#msg6236). As they say, you have come a long way, baby. Great Grandmother Quagliarello would be proud. Since she was an inspiration for your pizza making efforts, maybe you can add a little bit of Carnation's malted milk to one of your new oven creations. Congratulations.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 24, 2007, 09:47:38 AM
As I sit here this morning reading Pete-zza’s latest post it prompted me to take stock and reflect on the impact the Raquel Oven has had on my pizza making journey.

Decades of frustration with lousy commercial and mediocre home pizza led me to crudely and perhaps inadvertently conclude that perhaps the missing element to great pie was lack of high heat. It led me to buy the TEC grill for the express purposes of achieving similar heat levels as the elite coal-fired pizzerias of New York City which were my personal yardstick for great pizza. However, I didn’t enjoy all the coal-fired joints so there must have been more to the overall equation. Though I can confidently state that every coal-fired joint I have ever been to has been better than every gas or electric oven joint. One exception does exist on both sides; Lombardi’s stinks and is worse than chain pizza and Di Fara is better than most commercial joints irrespective of oven type. 

That’s what led me to pizzamaking.com. I wanted to improve and thought once the heat issue was solved I needed the right recipe. My Great Grandmother Quagliariello made some phenomenal pie in her day and I was, as Pete-zza rightly pointed out, determined to replicate her success. But the more I learned here the more frustrated I grew. I began to realize all the variables to making great pie. I knew I needed high heat and that’s where I started. My thinking was that high heat would be a great deodorant as it would somewhat cover up the other areas of my pie which needed fixing.

I spent countless hours figuring out ways to achieve balanced heat with the TEC. Something always bothered me though. Knowing in the back of my mind that no matter how successful I was with grilled pie I felt like I was missing something. I could never shake the feeling that I was asking the grill to do something it wasn’t invented for. No matter how I compensated for its shortgivings I knew the crust wasn’t as soft as I thought it could be and the bake wasn’t as short as I wanted it to be.

In sum, the experience wasn’t what I wanted it to be. It’s almost like going to your local barbershop for a haircut. Yeah it works, it looks almost as good, and the price is certainly right, but there is something different,for some, about going to a salon. In essence, there is that something special missing when you go to a barbershop.  Hard to put your finger on it but I’d bet most of you know exactly what I’m talking about. See, I’ve been to both and noticed your average barber uses different tools than your average stylist. Yet they are in the end performing the same job.

Put another way, for some, driving a Toyota is good enough. After all, they come off the same or virtually identical assembly lines as their big brother the Lexus. They use mostly the same parts. Yet why do countless people buy a Lexus when just about everything except the name badge could be had quality and reliability-wise with a Toyota? I could go on and on with this general point but the fact is I’m firmly entrenched in the Lexus camp when it comes to pizza. I have always wanted to see just how far I can go with homemade pie just as Lexus is pushing the envelope on automobiles. When I die, I will go to my grave knowing that I gave it all I had. There will be nothing left in the tank.

Achieving a wood-fired Pizza Raquel is a true accomplishment for me. A milestone of sorts. I can flatly state Raquel has never looked better and the taste is… well all I can say is “oh my.” She took my breath away it was so good.   

So as I enter this new year I finally have the high heat platform to achieve true success. I now need time to experiment and tweak to fully access how much higher I have climbed up the mythical pizza mountain. What I can tell you is that the view is much nicer now from up here. I don't want to look down any more just up.

Wait a minute. What is that? Up there. Near the top of the mountain. Through the fog I think I can barely make out the figures of pizzanapoletana and Bill/SFNM. I must be on the right path. Now if I can just figure out a way to join them.

Happy holidays,
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on December 24, 2007, 11:07:39 AM
Congratulations!!!

Your efforts are truly inspirational.

I've given some thought to the design of a combination wood burning oven and sauna. Maybe it's time to get serious about it.

I can only imagine what pizzanapoletana would think of that.

Michael
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 25, 2007, 11:43:13 AM
Look what Santa left under the tree...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on December 25, 2007, 01:01:59 PM
Nice, Merry Christmas!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on December 26, 2007, 12:10:24 AM
Firstly, happy holidays to all :-)

I think this thread needs to be re-titled PFT's Epic Journey, or perhaps The Odyssey!

I've only recently chanced upon this forum. For some reason my past searches have not unearthed this gem of a website.

My quest for what I consider an exceptional pizza probably started in earnest when I picked up Reinhart's American Pie and Bread Baker's Apprentice a couple of years ago, even though I have been making pizzas for about 20 years.

However, although I feel I have read American Pie more than a few times, it is only now, after finding and reading and being riveted to this thread (supported by Pete-zza's encyclopedic postings and references, and due to his referencing Pizza Raquel), that I feel I can rise from the mediocre pizza making plateau that I have found myself trapped in.

pft, your tireless efforts, experimentation and concise documentation have enabled me to begin my to transcend. I have been reading this thread for over a week and followed the Pizza Raquel dough recipe 3 days ago, making a pizza about 20 hours from the first dough ball. And although imperfect due to the short fermentation and my hand kneading efforts, it was a much more flavorful crust and also handled better than anything I have been able to produce from Reinhart's books. Thanks also to the other forum members that are sharing their knowledge and contributing; this forum is an invaluable tool.

It has taken this thread to impress upon me the importance of precise measurement and assembling/mixing order.

pft, I think you should publish a book illustrating your quest to Pizza Raquel (and including your multitude of trials and errors and observations of what occurred when you changed each variable. That would be extremely enlightening).

But perhaps the book is just a bit premature. Perhaps the Pizza Raquel summit is not yet reached. We'll have to wait for your oven to be 100% operational!

I still consider myself quite a newbie at proper pizza making, so I would like to ask one clarification that I do not recall seeing addressed, at least in this thread. pft, after the final stretching step, can you let me know the thickness at the edge of the crust. Is there a 1" edge area that is at that point considerably thicker than the area inward of the edge?

Also, I wonder if hydration would be enhanced or more efficient if misting the water into the flour, perhaps with a plant mister. :-)

Thanks again for letting me learn from this epic journey.

Oh, and when can I come over? ;-)

Cheers,


Ray
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 26, 2007, 10:16:35 AM
Hi Ray,
You have an open invitation for Pizza Raquel and your timing couldn’t be better. Tampa is idyllic eight months of the year and is especially wonderful right now. I should be firing up the oven nearly every weekend for the next few months as I endeavor to become competent with the new process and complete the project.

Onward to your two questions. First, I do not intentionally try to leave an edge border – it sort of happens as a natural result of the stretching regimen. The rim tends to be thicker with smaller pies than larger and much thicker if I’m out of practice. I normally shoot for a very thin crust relative to conventional measures as I’m trying to limit overconsumption of carbohydrates. The rim is always going to be larger than the middle section due to no toppings keeping it down.

Your next question has me puzzled a bit. Water is the second ingredient added to the mixing bowl (after salt). I suppose one could add the flour before the water and spritz the water on the flour but it doesn’t seem as efficient when one considers the end point. My end in mind for mixing is two-fold; first, I want the ingredients to be perfectly and evenly spread throughout the entire dough ball. This means the salt is completely dissolved, the starter is evenly spread throughout and not concentrated in one section. Secondly, I want the flour to be properly hydrated so that the water (purified only) is absorbed as completely as is practical. I have found several useful tips for ensuring complete absorption:
- Sifting the flour before-hand is very helpful in that regard
- Mixing on the slowest speed setting possible
- Initially adding only a portion of the flour to the water and then using a rest period instead of summarily dumping all the flour in the bowl
- Slowly sprinkling the flour like light rain after the rest period

I trust the above answers your questions. Keep 'em coming. Best of luck and I’m glad Raquel is proving to be Everything You’d Want. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on December 26, 2007, 10:29:37 AM
 :oGREAT LOOKING PIZZE!! :o

congratulations Peter!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on December 26, 2007, 11:36:28 AM
pft,

Thanks for the invite! :-D

Yes, my 2nd question was more of an observation and not really relevant to Pizza Raquel. I shouldn't really have included it here.

Thanks for your answer regarding the border. I made my 2nd Pizza Raquel this evening and noted that while forming my dough, the outer edge was just a bit thicker relative to the rest (I'm still working on proper terminology!). This time, by the way, the dough was even easier to handle and form, after about 40 hours in the fridge.

I need to make some more dough balls in the coming days and improve my procedure. Actually I had used all hand kneading on my initial attempts, and that was before I had read your hand kneading instructions! Anyway I need to work on getting a more airy crust, and also I will refresh my starter before proceeding. I think it may have been a bit lethargic. By the way, it's a starter I had made a few months ago using fresh pineapple juice.

After that, perhaps I can move toward facilitating higher oven temps. There may be a 2stone pizza oven in my near future (and perhaps a proper wood burning oven in the distant future!).

Looking forward to your continuing adventures!

Best,

Ray
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on December 29, 2007, 08:36:11 AM
pft,

Just so you don't think I was joshing ;-)... pics attached!

Firstly, this is the 2nd batch of dough I have made following your formula. This time, I made sure my starter was well animated, and this of course dramatically improved the final result!

Also, I think i am making somewhat smaller pizzas than you (purposely). I am divided the dough into 3 balls. My final dough weight, before dividing, was 755g. so each dough ball was around 250g.

Tonight's dough had rested 30 hours. In the fridge it had flattened just slightly during that time. This was a bit different than my first attempt in which the dough balls did not seem to change shape noticeably. This time I had pre-chilled the ceramic bowls before placing the dough balls in the fridge. Also I think I did a better job with my hand kneading.

The dough handled very nicely. It felt a bit softer, during shaping, than my first attempt and was fairly elastic and properly extensible (as far as I know!).

I had removed the dough ball 2 hours prior to shaping, and preheated the gas oven to... max. I have a Hearthstone insert on the lowest shelf and the stone temperature registered 500F. The pizza baked in about 6 minutes I think. For the final minute I placed it under the broiler manifold.

Being in China, I am a little limited by local resources. The high gluten flour was sourced from a local bakery. As far as gluten percent, all I know is it is known as "strong!" I used Australian mozzarella, bought from a local pizza delivery place, and Hormel pepperoni. Also Barilla Basilico pasta sauce, which is really quite nice, especially considering the currently available alternatives. Also as you can see I tossed on some porcini mushrooms that I'd previously saute'd a bit in olive oil. And some onion, as an afterthought. And a few slivers of garlic on top. I know this is a bit excessive in the ingredient dept., but... artistic license! ;-)

Anyway, this is the first attempt that I thought might be worthy of sharing a few pics.  (Hmm, we'll see if the pics attach -- not sure how this forum will behave in this respect...)


Cheers,

Ray
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 30, 2007, 08:56:03 AM
ray,
I can see it now, Pizza Raquel spreads across China!

Your version of Pizza Raquel looks fabulous - in spite of the fact that you have a sizeable ingredient constraint. If these pictures are of your early efforts then you will be very popular around dinner time I can assure you.

I have a funny story for you. A couple of years ago I introduced Pizza Raquel to India by way of a couple of the chef's at the Leila Palace hotel in Bangalore. They have stayed in contact with me to let me know how wonderful their life is now that they know how to make great pizza. It wasn't easy to make a great pie with them but over five days we managed to to do it. They did have a gas powered "pizza" oven which helped. We even caught the local culture which was a bonus.

Imagine that, a naturally leavened Raquel in Bangalore. According to my chef buddies, Raquel has spread all over the city because the Indians are crazy over "American" pizza. They have modified the Raquel recipe to match their available ingredients and couldn't be happier. Sounds very similar to your situation.
Happy New Year.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on December 31, 2007, 04:51:45 AM
pft,

Thanks for the kind words! Interesting story there.

... I had pizza at a hotel (I don't recall the name) in Mumbai at Nariman Point about 1.5 years ago. I recall the pizza oven was in a central, open area of the restaurant, with the pizzaoili (sp?) there on display. I watched intently but didn't learn much!

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 03, 2008, 04:32:00 PM
I had the fun experience last night of baking a few Raquel pies in my new wood burning oven. While the oven is still not finished, it is quite capable of producing a pretty quick bake. The video was supposed to be the first of many but my videographer buddy burned his hand after the first one and didn't want to hold the camera close for any more. Consequently the sub 50 second bakes weren't recorded but they were eaten with reckless abandon.

Here is the link to the video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCuDUFKw9WA

I learned a few things last night:
- Truth be told, I couldn't tell, taste wise, much of a difference between the fastest pie baked: 38 seconds with the slowest pie baked. The crust was ever-so-slightly softer - especially when cooled.
- I could tell a few other things though; Never try to load a pie with one hand and film at the same time with the other...also,
- The perforated peel doesn't work so well for me as some dough stuck to it so I was forced to load the pies into the oven with a short-handled wood peel which is sub optimal to say the least.
- When the deck temperature rose to 850 degrees the Raquel Oven produced a 38 second bake and it could have been even less if I were more skilled on spinning the pies.
- I need to buy a long handled peel without perforations for loading pies.
- Loading 15" pizzas is exponentially harder than loading 12" pies. On one failed attempt I inadvertently banged the 16" peel into the fire in my haste not to burn my hand and embers rained down on the pie. The result? My hand is real red right now.
- I need gloves or better technique or both.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on January 04, 2008, 04:15:56 AM
I only caught the pizza for a second at the end, but I went back and paused it and that thing looks PERFECT!  Did the bottom cook as evenly as the top?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: bakerbill on January 04, 2008, 07:27:11 AM
I have been thinking about buying a perforated peel but in view of your recent experience, I am having second thoughts.  Any further thinking on your part about this peel?

bakerbill
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on January 04, 2008, 08:53:55 AM
PFTaylor,  While watching your video,  I was suprised how close you had the pizza to the fire itself.  I saw that this created some reallly nice leoparding as the pie was turned.  My question is to anyone with a WBO.  Is this where the majority of your leoparding comes from,  or is it from the fine balance of a perfect preheat,  perfect amount of live flame,   perfect amount of radiant heat,  combined with proper mixing and fermentation?  thanks -marc                           Real nice looking early pies BTW PFTaylor! 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on January 04, 2008, 04:30:34 PM
- The perforated peel doesn't work so well for me as some dough stuck to it so I was forced to load the pies into the oven with a short-handled wood peel which is sub optimal to say the least.
I'm sure most of your problems are just a matter of practice. It will all be second nature for you soon. So sorry to hear about your problems with the perforated peel, especially since I urged you to get it. Make sure you don't let the radiant heat or even the hot sun cause it to heat up before sliding the pie onto it. Been there  :(.

Great looking pie!

   
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bryan S on January 05, 2008, 02:21:43 AM
I have been thinking about buying a perforated peel but in view of your recent experience, I am having second thoughts.  Any further thinking on your part about this peel?

bakerbill
I have never used one but my first thought was this. That if you made a pizza on to a perforated peel then you would run the risk of having the dough settle down into the holes thus making it difficult to get the pie off the peel. A high hydration dough, or a heavy pie would be more at risk of having this happen, just my thoughts.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on January 05, 2008, 03:20:11 AM
I'll go ahead and throw this out here since I will not likely find the time to construct it.  Quite a while back I had plans for constructing a short-handled peel that operates on the same design principles as an air hockey table.  It would consist of two metal sheets, the top sheet perforated with very small holes (0.7-1.0 mm), the bottom sheet separated from the top using a thin (~2.0 mm) channeled grid to allow efficient airflow between the sheets, and clamped around the edges.  It's important that the edge clamping allow for the removal of the back sheet for maintenance cleaning.  In total, the peel surface lamination would be no thicker than about 4 mm.  The air channels within the lamination would have air guided through it originating from the handle.  The handle itself would house a 16 g CO2 cartridge and a trigger mechanism to release a burst of air when one is ready to unload the pizza onto the hot stone.  Of course if someone didn't want the convenience of a CO2 cartridge, one could always attach a small latex, nylon, or Tygon tube to blow through for a lung-powered version.

As far as a perforated peel goes, if the perforations are small enough, I don't know why one would have a problem sliding the pizza skin off any more than with a non-perforated peel.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bryan S on January 05, 2008, 04:26:48 AM

As far as a perforated peel goes, if the perforations are small enough, I don't know why one would have a problem sliding the pizza skin off any more than with a non-perforated peel.
I'm looking at the pic of the peel on page 19, and it's my uneducated opinion that those wholes in that metal peel could pose a problem with getting the raw dough off of said peel into the oven. JMO.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on January 05, 2008, 07:33:28 AM
Stick with it PFT....it's not the peel ;)
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 05, 2008, 08:24:38 AM
I wanted to weigh in here with a little more background on the video and perforated peel issue. First, please keep in mind I have not much experience with baking pies in the Raquel Oven. Three episodes to be exact at this point and only one at what I would describe as ultra high heat. So my technique is at an early stage of development. My pizza knowledge is far ahead of my ability to properly work a wood burning oven at this point.

I sort of feel like the college freshman fumbling badly trying to single-handedly unsnap a bra strap while trying to act cool. Or put another way, I feel like I’m riding down a steep hill on a bicycle and the faster the bike goes, the more the front handle bars shake. There is a point there where the bike “feels” unsafe and we just hope to make it to the bottom of the hill before something bad happens. Simply put, it’s a new experience and I’m learning my way without much of a roadmap.

The last time we fired up the Raquel Oven was the first time I felt a little overmatched for it was the first time Raquel was allowed to get hot. I mean really hot. Ultra hot. The video was recorded after about 2.5 hours of start-up time from a dead cold oven and the deck was about 750 degrees. No more than 15 – 30 minutes later, the deck temperature was 850 degrees and that’s when I felt somewhat overmatched. The entire oven took on a different look and feel. Everything looked different. The flames lapped across the entire dome for the first time. The bed of coals had a more ominous look to it almost like it had reached a different plateau of sorts. I don’t know how to really explain it other than the Raquel Oven reached a different gear. One not meant for the faint of heart. My videographer buddy had already retreated at this point and was lapping up the delicious pie so I was all alone tending a roaring fire. The difference between baking with a deck at 750 degrees and 850 degrees was night and day – for me. So far. With my limited experience.

The stop watch indicated the difference was only approximately 30 seconds. It took nearly 70 seconds to uniformly bake a pie at 750 degrees and 38 seconds when baked at 850 degrees. The difference in heat sensation however was huge. My camera could not withstand the wall of heat near the mouth of the Raquel Oven. It would have melted or my hand would of. Neither outcome was very desirable.

When the Raquel Oven is operating at lower temperatures in the 750 degree range, I end up placing the pie closer to the fire which does, as fellow member widespreadpizza points out, create more side char. At 850 degrees, the pie would burn to a crisp in mere seconds if it were placed that close. As I become more comfortable in coping with ultra high heat baking, my technique will not be quite as fidgety as it is now. In the video I was constantly spinning the pie for fear of burning it. If it were placed further away from the live flame, it wouldn’t require spinning quite as much. In order to do that, the temperature needs to be higher and I need to become more comfortable with an ultra high heat environment.

A fascinating point to mention is that at either 750 or 850 degrees, the pies have all been uniformly baked on top and bottom. I’m not sure if I’m lucky on this point or if the culmination of all the CAD and engineering efforts have yielded their intended benefits. I’ll leave that determination to others. But the fact is, there is no reason to hoist a pie to the ceiling for a uniform bake which is something that I have seen with most high dome ovens and even a few low dome ovens. Scott r, I trust this answers your question.

The perforated peel from GI Metal is a fine tool and with proper technique I’m sure I can become proficient with it. I mean, who wants to stick their hand into a raging fire only to get it burned? So I have the proper incentive, so to speak, to get it right. Only out of necessity did I resort to loading the pies with my old short-handled wooden peel.

So the question is what happened? Why did one skin stick to the peel and force me to improvise with a wooden peel? The last thing I needed when trying to hit the sub one minute mark for the first time is peel trouble. Part of it is my undeveloped technique at this point but it is also more difficult to use with wet dough which is weighed down with heavy toppings. Even sprinkling flour on it does little good as the flour falls through the holes. I think the dough seeped into the holes because I left it on the peel for a couple of minutes and gravity took over. My fault to be sure.

The silver lining with all this is I managed to bake the first calzone as a result.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: KAMarks on January 05, 2008, 10:24:15 AM
I now have about 6 months using my Pompeii oven. I agree there is a lot of difference between 750 and 850. It is best if you can total saturate your oven temperature. I lot of times this is not a option depending on the amount of time you have. I try and light a fire the night before a bake. Put the door in loosely to allow fire to burn slowly. Usually there is a good bed of ambers the next day to easily fire to the desired temperature. Like you I  have to carefully watch each pie and spin accordingly. My tool of choice is the bubble hook. www.woodstone-corp.com/products_tools.htm#bh With the oven fully saturated the oven stays constant. It is more difficult to bake consistently when the oven temperature is dropping because of the pizza and the outward migration of heat through the brick or cladding. My first pizza of the night is always a little suspect, getting to know the oven characteristics for the night. Hot is good!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on January 05, 2008, 12:12:41 PM
KA  you can actually turn the pizza with that bubble popper??  does it not sometimes stick to the floor enough that you have to use your 8" peel?  just wondering.  thanks -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: KAMarks on January 05, 2008, 12:33:50 PM
Marc,
I first slide my peel under the pizza once the dough is set.  After the inital breaking of the dough from the floor the hook can easily rotate the pie. My smallest peel is 12".  The 12" peel makes it a little difficult to rotate the pizza.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 11, 2008, 07:08:45 PM
I made a couple of pies tonight and learned a couple of things. First, the GI Metal perforated peel does not perform well with heavy pies. Margheritas work well because they are an example of a light pie. Also, sub-sixty second pies better not have a lot of toppings or you stand the chance of having a perfect looking pie on the outside and slightly undone on the inside.

The attached photographs illustrate the point accurately. I'm beginning to think sixty second bakes could be my sweet spot due to my families preference for multiple toppings.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on January 11, 2008, 07:57:54 PM
gah-geous, very nice indeed.  what kind of flour is that again?

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on January 11, 2008, 08:29:13 PM
OMG!  I just told Luis on another thread that I would never have a WFO.... but.... DANG!  Maybe the hubby might have to put off the new pond... the brewhouse...   ;D   ;)

Good Job!  Glad you're getting it figured out with your new toy... thanks for taking us along on the pictoral ride!

~sd
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: trosenberg on January 11, 2008, 08:55:05 PM
I have come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as too much heat in my wood burning brick oven.  You are right that the difference between 750 & 850 is dramatic. In my oven an elite NY style pie bakes best at  about 750 degrees.
I have a nice GI metal peel (not the perforated one) but I have found that I have better luck with wooden peels.  Despite all the tips picked up here; I had too many pies stick on the metal peel. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on January 11, 2008, 09:28:19 PM
sd

Unless you are entertaining large crowds I would suggest a 2Stone for your high heat needs. While certainly not as elegant as a WFO it heats up in 15 minutes and makes a fabulous pie. It's also an order of magnitude cheaper than a WFO! I just made some 2Stone pizzas for my mother in law from Naples and she said they were just like home. She always liked my 500 degree Lehman's but she was thrilled with the 2Stone Caputo pizzas (DiFara clone) I made for her.

Michael
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on January 11, 2008, 09:42:52 PM
Ya know, Michael, I have been wanting a 2stone ever since Willard started offering them!  I can't right now, but I think you're right... that's the way to go for my situation!

I certainly admire pftaylor's drive and determination to build one of his own, and the photos of his pizzas are making me think that I need to take this to the next (heat) level because, to be honest, I'm getting bored (  :o ) with pizza in my 550o F oven!  I'm not a die-hard who enjoys cooking outdoors in the pouring rain or snow (hmmm.... maybe that project for Hubby should be a covered patio, not a WFO!) but we usually get a week or more in the mid-upper 60s in Feb, so I might have to save my pennies for a 2stone.  I don't think I've heard one complaint on this forum about the 2stone... and I KNOW I can't afford to do what pftaylor has done!

thanks!
~sd
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on January 12, 2008, 01:48:47 PM
sd,

I doubt I’ll ever get bored with the heat and roaring flame of my 2Stone oven.
I’ve got it set up in the garage for the winter and while it has behaved itself so far I do keep a fire extinguisher near by.

I still have not given up my idea for a combination WFO/Sauna. That’s probably the only way I could get my wife to support the project.

Michael
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 21, 2008, 07:33:57 PM
abatardi,
The flour used was San Felice. Sorry for the delay in response.

Attached are photographs of tonight's wood-fired Pizza Raquel made with KASL - for the first time. I must admit, it doesn't hold up to high heat as nicely as Caputo Pizzeria or San Felice. It was, on the other hand, much more robust in the handling department and ounce for ounce could be stretched into a bigger disc more confortably than its Italian counterparts.

Also, the first pie made tonight was put up on YouTube. It baked in slightly less than sixty seconds. Here is the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSeRFUVSTM4
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on January 22, 2008, 03:16:03 AM
That is beautiful!  If the KASL doesn't hold up to the high heat in any way, it's not apparent visually.  Were you speaking of toughness, flavor, or some other aspect that we couldn't see on the video?  I notice there wasn't the same kind of leapording you get with the Neapolitan flours, but it appeared to brown and char nicely in a more New York kind of way.  What say you, PFT?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on January 24, 2008, 07:50:11 AM
Also, sub-sixty second pies better not have a lot of toppings or you stand the chance of having a perfect looking pie on the outside and slightly undone on the inside.

The attached photographs illustrate the point accurately. I'm beginning to think sixty second bakes could be my sweet spot due to my families preference for multiple toppings.
pftaylor,

I urge you not to rush to conclusions. I have discovered the hard way that it may take many repetitions of the same method before you can decide what is wrong with it and perhaps even more to decide how to fix. Mastering this process (I'm not even close) is a long path that defies easy navigation. Although I don't like too many toppings, it takes me about the same amount of time to bake a pie regardless of how much is on top of the crust - that was not always the case. Keep plugging away. No doubt in my mind that a year from now you will have a completely different outlook as you gain experience and your technique improves. I haven't found any shortcuts.

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on January 24, 2008, 09:14:36 AM
I agree with Bill,PFT.His "Watch the pie - not the clock" comment is insightful.I used to pay too much attention to the time and attaining the hottest oven possible that what and how I was cooking became secondary.This became more evident as I increased the number of pies I was cooking simultaneously and the type (Marinara - Capriciosa ).Remember as you get to know your oven,you'll become more comfortable as to where you position your pies,the order in which you load your oven,and how hot you run it.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 02, 2008, 09:23:22 PM
After eating a San Felice based pie at Luzzo's in NYC I decided to make a Raquel using the same flour to compare the taste. Of course, I did use a natural starter and super premium toppings so the comparison wasn't exactly fair. A photograph is attached.

Bill/SFNM & David,
I understand your points and wholeheartedly agree with all of them. I have fired the Raquel Oven only six times so far and each time I feel more in control. I have come to the conclusion that the perforated peel is still troublesome with very thin skinned pies (my norm) with wet and heavy toppings. The San Felice skins tonight were a little thicker than normal and sure enough, the extra thickness was all the GI Metal perforated peel needed to perform flawlessly.

Glutenboy,
I wasn't necessarily disappointed with the KASL based Raquel crusts. They just "looked" different than the Caputo or San Felice based ones. The char spots were much bigger and sort of blotchy vs. the more speckled look I was expecting. The chew was naturally a little tougher but not much. The texture was off by more than I wanted. I think the 14.2% protein level is a bit much for a ultrafast high heat bake.

Next, I plan on trying King Arthur Bread flour to see how it may hold up. I am leaning in the direction of ultimately blending American & Italian flours in order to achieve the very specific crust profile I think can be achieved. My target is the best characteristics of NY combined with the best of Naples in a 14" - 16" form factor.

One question which I could use some help on is this: Is KA Bread flour the exact same as KA Special?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 02, 2008, 09:53:50 PM
One question which I could use some help on is this: Is KA Bread flour the exact same as KA Special?

pftaylor,

To the best of my knowledge, the KA professionals counterpart to the KA retail bread flour is the Special, as noted in this post: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,4646.msg39204.html#msg39204. The spec sheet at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/85e624febf29e4c7836066cc68c71648/miscdocs/BFS%20Specs%20-%20Customer%20Copy.pdf seems to confirm this. If you feel you need greater confirmation as to "exactitude", you may want to call Tod Bramble at KA.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 03, 2008, 09:52:21 AM
Thanks Pete-zza,
Your guidance is always appreciated. Prior to my post, I emailed KA requesting clarification on this question. I'm surprised it hasn't actually come up here before now.

One point to note, I did an advanced search before my post last night and located the exact same post you referenced. Advanced search is an indispensible tool now that the forum is so popular.

My guess is they are identical except for brand name and packaging. KA Bread flour is packaged in five pound bags and targeted for retail while KA Special comes in fifty pound sacks and is targeted for commercial.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 04, 2008, 10:32:04 AM
Feedback from King Arthur:

"Thank you for contacting us. Your guess is correct. The 50 and 100 pound bags are called Special, the smaller bags are called bread flour- exact same flour. It all used to be called Special for Machines, but we realized that many people use it and still knead by hand, so we changed it to bread flour. I guess we felt it was still a pretty special flour, so shortened it to that on the professional size bags. Another name difference you may have noted, also, is our all purpose( small bags) and Sir Galahad (large bags). I don’t have the reason on that one though.
If you go to our web site and click on “Professional Bakers”, then on “products”, it will bring up detailed descriptions of all of our flours. There is also a spot where you can see all of the specifications in detail. I hope this information helps. Please contact us again if we can be of further assistance."
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on February 04, 2008, 01:08:43 PM
pftaylor

I've been combining 75% Caputo and 25% KASL with my 2Stone oven for a few months now. I've been very happy with this Neapolitan/New York hybrid. Baking for 1.5-2 minutes @ around 750-800f.

The recipe is adapted from pete-zzas DiFara clone:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,504.msg28531.html#msg28531

Flour 100%  75% 00/25% KASL
Water 63%
IDY .4%
Salt 1.72%

tf .08

Proof yeast in water for 10 minutes, add to other ingredients and mix in KA for 9 minutes. Room temp rise for 1 to 2 hours, punch down, fold, divide into balls and then into the fridge for 1 to 2 days. Rise on counter for 2 hours and bake.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: thehorse on February 06, 2008, 01:18:31 AM
Hi guys,

After reading the last post, I decided to try a same day, Di Fara clone/NY hybrid. I left out the wild yeast, and also skipped the 1.5 hour, 800F self-clean thing. Was feeling a little lazy, but also a bit curious.

100% flour  550g 60/40 Giusto's HP Bread/Caputo Pizza
61% filtered water 335.5g
.55% cake yeast 3g
2.4% grey sea salt 13.2g

The method is a little long winded, but if anyone cares, I will include it in a reply.

Pictures to follow

Mike
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 09, 2008, 02:10:25 PM
mmarston & thehorse,
Thanks for your comments and recipe.

When I initially uncovered the revelation of Dom blending flours (his visual was two cups of Caputo Pizzeria to one Brominated High Gluten cup) a few years back, I went on a blending kick and easily surpassed his dough which, in the end, turned out to be pretty bad. Flavorful toppings did mask major deficiencies in his dough management process to the point where his pizza rated highly in spite of things like a one hour rise. Just goes to show you what ultra-high quality toppings can do for you. Since then, I have been combining flours on and off and have been left somewhat unsatisfied with the results. Caputo being the most difficult to work with for some reason, blended or otherwise. Every now and then, a Caputo based pie would jump up and shock me it was so good. More often than not however, some form of failure was the result. I remain undaunted though and place most of the blame on my grill being not hot enough and too dry. Caputo is supposed to thrive in a wood-burning environment but is it better than San Felice? How about King Arthur Special or even KASL?

My comfort level with the Raquel Oven is to the point where I can once again experiment and try to climb higher up the mythical pizza mountain. It is now high time to begin experimenting with the real deal. 800 to 1000 degrees of blistering wood-fired heat. My work from here forward will hopefully serve me for the rest of my natural life. So I'm going to do it right.

On hand I have assembled four very different flours and I intend to determine what works best for me. In my oven (now that I no longer have to tolerate the inadequacies of the TEC grill). With my crappy KA Pro 600 mixer (targeted for a Santos upgrade by EOY 2008).

My plan is to test a reasonable range of flour combinations. Twenty-two to be exact. The breakout is below:

2/3 Caputo Pizzeria, 1/3 KA Special
2/3 Caputo Pizzeria, 1/3 San Felice Pizzeria
2/3 Caputo Pizzeria, 1/3 KASL

2/3 San Felice Pizzeria, 1/3 KASL
2/3 San Felice Pizzeria, 1/3 KA Special
2/3 San Felice Pizzeria, 1/3 Caputo Pizzeria

2/3 KA Special, 1/3 Caputo Pizzeria
2/3 KA Special, 1/3 San Felice Pizzeria
2/3 KA Special, 1/3 KASL

2/3 KASL, 1/3 Caputo Pizzeria
2/3 KASL, 1/3 San Felice Pizzeria
2/3 KASL, 1/3 KA Special

50% Caputo Pizzeria, 50% KA Special
50% Caputo Pizzeria, 50% KASL
50% Caputo Pizzeria, 50% San Felice Pizzeria

50% San Felice Pizzeria, 50% KA Special
50% San Felice Pizzeria, 50% KASL
50% KA Special, 50% KASL

100% Caputo Pizzeria
100% San Felice Pizzeria
100% KA Special
100% KASL

To simplify matters, I will not introduce additional variables (which could add hundreds of combinations and years of testing) such as:
- Comparing natural starters vs IDY. I have previously concluded natural starters produce better flavor.
- Comparing varying length cold or 64 - 68 degree rises. I will only test twenty-four hour 64 - 68 degree rises.

The intent of this effort will be to determine what flour or combination of flours work best for me. Sounds simple enough. But with my travel schedule, this will likely take a while.

I intend on sharing my results with the membership. Wish me luck.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 09, 2008, 03:23:30 PM
pftaylor,

I take it that you will be using the ratios of flours by weight, not by Dom's plastic cup method ;D.

It might also be interesting to see what the final protein content is of the blend that you find works the best for your application. I was looking at November's Mixed Mass Percentage Calculator at http://foodsim.toastguard.com/ (http://foodsim.toastguard.com/) and see that three of the flours are in the pull-down menu (with the KA bread flour being the same as the Special). The San Felice flour isn't in the menu but the tool can still be used with that flour.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on February 09, 2008, 03:43:41 PM
Peter,

If you have protein percentages to more flours you would like to see in the tool selection, just list them and I will add them.  Furthermore, if you have taken the time to measure out three different cups of other flours to provide volume to mass conversion data, I would be happy to add those to the conversion tool as well.

- red.november
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 09, 2008, 05:07:01 PM
November,

In the specs that Bill/SFNM got from the San Felice mill, the protein content of the San Felice flour is given as 11-12.5%. That seems to be an overly wide range, and in a post by Marco (pizzanapoletana) at the Tampa Fe thread he questioned the accuracy of the specs. So, we may want to await confirmation of the protein number, one way or the other.

I will see what flours I have on hand that are not listed in the volume-mass conversion tool and, in due course, take a bunch of weighings, as I did before for other flours.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 09, 2008, 05:28:41 PM
Pete-zza,
I will continue to be a student of precision and opt for the repeatability of my digital scales.

November,
I wonder if you could lend a hand and offer a suggestion for a scorecard which would level the playing field and eliminate any bias I have. The categories which come to my mind are:
- Taste
- Texture
- Crumb
- Appearance
- Ease of handling (stretching/forming)
- Bubble Burst Crust rating (my description for a wafer thin veneer which gives way to an airy middle)

High level, I'm thinking of scoring baked crusts on a scale of 1 - 5 with 5 being "superior" and 1 being "who cares." Your comments, and those of the venerable membership, would be most appreciated.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 10, 2008, 04:25:00 AM
Not that I want to introduce any more variables but....... The best textured cornicione I experienced in Naples was made with a blend of Caputo Pizzeria, Caputo Red and a really high heat.  Chef's warehouse (dairyland USA) has the Red and they do mail order.

I agree with Marco that the San Felice specs are off.  For me the SF performs like a higher gluten flour than the Caputo Pizzeria, but on paper they both share the same specs.

I think the perfect flour for you is really going to depend on how fast your ultimate pizza is baked.  Baking speed is a huge factor in the texture of your crust.  To get that bubble burst rating up you are going to want something more in the Luzzo's/Patsy's 2-3 minute range than the lightning fast neapolitan sub one minute bakes.  The better I get with my dough management and mixing (and the more time I spend in New York) the more I prefer a slightly longer bake for a number of reasons.  One of which is that I would rather have a little crisp on there than the softest possible dough.  Obviously the goal is both, but there is a point where you have to give a little to take a little.  As I am going for slightly longer slower pizzas I find that the higher protein flours such as the King Arthur Special and San Felice work better for me than the straight Caputo Pizzeria.  The downside to the higher protein flours (especially KASL) is that the pizza can get a bit tough after cooling, and that's where the blending fun comes in!   

Also, I am looking into the possibility of importing a small tabletop Italian Fork mixer, and if that ends up being affordable It would be a good alternative to the Santos. The Italian mixers can go slower than the French fork mixers so there is potential for a different type of knead.  I should find out the price in the next two weeks, so you might want to hold off on your purchase for a bit.

For now just make your dough by hand for best results :)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 10, 2008, 12:12:58 PM
scott r,
Okay. I'm sufficiently teased. Details on the Italian fork mixer at your earliest opportunity. Please!

Regarding Raquel's signature Bubble-Burst crust, I must admit I'm already there with a sub one minute bake. But I want to innovate even more so everything is "on" the table. I'll try the Caputo Red in due time and report back.

Experience tells me I will prefer 2/3 Caputo Pizzeria blended with KA Special, 100% natural starter, a two stage twenty-four hour rise at 64 - 68 degrees, purified water, the Raquel dough management steps, and a one minute bake plus or minus five seconds or so. 

The thing about the Raquel Oven is that she allows a man to be a man. Take scalability for instance. The scalability of being a fire starter specifically. The series of photographs below illustrate the point perfectly.
First came matches.
Then a long nosed Scripto.
Then a Tri-Flame cigar lighter.
Finally, I have settled on a true blow torch.

How much fun can a guy have...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 10, 2008, 12:47:49 PM
Next...

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on February 10, 2008, 12:52:44 PM
PFT .....................Petrolium Fuelled Terrorist.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on February 10, 2008, 01:35:17 PM
pftaylor,

You aren't a real man till you can handle 500,000 BTU's! This is what I use:

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_592_592
 (http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_592_592)
Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 10, 2008, 07:50:46 PM
Bill/SFNM,
I must admit I have a long way to go to catch up. Can you take a video of that beast in action?
Speaking of videos, the link below is of a KA Special Raquel from tonight:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=WG76A2NDtcU

Also I've attached a photograph of one pizza from tonight and the cheese I'm currently using. It holds up wonderfully well to high heat but needs a light sprinkling of salt to taste above average. It also needs to dry out for five hours or more. Good news is it is available from BJ's which means it is super fresh and reasonably priced.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on February 12, 2008, 08:36:31 AM
Can you take a video of that beast in action?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isbfZSC_5Pk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isbfZSC_5Pk)

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 13, 2008, 09:17:11 PM
Pete, I did the flour shootout today between Caputo Red, Caputo Pizzeria (blue) and the San Felice (blue).  For this experiment I used a 12 hour room temp dual rise with IDY. I was very careful to use the same exact ingredient weights for all three pizzas, but I did adjust the flour amount slightly to get them to all feel evenly hydrated. I made 125g doughballs which allowed me to bake all three mini pizzas at the same time reducing the huge variable of oven temp and baking time.  I kneaded all three doughs by hand so that I could be sure to feel when they were at the same point in gluten development.   It was interesting to me that the Caputo Pizzeria flour was much easier to mix than the other two, and for a number of reasons I thought  it was going to be the clear winner once baked.   It was by far the smoothest, silkiest, and surprisingly required the shortest amount of kneading time.   

In the end all the pizzas turned out  similar in both flavor and texture.   The San Felice lost, but only by a small margin.  It was a bit more leathery which I didn't like.  More of a outer feel thing than a toughness thing.  It also did not brown as quickly as the caputo flours which I guess could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you want your toppings to bake.    I would say the caputo red and blue were both excellent in the texture department, but the edge might have gone to the red for being a slight bit crispier and more airy.   I didn't notice a huge difference in flavor between the three flours, but the best tasting pizzas were probably those made with either of the caputo flours.

I did this shootout in hopes that I could save you the trouble of mail ordering some caputo red, but after this experiment I have confirmed my suspicion that it is a worthy contender for the ultimate Italian flour in my oven. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on February 14, 2008, 12:12:20 PM
Nice test Scott r.

Thats the type of test that helps others. I was thinking of trying the San Felice but you answered that speculation.

I have been experimenting with flour combinations using All-Trumps and Caputo Pizzeria flour. I use the 2stone oven on all tests. What I have come up with so far is the combination of 80% All-Trumps, 15-20% Caputo Pizzeria is the winning combination for flavor and texture and browning/leoparding. I went higher and higher with the Caputo but yielded only a more bready texture. I would recommend the above percentages in conjunction with the high heat of the 2stone oven.

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on February 14, 2008, 02:01:25 PM
I'm not sure how valid it is to test different flours keeping everything else exactly the same. Perhaps one flour would benefit from more hydration or a longer kneading or shorter proofing or higher temp to bring out it's optimum flavor and texture. Just because one flour has better performance under one set of conditions doesn't make it better than the others. I would argue that a real master would be able to take any or all of these flours and, after a bit of experimenting, figure out what tweaks need to be made to produce the desired crust.

 
Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on February 14, 2008, 02:12:56 PM
Excellent point.

But this type of test is valuable to individuals such as myself. Mastry is achieved through efforts like this in conjunction with the element of time. I don't know how many "Masters" that are contributing to the development of this membership but I wouldn't discourage potential "Masters" through invalidating worthy exercises.

Your point stands without question.

With respect.

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 14, 2008, 03:35:23 PM
I'm not sure how valid it is to test different flours keeping everything else exactly the same. Perhaps one flour would benefit from more hydration or a longer kneading or shorter proofing or higher temp to bring out it's optimum flavor and texture. Just because one flour has better performance under one set of conditions doesn't make it better than the others. I would argue that a real master would be able to take any or all of these flours and, after a bit of experimenting, figure out what tweaks need to be made to produce the desired crust.

 
Bill/SFNM

Bill, I definitely agree with your statement, especially in that I know that the caputo red with it's higher protein content would probably end up better with a longer fermentation time than the caputo pizzeria.  This was just a rudimentary test and it doesn't really definitively pick a "best flour".  I wish I could have been more scientific.  I do think that all three doughs were brought to the same point in gluten development even though the kneading times were different.  That along with matching hydrations by feel hopefully evened the playing field more than what you would get from a simple "do everything exactly the same for each flour" test.   My point was just to show that the caputo red is an excellent flour, and I wanted to make this point because I never hear it mentioned on the forum.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 14, 2008, 03:48:41 PM
I should also mention that I have been using the caputo pizzeria flour for a few years, and the SF and Caputo red for about the past 6 months. I have made it about 1/2 way through the bags of San Felice and Caputo red, so this is at least 40 pizzas with each flour so far.   It does seem like the side by side test above reflects my long term findings that the Caputo flours seem to work better for me than the San Felice blue.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on February 15, 2008, 08:09:17 AM
As you may recall, I did a "shootout" of Caputo 00 vs. San Felice and impulsively concluded that San Felice was the superior flour. After going through a 25kg. bag of San Felice, I was forced to conclude that my original technique favored the San Felice and, as my technique developed, it was actually Caputo 00 that gave me results I preferred. My position at this point (subject to change without notice  ;)) is that technique is more important than flour and you should just pick one and make a million pies with it. I've standardized on Caputo 00 and am probably a few years away from thinking of experimenting with another flour. I did get my hands a while back on 2 samples custom Giustos pizzeria blends that seemed to have some promise. If I couldn't get Caputo any more, I would probably work on getting to know those if they were readily available.

Bill/SFNM
 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 15, 2008, 11:25:55 AM
Bill, do you know if the customized Giusto flours, or one of them was ground to a fine 00 consistency?

I had a chance to work with the high gluten Giusto flour when I was consulting at a pizzeria.  I thought it was really one heck of a good flour, although we ultimately did end up going with something different.  I wish their distribution was wide enough that I could get their flours here in Boston, but for now it seems to be more of a west coast thing.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on February 16, 2008, 12:48:03 PM
Bill, do you know if the customized Giusto flours, or one of them was ground to a fine 00 consistency?

Scott,

The two varieties of Giustos custom pizza flours came to me through an indirect source with the vague claim that they were used by some of the country's most prestigious pizzeria - whatever that means. Both were labelled as 00 consistency. For the foreseeable future, I'll stick with Caputo. I've been experimenting with other uses for the leftover Giustos and must say that one of them  makes outstanding fresh pasta.

Bill/SFNM
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 17, 2008, 07:27:17 AM
Last night was one of those nights' artisan pizza makers dream of. We had close friends over, the wine was flowing and the pizza was spectacular. Every pie which emerged from the Raquel Oven was beyond delicious. They were inspirational. I wish I could tell when a stupendous pie is going to emerge rather than an also-ran, but alas I'm incapable. The first bite is all one needs though in order to know.

The Raquel Oven was primed and yearning for a sub one minute bake, but I wanted to slow things down a bit and bake the blended doughs at a more civil temperature. I'm glad I did. The pies all baked in the one to one and half minute range. I'm beginning to believe fellow member scott r about bake times. Less is not more for certain flours. In this case, the blend was 66.6% King Arthur Special and the remainder San Felice.

The ultra-low Raquel dome paid-off in spades tonight. Even with the lower temperatures the pies baked perfectly uniform.

Here is the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aly9kwPInP4

I decided to take a photograph of the dough balls just before forming. They were very solid and were stretchable without fear of ripping or developing a thin spot. For my money, this particular blend was substantially superior overall than last week's pure King Arthur Special crusts.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on February 17, 2008, 01:04:15 PM
pft, I have been experimenting with some flour blending and slowing the cooking process down a bit too.  This dough proved to be really really good.  All that tried it think it was one of their favorites. The biggest change for me is a quality that was pointed out by Marco long ago.  He said something along the lines of one of the best ways to judge your pie is when it has cooled.   It should not be tough.  This stuff is perfectly tender.  Bake times were apx 2 minutes,  and i am in the same boat as Scott r,  for me a 1 minute bake leaves a little to be desired with any flour.  I crave the char and crisp of a longer bake,  while still maintaining the soft pillowy crumb.  This dough was made from 33% KASL, 33%KA select artisan organic, and 33% Caputo, 60%hyd., 2.5% salt 2.5% ishica and a pinch of idy.  Bulk rise at 62 degrees for 18 hours then divide into 270 g balls for a 12.5 inch pizza.  These particular pictures are actually from this dough on its next day after holding the dough in the fridge overnight.  Anyhow,  it was one of those nights (weekends) actually,  where I asked myself,  should i stop experimenting?  We all know the answer to that one!  As for the leopoarding i was after as bill mentioned in that thread,  some of his best pies didn't have that,  and these look good enough to me.  As a final note,  I have by committee,  locked in on those cento non dop's as my fav.  They were on sale at Shaw's last week for 1.99,  so I got a case they are amazing.  -marc
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 17, 2008, 04:27:13 PM
marc,
Killer looking pies. They look so good I want to literally reach inside the computer screen and grab a slice. No, make that the whole pie.

I now have a confession to make to the membership.

For years I have labored under the impression that one of the holy grails of artisan pizza making was to achieve a perfectly uniform sub-one minute baked pie. Being new to the whole wood-fired scene, I kept building larger and larger fires and eventually produced a 38 second bake a few weeks ago.

Now think about that for a moment. The Raquel Oven produced a perfectly charred and uniformly baked pie in just 38 seconds. Every aspect of the crust was exquisite except one. Here is the confession; I didn't like it. Not one bite. It wasn't a Raquel.

Are you kidding me? I should of been jumping up and down for joy. However, I'm saddened to report I felt cheated instead of elated. It was as if Raquel started to date a younger man who had a flatter stomach, a fuller head of dark hair, and a fatter wallet. I was filled with utter disappointment after achieving what I thought was an ultimate goal. Simply put, there was a distinct lack of Bubble Burst crust. It was too soft. It wasn't easy to hold and fold. Heavens, my family resorted to using a knife and a fork to eat pizza. I couldn't stand to see my eleven year old daughter cutting a slice of Raquel. It was awkward at best. Nope not for me. Not if I have anything to do with it. That is clearly another man's pizza.

These past few months of experimenting have proven to me that my artisan style does not work particularly well with bake times much less than a minute. My disappointment is reminiscent of when I managed to successfully reverse engineer a Patsy's Pizza and realized just how much room for improvement there was remaining.

I am going back to my roots. I am going to find out what's possible in the world of pizza making. Using the finest tools available to optimize the results. Leveraging the awesome power of this forum to innovate beyond what is currently available. In short, a new standard.

In fact, I have developed a bake scale which illustrates my point:

Bake Time                 Type of Crust
30 - 60 seconds         Overly soft - Get your knife and fork out
60 - 90 seconds         Bubble Burst - Wafer thin veneer with silly-soft center
90+ seconds             Crispy, crunchy, & crackerish - Longer bakes = higher crunch factor
                   
So there you have it. I feel relieved. I'm back on track and in alignment with my original goals. In the coming weeks I will post a revised Pizza Raquel Formulary which raises the bar higher.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on February 17, 2008, 07:10:54 PM
Nothing like a cosmic dope slap to get your priorities in order.

I have had many great pizzas that required a knife and fork.
I agree that a pizza should be a hand-held dining experience.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: csacks on February 17, 2008, 10:28:29 PM
 :)  I'm reading a book that says that Pizza is not tossed (tossing is an American invention), and is eaten with a fork in the old country.  I am fine eating a pizza with a fork, but hopefully no knife is needed.   :-*  Craig
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 18, 2008, 06:38:23 AM
csacks & mmarston,
I also have had great tasting pizzas in the past which required a knife and/or a fork. Heck over the past few months, I made more than my fair share of them. But my point is, that style is not for me. It is not the reference standard I am gunning for.

The implication of my last post was that there is no current reference standard I can emulate. At least not one that I have found in my pizza hunting. I've either blown through and surpassed every standard I could find or I determined those standards weren't for me. Either way I'm walking a new path. Here is my high-level overview on the major styles I have explored:

NY style? Street or elite? Neither one is close to a Raquel. But I do like the bigger form factor and typical topping choices. Cheap ingredients and bromated flours are enough to keep me away though. The convenience factor of grabbing a quick slice on the street is compelling and it probably cemented in my mind the absolute requirement of eating pizza with one's hands.

Chicago style? While tasty, my vision of pizza isn't a casserole. Plus, I have no ties to anything Chicago. Give me NYC. I grew up there and I get it.

California style? I have always been suspicious of weird toppings. It's my belief they mask poor crust. Over the years, I have never been disappointed in how poor California crusts really are. I do admire their use of fresh, premium ingredients though. Their small form factor has less to do with adhering to some authentic standard than raising the average ticket price.

Neapolitan style? Too soft, often too soupy. Form factor is too small and toppings are largely unimaginative. Just doesn't fit my "pizza eye." I do admire the attention to detail and respect for every facet of pizza but in the US, Neapolitan style is typically a gimmick as much as VPN is in Naples.

Artisan style - What is Artisan style exactly anyway? Well, I'm not exactly sure but I think Pizza Raquel "fits" into this category. Or is it that the Artisan category fits Pizza Raquel. Either way, it has the attention to detail and respect for the craft of Neapolitan, the visual cues of NY, and the ultra premium ingredients of California. So it really is representative of the best of each category while not easily fitting into anyone.

My reference standard would incorporate the following key concepts:
- Robust mixing regimen which culminates in achieving the perfect dough point. In fact, two of them. More to come on this generally overlooked topic.
- Ultra high quality ingredients across the board. Normally quality costs big but not always. Take a look at the photograph below of a basic canned Italian tomato. I bought it at my local BJs and the quality is stunning. Not for the price but stunning relative to all the other canned tomato's I have bought for many times it's humble price.
- High heat - I don't really care if you use a modified oven, a grill, or a wood-fired oven. If you are baking at over 700 degrees, you want artisan quality.

So, over the coming weeks I will lay out my reasoning about how to optimize each of these key concepts above in the hopes of creating my new reference standard.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 18, 2008, 10:37:45 AM
pft,

I agree that it is hard to pigeonhole your Raquel pizzas into one of the traditional pizza styles. However, my view of “artisan” pizza is that it represents a personal philosophy rather than a style and, in fact, transcends the traditional styles, including those used on this forum for classifying posts. I thought that Evelyn Slomon did a nice job of describing the attributes and principles of “artisan” pizza at
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3443.msg29310.html#msg29310 (Reply 5) and http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3443.msg29321.html#msg29321 (Reply 7). Evelyne further elaborated on the “artisan” philosophy in an article prepared for PMQ at  http://www.pmq.com/mag/200610/article.php?story=artisanpizza.

As noted in the above items, according to Evelyne, any style of pizza can qualify as artisan, including the Chicago style that you alluded to. Also, she doesn’t require that one use a very high temperature oven, such as a high-temperature wood fired or coal fired oven. It can be a deck oven, and even a conveyor oven, as she noted with respect to the Lincoln impingement conveyor oven at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3443.msg29429/topicseen.html#msg29429 (Reply 29). It would be interesting to see whether she would characterize as “artisan” some of the pizzas made by our members using “artisan” techniques and baked on 2stone units or LBE units or modified Deni 2100 units or clean-cycle modified home ovens.

Even when I apply the artisan definition as discussed by Evelyne to my own pizzas, using my humble standard home oven, about the only place where they may fall short of the artisan definition is my use of processed cheeses rather than fresh mozzarella cheeses in most of the styles of pizzas I make. However, I don’t believe that Evelyne intends that the definition of artisan pizza be so restrictive as to make it necessary to use only fresh cheeses—or organic flours and toppings and San Marzano tomatoes for that matter. I suspect that Evelyne, in her quest to promote artisan pizza making and broaden its appeal, does not want to make the definition of “artisan” so restrictive as to leave room for only a small number of pizza makers under the artisan tent. 

In your case, you may need to come up with a new category appellation for your Raquel pizzas that more closely matches and reflects what you are trying to do. While your Raquel pizzas are certainly “artisan”, they take that aspect to a higher level. Maybe a better name will evolve as you move along the trajectory you have set for yourself as a goal.

Peter
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 19, 2008, 08:26:25 AM
Pete-zza,
As you know, I have struggled with an exact category description for Pizza Raquel. At best Pizza Raquel might be equal parts NY, Neapolitan, Californian, and good old fashioned American innovation.

What would you call a style of pizza which has ripped the best parts of other styles, thrown out the other pieces which could be replaced and demonstrably improved on with innovative approaches to create a new standard of excellence? I'm not sure there is a correct answer. But if we were to think about it, what about Bill/SFNM's Lolita? Lolita doesn't fit into any known style either.

If I had to offer a perspective, I would base it more on the heat source than anything else. Why? Well I've been the route of baking artisan pies in a home oven (though never modified). I've been the grill route as well, though I missed the 2 Stone train by a few months. Now I'm at my wood-fired happy place and I can tell you that a wood-fired pie is finished unlike any of the others I have baked. 

Home ovens or grills which can achieve 800 degree baking environments, still can't bake a pizza like a wood-fired oven. They are all missing one critical element. The live flame. The live flame adds that something else to the crust. It simply cannot be bought or fabricated with any other technology. Not even the coal-fired ovens of NYC or New Haven can produce the effect I'm referring to. In my opinion, a wood-fired oven is therefore the ultimate expression of how to bake a pizza. Going over the top with perfectionist touches like ultra low-domes and state-of-the-art insulation materials is just icing on the cake.

Of all the things which can impact a finished pizza, no single element in the daisy chain of tools, procedures, techniques, and so forth have the visceral impact of a wood-fired oven. So I would humbly suggest considering a new category entitled Wood-Fired Oven Pizza.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 19, 2008, 09:44:30 AM
pft,

I tend to think in terms of categories because, as a Moderator, one of my chores is to monitor posts to see that they are put in the proper categories as they are now defined on the forum.   

I tend to agree with you that there is logic for differentiating what you are doing on the basis of type of oven. However, a "WFO Pizza" category would subsume and swallow up the "authentic" Neapolitan pizza style (as defined by the VPN or others) in its entirety, but exclude "non-authentic" or "Neapolitan style" pizzas using some other kind of oven. Some might even argue, with some persuasiveness, that such a distinction is an artificial one and unwarranted.

Sometimes the solution is to add new categories. However, I tend to be reluctant to suggest to Steve that we do that if it means having to add too many new categories. If there are too many categories on the pizza index page, then users with normal sized monitors have to do a lot of scrolling to see all of the categories. As it is, we get occasional complaints that there are already too many categories on the pizza index page. So we have to be judicious as to what is on the pizza index page. Using a WFO Pizza category would also require reshuffling a lot of threads in other boards that relate to the use of a WFO, and also would require re-doing the Neapolitan board to separate the WFO Neapolitan from non-WFO Neapolitan. I think that most people tend to think of Neapolitan as a standalone category independent of the type of oven used. There may well be other ways of resolving these issues, but none comes to mind at the moment that wouldn't require making a lot of other changes to the board categories.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on February 19, 2008, 03:48:49 PM
Wouldn't a rose by any other name still smell as sweet? 

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on February 19, 2008, 05:59:57 PM
I think the fundamental  issue here regarding categories is really one of baking temperature. The differences between pizzas baked at 500 and 800-1000 degrees is profound no matter what the heat source or style of pizza.

Regarding the artisan question I think anyone that uses the best ingredients and techniques available to them and is never quite content with their results meets the criteria. The term  artisan can embrace both amateurs and old masters.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: cd1168 on February 19, 2008, 08:53:24 PM
well, i have never had a wood fired oven pizza better than a coal fired.. but i do agree with the logic that everyone basically has their own likes and dislikes. again, what is artisan anyhow.. i am sure that the pizzas that are being made by members on here are far more artisan than 99% of the so called commercial experts anyhow. i doubt they give the love into each and every pizza like i see pete, pft, bill, jeffv, 2stone and many many others. basically i believe the brain power from the people on this sight has raised the standard.

good luck with your pizzas
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 23, 2008, 07:16:34 PM
Tonight I made a winning blended crust featuring 66.66% San Felice and 33.33% King Arthur Special. I decided to use a two day cold rise, the famed Varasano starter enhanced with a pinch of IDY, and the Raquel stretching and preparation steps with a certain twist.

The twist had a very favorable impact. It was a tip shared by fellow member scott r about how to hit the perfect dough point. His claim was that the first dough point can't be precisely hit without a pair of human hands "feeling" it. It is achieved in a practical manner by shortening the mechanical mixing period to where the ingredients barely come together and then one finishes it off by hand. I found it was a much more accurate way to hit the first dough point.

While I have always been able to hit the second dough point through hand kneading, it was nonetheless a minor revelation for me to extend hand kneading to the mechanical kneading period. It never even occurred to me to incorporate a hand knead with the mechanical knead. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. While I have made only a few batches I am still sorting out the revised process. In the near future, I will revise the Raquel formulary to include what I'm aptly naming as the "Double Dough" point. 

The result was special. So far, the method has produced my favorite crust. Big Bubble-Burst rim. I have the sense that the level of one's success will have less to do with the exact blend of flour used and more to do with putting your hands on the dough as soon as is reasonably possible in the process. Time will tell but I'm not planning on going back to a straight mechanical knead.

Attached are a few photographs. There is one showing wood-fired red onions and mushrooms drenched with EVOO and impeccably flavored with big chunks of freshly crushed garlic. Eat your heart out Emeril.

I place the decadent concoction in an aluminum foil steam table pan and roast it for about an hour in the mouth of the oven. It comes out carmelized. The photograph shows them after only a few minutes of roasting. Put that on a pie and your guests will beg for mercy it's so good.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on February 23, 2008, 07:29:39 PM
Wow! Great-looking pie!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on February 23, 2008, 07:53:43 PM
PFT --

The coloration is beautiful and the crust looks as tender as a photo can convey.  If you get a chance, could you put up a link to your post about the two dough points?  My memory fails me.  My hat's off to you.  Your dedication and enthusiasm have taken this board to new heights and set the bar for many of us.  (I'd say all of us, but it might be presumptious.)  Can't wait to see more.

-- GB
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 23, 2008, 09:57:55 PM
                                    Pizza Raquel – Everything You'd Want         


Baker's Percent              Ingredients
100%                           Sifted Flour
060%                           Bottled Water
Baker’s Pinch                 Fresh IDY   
002%                           Fine Cut Sea Salt
3% up to 5%                 Starter - Dependent on Ambient Temperature

Note: Target dough ball weight is 12.5 ounces for a 16" skin. A digital scale with sufficient range to weigh both light and heavy ingredients is necessary. Also, the discipline to accurately follow the steps below is required for optimal results. The Raquel formulary has been exhaustively tested with a Kitchen Aid Professional 600 mixer and various sifted flours using a Bromwell’s. Other mixers or methods will likely require significant adjustments to approximate Raquel's signature Bubble-Burst crust. The primary intent of the Raquel Formulary is to produce a robust, oxygenated dough with superior handling. I openly invite feedback on results.

Mandatory Preparation Steps
1 - Add salt in mixer bowl. Add water. Stir until salt is fully dissolved. Attach wire whip.
2 - Add one quarter of sifted flour to brine. Mix one minute at stir speed to incorporate flour.
3 - Add starter. Mix one minute at stir speed to fully incorporate starter.
4 - Add IDY. Mix one minute at stir speed to fully incorporate yeast.
5 - Rest soupy dough mixture for twenty minutes. Do not skip rest if you want to meet Raquel!
6 - Attach spiral hook. Mix at stir speed while slowly raining flour down until all flour is added.    7 - Then promptly stop mixer, remove dough from bowl, and place on bench.
8 - Check dough temperature with laser thermometer; ideal temperature is 75 - 77 degrees F.
9 - Vigorously hand knead dough by punching & folding until it feels springy (gluten strands tightened). This is the first dough point.
10 Cover dough with slightly damp tea towel. Rest 15 minutes. Raquel needs her beauty rest…
11 Punch & fold dough again until springy and smooth. This is the Double Dough point & should only take a minute or two.
12 Form a ball for a bulk rise, place dough into stainless steel bowl, cover with shower cap.
13 Place dough in refrigerator for 2+ days. Dough is easily usable up to 6 days. A longer rise equals more crust flavor...

Cutting, Balling, Stretching & Dressing Steps
1 - Remove dough from refrigerator three hours before bake and cut into equal weight pieces.
2 - Form into balls and cover with slightly damp tea towel until ½ hour before bake. Then,
3 - Remove towel, cover dough balls with flour. Dust prep area with flour.
4 - Flatten ball into a thick pancake-like shape with palm of hand, ~ 1" thick. Keep well dusted.
5 - Press fingertips into center and work toward the rim until skin is 10 inches round.
6 - Place hands palm down inside rim and stretch outward while turning. Stretch to 12" round.
7 - Place skin over knuckles (1st time dough is lifted off bench) and stretch to 16"+/-
8 - Place on floured peel and dress with favorite toppings.
9 - Peel dressed skin into wood-fired oven or equivalent high heat source. 
10 Target bake time to achieve Bubble-Burst crust is sixty to ninety seconds.

Edited for clarity, completeness, and accuracy given the tools I have available. A Santos fork mixer is coming soon which will hopefully inject even more oxygen into the dough. Stay tuned.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: cd1168 on February 23, 2008, 11:30:15 PM
absolutely perfect looking work pft.. extremely nice holes
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on February 24, 2008, 01:44:48 AM
Pft,

Love your passion about pizza. Also read some of your previous posts...very informative and helpful  :chef: .

Is there a chance that you could post approximate kneading times for those of us who hand-knead?

Mike
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 24, 2008, 04:59:16 PM
I'm glad my suggestions helped you out.  Nice looking pies!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on February 25, 2008, 06:47:16 AM
pft,

You continue to be my inspiration -- at least regarding pizza! ;-)

Strangely enough I as well have been experimenting with blending KA bread flour with the high gluten I am finding locally, having picked up the KA in U.S. last month. I am playing around with the proportions, first at 25% KA and I just made a batch of dough at 15% KA.

Your clarification on the dough points has great potential to help my upward stumbles!

Thanks for your continuing contributions!

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on February 25, 2008, 02:34:31 PM
Peter, I just got back from Florida.  I was only there a couple days and didn't have enough time to call you and stop by.  I immediately regret this after looking at this thread again!  Pizzas are looking great.  Keep up the good work.

- aba
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on February 26, 2008, 03:42:43 AM
Hi pft,

I note that you now only add "one quarter of the flour to the brine". This was previously one half, and other members of the forum use two thirds or even three quarters of the flour in the brine.

Is there any reason for this reduction ?

Your pies are looking awesome. I am about to embark on a similar oven-building journey, and I have my plans with a boat designer. He will check the heat flow patterns and use CAD to design and cut a "plug" to be used to make a mould.

Kind regards.

Barry in Cape Town, South Africa
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on March 01, 2008, 08:41:30 AM
This is a pic of the 2 pieces of my previous oven.

Barry
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on March 01, 2008, 08:46:27 AM
This is a pic of ot almost complete.

It made great pizza, despite the traditional "dome shape".

Barry
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 01, 2008, 11:47:42 AM
Barry,
Your oven is beautiful. I trust it will serve you well by producing exquisite pizza for many years. It is quite an accomplishment to build one isn't it? I used to believe that coal-fired pizza was the way to go but after experiencing the pleasure of a high temperature wood-fired pie, I would never consider coal as even a viable contender. I don't think most folks have actually eaten a high temperature wood-fired pie and consequently base their opinions on low temperature wood-fired pies which can be awful. I also noticed you cast the vent back over the dome. Has it reduced the consumption of wood in a noticeable way? The Raquel Oven I prototyped is very fuel efficient.

To answer your earlier question, the reason why I changed the amount of initial flour added is simply because I was able to produce better results by doing so. My primary reasoning is based upon the observation that "just enough" flour added to the brine blunts any potential shock to the preferment and yeast.

Secondarily, the soupy mixture will promote more systemic proliferation of the most important ingredients throughout the mixing process. This belief is based upon the notion that a very moist environment has the potential to spread the ingredients more uniformly than a drier environment.

BTW, have you made a Pizza Raquel in your new oven?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on March 02, 2008, 04:25:06 AM
Hi pft,

Thanks for the reply re reducing the amount of flour to go into the brine. I will reduce mine as well, and look for better results !

The 2 pics that I posted yesterday are of my PREVIOUS oven at my previous home in Johannesburg. This made awesome pies, and it was wood AND gas fired. This really worked very well, and I could heat the oven to 900 deg F in about an hour using both wood and gas.

The 2 pics below show the same oven, the first with the "groove" in the floor for the gas burner, and the second showing the gas burner.

I have recently moved my home to Cape Town, and I am in the process of having a "plug" of my ideal pizza oven (low dome, etc) made by a naval boat designer.  He is using CAD and computer tools to cut a plug that can used to make a mould. More on this later...

Yes, I have made a modified version of Raquel many times. I just add a little EVOO and a minute amount of honey. I feel that the prep steps are critical, and I aim for a fairly wet dough with a hydration level of about 64%. Our flours are different here in South Africa, and our local Cake Flour seems to do the trick.

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 02, 2008, 12:05:28 PM
It’s Time

We’ll see.

This reminds me of the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, in which a story was told about a village boy who was given a horse as a gift. The village people said oh, how nice. The Zen master in the village said we’ll see.

One day the boy was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. The villagers all said oh, how terrible. The Zen master said, we’ll see.

Then war broke out and the boy wasn’t able to fight due to his broken leg. The villagers all said oh, how wonderful. The Zen master said we’ll see…

The time has come to finally take the last major step I can think of in order to create the best pizza I'm capable of. After this I will have no more excuses, other than my limited knowledge of pizza, for not producing my best. The challenge before me is finally within my grasp. It is the last leg of the climb up the most difficult part of the mountain. The sheerest of cliffs lay before me on my way to ascending the apex of my mythical pizza mountain. Only now I will finally have the right tools to make it to the top.

We’ll see.

From where I stand I can barely make out the profiles of the legends who have managed to climb to the top before me; pizzanapoletana, Bill/SFNM, Bianco, Shango, Sumeri, Molinaro, and Jonny Goldsmith to name a few. While there are no doubt others, I do not know them well enough to make judgments about their dedication to pizza. I understand nearly the entire city of Naples is as obsessive about pizza as I. One day soon I will experience the natal epicenter of pizza. What I do know about the esteemed group mentioned above is they have all committed to optimizing their interpretation of what pizza is to them. For some, it is recreating Neapolitan pizza. For others, such as me, it is to create a new standard which combines the best elements of several styles. I refuse to make another man’s pizza because they say it’s the best. My path is based solely on seeing better results achieved in my setting.   

No more compromises. No more excuses. This is it. The final leg of the journey. No longer will I have to convince myself that my efforts are just as good as the real thing. With the Raquel Oven nearly complete, and inadequacies of the TEC grill long behind me, I stand ready for the last piece of the puzzle to come together. It has been one hell of a ride.

Upon reflection, I don’t know why “good enough” wasn’t when it came to Pizza Raquel. As an example, I tried just as hard to break 80 in golf but I never had to have the best equipment when I finally accomplished that goal. I never really had the burning sensation that I was missing something when a manufacturer introduced the latest and greatest technology. I just figured I needed to practice a little more. For me, pizza is different somehow. With Pizza Raquel, I have to remove all doubt. I have to know what is possible.

It is true the Raquel Oven still needs its permanent vent and cosmetics to be finished. But that fact is hardly holding me back at this point. Fact is the Raquel Oven produces perfectly uniform bakes at any reasonable temperature. Raquel is after all, one lady who requires and deserves the best of the best. For when she gets dressed up, there is no better feeling than having a pure American beauty on your arm. I have found this hobby costs real money to do it right. I just can’t go cheap at any juncture unless I happen to find some super premium ingredient on sale. Even then I tend to load up and spend more money than planned. It is the difference between glitz and glamour. Paris Hilton vs. Raquel. For me, Raquel is all glamour. 

From the beginning I have humbly stated I would invest whatever money was necessary to produce the finest pizza I was capable of. In order to do that, I found I needed to have the finest equipment available. Cost-no-object was my mantra. Combined with the formidable knowledge I have gleamed from pizzamaking.com’s gargantuan knowledge base, I should now be able to fully reach my goal. Life is too short to compromise.

We’ll see.

Along the way I made certain investment choices based upon a sequencing of perceived necessity which I thought was correct. In the beginning I knew I had to solve the riddle of high heat first and thought I did so with the TEC infra-red grill. I joined pizzamaking.com knowing the elite coal-fired pizzerias of NY baked pies at 800 degrees and I was intent on hitting that plateau. The TEC indeed did a fine job of producing prodigious amounts of heat. In the end though, it turned out to be the ideal way to grill meats but not pizza. For grilling pizza I had to make compromises and that bothered me for some reason. Truth be told, I haven’t been quite able to put my finger on why it bothers me so. I can’t seem to do anything about it but I can recognize it. I learned the hard way my grill can only approximate a coal-fired oven. For some, it is good enough. For me, it was pure torture.

When the facts were revealed that a coal-fired pie was substandard on so many levels for my purposes, I literally shed a tear. How could I have been so wrong? I spent the better part of my life believing a coal-fired oven was the way to go. It was all I knew since I was a boy. Up to that point I never had a wood-fired pie which was worth a plug nickel. Imagine my utter surprise when I met Chris Bianco. I thought he might have been a charlatan like others in the pizza business who profess ultimate quality and attention to detail but in reality, leverage the wood-fired oven as a marketing gimmick.

The one universal truth I think I know about this hobby is once you think you know something; you don’t. Plain and simple. There is always an exception and in this case it is fellow member November. When he knows something, take it to the bank. It is perhaps the reason why Pete-zza’s tag line “always learning” resonates so well for me. It is the reason why I have to be open minded on so many facets of this hobby. For if I was close minded, I wouldn’t be making the best pizza I’m capable of right now and adhering to the concept of “we’ll see.”

I’ve gotten Raquel to where she is by taking a method and trying it. If it failed, I’ve admitted it frankly, and tried another. But by all available means, I’ve tried something. My pizza making has only gotten better once I understood the de facto principles involved.  It takes time. It takes patience. It takes practice. Repetition is the mother of learning when it comes to artisanal pizza making. That’s why I make only one type of crust; the best I’m capable of.

This brings me to the reason for this post. What is the one box, in my estimation, which still needs to be checked? For me since pizza is crust, perfect crust is not an option it is a requirement. Bubble-Burst crust is perfect for me, maybe not you, but I’ll take all I can get my greedy hands on. So the time is finally here to place an order for the Santos fork mixer.

The time is finally right to determine the impact of a fork mixer. It supposedly barely and imperceptibly raises the temperature of the dough. Nearly frictionless is my understanding. I could have bought the mixer months if not years ago, but the Gantt chart illustrating my chosen sequencing model determined it had to come after the wood-fired Raquel Oven and not before. A fork mixer before the right heat source made no sense. It would have tortured me in ways I couldn’t endure. Now however with the Raquel Oven, it does. I was sorely tempted when I was making pies in the TEC but I’ve stayed the course. Time to cash in and enjoy the spoils.

We’ll see.

Is the Santos “the” tool to produce the ultimate oxygenated dough? I’m hopeful but I’m also concerned like, scott r, about its reported speed of 70 rpm. My understanding is slower is better so I will have to incorporate it into the Raquel formulary and see. It should produce Raquel’s Bubble-Burst crust with aplomb even though it’s not at the magical 45 rpm. Meanwhile, I can’t bring myself to make another dough ball with the Kitchen Aid Professional 600. It has served me well enough when I was an infant pizza maker. It was a tremendous upgrade over the Artisan which came before it. But I’m now tortured by the technology of it. I have to know if the Santos is better.

We’ll see.

But is there a way to slow the Santos down? A bigger gear perhaps? Time will tell. That’s what I love about Raquel and this crazy hobby. Good enough just isn’t. We’ll have to see.
To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt “One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment... If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.”

We’ll see.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on March 02, 2008, 03:04:24 PM
PFT,  glad to see you are making the leap,  you can let me know if it is worth it then :-D  I have used one of these on my bosch universal , and you can make it crawl if you want to,  what it does to the machine, is what I dont know.  good luck -marc


http://www.variac.com/staco_Variable_Transformer_Map.htm
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on March 09, 2008, 11:11:07 PM
pft,

I see in your most recent instructions that you do not separate the dough into individual balls before placing in the fridge. Is this correct?

... I was thinking that since you are aiming for ever-increased consistency, you could determine the moisture content of your flour prior to use. Just run your home oven up to about 200F, weigh 10g or so flour on an accurate scale and put it in the oven for 90 minutes and weigh back.

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 14, 2008, 11:34:04 PM
ray,
Nice mark. The initial bulk rise, rather than dividing then rising, was a subtle change which actually benefited the Raquel Formulary. My thinking, and observed results, are that the ingredients are dispersed more uniformly in one ball than two or more. The net result is a more consistent level of robustness.

We may be talking about reaching the point of diminishing returns here but I can feel a slight improvement when stretching skins as thinly as I do.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on March 16, 2008, 09:48:13 AM
pft,

Thanks for that clarification. I find I have a bit of trouble separating the dough into individual balls if I do the bulk rise. Specifically I am hesitant to re-form a single ball at that stage. Is handling the dough back into a ball before the 3 hour counter rest not unkind to the dough?

... while I'm here :-) I'd be interested to see how thing you are stretching your dough. Can u post a video or pics of that stage?

Thanks for your continued guidance! Today's effort went very nicely and I am getting more satisfied with the crust texture and flavor. My preferment is behaving well, and I think I will continue to use 25% bread flour and 75% high gluten.

Cheers,

Ray

ray,
Nice mark. The initial bulk rise, rather than dividing then rising, was a subtle change which actually benefited the Raquel Formulary. My thinking, and observed results, are that the ingredients are dispersed more uniformly in one ball than two or more. The net result is a more consistent level of robustness.

We may be talking about reaching the point of diminishing returns here but I can feel a slight improvement when stretching skins as thinly as I do.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 16, 2008, 06:48:01 PM
ray,
I posted a couple of short videos on the proper technique for shaping and stretching Pizza Raquel.
Here are the YouTube Links:

Shaping - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3vUSCR-_uQ
Stretching - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAL-_A5oI-U

Also, I took a few photos of my pizza making process and a few of the ingredients. I have finally found my favorite tomatoes and cheese. The key to a good sauce from canned tomatoes, for me, is found in the ingredient list which I took a close-up of. No tomato juice. While not trying to speak in absolutes, I have never found a brand of canned tomatoes worth their salt when the tomatoes swim in tomato juice.

The cheese is a new brand which holds up to the high heat of the Raquel Oven and doesn't require the addition of any salt to taste good. It comes pre-sliced to boot.

Finally, the key to a stupendous pie is the skill of the pizzaiola. Check out the help I have to make the best pies in the world...
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 16, 2008, 06:54:06 PM
Final photographs.

Killer Chorizo sausage, carmelized onions, mushrooms & garlic.

The Nutella pie was a knock-off of the Campania dessert pie with even more goodness - it was cranked up a few notches with the addition of chocolate covered cherries.

Oh yeah, the women went crazy. Guys too.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on March 16, 2008, 07:37:19 PM
pft,

That was a great sequence of videos and photos. You have just about perfected every aspect of the Raquel experience.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: DWChun on March 16, 2008, 08:09:35 PM
Wonderful pictures and video clips, pftaylor. Thanks so much for sharing them. I actually use the Pastene brand of tomatoes as well, though I can't get the "Italian Peeled Tomatoes" in my area. I have access only to the "Italian Tomatoes" variety and unfortunately it does use tomato juice. However, I have found Pastene to be superior(for my tastes) to the other canned tomatoes I can buy locally.

Great looking pizzas as usual. :)


DW
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on March 17, 2008, 03:39:53 AM
pft,

That was awesome! The videos answered a lot of questions for me (after I got around the block that was apparently imposed on youtube here a few days ago).

I see now that I still have considerable experience to acquire before I can begin to think I have properly mastered the techniques and instruction you have supplied via this thread! Thanks very much again for your careful and specific guidance! And your helper is quite alluring (and I'm choosing words carefully in order to stay out of trouble!  ;) )!

Still a dearth of canned tomato choices here, but I am a bit fortunate to now have some fresh mozz choices, including bufala. I'm thinking of making a sauce with fresh golden yellow tomatoes that I am seeing now at the farmer's market, I threw some atop a pizza a few weeks ago and they roasted nicely, imparting a memorable flavor.

One more current question: what is your fridge temp?

Cheers,

Ray

p.s. I think I need a higher ceiling!

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 23, 2008, 08:04:45 AM
ray,
Glad I could help.

I primarily use a cold rise for Pizza Raquel as indicated by the latest Raquel formulary. A secondary refrigerator is used for this purpose and it is maintained at the warmest setting possible.

The recorded temperatures ranged anywhere from 37.5 degrees to 40.5 depending on shelf chosen. The lower shelf naturally had the cooler temperature.

From time to time I do modify the Raquel formulary for a 24 - 28 hour controlled temperature rise. I typically utilize a small wine cooler which is maintained at approximately 64 - 66 degrees for this purpose. Truth be told I'm torn between the two methods because they each result in very different doughs - as would be expected.

That said, I consider Pizza Raquel to be my culmination of the best available thinking on artisanal pizza making. Pizza Raquel really doesn't fit easily into anyone category. It's roots are clearly seated in New York but she also contains elements of:
- Neapolitan style
- California style
- pftaylor style

Pizza Sophia, which I do not write about enough, is really my interpretation of authentic Neapolitan pizza fine-tuned to my artisanal tastes (i.e., Sophia is 14" - 16" instead of the traditional 10" -12" size). Sophia differs from Raquel in the following ways:
- A 24 - 28 hour controlled/room temperature rise instead of a 2+ day cold rise,
- 100% use of Italian 00 flour instead of various blends of high gluten, bread & 00,
- 100% natural starter instead of supplementation with IDY,
- Higher hydration
- Limited topping combinations

Some of the most flavorful crusts I have ever made were done so with the Sophia formulary but they were also the most problematic. Pizza Sophia is just like her namesake; beautiful but somewhat more tempermental and difficult to handle. Also, I just don't like the Super Soft crust of Sophia as much as I do the Bubble Burst crust of Raquel.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on March 29, 2008, 07:34:50 AM
pft,

Thanks again for your continuing guidance.

I ran around a bit last weekend in search of a flour sifter. And finally found one, of Japanese manufacture!

Made a batch of dough last Sunday evening, and the first pizza attempt Thursday seemed to show improved handling results which I attribute to the sifting.

I'll make 2 more pizzas tomorrow, that'll hopefully show further proof that my siftng has made a positive difference.

... I know my fridge is quite cold -- I'll think about how to more closely simulate your temps.

Although I know my lukewarm gas oven cannot directly compare with your lovely equipment, I am at least producing something fairly palatable!

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on March 30, 2008, 09:05:36 PM
I enjoy this hobby immensely despite its many challenges. Some of those challenges are uncontrollable in nature and are therefore the most frustrating for me. Experience tells me making the best pie I'm capable of on a consistent basis requires a blend of the right knowledge and the proper tools.

I believe in having the right tools because I've personally seen the favorable impact of what they can do. I know my pizza making has exponentially improved with the tools I now have and I'm making an all-out pursuit for the final missing pieces.

Truth be told, I've made some pretty good pies along the way without having the finest tools available. But for me, it's always been about achieving the last few percent of what's attainable. I will not stop until I get there. A reasonable metaphor for my reasoning is; I don't want to be like the carpenter whose only tool was a hammer. Everything looked like a nail as a result.

The right skill and the right tools are essential to get to the level that I know I'm capable of. I know, or at least I think I do, that stupendous pizza really is consistently achievable and I plan on getting there as often as I can. To do that requires the right tools. This brings me to the reason for this post.

I need to vent a little frustration. While I've never been accused of having the patience of Job, I'm running into a streak of bad luck sourcing the remaining tools. Let's see, where should I begin?

Ahh, how about with the Princess International ThermoKool MR-138 unit which has the capability to optimize the preparedness of the array of starters I've been nursing for the past few years. But it appears I'll have to use my less than optimal current protocol for a while longer. The MR-138 is on backorder until late April at the earliest. Of course, I could buy a unit almost as good. The MR-128 has slightly smaller capacity and not quite as accurate temperature controls but it is readily available.

But those who know me know “good enough” isn’t when it comes to Pizza Raquel. No, I refuse to reduce my expectations at this juncture and prefer to wait until stock is replenished. As the Zen Master once said, we’ll see.

Then there’s the sob story behind the Santos fork kneader which is supposed to put bigger bubbles in Raquel’s Bubble Burst crust. Where do I begin with this one? The Santos fork kneader is as good as it gets for us residential pizza makers. There is not a suitable substitute as far as I can tell from months of Goggling the subject. I suppose I could order a table-top Pietro Berto. But then I’d have to invite the entire neighborhood over each time I wanted to eat a few pies. The 25 liter capacity makes the unit completely incompatible for home pizza makers.

Here are the series of events since placing my order:
- I fully paid for a Santos unit on March 2nd from a reputable internet dealer.
- The internet dealer finally acknowledged the order after eight business days in their system. Kind of strange that a credit card payment just hangs around for so long but little did I realize what I was in store for.
- A total of four phone calls were necessary to get projected shipping status. Frustrated I attempted to take control by moving up the food chain to the distributor with some timely help from a moderator on this board.
- So I reached out to the North American distributor (located in Canada) and verified stock. The owner’s son promised he had two units in stock and he would set aside the one unit which looked in better shape just for me. I was told my unit would ship to their NY based warehouse first and then on to me. Should take five to six business days he said.
- With fingers crossed, I called the dealer back. They appreciated the help but were being told a different story. They were told eight to twelve weeks by the same distributor though at a different level in the organization. Additionally they were told the Santos might be discontinued by the end of Q2.
- Frustrated, I called for the owner’s son and my call went unanswered for a couple of days so I decided to climb higher on the food chain and speak with the owner. Much to my surprise I was able to secure his cell phone. An even greater surprise occurred when he answered my call. I had to explain my situation and he promised to call me back the next day.
- He thought another dealer had a unit available in Chicago and he would try to secure it for me. Multiple followup calls later, that didn’t work out.
- Then he thought there was a unit available in Toronto. Multiple followup calls later, that didn’t work out either.
- Meanwhile the dealer tried not once but twice to substitute an Anvil 10 quart spiral mixer. Multiple calls and emails were required to finally kill this idea.
- Now I’m told the unit will be shipped by air. I’m told I should have it by next Friday.

The Zen Master in me thinks “we’ll see.”
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on March 30, 2008, 09:58:17 PM
Ebay - 10 Quart Dough Mixer, Kneader by Santos Item number: 7543533110

Buy it now price $1160 @ Hartford Restaurant Supply
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on March 30, 2008, 10:43:33 PM
Believe it or not there are not any in stock in the US right now.  Everyone advertising them (including the guy in the ebay link) is just going to order it from france when they get the money.  I talked to him a few weeks ago.  It was really funny when I had two different dealers ask me if I knew a Pete from florida who was also calling about a santos.  We were both barking up the same trees on the same day!
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 03, 2008, 08:23:53 PM
David,
The guy on ebay has to indicate he has stock otherwise ebay will not accept the ad. He knows he is bending the rules but then again, no one else has the Santos either.

Anyway, I have eight guests coming over Sunday so I needed some practice. The Raquel Pizza Specific Oven was really a joy to use tonight. Ultra fast heat up times with a minimum of wood is something I'll never get tired of. No doubt the four inches of high tech insulation all the way around has something to do with it. Not to mention the computer aided design which optimizes air circulation for a perfectly uniform bake at whatever temperature I want. When the entire dome gets engulfed with flames it is something to see.

My son calls it a spectacle.

My wife calls it outright dangerous.

I call it the Raquel Oven at it's finest...

The last shot is of Raquel's Bubble Burst skin.
 
The flour was King Arthur Special.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on April 05, 2008, 10:38:48 AM
What time shall I arrive Sunday?  ;)

Lovely pictures, as usual!

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 05, 2008, 07:10:39 PM
Hey ray, we have plenty of room at Chez Taylor. Just one rule you may want to be aware of; come hungry. I mean ravenously so. We do not tolerate guests who claim “we didn’t think there would be enough so we stopped by McDonalds on the way.” That will get the offender thrown into the pool – which might not be a bad thing since the weather is so nice this time of year.

As I patiently await delivery of the elusive Santos fork mixer, I wanted to share my personal perspective on wood-fired ovens. Now this post is not intended to be a treatise on wood-fired ovens though it is quite long. Nor is it an attack on or in support of, any wood-fired oven builder, company, buy vs. build decisioning, design, style, domestic or international type, etc. I just want to share some of what I think I’ve learned from my recent journey over the past couple of years of information gathering tempered with real life observations. Here goes nothing.

The wood-fired oven business is chocked full of purveyors who claim to offer the best of the best, no matter what your application, and with little objective information to back up any of their claims. Therefore, it pays to be an educated buyer if that’s the way you choose to go. Even then you run the risk of making a poor decision because you don’t know what you don’t know. There are so many dimensions one needs to consider in order to make a quality decision. Becoming a wood burning oven owner is a complex decision. 

Along the way I’ve spoken with perhaps a dozen or so manufacturers and nearly as many pizzeria owners who own wood-fired ovens, not to mention home oven owners. As a group they are some of the nicest people I have ever encountered. Pizza people are special whether they are enthusiasts or professionals. That doesn’t mean they aren’t biased but most everyone was helpful and willingly shared their knowledge. Oven choices are almost endless though; assembled, unassembled, built on site, cast, build your own from plans, palletized kits, dual fuel gas-assisted, infra-red, commercial, residential, to name a few. So it pays to be as informed as possible. The goal is to make a wise enough decision so that you don’t need to replace it under normal circumstances. Ideally it is a once in a lifetime decision.

Most oven companies seem to be quite sure they produce the best oven and are even surer that the “other” guy doesn’t. Doesn’t mean they are correct, just means they are typically not shy about sharing their opinion. Yet how do they really know? How does anyone know? The factual answer is they likely don’t. They’re guessing based on their experience. Maybe that’s why most manufacturers are secretive about what they do and how they do it.

But the important question is; what is the best oven for your specific requirements.

Most manufacturers aren’t large conglomerates rather they seem to be dominated by family run small businesses. As such they don’t need to conquer the world, they just want to produce what they produce and live a reasonable life. They offer honest products at honest prices. They don’t necessarily want to do anything else for it is their way of life. That is where the pride angle comes into play which leads to sometimes questionable claims which can’t be verified easily if at all.

What I do know is that the traditional wood-fired oven as we know it is ripe to be dramatically improved by the application of new technology. It’s happening sporadically right now. My guess is newer technology is trickling down today and in the near future, the flood gates will be opened by entrepreneurs who recognize an honest-to-goodness opportunity when they see one.

There is no doubt that the latest refractory materials, when used correctly, can produce superior results in most, if not all, settings. But most oven builders are not exactly risk takers. It takes an open mind to want to incorporate something new when the old way of doing things isn’t exactly broken. Lots of ovens bake pizza well. Some do it better than others. But I’m convinced that if most of the manufacturers started out with a fresh, clean sheet of paper today, they wouldn’t build what they are currently offering.

The pace of innovation in the refractory space, outside the oven building business, is so rapid that even an oven manufacturer whose designs are only a few years or so old would be obsolete compared to what is available today. The convergence of knowledge is intruding into wood-fired oven design because it has to. It is inevitable.

It reminds me of the movie Other People’s Money, where Danny DeVito plays a Private Equity raider. He describes to shareholders of a financially ailing company that companies must continuously innovate or be run over and go out of business. The example he used was the last company to produce a buggy whip. They must have produced the best buggy whip ever made because they outlasted every other competitor he said. Nonetheless, they went out of business too because they didn’t innovate and catch the winds of change. Not much need for a buggy whip when someone owns a car he said.

I can’t help but draw the comparison of buggy whips to wood-fired ovens, especially in a residential setting. This in part explains my particular journey. Rather than try and force a commercial oven to work for my intended use, or accept the current crop of residential ovens, I built my own. Mind you, commercial ovens are fundamentally not that much different than residential ovens but they are generally built better. But they may not be suitable for residential use. From my experience however, they may not be any more innovative or up to date though.

The Raquel Oven was designed with innovation woven into its genetic core. Granted, I had the luxury of starting with a clean sheet of paper. Clearly Raquel benefitted greatly from the inexorable pace of technological improvement. My goal was to push the envelope of what was possible in residential oven construction and design. Not what was the norm. Not to see if we could imitate. But the mandate was to break new ground.

In the design phase, we challenged every single assumption my master builder had accumulated over his twenty some odd years of practical experience building ovens. Not an easy task nor always a comfortable one since he is mechanical engineer by trade and is a subject matter expert in most all things refractory. To be told by a lay person such as myself, “that’s not good enough, we can do better” had its risks but thankfully he did have an open mind and that’s all I asked for and needed. That is why Raquel’s vent is not yet completed. While we are close, we have so far scrapped two designs and think we’ve nailed the third. If not, we’re going back to the drawing board. Plain and simple.

The fact that we had access to state-of-the-art computer technology didn’t hurt either. The technology I’m referring to is not used for building pizza ovens as far as I can tell. I sincerely doubt any oven manufacturer has access to what we did since it is used to create commercial refractory solutions which costs millions if not tens of millions of dollars.

But that is how innovation sometimes occurs. I can see one day soon where an existing manufacturer or perhaps someone in a related field, who gets smitten by wood-burning oven pizza, applies what they know in new ways with new materials. Eventually they will produce a new design which incorporates the latest and greatest technology which improves the process and produces a demonstrably better result. It will happen sooner rather than later.

Since I’m a residential user, I’ve restricted my focus to that setting but the fact remains that traditional building materials are so far outclassed these days it’s not even a fair comparison anymore. When one considers the breakthroughs with insulation materials the comparison is even more tilted in the favor of newer is better.

As an example, just a couple of nights ago the Raquel Oven was blazing away at ultra high temperatures and the outer surface of the dome was actually cool to the touch. In fact, the laser gun registered ambient temperature and no more. What does that mean? Well, for me it means a few things; dramatically reduced consumption of wood, shorter heat up times, a safer environment for unsuspecting guests who all seem to want to touch the exterior for some reason. In short it means that the new technology performed as intended.

Now I know I need to be careful with my statements about efficiency because there are other technologies and designs out there which recycle the exhaust and reduce fuel consumption by a multiple of my chimney based design. But, I chose to not go in that direction.

In summary, while I’ve only been baking wood-fired pizza for a short time here’s what I’ve observed from my experience. Whether you build your own or buy one off the shelf, you can bake killer pizza. But there are a few key thoughts to keep in mind:

- A low dome oven is unequivocally better suited for pizza applications than a high dome. Raquel’s dome is less than 13”. So far I have uniformly baked pizzas made from 00 flours, bread flours, and high gluten flours with equally impressive results. Most domestic manufacturers don’t make low dome ovens. Only a handful of international ones do.

- The slope and shape of the dome is critical to ensuring a uniform bake and even internal temperatures. Round is better than rectangular.

- What separates a wood-fired oven from all others is the live flame component which bathes a pizza with a third type of heat other ovens either don’t have or don’t have enough of.

- Insulation is like money; you can never have too much. But proper insulation can reduce excessive wood costs. Much like the Fram oil filter commercials of yesteryear, you can either pay me now or later…

- Short start-up times can be vitally important for residential oven users like myself. The other night I fired the Raquel Oven to operating temperatures in just a smidge over an hour and a half. Flat out pegged the laser gun all over the oven dome. The deck was in the mid eight hundred degree range. I was so happy I was giggling at the results. Less firing time equals less wood consumption which equals more efficiency. For a residential pizza maker, this may be the single most important aspect since we typically bring an oven up from a completely cold start. Pizzerias, on the other hand, can keep an oven charged overnight and this aspect is therefore not as important to them.

- If you are considering buying a fully constructed oven, make sure you understand all the costs and the impact associated with locating it in its final position. Pizza ovens are huge and cannot fit through a typical doorway. Double doors maybe, but not a single door. Plan accordingly.

- Bigger isn’t always better but neither is smaller. I may have lucked out with a 43” diameter cooking deck. It is the sweet spot for home pizza baking in my opinion. Much smaller and the fire could interfere. A larger size really doesn’t get you any more of what you really need. Funny thing, most of the manufacturers advertise how many pies can be loaded at one time. For me, that is a totally irrelevant factor since I bake one at a time. Yet, most of them describe their oven that way. Must be commercial issue…

- Building your own oven is not for everybody. It may not save you time or money. Heck, it may not even work correctly. Weigh this decision carefully. Are you handy with tools? Have you ever worked with cement before?

- Seasoned hard wood is an absolute necessity to bake pizza properly. Properly seasoned wood has the right humidity content to produce exquisitely bubbled crust. The harder the wood, the longer it takes to season. Here in Tampa I am fortunate to have an abundance of Live Oak which burns really hot (one of the highest BTU ratings of any wood) if seasoned correctly or really cold if not. Do not skimp here. It can make a real difference. Buy more than what you need, store it properly, and let father time be your friend.

- Proper oven tools are also highly desirable; a shovel, a brush, and a couple of different sized and shaped peels make all the difference.

- Why go through the expense of building or buying a wood-fired oven? Simply put, it is the ultimate method of pizza baking. Remember, I come from the land of coal fired pizza. Nothing else, not even coal fired pizza comes close in my experience. Perhaps I’m biased but I base this on my personal progression of baking pizza in a home oven (though never modifying the cleaning cycle), and then baking pizza on an 800 degree grill. I won’t explain here in succinct details why those approaches are compromised but suffice to say, my pizza just tastes better in a wood-fired oven and I’d bet your will as well. A residential wood-fired oven is therefore an investment. I consider it an investment of a lifetime. For all I know, it might add to the resale value of one’s home whenever that fateful time comes.

- Be a good citizen and invite your neighbors over for pizza. You’d be surprised how pizza can forge friendships.

- If you are thinking about opening a pizzeria, and you have limited or no experience, please consider hiring a consultant. They will pay for themselves many times over.

Finally, wood-fired ovens are like a fine precision tool. They take time to understand and use properly but the payoff is undeniable. Pizza bliss. Though I’m still learning, I can think of nothing else which has brought the amount of pure satisfaction to me that the Raquel Pizza Specific Wood-Fired Oven has.

Thanks for letting me share. I would be interested in comments and feedback from other forum members whether they be professionals or not. My altruistic goal is to help others make better pizza. I trust this post is a step in that direction.
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on April 05, 2008, 08:30:02 PM
Peter,

You are Walt Disney.

I had a friend nine years ago who worked for one of the contractors responsible for constructing Walt Disney World.  His particular assignments included the Mexico pavilion, and later the Norway pavilion, as well as "The Seas" pavilion all at Epcot.  He relayed to me an anecdote about how demanding and perfectionist Walt Disney was.  It's possible what he told me can be found elsewhere, but I haven't run across it.  The cement had to be trucked from several miles away allowing only a very small window to get the cement mixed at the plant and transported to the sites.  His top engineers and most trusted foremen would actually time the loads with stopwatches.  Although the cement was perfectly usable by everyone else's standards, an untold fortune of cement was rejected because it was "too old", sometimes "too old" only by a few minutes.

We all know how demanding The Walt Disney Company still is.  They're interested in pushing the envelope with new techniques and new technology to enhance the guest experience.  Walt never really cared how impossible the tasked seemed, it was all about moving forward (http://www.quoteworld.org/quotes/3733), and Epcot was the embodiment of that passion.  Because of the passion to innovate, I see Walt Disney's resemblance in your efforts.  You are Walt Disney.

As a pizza related side note, a couple years after that discussion took place and after I had seem him last, my friend ended up delivering a pizza to me to my surprise.  He was trying to earn extra money delivering pizzas while he returned to college to study nursing.

- red.november
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on April 06, 2008, 09:37:50 AM
- Seasoned hard wood is an absolute necessity to bake pizza properly. Properly seasoned wood has the right humidity content to produce exquisitely bubbled crust. The harder the wood, the longer it takes to season. Here in Tampa I am fortunate to have an abundance of Live Oak which burns really hot (one of the highest BTU ratings of any wood) if seasoned correctly or really cold if not. Do not skimp here. It can make a real difference. Buy more than what you need, store it properly, and let father time be your friend.

pftaylor,

Your posts are such great fun to read! I wish I were one of your neighbors.

Excellent point on the wood. I started using pecan wood since it was all I used in my BBQ pit. It could take 4-5 hours to fire-up from cold depending on the ambient temps (single digits in the winter). I then moved to a mixture of pecan and oak which was somewhat better. Now I am using all oak and it took 3 hours for the cold oven to start up yesterday morning with an ambient temp of 28F. Curious to see how it goes in the summer, although I'm at a disadvantage since wood burns cooler at high-altitude. One point about cooking with a live fire you forgot to mention: it is just a lot of pure fun!

Bill/SFNM
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 07, 2008, 08:23:23 PM
November & Bill/SFNM,
Thanks for the kind words guys. I'm blushing with pride. It's nice to know my words did not go unnoticed.

Out of curiosity, what are some of your wood-fired oven tips?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on April 08, 2008, 10:04:02 AM
pftaylor,

I salute you !   This Pizza Raquel topic has been fascinating since it's inception, and it is the first item I look for when I log onto the forum. I have learned so much here.

I am hoping to receive some 3D design pics of my new oven tomorrow, and will post them. I have complied with almost all of the principles that the mention in your posts.

My inner dome ceiling is 324 mm (12.5") above floor height. It is basically a "dome within a dome" with a 20 mm insulation space inbetween the domes. This space will be filled with a ceramic 25 mm blanket (compacted to 20 mm). The inner dome, as well as the cowling, will be made from refractory concrete, and the outer dome from refractory insualtion concrete (including vermiculite). I hope that this will provide adequate insulation for quick initial heating, and overall heating efficiency.

Each dome is in 2 halves, and the cowling is separate. The floor is in 2 pieces as well. Total number of cast pieces is 7,  plus a chimney.

Where I have deviated from your principles is that my design is oval shaped. I know that round is better, but I wanted to offer the option to add a gas burner if need be. There are some strict municipal bylaws in some suburbs, and cities which restrict wood fires. The corners of the walls and roof of the "oval" are nicely rounded to enhance good heat flow patterns.

The industrial gas burner is a straight 24", and needs a "straight wall at the back" to burn properly. I have found gas to burn hotter and quicker than wood, and have made awesome pies using gas and wood together.

I will burn my new oven exclusively on hard (saligna gum from Australia) wood.

Thanks again.

Kind regards.

Barry in Cape Town.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on April 08, 2008, 10:30:32 PM
PFT,  I had the chance to track down your preffered cheese today,  I went into a BJs in town and there it was.  What caught my eye about it is that it is made with lactic acid.  I have not been a huge fan of the fresh mozz I can get locally,  and i had previously thought it might be because of the use of vinegar or citric acid as the acidifier.  I got home and found this on thier website.


Winner of the 2002 and 2004 World Championship Cheese Contest, Cantaré’s Fresh Mozzarella is made with milk high in butterfat and protein content from Southern California’s Jersey cows. The milk is tested to ensure it is free from additives and hormones. In the U.S., fresh Mozzarella is generally made using an acidifier – most commonly vinegar. That does not allow for a milky taste and leaves a strong cheesy flavor, which is not what fresh mozzarella should taste like at all!

Cantaré’s craftsmen have instead introduced lactic acid, a natural milk bi-product, which retains the moisture, protects the skin and preserves the taste and texture. Cantaré’s Fresh Mozzarella (38 day shelf life) is water packed in tubs and available in the following variations:


Perle – 1/10 oz ball
Ciliegine – 1/3 oz ball
Bocconcini – 11/2 oz ball
Ovoline – 4 oz ball
Soficella – 8 oz ball
Slicing Logs

the wierdest part of the above is that only the sliced tub, like you show in your picture, show lactic acid as an ingredient.  The larger balls they make have vinegar listed in its spot. 

So I have till friday to decide if I am going to buy a membership,  just for this cheese,  as I already have a Sams membership,  which I hardly ever use.  what do you think?  is it worth it? -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on April 08, 2008, 11:25:31 PM
Proud costco member just for the buffalo mozzarella here.  Don't regret a thing!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: abatardi on April 09, 2008, 12:06:43 AM
I have tried like 4 costcos and never found buffalo mozz... :-(
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on April 09, 2008, 12:47:29 AM
Yeah, I have had trouble finding it in California.  It's in most of them in the Northeast.  Always usably fresh which is more than I can say for most places that sell it.  It is also half the price of anywhere in town and is one of the better tasting brands.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Mad_Ernie on April 09, 2008, 09:19:30 AM
I was in my Costco just this past Sunday and I saw buffalo mozz, and I live smack dab in the middle of the country.  Must be a regional thing.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on April 09, 2008, 10:07:00 AM
Scott,  where is that buffallo mozz from,  I can't believe all the press about that stuff recently.  Are people still eating it?  Either way,  I will have to check and see if my local costco has it.  In the meantime,  I found  a one day pass on the BJ's site so,  I'll have to try the cantare and decide. Let me know -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on April 09, 2008, 12:13:28 PM
I have to admit I have gone back to grande fresh mozzarella for a while.  It's the next best thing I can find around boston to Buffala. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on April 09, 2008, 01:39:38 PM
If you're looking for a Costco in Southern California that sells buffalo mozzarella, the one on Sepulveda Blvd. in Van Nuys has Bubalis.  I get it there all the time.  Bufala lovers on the forum all say it's second rate compared to imported.  I haven't had enough Italian buffalo mozz to have a valid opinion, but if you want it, it's available there, and on its own terms it's a tasty treat.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 09, 2008, 02:10:27 PM
Scott,  where is that buffallo mozz from,  I can't believe all the press about that stuff recently.  Are people still eating it?  Either way,  I will have to check and see if my local costco has it.  In the meantime,  I found  a one day pass on the BJ's site so,  I'll have to try the cantare and decide. Let me know -marc

About Mozzarella di Bufala Campana:

Yesterday EU inspections (German inspectors) have approved the milk from 30 farms that supply 17 cheesemakers. ALL other milk and cheesemaker cannot operate until they get the all clear. So all cheese on the market right now should be safe

Ciao
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on April 15, 2008, 01:02:15 PM
Barry,
I'm just as interested in your posts as well. Since the Santos is now delayed until the end of April (I won't hold my breath), I need some positive mojo from you. Don't make me wait much longer for your photos...

Another update regarding a delayed product has to do with a warmer-cooler mini-fridge which has similar specs to the MR-138 but with approximately 20% greater interior capacity. Could be the cat's meow. Unfortunately, it too is backordered for a few more weeks. I'll report on this promising unit once I finally get my hands on it and put it through it's paces.

widespreadpizza,
A couple of things I do to optimize Cantare's Fresh Mozzarella are:

- If you dice the medallions, then it's best to let drain for a few hours.

- If the medallions are left uncut, then squeeze each medallion with a towel to fully release the last few unwanted puddles of juice trapped inside. This cheese seems to have a somewhat thick skin which retains the juice otherwise.

- Cantare's Fresh Mozzarella doesn't require adding as much salt as other brands but I have heard from another member recently about a unique way to salt Mozzarella. I'll defer to the inventor of this approach if he wants to let it out in the wild or not.

November,
Nice compliment about Mr. Disney. I am headed to Orlando this weekend to celebrate my daughter's birthday. But since she is turning eleven she no longer wants to go to Walt's place. The Hulk coaster is all I've heard about for weeks... 

Bill/SFNM,
There is one lot left in our secluded village of eleven homesites and it happens to be next to Chez Taylor. Lot size is only two acres though which might be cramped compared to SFNM. Alternatively, you could just visit. That way you could meet Raquel and I could meet Lolita!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on April 15, 2008, 02:56:25 PM
PFT,  I did indeed get some of the cantare cheese for this past weekends pies.  Right out of the gate,  I knew it had potential after a fresh taste test.  It has that creamy milky cheesy flavor a lot of the other ones are lacking.  I appreciate the tips on the moisture remedy.  Myself I ended up taking the slices and put them in my small salad spinner. Which worked pretty well and provided a means of storage(in the fridge).  Slicing the slices before would probably do the job very well.  The melt and the taste are spot on as far as I'm concerned and I will continue to experiment with it. In the meantime I have also found a source for grande,  and my costco(which I don't have a membership for yet) carries a dop buffala, so things are getting better.  Thanks for the tip on this cheese.  As far as the salting goes, I would like to hear about the technique if possible.  Lately I have just been "hitting" the entire pie right before baking with some fluer de sal over the top of everything.  .-marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on April 15, 2008, 03:01:10 PM
Bill/SFNM,
There is one lot left in our secluded village of eleven homesites and it happens to be next to Chez Taylor. Lot size is only two acres though which might be cramped compared to SFNM. Alternatively, you could just visit. That way you could meet Raquel and I could meet Lolita!

What's wrong with that lot that it hasn't sold?  ???
 
Seriously, I'll take you up on the invite next time I'm visiting my son in Orlando. If your daughter in Orlando is single, maybe we could make a match with her and my son? Two great pizza families joined!  ;)

Bill/SFNM

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on April 15, 2008, 08:41:06 PM
Nice compliment about Mr. Disney. I am headed to Orlando this weekend to celebrate my daughter's birthday. But since she is turning eleven she no longer wants to go to Walt's place. The Hulk coaster is all I've heard about for weeks... 

If she's looking to toss her cookies, she can always hit Mission: Space at Epcot or CyberSpace Mountain at DisneyQuest.  I almost lost my lunch on Mission: Space, and actually did lose my dinner after CyberSpace Mountain.  If she hasn't experienced these attractions, she probably doesn't realize how much Disney competes in the extreme thrill ride spectrum.  I think Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (Starring Aerosmith) is even tame by comparison with those two.

EDIT: Of course outdoor roller coasters are not largely in Disney's domain.  If it's roller coasters she wants, Cedar Point is the Mecca.  I have a few stories about that place too, like how I almost fell out of a coaster because of loose-fitting restraints.  Now that was a thrill ride.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizza concerto on April 16, 2008, 12:12:57 AM
Glutenboy,

Thanks for that heads up on Bubalis at Costco on Sepulveda...I was ordering that shipped direct, and this will be farrrrr cheaper.


Dan
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on April 16, 2008, 12:28:01 AM
Concerto --
Helping those in pizza need is the Glutenboy way... My pleasure.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pcampbell on April 25, 2008, 09:01:45 AM
I did a search on this and couldn't find it.  I wanted to find out what your interior dome height was and also your door height and if you are happy with both of those.  I saw somewhere deep in this thread you had mentioned sub 13" for interior dome height.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Mad_Ernie on April 28, 2008, 11:27:26 AM
I know this thread has drifted from its original topic, but I just wanted to put in a big "thank you" to pftaylor for his Pizza Raquel recipe.  I tried it few weeks ago with the original recipe and ended up with beautiful dough balls that went no where. :(   I'm not sure what I did wrong, other than my yeast must have died somewhere along the way.

I tried it again over a week ago with the revised formula, sifting the flour, and again got nice looking dough, but this time they rose quite nicely.   :) 

I divided the dough and ended up having one left, which I ultimately kept refrigerated for almost 8 days.  :o
But I used the dough last night to make a pizza and it worked like a charm. :pizza:

I apologize for not having photos, but my wife is the camera expert and I still need to learn how to use the new thing, especially downloading pictures into my computer.  I plan on trying JerryMac's recipe next, but I want to revisit the Raquel in a few weeks and should hopefully have some photos the next time around.

Thanks again!  :chef:
-ME
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: briterian on April 29, 2008, 10:22:28 PM
Let us know how Pizza Raquel compares to the JerryMac recipe.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzagrande on May 11, 2008, 02:55:33 PM
First crack at Pizza Raquel and first photo post, I used KA bread as the KASL was on backorder and have not received it yet. Second pie done in the oven on a stone at 550 9 minutes and 1 minute broil. First one on a weber gas grill with a stone for 6 minutes and a 1 minute broil. Pizza done on the grill  had better spring. Both pies were good but grill was more charred on the bottom and better taste. Third is the grill showing bottom. Thanks for all the help, you guys and this forum and the best.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Mad_Ernie on May 11, 2008, 04:28:05 PM
Let us know how Pizza Raquel compares to the JerryMac recipe.

Briterian:

I tried out the JerryMac recipe.  See my posts beginning here:
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5851.msg57173.html#msg57173

Overall, both doughs are good and I would use either one again.  I ended up not being able to use the JerryMac dough the same day, so I will have to try that one again, too, to see if I get a different amount of "spring" in my crust.  From my experiences, I give a small edge to Pizza Raquel (grade of A) over the JerryMac (B+/A-), but as I say, both are good.  I will try both recipes again, and who knows, when I make them the next time around, I might give different grades.  Maybe I should use a curve?  ;D
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on May 11, 2008, 05:10:39 PM
Mad_Ernie,
IMHO, I think it's only fair to grade on the curve because the doughs and their handling are quite different.  JerryMac's is a same-day dough using a ~5-hour preferment and pftaylor's Raquel uses Varasano's starter and an overnight retard in the fridge along with 2 autolyse periods that Jerry's doesn't require.  Jerry's also uses honey or malt that the Raquel doesn't.  The Raquel dough is meant to be used in a high-temp, hopefully wood-burning oven and Jerry's is meant for the regular kitchen (lower temp) oven.  Yes, they are both pizza doughs, but that's where the similarities end, at least to my mind.

I have tried Jerry's recipe with great success, but I have not tried pftaylor's Raquel because a) I don't have a wood-burning oven and b) I don't have Jeff Varasano's starter.   :'(  But, I have read and followed this entire thread with great interest in pftaylor's attention to detail, among other things, because while I don't have a wood-burning oven, I DO have a large webber kettle and a Smoke Vault that I am eyeballing, waiting for the weather to warm up (and the rain to slack OFF!!)

~sd
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Mad_Ernie on May 12, 2008, 09:33:54 AM
Mad_Ernie,
IMHO, I think it's only fair to grade on the curve because the doughs and their handling are quite different. 

I agree.  The grading and opinions were strictly mine, based on 1 attempt at each dough.  I would hope no one would take those grades to such an extent as to choose one over the other.  And I like them both and will probably try each one of the recipes again, especially now with summer underway and having a new 2stone for my new grill with my new deck. :D
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 19, 2008, 01:25:57 PM
Here is the latest on the Santos...

"This is just a reminder that your Dough Mixer will return to stock the end of next week. We have contacted Eurodib and have confirmed that the due date has NOT been changed.

The tracking information will be sent to your email address once it becomes available.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Thanks,
Order Fulfillment Team"

I'm a little disappointed with the projected three month delivery timeframe since the order was placed on March 2nd. But the price was right. I wasn't able to duplicate the low price Bill/SFNM and others nailed the Santos for a year or so ago (~$850) but I paid $1,086 which isn't too bad considering they have gone up about two hundred dollars since my order was processed.

If all goes according to plan I will make just one more batch of Raquel dough in the KitchenAid 600 as I will have guests next weekend and have no choice. I've thoroughly enjoyed the journey of dough making from the early days of hand-mixing using my Grandmother's volcano technique to the Artisan and then the 600. I can only hope the level of improvement from the Artisan to the 600 will be duplicated by the Santos.

Like everything else in this hobby, time and extended testing will tell.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 19, 2008, 01:35:01 PM
Finally,
I do not have a confirmed update on the bigger version of the MR-138. The rigors of shipping by sea have apparently foiled my plans yet again. Rumor is the unit is coming at the end of the month...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on May 26, 2008, 07:55:36 AM
Greetings pft and all,

I'm still around, and trying to absorb the vast knowledge accessible on this forum!

My latest attempts at duplicating the spirit of Raquel (using my meager resources, i.e. the "wrong" high gluten flour, hand processing, my own preferment and a somewhat recalcitrant electric oven with a brick insert) seem to have improved. My kneading technique has developed into a more vigorous exercise (based on the latest clarifications of our esteemed thread-starter!) I have found that my starter is behaving better, and more consistently. Also based on the most current Raquel instructions, I have been adjusting the dough rest period prior to making the pizza.

I've found that the ambient temperature here most assuredly has a direct effect on the rate of dough expansion. I'm finding it best to keep an eye on the doughball and beginning pizza preparation when it's about 150% of original size. I believe Jeff Varasano recommends using the (his) dough around that stage as well.

I'm also blending in about 10% KA bread flour currently.

See pics of my most recent endeavour below. (Yes, there's a few too many toppings -- that was by request!)

I'm pretty pleased with this effort. This doughball was the last of 4, and was aged about 7 days. Weight was about 235g, and I stretched it to about 11" I think. Although the spring was not completely consistent throughout the perimeter, there was a fairly satisfying (to me) result, as shown.

The flavor was pretty good. Actually I could note the sourdough essence, but it was not too strong. I'm still seeking better flavor development, and I don't yet want to further adjust the base recipe. I have found that slightly longer cooking times have helped.

Thanks again to pft and the other knowledgeable contributors!

Cheers,

Ray

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 29, 2008, 09:40:49 PM
Extremely nice pies ray. Keep it going...Let me know how I may help.
The progression of Pizza Raquel was a lot slower for me than it is apparently for you. I started with a standard oven then quickly migrated to the TEC and now I'm burning wood. 

Speaking of burning wood, I did a few logs tonight. Team Taylor hosted a Chef's Walk. Here are some photographs of the fun:
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 29, 2008, 09:41:43 PM
Final photographs...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on May 29, 2008, 10:21:33 PM
Pizza Lolita with Nutella????  :o

I'm shocked, I tell ya, shocked! You have sullied the good name of Lolita!

Seriously, beautiful pies, although more my style of small and puffy than your classic Raquel. Looks like a successful event. I forgive you.

Bill/SFNM

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on May 30, 2008, 12:55:19 PM
I love that menu! 

Pete, prepare for your baby to arrive soon.  My santos showed up yesterday and I know your mixer was on the same boat from france!
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 30, 2008, 01:43:34 PM
Thanks scott r for the update and kind words regarding the menu. The menu deserves a little expansion of my symbolism of thought so here goes.

Pizza Sophia and Raquel are the embodiment as to why I’m in as deep as I am with this hobby. They represent the culmination of everything I’ve got to give.

I Carusi stands for the children. Fact is, kids love pepperoni pizza and it seems to be the one they request most often. Rather than fight the universe, I’ve chosen to embrace it.

Paisano symbolizes well, you scott r. You are a good fella and friend. Someone I could have a beer with and enjoy our times together. You are representative of all the positive people I have met in this hobby.

Consiglieri represents Pete-zza. He is the ultimate giver of advice. What is his advice worth? Priceless in my opinion. Like November, David, Ilpizzaiolo, Bianco, and countless others, you freely give without asking for anything in return.

Tampa Verde was decided upon because of my chosen area of residence. It is tropical, lush, and green year round.

Trouser Leg has a dual meaning for me. It harkens back to the natal epicenter, Naples, of this hobby and it pays tribute to the old time pizzaiolo’s like Dominic DeMarco. They are the commercial purveyors who save us from chain pizza.

Lolita had to be on the menu because of one and only one person – Bill/SFNM. He is, to loosely quote a dear friend, a renaissance man of epic proportion with all things food. I could not leave him out though technically the dessert pie is not a Lolita in the strictest sense.

Farsi Una Pizza Assieme! (Let’s Have Ourselves a Pizza!) is a tribute to Marco who has single handedly shared the ancient methods of Neapolitan pizzamaking with our forum.

I trust the folks mentioned above appreciate the heart felt thanks for helping my pizzas be just a little bit better.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pcampbell on May 30, 2008, 06:58:05 PM
I'll take one of everything!
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 31, 2008, 08:18:38 AM
Bill/SFNM,
You are correct about the "look" of the pies. Here's what happened; I was simply caught flat footed so to speak time-wise.

Normally I ask for guests to arrive at a very specific time; say no later than 6:30pm with the first pie coming out of the Raquel Oven at exactly 7pm. Human nature being what it is, coupled with experience, have taught me to plan on a one hour delay. Guests don't mean to be late they just "are."

My normal routine is to remove half the dough from refrigeration an hour before the first planned bake and then form into balls. Which would have pegged the dough being removed from the refrigerator at 6pm thereby leaving a minimum of one hour but more than likely two hours at room temperature.

I then remove the second batch of dough a half hour later. In this case at 6:30pm. I have found staggering times helps offset the intense Florida heat.

This time however it was different. The crowd started showing up at 6:10pm ready to eat. By 6:30pm they were all there with that "predator look" in their eyes. One guest told me she had only eaten a salad that day in anticipation of wood-fired pizza.

So I did the only thing I could do and began shaping skins with cold dough. Normally the 10 oz dough balls stretch out to 14" - 16". However, the first skins were on the small side because they were in the 60 - 64 degree range temperature wise. The second set of skins opened up a little more but the temperature never reached higher than 68 degrees.

On another note, the pies were being baked in about 45 seconds. I bet I could have cranked up the Raquel Oven to 30 second bakes if I wanted to. But no one else in attendance could get their arms around the 45 second bakes as it was so what was the point? Plus I knew I had to craft a calzone and didn't want the oven too hot for that delicacy.

As it was, their jaws were on the floor every time I would venture out to the oven with a raw pie and return in less than a minute with a fully charred one. When one's expectation is set for a typical 8 - 10 minute bake, it simply doesn't compute that a wood-fired oven can finish off a pie so quickly. The one guy in the picture then began inspecting the oven to see if I was pulling a trick some how like having a pie in the oven baking all the time. They couldn't comprehend.

I'm not sure I do fully. Wood-fired pizza is nothing short of magical.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on May 31, 2008, 08:29:04 AM
pftaylor,

Thanks for the explanation. Have you considered a ThermoKool-type device near where you are building the pie? I can keep the formed dough-balls for hours at around 70F and they seem to only get better.

Bill/SFNM
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on May 31, 2008, 08:53:52 AM
Bill/SFNM,
I have a similar unit to the MR-138 on order and can't wait to take delivery. I will use it for optimally activating various starters, rising periods, and using it to maintain the dough at game time as you suggest. The unit has a 24 liter capacity which is approximately 20% greater than the ThermoKool. Should be the cat's meow however, it's been on backorder for over two months. Just this week I was informed it finally came in stock. Where's my tracking number I inquired to the manufacturer?

Then I was told by one of the manufacturer's technicians (who has taken a keen interest in my planned off-label usage for the unit) that the temperature control unit of the new batch of units was different. Different how I asked, knowing the answer was likely not what I wanted to hear. Different as in the control unit isn't calibrated between 60 degrees and 120 degrees I was told.

Great. It's as if my intended usage was intentionally blocked by the manufacturer for some reason. So I sheepishly asked the tech what can be done thinking that he would state something along the lines of we'll refund your money. But to my total surprise, he suggested replacing the new control unit with an older one from a unit cosmetically damaged in shipping.

Sounds like a plan to me. We'll see... 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JimmyMak on May 31, 2008, 09:17:23 AM
 nice pies I think that puffier style is nicer. Do you think that is because of dough temp. I have that same problem with people showing up on time. Thats very nice naming pies honoring these people I couldn't agree more the information we get on this forum. How many pies do you make at large party. Do yuo have a pic of your oven.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on May 31, 2008, 10:10:24 AM
But to my total surprise, he suggested replacing the new control unit with an older one from a unit cosmetically damaged in shipping.

That would be fortuitous.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 01, 2008, 06:57:45 AM
Hi JimmyMak,
Dough temperature plays a critical role in being able to open up a skin. Take last Thursday night at the Chef's Walk. The dough was too cold and exhibited a tightness which I call "snapback." I could stretch the dough out and then right before my eyes it would shrink back to an unstretched state. The only known cure I'm aware of is to wait.

I normally make two batches of thirty ounces of flour each utilizing the Pizza Raquel Formulary. This amount is normally sufficient for a range of guests from 8 - 12. Last Thursday we had a total of 13 in attendance but some were young children and they tend to eat less. One batch is themed to be "American" and is typically made with either high gluten or bread flour. The second batch is themed Italian and is made with 00 or a custom blend of flours I have on hand. Last Thursday night I made a batch of KASL infused with the famed Varasano preferment and a batch of San Felice infused with Marco's famed Ischia starter.

You'll have to go back a few pages in this thread for the latest photographs I have of the Raquel Oven. My mason has run into significant health issues and it has slowed up the progress of constructing and installing the final vent and finishing the cosmetics.

Don't you just hate uncontollable variables? I know I do.

November,
Fortuitous would be good. I just wish it would be expeditious as well.
Ciao,
pftaylor
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 03, 2008, 07:29:28 AM
Finally.

The last box is checked. The Santos finally made it to Tampa. Exactly three months from the date of payment in full, the next-to-last major piece of equipment necessary to stare down pizza perfection is now mine. All mine.

First blush reaction to the Santos is as follows:
- The unit is smaller and lighter than I expected
- The bowl is much bigger than I anticipated
- The fit and finish is well… let’s just say it’s “industrial looking.” Steve Jobs would certainly not approve of the cosmetics but perhaps I could win him over with the finished product

Over the coming weeks and months it will be my intent to tweak the Pizza Raquel Formulary wherever necessary to optimize results. I will not hold back and will challenge every facet of the dough making process. If it works it stays, if not it goes. Sounds simple in theory. I can’t wait to see how far forward the envelope can be pushed.

Here are a handful of photographs.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on June 03, 2008, 11:36:35 PM
pftaylor,

You, my friend, must be in 'Santos Heaven' just right about now!  ;D  Great photos.

After I read your post at work, I decided to open a bottle in your honor. Well, actually the arrival of the Santos at Pftaylor's was just an excuse to have two glasses of a nice red, instead of one.  :angel:

Seriously, though, the reason I'm "celebrating" is simple. We all will benefit from Pf's findings, his gained knowledge and perhaps his altered/different approach to making a great pizza due to the addition of a new member to the Pftaylor "Pizza Raquel" family.

And,  because when I first signed on here, he was already well into his Raquel project but never tired of sharing his knowledge and his results, learned by experimenting with different dough formula's, ingredients, equipment and ovens.

Kudos to you, Pf !

Mike
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 04, 2008, 02:35:46 PM
Hi Essen1,
Thanks for the kind words.

Judging from what you, Villa Roma, and others are doing in the Little Black Egg thread you better be careful. Real careful.  Because it is apparent to me you have the same pizza gene mutating and metastizing throughout you as I do. Chris Bianco so artfully explained the disease state to me one day with the following thought, “you have to submit to the pizza.” Consider me fully submitted. You are on your way…

The pizza gene starts out with silent inflammation and is barely noticed. This stage for me was about three short years ago. Then I only had to invest a few hundred to keep the gene at bay. Now that the disease state has compromised my immune system and fully expressed itself as a grade four, I’m powerless and feel compelled to invest whatever it takes to get the cure. The disease does have a positive side as it also creates an endless cycle of continuous pizza improvement. But alas, I’ve also learned that there is a ratio between cash invested and the quality of Pizza Raquel. But hey, she’s worth it.

You've been warned...

So a day after receiving the Santos I just couldn’t accept the protective lid being in my way. But I needed to come up with a quick and dirty way to defeat the instant-off feature should the lid be raised. Never one to stay within the lines, I removed the lid completely which then allowed unencumbered access to the bowl. However, the unit will not turn on unless the instant-off pin is attached to the lid and the lid must be in the down position. So I put my MacGyver hat on and came up with a solution which was inspired by my son’s recent mouse-trap car project.

After kneading the first batch of dough I have an initial set of observations:

- The kneading bowl is big. I mean really big. Good news is I can now make larger batches relative to the now retired Kitchen Aid Professional 600 which struggled with batch sizes much larger than thirty ounces of flour. Yeah, yeah I know the KA Pro 600 can do much larger batches. But for the Raquel dough in my kitchen, thirty ounces was the sweet spot. Above or below that magic mark and the Raquel dough was not quite as robust. With the Santos, I would consider thirty ounces of flour to be the bare minimum.

- A new tool was needed to properly incorporate the ingredients with the thirty ounce batch kneaded in the Santos today. A spatula. Without it, the Santos would be incapable of kneading such a small batch.

- Did I mention the Santos has a big bowl? Its huge capacity spreads out the ingredients to the point where the tips of its forks can barely touch the ingredients when only adding 25% of the flour to all the water and salt. Therefore an immediate change is necessary. Either a larger batch size is required or more than 25% of the flour must be added to the water and salt upfront.

- The batch was hydrated at 60%. But it “felt” drier relative to the KA Pro 600. More batches will need to be observed to be certain. But if true then this may portend higher hydration dough which doesn’t sacrifice any handling qualities while offering even more Bubble-Burst in its baked crust. More Bubble-Burst is a good thing in my book.

- One of the photographs below shows the dough after kneading but before the second rest period. With the KA Professional 600, I would hand-knead the dough to reach the double dough point immediately after mixing and after then again after the second rest period. With the Santos batch, I was able to turn the Santos on for one spin of the bowl after the second rest period and the dough immediately sprang to life. It was springy and smooth right out of the bowl. It didn’t require a minute or two of punching and folding to reach the final dough point before balling and cooling. At this moment I was doing jumping jacks in the hallway I was so happy.

The attached photographs tell the tale of the tape.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on June 04, 2008, 05:24:37 PM
Pftaylor,

I know exactly where you're coming from when you talk about pizza genes. I remember I made my first bite-size "pizze" back in Germany, in my mother's kitchen when I was 4 or 5 yo. The "dough" consisted of flour, butter and ketchup!

I believe ever since then, the gene has been laying dormant until it surfaced with full force about a year ago. And since Villa introduced the LBE, it became a full-blown disease. Just like yours.

The LBE is a great substitute, especially for the guys on here who don't have the option of building their own WFO.

Nice photos! I can already see that you're fully engaged with the new family member  ;D

When you say that at 60% it felt drier, I could imagine that more of the water evaporates due to the size of the bowl and the dough's exposure to more air?

Mike
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 08, 2008, 09:00:30 AM
Hi Essen1,
You might be right. I'm not certain the larger bowl size can account for all the difference I'm noting. I'm leaning more toward the fork technology having a larger impact while the larger bowl size having a smaller yet contributory factor.

Yesterday I had a couple of “friends” who demanded coming over on Sunday for pie or two or twelve. Pizza glutens but who am I to deny them their pizza cravings? Chef’s Walk invitees don’t seem to mind my enforcing recipricol rules. The notion of bringing over a nice bottle of wine or two to wash down the night’s affair is often greeted with glee at just being given a "seat-at-the-table."

Reciprocity is a given in this hobby and I'm not entirely sure why. So far no one has come empty handed for pizza night. This contrasts favorably when I use to invite folks out on The Fever which was our 10 meter Trojan boat. Inevitably they would show up with an old bottle of spf 2 suntan lotion, one 8oz bottle of water and maybe a chicken wing or two. Think they grossly underestimated the thirst and hunger which immediately ensues being on the water? How about a little help with gas? Forget it. So I stopped complaining and just assumed the worst. I was rarely, if ever, disappointed that way.

I’m not sure what guests were thinking when a hundred gallons or so of premium fuel were being pumped into The Fever’s tanks but it wasn’t reciprocity. Years of watching this scenario repeat itself allow me to confidently conclude that boat guests don't perceive the value of a day out on the water. To this day I'm baffled by this.

Pizza guests on the other hand are grateful. The perplexing thing about this is that the same people who epitomize cheapness on the water think nothing about splurging on a pizza night. I’ve had guests bring over gift wrapped bottles of really old scotch, fancy Italian desserts, and of course heavenly vino. Back to the topic at hand...

Tonight’s impromptu occasion afforded the opportunity to try a slightly bigger batch in the Santos. So I increased the flour to forty ounces instead of thirty. The 00 flour was hydrated with twenty-four ounces of water, and complimented with 1.2 ounces of flavor enhancing and bubble bursting Ischia starter topped off with 1.09 ounces of Sicilian sea salt. This formulary is actually more attuned for Pizza Sophia and Neapolitan style pizza utilizing a 24 hour room temperature rise. 

While the slightly larger batch size worked better, my sense is it’s still too small. By how much? I’m thinking a sixty ounce batch is more correct than not but I haven’t a clue. My surmise would be bigger, in fact, much bigger batches are better. Sure it’s possible to help the Santos out with small batches by employing all sorts of tricks like using a spatula and manipulating the bowl rotation. But it doesn’t feel or look right. The Santos forks can do more. They were designed to do more. Almost like a sailboat in a harbor. I don’t know about you but sailboats just don’t “look” right in a harbor. Sure they are safe by being in a harbor but sailboats weren’t designed for harbors they were designed for the open water.

Visually the forty ounce batch of flour mixed much differently and more competently than the thirty ounce batch. From my observation it was simply due to the increased mass of dough allowing the forks to grab more.

Here are a couple of short YouTube videos showing the Santos in action:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeQqtKtaMzM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eao5xpqfOb4

One last point about the whole boat vs pizza thing. Perhaps I'm a better pizzaiolo than captain. Now that's an explanation I can live with.

Ciao,
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on June 08, 2008, 01:00:45 PM
Pete, I have been doing batches based on 1.5L of water which is at or close to (depending on where you look) the maximum capacity for the santos.  The results are amazing when I stop it at the right time, but I have had a few batches that I have over or under mixed.  I know I will be able to read when I am at the proper point in gluten development easier as I spend more time with this machine, but for a number of reasons I can't help but think how much better the Santos would work if it mixed a bit slower.  It is such a powerful machine that it gets the job done very quickly, sometimes as fast as 5 or 6 minutes even with large batch sizes.  It seems like the point where the dough is optimally mixed goes by so fast that an error of even 20 seconds can destroy the dough. So far my best batches in the Santos have employed a few rest periods during mixing, and I think with a slower speed this would not be necessary.

In an attempt to slow down my santos I hooked it up to a variac and dropped the voltage, but unfortunately the machine really did not slow down at all. Eventually when I got fairly low the mixers internal circuit protection shut the machine off.  This probably means that the santos uses an AC motor and not a DC motor, so I am off to try to figure out a way to slow this baby down a bit and still let it run cool enough to be safe for the unit.  I fear that I might need a frequency converter, and if so it could get costly.  
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on June 08, 2008, 01:32:06 PM
I woke up this morning and my starter was practically jumping out of the bowl.  I started it a couple weeks ago according to Reinhart's method.  I've been keeping it in the fridge between feedings and it hasn't been super active until this AM.  I've been baking sourdough breads with it and it does a fairly good job.  So far it has had a really nice, mild flavor but you can definitely tell it is a wild yeasted bread.  I decided to give pizza dough a try.  I thought I would give Raquel a try. 

So much has happened in this thread since the last time I checked it that I am lost.  I'm still using a Kitchenaid mixer and baking in an oven.  It won't be long though.  I finish my plastic surgery residency in 2 weeks and I'm opening a practice.  Give me 6 months or so in practice and I'll be up to date on technology.

I'm going to rent at first so I won't be building a real oven.  I was thinking I would give the 2stone a try.  Does anyone have any experience with it using this dough?  Sorry if this has been covered, I just can't bring myself to read 28 pages of text.

The other thing I am wondering is if Mr. Pftaylor would be so kind as to post an updated full guide to what he is doing now with this pizza.  I found one on like page 2 and like page 15 but there doesn't seem to have been one done in a while.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 09, 2008, 07:40:48 AM
Hi foodblogger,
The Raquel Formulary was last updated on page 24. But here is the thing. The whole concept of Pizza Raquel is to optimize home pizzamaking with what one has available to them. In my case Pizza Raquel has evolved from oven baking to grill baking to the venerable Raquel Oven and had to update various aspects of the formulary each time. Along the way I also graduated from an Artisan mixer to a Professional 600 and finally now the mythical Santos Impastatrice a Forcella.

How serious are you about climbing the pizza mountain? If you truly are ready to go mountain climbing then I have a one time offer for you. Kindly share with us a complete overview of the tools you have available, oven, flour, etc. and I’ll respond back with an optimized dough management suggestion customized just for you. We may not get it right the first time but through the process of collaboration we will nail it. I’d offer a money back guarantee that this will result in the best pizza you’ve ever eaten but alas, I’m not charging money. I’m just giving back, which is hopefully what you’ll do as a surgeon when the time is right.

Here is a report of sorts from last night’s Chef’s Walk.

It was a disaster. First pie was scheduled to hit the Raquel Oven at 6pm sharp. At 5:50pm the heavens opened up and I tried to bake pies in the rain. No fun I can assure you. On top of that the first pie was soggy because of the rain pelting the pie to and fro the oven. There was just no avoiding it.

So we resorted to using an umbrella to protect our prized pizzas on the journey from the prep area to the oven. Meanwhile the Pizzaiolo was drenched as he tended to the pies in the downpour. Good thing they only took a minute or so to bake otherwise it would have been worse. Even though the Raquel Oven is entombed with world-class layers of insulation material, I’m always concerned with a fire hazard when the tarp is wrapped around it to keep out the rain. I have a fire extinguisher just in case…

I managed to only take a few photographs but here a few interesting observations about the two doughs used last night:

- Everyone (including me) preferred the texture of the 50/50 blend of San Felice 00/KABF compared to 100% San Felice 00. Voting was unanimous and a landslide

- The blended dough had the wafer-thin eggshell exterior. The 100% 00 dough had loads of softness and just a wisp of crisp but not enough to have a super interesting tooth-mouth feel for the assembled attendees. I’m now convinced Italian 00 based dough is an acquired taste. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll ever acquire it

- Everyone preferred the appearance of the 00 pies. The leoprading was just too enticing to choose the blotchy look of the blend

- Even though the 100% 00 dough is the softer of the two, it was much, much, much more robust in its handling properties. The difference here may have to do with the one change I made in the dough management process. I decided not to incorporate a 20 minute rest period upfront in the dough management process. The only other difference was a four day cold rise for the blend vs. a 24 hour room temperature rise for the 00

- One of the photographs shows a baked skin just before being slathered with nutella. 'Em Em good. Sitting beside it was a Trouser Leg which I now use to bat cleanup for all the ingredients I have left. Killer...

So it seems, based on my limited experience, the Santos produces superior dough without the first rest period whereas the KA Professional 600 had to have it to produce a similar quality dough. I’ll experiment with a few more batches before making a final decision but I know which way I’m leaning.   
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on June 09, 2008, 01:12:08 PM
PFT
Thanks for the info.  Those pies look delicious.  I'm a little out of practice with NY style.  I haven't done too many since I moved to Kentucky.  I had a pretty good handle on it when I lived in Kansas City and I was able to make consistently tasty pies.  I'd give you my current equipment/flours etc but I'm moving (again) in 2 weeks.  The new place has a gas oven but it is pretty old.  I have no idea what I'll be able to do for maximum temperature etc.  I'm also very strongly considering buying a 2stone in the next month or so which would change things drastically.

After reading how hard the Santos mixers are to get I might hold off on that until the winter sometime.  Who knows if they will even be available by then.  I bake a TON of bread so I have been thinking of upgrading from my Kitchenaid for some time.  If the Santos suddenly becomes unavailable, are there any other options that come close?

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on June 10, 2008, 02:08:39 AM
pft,

I'm looking forward to seeing a vid of the Santos in action, when you have time.  8) (edit: ah, I see my wish is granted! http://youtube.com/watch?v=KeQqtKtaMzM )

Also I'm wondering how long a span you usually employ between when your pie is completely prepared and the time that it is placed in your oven. Of course this may vary based on your ambient conditions.

Now that it's quite warm here, I'm seeing a lot more activity with the dough (as it should be) and my results are improving somewhat. I may increase the resting time prior to placing my pies in the oven in an effort to improve the lightness. Though I may need to be careful to make sure the pie does not get soggy.

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 10, 2008, 12:50:48 PM
Hi ray,
May I take the liberty to rephrase your question?

Q: What is most important in terms of what can be accomplished at this specific point in the dough management process?

A: When trying to optimize the conditions to produce a light and silly-soft or Bubble Burst crust, make absolutely sure the dough temperature prior to baking is as close to room temperature as possible. I strive for 75 degrees F as a target. 75 degrees seems to work best in my kitchen. I believe this is much more important than a preset timeframe and is a much more objective means of duplicating one's success.

After stretching a skin to the desired dimensions, it is normally dressed and peeled immediately into the menacingly hot Raquel Oven.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 10, 2008, 01:21:26 PM
Ever wondered what the cost of making a wood fired pizza at home is?

Well I have and here is some Pizza Raquel Wood-Fired Math. Below is an estimate of what it probably costs me to produce a Pizza Raquel. In summary, it’s the investment of a lifetime:

$1.66 - Raquel Oven amortized over 25 years/20 pizzas per month
$1.50 - Fresh Mozzarella avg 4oz per pie
$0.95 - Pepperoni, Onions, Mushrooms, Sausage, EVOO averaged over 10 pies
$0.50 - Miscellaneous scales, electricity, travel, tools, etc.
$0.50 - Seasoned Wood (30 Firings per $150, 10 pies/firing)
$0.30 - Flour (Mixture of King Arthur, Caputo, San Felice 6oz/pie)            
$0.30 - Other Cheeses (Reggie Parm, Sini Fulvi Romano, Ricotta)    
$0.20 - San Marzano Tomatoes ($2/can per 10 pies)
$0.20 - Purified Water (3.6oz per pie)   
$0.17 - Santos Mixer amortized over 25 years/20 pizzas per month
$0.05 - Sicilian Sea Salt, Yeast/Starter, special spices

$6.33 - Total Cost per Pizza Raquel (excluding labor)            

The above costs are mostly historically based in part on the past several Chef’s Walk events hosted. Other costs, such as for the Raquel Oven are amortized over what I believe to be a realistic useful life of the asset. Though the Raquel Oven will likely have a much longer usable life, I will probably not be around to enjoy its divine output much more than projected.

Currently the Chef’s organic garden is growing spices and vegetables such as oregano, basil, and arugula which jack up the flavor quotient over what’s available locally and obviously have the added benefit of helping lower costs. I’m sure there are other ways to reduce some of the other costs (such as buying in bulk) but then again, ingredient costs are skyrocketing so the above is offered only as a real world guesstimate.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: jeff v on June 10, 2008, 03:40:21 PM
Now that is justification! :P

Nice work PF!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on June 10, 2008, 10:22:35 PM
pft,

Thanks.

My pizza journey has advanced more during the past four months than during the preceding fifteen years, and you receive 90% of the credit!

... I'll gladly pay a 20% premium over your cost for one of your pizzas!  ;D

Cheers,

Ray (now to take the starter from the fridge for another round)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: foodblogger on June 11, 2008, 01:41:02 PM
I made a pizza Margarita using this dough formula/techiniques modified slightly to my kitchen last PM.  It was superb.  It was every bit as good as the pizzas I was making in Kansas City and those took a year of experimentation to get nailed down.  Thanks for the shortcut!  The sourdough flavor was there but subtle.  I think I will use this formula and set of techniques whenever I am doing pizza with a starter.  I will, of course, have to adapt it as I add new equipment etc but the formula probably won't change all that much.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 21, 2008, 01:07:00 PM
scpizza,
Interesting observation.

I’ve decided to respond to your thoughtful post in the Pizza Raquel thread simply because with the advent of the Raquel Oven and Santos mixer I have now standardized both styles from a centralized and optimized dough management platform irrespective of flour used. This streamlined approach will allow me to focus more on end-to-end process optimization of pizzamaking rather than chunking it down into discrete sections. Neither Pizza Raquel nor Sophia fit well into any existing pizza category or style so I might as well choose one and go for it.

Here’s my perspective – Pizza Raquel started out as the “American” version of my home artisan pizza making and was loosely based on my interpretation of what elite NY style pizza could be. Pizza Sophia started out as the “Italian” version and was loosely based on the Neapolitan style. Both have come a long way baby and are similar to each other but they are both different enough to be totally separate life forms in my opinion. Neither is intended to be a clone of each other or any other style but is constructed according to guiding principles of unparalleled quality and attention to detail. Not to express guidelines such as authenticity to any given style. This would limit and govern my imagination. At the same time I’m not trying to beat up any existing style. But if I had to weigh in with my views here is what I would conclude.

What is the big problem I have with elite NY style pies? Simply put they are borderline fast food tasting comprised of cheap and sometimes potentially harmful ingredients. The questionable dedication to improvement by the vast majority of pizzeria owners is another sore spot. I do admire the high heat induced charred crust of the coal-fired versions. Coal-fired pizza is nearly unavailable anywhere else in the US other than the northeast so it is very limited and generally tastes good as a result when baked at high temperatures. It is my childhood definition of pizza and as such will always hold a special place in my heart despite its obvious faults.

What is my view of Neapolitan pizza? Based on my personal experiences, perhaps the biggest complaint I have is that I have no tangible reference point for it. I find its crust way too soft and the watery sauce and puddled bufala created an overly soupy tasting experience for me. The Neapolitan pizzas I’ve had were overly bland taste-wise as well. I guess flying over fresh bufala from Italy just isn’t the same as getting it same day. Also, don’t get me started with eating pizza with a knife and fork in the name of soft and light. How is that justified? Oil and water if you ask me. Oh yeah, and I just can’t get over the “Mini-Me” form factor either. There I stated exactly what bothers me. I now feel better. With the honesty of a pizza youth I can finally exclaim, “The king has no clothes!”

What do I admire most? Well, the attention to overall quality of crust and toppings and the high heat induced ultra-fast bakes are the top two. Not to mention that if it were not for Neapolitan pizza there probably wouldn’t be NY style. From what I can deduce, Il Pizzaiolo in Pittsburgh probably does it as good as or better than any place in the US. I’d be willing to bet Brad at Settebello is just about there as well with his new ovens so I need to reserve final judgment until I can try the real thing with Ron, Brad or one day with Marco in Naples.

How does all this fit in with my girls? In truth, Pizza Raquel and Sophia are an amalgam of numerous styles with a heaping helping of pftaylor innovation and originality thrown in. It is easy to recognize the NY styled form factor, the charred Neapolitan influenced wood-fired crust, and the Californian notion of unsurpassed toppings quality and freshness.

The hidden factor which doesn’t expose itself in the countless photographs I have posted over the years is what I now call the notorious Pizza Collective. Traditionally it works like this, upon contact with an unsuspecting pizza enthusiast, the Pizza Collective would transmit a message saying something along the lines of:

“We are Pizza. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. The probability of your assimilation is calculated to be extremely high, but may depend on a number of factors including hunger, palette and childhood proximity to Chicago.”

Ha-Ha!

Practically, it’s where the Pizzaiolo creates such an undeniable cascading avalanche of flavor and textures which are so compelling and unexpected that it literally pins one’s brain to the veritable canvas mat with a submission hold. It’s where one just has to submit.

It is a standard by which all artisan pizza makers whether commercial or residential should strive to attain. I know I do. Pizzeria Bianco probably does it better than anyone. Certainly better than any other commercial establishment I have eaten at.

Raquel and Sophia crusts are so good right now I could stop experimenting and be happy for the rest of my life. But trying to optimize the overall flavor quotient according to my synergy scale could take the rest of my days. I used to think pizza was crust but now I have come to realize it is the overall experience and balance of crust, toppings, and flavor. To date, I’ve achieved this level of perfection with just two pies; my version of Margherita and my version of marinara cranked up using hard cheeses. Yeah, yeah, I know it isn’t a marinara then on an authenticity level but one bite will have you twitching your toes in happiness so label it what you will. The dessert pizza topped with Nutella is nearly there as well due to the seemingly simple addition of slivered almonds which caused an exponential increase in flavor.

Both Pizza Raquel and Sophia now utilize the exact same newly developed dough management process. The Santos was the trigger event and has cured all sorts of mixing workarounds and has greatly simplified and demonstrably improved the overall dough kneading process. How you ask? Well, mixing dough with the Kitchen Aid Professional 600 required tricks to coach maximum dough performance from a machine ill designed to mix pizza dough in my opinion. The 600 is a good general purpose mixer no doubt. But in order to create my signature Bubble Burst crust it was a pain in the you know what. I have now concluded there is no longer a need with the Santos for actions like adding only a small portion of flour to the water and salt then resting for 20 minutes. I now realize just how Pro 600 specific my mixing regimen was.     

Both styles use the same rise protocols – either a 3 day cold or a one day room temperature. My results have concluded very little difference between these two approaches and I freely choose either based on my time and availability.

Both use a natural starter though different ones. Pizza Raquel uses the famed Varasano, Pizza Sophia uses the Ischia. Alas, the Camaldoli is relegated to the refrigerator due to its overly mild impact on flavor and less spring in the crust. Why no baker’s pinch of IDY? Well, the Santos oxygenates the dough so well that the natural yeast doesn’t need a boost anymore. From what I can tell, the absence of IDY enhances the flavor of the crust even more. The culture is finally free to have its way with the flour without competing with IDY.

Pizza Raquel utilizes either 100% North American hard flour or is softened slightly with a minority blend of Italian 00. Sophia utilizes either 100% Italian soft 00 flour or is slightly hardened with a minority blend of North American flour. Why the difference? Texture, that’s why. Nearly all of Wood-Fired’s guests have preferred the Raquel crust either with 100% hard flour or both blends more than the 100% 00 inspired Sophia. The real world difference I have observed and recognized is my guests seem to prefer a slice of pizza which they can pick up and eat with their hands. Knives and forks to cut up a slice just don’t meet expectation. Kids will never get it. I’m not sure I do either.

The blended Raquel and blended Sophia crusts are my personal favorites because their crust profiles are neither too hard nor too soft. Both are constructed to have a wafer-thin crisp of a veneer with a silly-soft interior which is my ideal. Only real difference is they come at it from different ends of the spectrum. Hard to soft versus soft to hard. Both ways work for me.

I can’t seem to choose between Raquel and Sophia because they are both superb. Now with the advent of the Raquel Oven and the Santos kneader, I don’t have to.

Resistance is futile!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on June 21, 2008, 03:48:39 PM
PFT,

Great post.

I'm wondering, since you have eliminated the IDY from your formula with the arrival of the Santos, if you have increased the amount of starter or if it's still the same?

Mike
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 22, 2008, 07:40:54 AM
Essen1,
Insightful question. A little background before I answer.

Years ago I managed to develop nice flavor and success using 15% starter based on the weight of the flour. Back then there were bakers on the forum who routinely recommended 20%. I also believe Varasano, at that time, was even going as high as 40%. It was all so new we were frankly feeling our way along and viewed the use of starters from a baker's perspective. Big mistake.

Then I began to learn and understand the unique differences between bread and pizza due to the teachings of pizzanapoletana. As I scaled down the amount of starter used, I feared I would lose some of the oven spring I had come to know and love so I began complimenting the starter with a few sprinkles of IDY. Remember, back then the notion of using 5% instead of 15% was downright scary. Supplementation seemed to work quite well so I left well enough alone until the Santos showed up and I decided to challenge all these little workarounds I had come up with in order to produce killer pie with inadequate tools like the KA Pro 600, TEC grill, etc.

Simply put, I have learned, demonstrated, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there are three primary factors which lead to optimizing the flavor in Raquel's Bubble-Burst crust:

- The starter type and quantity
- The flour type and rise time after kneading
- The water type and hydration

Kindly allow me to quickly tackle each beginning with the starter type and amount. The amount of Ischia starter I used for the last batch was 3% of the weight of the flour. This amount is just about right for a twenty-four hour rise. However, if I wanted a same day rise or if it were in the middle of the winter, I could and probably should use more say in the five percent range. So depending on certain variables like time and temperature, I use a sliding scale for the amount of starter used. Alternatively, I could use more or less salt and accomplish the same end result. But that is a topic for another day and has a whole host of potential problems which can rear their ugly head if too much or too little is used. Whenever I finally get my greedy, flour-stained hands on the MR-138 type unit, I will finally be able to directly control the rise times and temperatures with even more precision. But that too is another topic for another day.

The flour type and rise time is up next. I keep on using, either in whole or blended, Italian 00 flour in Pizza Raquel crusts like Caputo Pizzeria because Caputo flour has a low enzyme amylase (an enzyme that breaks starch down into simple sugar) activity. What the heck does that mean relative to producing Bubble-Burst crust? Long story short I believe it means that it needs both the right amount of time and temperature to develop properly. A long rise then allows the starter to break down the starches in the flour. Thereby increasing the digestibility of the pizza so it doesn't sit heavy in your belly. Believe me, the elite athlete in all of us need this feature!

Finally, the last key component to developing a flavorful Bubble-Burst crust with plenty of spring is water. The water here in Tampa is so heavily chlorinated that no amount of yeast can act normally when in its presence. Therefore, I use only bottled water for making my doughs. Its a little more expensive but why take the chance? In fact, there is no chance of creating a flavorful dough from Tampa tap. Your water may be different. I now recommend a 61% hydration and am thinking of going slightly higher because the Santos at 61% hydration feels like the KA Pro 600 at 57%. The difference is that much.

I trust the above answered your question.
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on June 22, 2008, 09:38:35 AM
pft,

I was one of the early ones on the forum to play around with starters/preferments in the context of converting ordinary dough recipes to use natural starters/preferments, so I remember this matter well. It was member bakerboy (Barry) who recommended using 15-20% natural preferment based on his experience as a professional artisan bread baker and pizza maker. The 15-20% number, which I have continued to use ever since in converting recipes to use natural starters/preferments, was based on the weight of the formula flour. I subsequently found confirmation of what bakerboy recommended at http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/howdoiconvertyeastbreadrec.html.

As you know, the idea of using much smaller amounts of natural starter came from pizzanapoletana (Marco). He deserves full credit for introducing that idea to the forum. Marco suggested use of 1-5% natural starter. However, in line with common Neapolitan baker's percent practice, the 1-5% was by weight of the formula water, not by weight of the formula flour (although it is easy enough to convert to weight of flour). At levels of 1-5% by weight of water, the primary effect of using such a natural starter (in addition to flavor enhancement, of course) is to leaven the dough, just as commercial yeast does. Importantly, however, you will not get certain attributes that using a much larger amount of starter material (actually a preferment) might contribute in some cases (such as increased acidity, tightening the gluten matrix, etc.). I have personally stuck to the U.S. system of baker's percents where the starter/preferment is based on weight of flour but I believe that scpizza, and maybe a few others, have tried to stay true to the Neapolitan method and use the starter as a percent of water. I might add while on this subject that Bill/SFNM uses his starter as a percent of total dough weight, which is still another way to do it. Because of the three different methods, when Boy Hits Car (Mike) and I were designing the preferment dough calculating tool (at http://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment_calculator.html), we incorporated all three options.

Even with your recent changes to the Raquel dough formulation, including the amount of starter you are now using, along with the slightly increased level of hydration, it should be easy to use the preferment dough calculating tool to provide the ingredient quantities to make any number and size (diameter) of Raquel pizzas. I believe the only pieces of information I do not now have on the latest Raquel dough formulation is a typical dough ball weight (and corresponding pizza size) and the flour/water composition of your starter as defined in the preferment dough calculating tool.

Peter
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on June 22, 2008, 12:29:33 PM
Hi Pete-zza,
Right now I am hampered by the 9" turning peel which I bought back in December last year before I knew what I was doing. I actually have multiple problems. The 9" head makes it quite difficult (and perhaps combined with my lack of spinning ability) to spin pies which are much larger than 13". In fact, I have punctured a few 14" - 16" pies while trying to spin them due to the sharp edge cutting the bottom of the crust on the first spin.

To top that off, more than a few toppings have tumbled off the pizza's edge which drapes down over the 9" peel while making the trek from the venerable Raquel Oven. This is particularly a problem with 100% Italian 00 based doughs. In addition, the 9" peel I ordered was with the short handle which toasts my hands due to having to reach so far into the oven.

Its sort of like fighting city hall and I've had it. So while I'm reluctant to make smaller form factors, right now I'm in a corner. A smoldering corner at that. With not a hair on my arms from my elbows to my hands. So until I order a new larger spinning peel from GI Metal, I will stay with 13" as the preferred size.

The dough ball weight I shoot for is 10 ounces for a 13" skin. 12 ounces for a 14" - 16" skin.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on June 24, 2008, 07:05:36 PM
Okay,

I have been experimenting with PFT’s Pizza Raquel dough now for quite some time, but since I do not own a WFO, only a LBE, am altering and tweaking his dough formula here and there, to make it more suitable for my oven.

Probably the main difference is that I add 1Tbsp of olive oil to the dough, about half way through the first mixing cycle. I use garlic-infused olive oil from Gilroy, CA, aka The Garlic Capital of the World. It adds a slightly different texture and flavor to the crust.

The ingredients are otherwise the same: Caputo 00 Pizza flour, bottled water, salt, starter and a baker’s pinch, 1/8 of a tsp of ADY, to be exact. I also took PFT’s advice to heart to create two dough points during the mixing and kneading stages. However, like I mentioned before, I had to tweak the formula and that also applies to the kneading regimen, particularly in regards to the dough points. I created 4 dough points, because of a) no Santos here and b) to achieve a smoother dough structure through the use of a more thorough dough kneading with my KA Classic Series model.


The steps I took are as follows:

I dissolve the salt in the water and add about 200 gr. of flour. I use the paddle attachment at this point, mixing it for one minute until it’s smooth and no more clumps are visible. Then the starter goes in, mixing it for another minute, and then I add the ADY.  The rest period after incorporating aforementioned items is 45 mins, 25 mins longer than what PFT’s Raquel formula calls for.

After, what PFT called “Raquel’s beauty rest”, a clear, watery form of hooch was visible around the edges of the bowl. I use a rubber spatula and gently mix in the hooch and switch over to the dough hook.  On stir speed, I add the olive oil to the mix and then, with a regular spoon, start adding the rest of the flour gradually. Once that’s all done, I cover the bowl with some foil, clean the dough hook from remnants of dough, flour and oil and rest the dough for 15 mins. That’s my dough point #1. I repeat the dough hook cleaning procedure during the entire kneading process. That has two reasons. First the remnants on the dough hook won’t dry out and become crusty and second, every time I attach the dough hook again, it comes in from a different angle; a technique ( aka Drop Hook Fold) I learned here:

http://www.artisanbreadbaking.com/discussions/folding_dough.htm (http://www.artisanbreadbaking.com/discussions/folding_dough.htm)

Anyway, back to the kneading procedure. I give the dough another spin for about minute or two and let it rest again for 15 mins; dough point #2. Again, I cover the bowl with foil and repeat the cleaning of the hook. After the rest period, I proceed with the DHF technique. But, and here’s where I change it up a bit…every 15 seconds, I give the hook a quarter of a turn so that it comes in from four different angles, one angle at a time, in 15 secs kneading intervals. Now, as you can see in the pictures, the dough has an immensely smooth and airy texture. Again, let it rest for 15 mins and clean the hook; dough point #3.
Once the rest period is done, I give it a quick spin and and transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, give it short kneading and shape it into a ball, cover it with a damp kitchen/tea towel and let it rest for 30 mins; dough point #4. the dough now has an incredibly soft and silky feel to it. I place it into a lightly-oiled bowl and in the fridge for further overnight retardation.

At this point, I have no clue how the finished pizze will turn out. I have a couple of buddies over for tomorrow’s Germany – Turkey semifinal at the Euro 2008 and will make a couple of pies during half time. I’ll report back with pictures then.

We’ll see how it all comes together, but given the texture of the dough so far, it cannot be a disaster. I simply refuse to believe that.

Here are the percentages for 4 dough balls, about 325 gr for a single dough ball and a skin size between 14” – 15”.  I have no data in terms of the thickness factor since I do it by feel. I’m aware that the total dough weight is 1336 gr, 36 gr over what four 325 gr balls would be (1300 gr). I simply use the rest of the dough to make a new starter.

Below are the numbers:


Caputo 00 Flour:   770 gr / 100%
Water:         470 gr / 61%
Salt (Kosher):      20 gr / 2.6%
Starter:         70 gr / 9%
Olive oil (1Tbsp):   6gr / 0.78%
ADY (1/8 tsp):           0.26gr / 0.034%



Mike
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scpizza on June 25, 2008, 07:57:06 AM
In an attempt to slow down my santos I hooked it up to a variac and dropped the voltage, but unfortunately the machine really did not slow down at all. Eventually when I got fairly low the mixers internal circuit protection shut the machine off.  This probably means that the santos uses an AC motor and not a DC motor, so I am off to try to figure out a way to slow this baby down a bit and still let it run cool enough to be safe for the unit.  I fear that I might need a frequency converter, and if so it could get costly.  

I've been trying to figure out how to slow mine too for a long time now without any luck.  Frequency converters only seem to convert among 50Hz, 60Hz, and 400Hz without anything to go to say 30Hz.  If you look at the schematic on the Santos you don't see any reduction gears, though I can't help but think there is one hidden in the elbow connecting the motor shaft with the fork shaft.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: jimd on June 25, 2008, 08:40:22 AM
Not sure if this is the same idea as the "variac" that is mentioned, but I have the same problem with my Bosch Universal Mixer---it mixes very well, but at a higher speed (even at the slowest setting) than is ideal, resulting in dough that is overheated. I bought a dimmer switch intended for lamps, and am now able to slow the machine down to a crawl. (Apologies if your analysis goes way beyond my simple approach---it may be that other machines simply shut down once the power is reduced below a minimum threshold.)

Jim
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 06, 2008, 09:20:46 PM
Tonight we achieved a personal best. Every single pizza was off-the-hook good. Our congenial guests made the evening. Since they were friends from my wife's hometown, we had a relaxed come-as-you-are experience.

Of course it started raining "medium hard" which meant yours truly had another variable to contend with, but it didn't phase me as much this time because it was more or less controllable. Since I was soaking wet, photographs were limited.

 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Glutenboy on July 06, 2008, 11:19:19 PM
Okay, now I'm hungry...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on July 07, 2008, 05:36:10 PM
pftaylor,

Nice looking pies. I sure you family loves your "hobby"

Have you settled on a flour combination that you found to be the favorite?

Are you still adding the pinch of yeast to your starter in your formulation?

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on July 07, 2008, 10:03:18 PM
PFT,  those pies are looking real killer!  just got in my bag of bread flour to again do some flour mixing as well.  I am curious as well what your preferences have been with bread/00 flour.  Along with that are you favoring a single or double fermentation(bulk rise).  Also,  I have been experimenting with a dough box type stage 2 rise like you have pictured above.  My spacing in the dough box is much farther than yours,  enough so that the dough balls will not touch.  They have been spreading out more than I would like and was getting ready to make them collide to keep some loft.  Are enjoying the dough box method or is it causing you problems?  Also is it making you use oil at all to help with an easy release of the dough.  Let me know -Marc
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 08, 2008, 09:19:14 AM
Hi widespreadpizza & MWTC,
Your questions are prompting me to post an update to the Pizza Raquel Formulary. I'll try to accomplish that task today. In the meantime here are the answers to your specific questions:
- My current preference for flours is to use either Caputo Pizzeria or San Felice Pizzeria. I would need much more time than I currently have to explain why I am ending my experiments with blending but suffice to say it is based on results

- My current preference for fermenting the dough is to use a double stage room temperature fermentation. Again more when I have time

- No problems with separating the dough from the Pyrex container though it is a learned skill

- I use no oil whatsoever unless it is on top of the pie

- Finally, I no longer am using a pinch of IDY to boost the starter. Tests have proven it actually hurts Raquel's Bubble-Burst.

pftaylor
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 08, 2008, 09:36:39 AM
I should also caveat the above recommendations are only for when one is kneading the dough with a fork kneader. If you still have a KitchenAid, or equivalent, then kindly refer to the freshest Raquel Formulary which specified this mixer.

The Santos has "cured" a number of ills but I understand its not available for everyone.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 08, 2008, 11:55:43 AM
Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite summer refresher as this will likely take a while.

Naples is calling me. I can’t help it no matter how hard I try to resist.

I really mean it. Over the past several years I have endeavored to produce the finest pizza, irrespective of cost or complexity, which I was capable of. After hundreds if not thousands of pizzas I finally have found what I was looking for. A pizza worthy of being called Raquel, Sophia, pftaylor’s or whatever anyone would like to label my perfect pizza as. I’m finally there due to the synergy of knowledge, humility, passion, intense curiosity, stubbornness, and frankly having the proper tools. I now understand I couldn’t get there without all the above. All these facets needed to ferment together slowly before the truth was revealed. So how did it happen?

Well not so fast my friend. First, some history to provide proper context for my comments. My intention for sharing is simple; hopefully my journey will serve as guidepost of sorts to others for what it takes. We’ll get to the end and see how we did.

I started out making pizza at home by following my Italian Grandmother Quagliariello’s recipe. It was all I knew about making pizza in the home. She was from the Province of Avellino which is in the Campania region. As such, no one and I mean no one, questioned why she did what she did. She just did it. We were all grateful because the pizza was delicious. I was lucky to get her to share her recipe with me before she died because it wasn’t written down. The recipe is still on this forum somewhere.

The next big breakthrough occurred after buying the TEC grill and then joining this forum to affiliate with others regarding our passion for pizza. As I began collaborating with the membership here, Pete-zza primarily, I quickly learned while Grandmothers may know best, mine didn’t with respect to pizza. I learned the family recipe had all sorts of defects and workarounds like adding Carnation malt to the mix to add flavor. All was not a failure as the real take home lesson was simply this; I learned how to make pizza from the ground up.

Grandma Quagliariello would never buy supermarket pizza. Heck, she hated buying pizzeria pizza. So she chose to make pizza from scratch because she believed in her pizza. I use to sit with her in amazement as she hand mixed the flour in the shape of Mt. Vesuvius carefully pouring the ingredients in the middle one after the other. I’m certain that’s where my desire to hand-craft pizza came from. I’m also certain that’s where my stubborn streak came from as well. In my case, being stubborn can be as much a blessing as it is a curse.

I was born in NY and both sets of my Grandparents lived in NY which meant I was exposed to coal-fired pizza regularly during my childhood. So it was natural that I migrated to a coal-fired standard as my primary reference point as I grew older and moved further and further away from ground zero. I even bought the ridiculously expensive TEC grill ($2K) for the express purpose of making coal-fired oven pizza. I didn’t have much success before joining this forum making authentic coal-fired pie. My goal for joining then was to first figure out what was wrong and then faithfully reverse engineer the elite coal-fired pizza of NYC.

My favorite was Patsy’s Pizza. So I started the Patsy’s Pizza Reverse Engineering thread which is still on this forum. Fellow member varasano chimed in proclaiming his love for Patsy’s and we went about the task of producing a Patsy’s pizza. But then something tragic happened for me. Maybe not for varasano because the Patsy’s standard, on a good day, is still his target according to newspaper accounts. I quickly found out I could make a better pizza than what Patsy’s was capable of. How did this happen? What was I to do? What would be my goal if I had exceeded what I thought was the finest example of pizza on the planet? Thinking back, it was a painful time for me pizza wise.

I then decided to set my eyes on my own personal standard which I named Pizza Raquel in its American guise and Pizza Sophia in its Italian guise. I decided to no longer take as gospel what others had to say about pizza. It was time for me to go it alone. To take what I knew and come up with a new standard. So I stopped all my participation in various reverse engineering efforts and focused on making my best pizza. Not a clone of someone else’s style. That’s why I steadfastly refuse to allow Pizza Raquel to be called a NY Style pizza, or Pizza Sophia to be called Neapolitan. Because they weren’t and aren’t either of those styles. I just can’t see myself wanting to perfectly reproduce let’s say a Naples based Margherita with bufala. It just couldn’t be as good as they make it in Naples. Why? Well, I’m sure the cheese is delivered fresh daily whereas I would have to wait days to get it. That’s just one dimension of my reasoning as to why I wouldn’t want to produce a Neapolitan pizza or any other style. I just want to produce the best I’m capable of with what’s available to me and maximum freshness has to be part of it.

See, the only standard I adhere to is what I can personally see, hear, feel, and observe as being better. Not what someone else says is better but better as defined in being producible my kitchen in Tampa. Frankly, I have borrowed a lot from other styles but none more so than the Neapolitan one which is where most folks think modern pizza came from to begin with. But even so, I still initially found fault with trying to reproduce a Neapolitan pizza – after all it was just another man’s pizza in my eyes.

Make no mistake, I really wanted to embrace authentic Neapolitan pizza because of the teaching of pizzanapoletana and the sense that Neapolitans do it right. However, its not as easy as it sounds. Neapolitan pizza is the hardest style to get right. I ran into significant difficulty making a great Neapolitan pie relative to the success I was enjoying with my NY based reverse engineering efforts. So naturally I migrated towards success and shied away from bad results. It confounded me that others at the time claimed how easy Caputo was to work with while I struggled mightily. I now realize my pizza palette and attention to detail is perhaps not as forgiving as some others. What others may have defined as great would not be for me.

Further, I learned the hard way Caputo based pies really weren’t meant for my grill, low, medium or even high heat. Yet I knew from the teachings of pizzanapoletana that it “should” be the best flour for high heat baking. So was the problem with me or with everyone else? That is where humility came into play. As advanced as I thought my pizza making skills were, they weren’t enough to make a killer Caputo pie on a grill. Caputo based pies may work okay in high heat gas or electric environments to a degree but not well enough for me. But Lord knows I tried with the TEC. The defects were too overwhelming in my book. This led me to building the venerable Raquel Oven. I felt an ultra-low domed wood-fired oven could produce a better pizza regardless of style. Since I didn’t have a roadmap to guide where I was going I needed the Raquel Oven producing perfectly uniform heat whether it’s humming along at 600F or blazing away at a thousand. So I can really produce any style I want without fear. But in the back of my mind I knew I wanted another crack at Caputo.

What I learned about wood-fired baking other flours like high gluten or bread is they simply don’t hold up quite as well as they did on the TEC. 800F on the TEC produces a crisp crust. 800F in the Raquel Oven produces a crunchy crust. I would call that a defect. Others may prefer it, which is why every type of pizza is valid if you enjoy it and why I don’t force my personal preferences on anyone else. But for me, crunch is best left for crackers.

Then I began experimenting with blended flour combinations of Italian 00 and harder bread or high gluten flours. What I determined here is that once again the Neapolitans have it right more than they have it wrong. My last few batches of blended flours have been good bordering on great. But the 100% Italian 00 flour based crusts have been stupendous. Both Caputo and San Felice I might add. They have proven to be the superior flours for my style of pizza. Which is decidedly un-Neapolitan but which borrows more concepts from Neapolitan pizza than any other.

What’s going on here? For years I tried to make crusts with 00 flour and struggled to even make a competent crust and now I think I’ve mastered it? Yeah that’s right. It’s that simple. No really I mean it. How can I say that with a straight face you ask?

Pizzanapoletana that’s how.

He has laid out in painstakingly precise detail how to make an authentic Neapolitan pizza. It is only now with enough understanding of his teachings and the right tools that I can use his recommendations. It took a high temperature wood fired oven and the Santos fork kneader before Caputo submitted. It was a battle of wills for years and I finally got there with heaping helpings of passion and curiosity.

So my curiosity led to years of experimentation with every possible mixing regimen down countless rabbit holes. What did I learn? All paths led me right back to the feet of pizzanapoletana. He was right all along. I’m glad I finally decided to submit to pizzanapoletana’s teaching around dough management because if you think about it, who else makes better crusts? The truth is the ancient way of making dough, coupled with a fork kneader is the proven approach. I tried to improve upon it and couldn’t. So with total humility, I can honestly state the best pizza crust I’m capable of making requires:

- Low dome oven wood-fired at a certain temperature range
- Fork kneader mixing certain ingredients in a specific sequence
- Natural starter to produce an avalanche of flavor in the crust 
- Long fermentation at certain temperatures

Now if I could just get pizzanapoletana to consider a 15” form factor. There I go again…

So without further ado, here is the revised Pizza Raquel Formulary taking all my experiences and chunking it down into what should be a familiar guideline:




Pizza Raquel
Simply Everything You’d Want


Baker's          Weight             Ingredients &
Percentage   (oz/g)             Descriptive Comment(s)

100.0%        58.21/1650       Sifted Flour – Caputo/San Felice Pizzeria
060.6%        35.27/1000       Water – Purified, Bottled, Anything but Tap
003.0%        1.76/50            Ischia Starter – Fully Activated
02.73%        1.59/45            Sicilian Sea Salt – Finely Cut


Suggested Preparation Steps
1 - Dissolve salt in water. Dissolve starter in brine. Add one half of flour
2 - Turn kneader on continuously during the double stage kneading process
3 - 1st Stage Knead: Slowly sprinkle remaining flour for 10 minutes incorporating wet & dry ingredients completely
4 - 2nd Stage Knead: 15 minutes to build gluten structure
5 - Turn kneader off, cover bowl. Give Raquel a 15 minute beauty rest
6 - Turn kneader on for one full revolution.  Dough texture should appear finished
7 - Remove dough from bowl. Punch & fold on bench until very springy. Shape into bulk ball & place in covered bowl to begin double stage rise process
8 - 1st Stage Rise: 15 hours at 66F
9 - Divide & shape into balls & cover
10 - 2nd Stage Rise: 3 hours at 66F
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on July 08, 2008, 12:52:19 PM
PFT,

This is a lovely recipe.  It is also Neapolitan. 

Sorry, but a rose by any other name...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on July 08, 2008, 05:15:36 PM
Just a few questions.

Are you feeding your stater with Caputo?

What is the effect of using the Santos mixer as compared to the KA Spiral Hook Mixer?
I understand that is the incorporation of oxygen added through the folding of the dough when it is being kneaded by the Santos. So, what is the tangable results of using the Santos over the KA with Spiral Hook?

Seeing the new Formulary, I notice that there is no longer any cold fermintation. That really changes things. Having to go through the process each time you want Pizza seems cumbersome. You must have some cold fermantation dough on hand just for ease of production. I will be trying the long version to see the results. Would you speak to this point.

Thanks for your willingness to share.

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on July 08, 2008, 08:43:16 PM
PFT,

A couple of questions.

I remember reading in one of your posts that you started out with a KA Mixer with an "C" hook before you upgraded to a spiral hook and different KA model. I got one of those. It's KA Classic (w/"C" hook). Anyway, how would you advise us guys who don't own a Santos to go about your new mixing regimen? Would you say to stick with your old routine, pre-Santos, or would you say to give your new mixing technique a shot?

And what about the additional pinch of IDY when using a KA? Is that something you'd keep or just try it without?

Actually, that were three questions.  :)

Mike
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 09, 2008, 08:19:45 AM
shango,
I believe you captured the entire essence of the post. In other words, without purposefully trying to make an authentic Neapolitan crust, it sort of happened. Of course, the odds were stacked in the favor of a Neapolitan crust due to:

- Using what turned out to be Neapolitan mixing regimen
- Using a fork kneader which is favored by Neapolitan pizzerias
- Using an ultra-low domed wood-fired oven incorporating Neapolitan oven principles
- Using the flour of choice of Neapolitan pizzerias

In fact, I would have to say one would have to go out of their way NOT to make a Neapolitan pizza considering the above. But that is exactly what I do. I will continue to utilize the best techniques available to produce the best pies I'm capable of making without consciously trying to "fit" into any category. An accurate description of my pizza would be it is primarily Neapolitan with strong NY and artisan style overtones. But by no means is it authentic Neapolitan by intentional design or any other style for that matter. It is my style which may be no distinct style at all. A little of this, a little of that. Yeah, that's the ticket.

No, my personal journey can be summed up in the following illustrative example. Upon receiving the Santos kneader I naturally tried my standard formulary first which worked okay but only used 30 ounces of flour. Not nearly enough to take advantage of the Santos forks to oxygenate the dough in my opinion. I sort of felt like the Santos was a Ferrari idling in the garage instead of being out on the open road. So I then decided to increase the flour by 10 ounces to 40 total. Still not enough. So I drifted up to 50. Better, but still not optimizing the Santos technology to the fullest in my estimation. But the trend analysis was positive so I finally went up to 60 ounces of flour and lo and behold I stumbled upon the Santos sweet spot for batch size - in my opinion.

Now how does all that tie back into anything remotely Neapolitan? In my post above I discussed how I'm imbued with curiosity. At a 60oz batch size the Santos was operating in an optimal manner so I decided to make another batch to reproduce the results to make sure my good fortune wasn’t luck. As I began adding the ingredients I reflected back upon just how differently the Santos forks attacked the dough than the Kitchen Aid. It was at this point I remembered pizzanapoletana’s advice about not turning the mixer off once you begin adding the ingredients. So rather than include a pseudo autolyse for the batch at hand I decided to not start and stop this batch as I have for the past several years. In essence I decided to submit to the Neapolitan method of making dough in a fork kneader. After all, they are the ones who have been perfecting this approach for decades so logic would dictate they know a little something about the process.

Turns out the dough was at least as robust as the previous attempts but the texture of the resultant crust was superior. So I knew I was on to something. In the world of home pizzamaking the one tenent which seems to hold true is “less-is-more.”

So I began to realize the less-is-more approach worked for my dough making and I began to wonder about the other facets of the dough management process. It was precisely at that juncture I began to question everything with equal skepticism. Why am I using a refrigerator for the rise? Didn’t pizzanapoletana comment one time that his dough “never see the inside of a refrigerator.” So I switched from a cold rise to a room temperature rise and the flavor in the crust shot up without compromising Raquel’s Bubble-Burst crumb.

Frankly, if a pizza maker from the foothills of Kentucky would have shared his experience like pizzanapoletana did with a fork kneader, natural yeast, and a long slow fermentation you might be calling my pizza a Louisville Slugger. But alas, that didn’t happen.

Anyway, I then decided to go back to my notes and review Neapolitan recipes and lo and behold what did I see? How about a recommended batch size of one liter of water which just happened to be within two ounces of where I ended up on my own with all the experimentation.

Now is that fate?

Luck?

Heck I don’t know. Which is why I started out the above post with “Naples is calling me. I can’t help it no matter how hard I try to resist.”

So I patently reject the label of authentic Neapolitan for my pizza but gladly accept it as the most appropriate description for inspiring Pizza Raquel’s crust. My goal is to continuously improve the Raquel Formulary for what I consider to be the consummate crust, if you will: one built upon centuries of acquired knowledge, experience, secrets, and most importantly my personal preferences.

In the immortal words of Paul Harvey, “now you know the rest of the story.”

MWTC & Essen1,
I use a rotation of Caputo, San Felice, and King Arthur to refresh my starters. An additional point is the Ischia starter has proven to be the starter of choice for my tastebuds. It is not even close compared to the varasano and the Camaldoli. I did not uncover this until I began refreshing the starters on a weekly basis. Refreshed on a lesser frequency and the varasano was the clear winner. The Camaldoli never had enough impact on flavor, in my experience, to make it worth all the trouble. Go figure.

The tangible differences are exactly what I have exhaustively written about over these past few weeks. The Santos does not heat up the dough one bit which means you can work the dough without fear of overheating or overworking it. The Kitchen Aid simply beats the heck out of the dough and heats it up which is why I suggested keeping the mixing times so short. The last few recommendations I have given about using Kitchen Aid mixers is where I suggested working the dough by hand as soon as the ingredients come together to minimize the deleterious effects of heat. Also, the Kitchen Aid is not very adept at injecting oxygen into the dough which is what the yeast (whether wild or baker’s) needs to get jumpstarted. Yeast need the presence of oxygen to flourish which is why an extra pinch of yeast is not needed with the Santos but is with the Kitchen Aid. So the solution for the Kitchen Aid was to clobber the dough over the head with yeast to force the beginning of the process with two extra steps; the upfront rest period allowing the yeast freedom to begin their maniacal breeding and feeding and the addition of a pinch of yeast to make sure there are enough beasties to “get er done.”

Regarding the desire to use a refrigerator to make life easier, I can understand completely. A famous Pizzaiolo gave me the following advice years ago when I asked the same question:

“if the dough is going to be fermented under refrigeration, it needs to come off the hook at 80 degrees
if the dough is going to be fermented at room temperature, i would suggest 75-77 degrees

to get the light crust and proper cooking, the dough must be at room temperature prior to baking.

just a thought.... hope this helps.”

The take home message here is most knowledge is borrowed. The key in this hobby is to take that knowledge and apply it for yourself. In your kitchen. If it works great, keep it. If not, throw it overboard and come up with a better way. Your own way.

I trust you will find the above useful.
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on July 09, 2008, 10:37:55 AM
Thanks pftaylor.

Thorough and useful.

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on July 09, 2008, 03:43:45 PM
PFT,

Thanks for the update. I'll make the necessary adjustments.

Mike
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 10, 2008, 08:55:46 AM
I wanted to add a few important remaining thoughts regarding my position on why some may believe Pizza Raquel is Neapolitan while I steadfastly and unequivocally do not. My position can be summed up as follows:

I am not qualified to make authentic Neapolitan pizza nor is it my end-in-mind. Maybe I produce a Neapolitan style laced with NY and artisan influences but it is certainly not the real thing. My reasoning is just because I possess certain pieces of equipment which are "capable" of making a Neapolitan pizza, I do not yet possess the knowledge or experience to do so. My guess is the vast majority of those who firmly believe they produce the real thing - do not either from a purely technical level. 

Frankly any other conclusion, in my opinion, is simply inaccurate. There are only a handful of members here, or so, who have tasted the real thing in Naples, I have not. Even less who have worked in an authentic Naples pizzeria. Even less who share any knowledge openly so how do we properly judge?

So I can humbly state I do not know enough to produce authentic Neapolitan pizza because there are still too many gaps in my knowledge base. What I know about Pizza Napoletana was learned from the VPN guideline (which apparently contains a number of questionable recommendations), a scrap of detail here and there from a few American pizzaiolos who have taken a training course or two, a tip now and then from a master pizzaiolo who has spent fifteen or so years studying the animal, and the real source of all things Neapolitan - pizzanapoletana. But the sober reality is just knowing the guidelines is not enough. At least not for me.

My guideline Formulary is just that - mine. I do not pretend to believe for one second that a Pizza Raquel would taste anything like a Neapolitan pizza. I am convinced in order to claim to make the real thing one would need to actually work beside a master for a few weeks if not months. Why? Well, my understanding is that there really isn't a formal Neapolitan recipe - just guidelines to be followed. Since there are so many checkpoints in the production of the dough which require on-the-ground experience I therefore believe it can only be learned by doing, watching, and understanding.

Anybody can buy the right tools and quality ingredients but that is not enough.

pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on July 14, 2008, 12:08:38 PM
Hi pftaylor,

Thank you for the revised Pizza Raquel Formulary. I have to a agree with everything you say !  I have just returned from a trip to Naples, and can vouch for fierce heat cooking in a low ceiling oven and room temperature rise for the dough.

Salvo used fresh yeast and makes awesome pizza.

Kind regards.

Barry in Cape Town , South Africa
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 15, 2008, 07:04:30 AM
Barry,
I'm officially jealous. You went to Naples and ate at Salvo? I need more details. How did the conversation evolve to the point where they distinguished between using lets say a starter and fresh yeast? Was that, in fact, the comparison used? Sounds like to me you have more to tell. Give it up Barry. We need to know more about their dough management process. We've been living on scraps and ANY light you can shed will be more than what we now have. Please help us less fortunte pizza souls...

Seriously though, what was it that distinguished Salvo's pies from all the others you tried? I'm particularly interested in whether the crust was fundamentally different and if so how.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: kiwipete on July 15, 2008, 07:15:23 PM
"Fresh yeast?" are you sure?

I have been to Salvo's a couple of times (unfortunately they were closed the first time) but the second time we had some lovely pizze there. I was allowed to have a look behind the bench and have a look in the oven. Took quite a few pics, (some of which ended up on their website) and had a talk to Ciro and the other guys there (well sorta talk: they speak little english and I speak little Italian, so there were a lot of hand movements..)

As far as I know they use a starter (Ischia according to Marco; see http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1370.msg12561.html#msg12561 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1370.msg12561.html#msg12561) ). Furthermore, the front page of their website says, amongst other things: "una lunga lievitazione naturale a temperatura ambiente". This roughly translates as: "long natural leavening at room temprature". I take this as an other indicator that use a starter. Additionally, knowing what dough made with a starter and long room temp fermentation looks, feels and tastes like (because thats how I make it), I'd have to say that they use a starter.

Their oven is a Forno Napoletano (from Marco's company)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on July 16, 2008, 02:12:17 AM


As far as I know they use a starter (Ischia according to Marco; see http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1370.msg12561.html#msg12561 (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1370.msg12561.html#msg12561) ).

Their oven is a Forno Napoletano (from Marco's company)

Hi Peter,

Ciro can do both a Wild Yeast dough and Commercial yeast dough (both are natural), and in the past 2005, in another location, he was alternatively using "my" starter, but is indeed using commercial yeast now.

As I said in the past, you can do wonderful doughs with commercial yeast, as I did recently in Argentina, the important thing is to change the methodology to ensure you always get the best of the ingredients at your disposal.

Ciao
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: kiwipete on July 16, 2008, 04:03:50 AM
There you go: I stand corrected... :-[
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Count Crustulus on July 16, 2008, 08:56:02 AM
Greetings!

I've now made several pies with the Lehmann NY dough formula and was getting bored. I wanted to change things up, try something new. So I thought, why not try the Raquel dough formula? The pics posted on the thread look awesome and it's not a tough recipe.

I followed PFT's instructions (on pg. 2 of the thread, not the newest formula) to the letter. The only major deviation is that I don't have any preferment so I added a little more yeast to the mixture.

The results were excellent. The taste was equal to the Lehmann dough, though I wouldn't say better. The difference was in the texture. You can't break this dough if you tried. And the interior was nice and soft with a great exterior crust. It's hard to say whether this is completely the result of the formula as I've only made it once and haven't made THAT many pies so my technique, while still limited, is improving all the time. That said, I was definitely pleased. Thanks PFT!

The pizza is half pesto, half crushed tomatoes w/ salt, pinch of sugar, Italian spices. Can't quite remember the variety of tomato but it's the purple and white can from Whole Foods. Topped with fresh mozzarella. Baked on screen for a bit at 500 then transferred to stone and broiled till done.

Also, sorry about the funky pics. My camera ran out of batteries, so I had to hold my Macbook above the pies and snap away with the internal camera.

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 17, 2008, 07:05:14 PM
Count,
So you've decided to start dating Raquel eh? Congratulations and beware for you now can look forward to an endless vicious cycle of eating increasingly stupendous pizza from here on out. But alas, she is not a cheap date. Raquel doesn't like "supermarket quality" ingredients...

I do have an open question for the forum membership:

If Salvo can produce one of the best tasting pizza crusts in all of Naples (arguably the very finest in the world) by using fresh yeast, what in the world are some of us using a starter for at all?

I really need help with this because it now occurs me that I may be wasting my time and getting little in return. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on July 17, 2008, 07:09:17 PM
PFT,

Have you considered making a starter from fresh yeast, if you haven't done so already? You might kill two birds with one stone, the "flavor" bird and the "fresh yeast" bird. You wouldn't have to compromise by going only one way.

Just a thought...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on July 17, 2008, 10:27:20 PM
PFT,  I have wondered similar things before.  I have a batch of Caputo going right now with IDY.  I know I've made plenty of great pizzas with IDY alone.  I have made great pies with the island starter as well.  as far as your question goes,  one of my problems is not being able to get fresh yeast.  ever. anywhere. even with making phone calls and checking during the holidays etc.  no one has it unless i want to get a pound or more from my buddy at work,  which I haven't done.  Yet the specifications call for it,  and if I remember right, it is specified as the yeast of beer.   Marco had to do some arguing to reinforce to the council that a starter is appropriate as well.  Anyhow as a longtime homebrewer I know there are many many types of beer yeast with drastically different tastes.  I have long thought about trying to use some beer yeast to ferment dough,  but have not yet.  Is the most common fresh yeast in Italy the same strain/culture as we have here?  From what I have read,  current commercial yeasts have been developed and chosen based on several performance characteristics,  one of the major categories was taste.  The most neutral, best performing strain(s) were chosen.  The reasons are for the flexibility in baking recipes,  and for acceptance by the public.  I am quite sure that these yeast companies could be producing "sourdough yeast packets"  if they wanted to.  Stuff that would produce consistent results in dough,  with the simplicity of adding a couple grams into your mixer,  just as they do in beer,  without maintaining a starter.  There is just no market for it.  To me,  the only way for me to begin to end this post is to to put it in the perspective of beer.  In an American IPA,  I like a very neutral yeast,  this lets me taste the hops and the light malt backbone.  In a Belgian beer I like the standard Belgian yeasts,  it almost defines the flavor,  instead of sets in back of everything.  Also there are some beers I just wont drink,  as they are made with a certain yeast that I just cant stand(ringwood ale).  This whole thing is the same as Bills recent inquest into the differences between the two italian starters.  To finish up here,  I bet the ingredients,  proportions and preparation of the pizza at Salvo have as much to do with it being great as the leavening agent itself,  but would never rule out the possibility that it could have been better using a wild yeast starter.  I would say keep on doing what you are doing,  but assume that you will be doing some fresh yeast testing real soon.  As for me I might go get some american ale yeast just to see what happens..
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on July 18, 2008, 05:00:23 AM
Guys,

Please do not go off the marks here.

Salvo can produce one of the best dough in the world, because Ciro Salvo is behind the mixer, no matter what you give him as ingredients or tools. There is no arguement that a properly fermented pizza dough with wild yeast (crisceto) would be superior to the equivalent made with commercial yeats (by the way S. Cervisae in Italy is called beer yeast, it does not mean is the one used in beer production).

Ciro's dough has certain qualities aside of the flovour, that makes it special. I have tested doughs made by him with all sort of flours, even some that other pizzamakers would not even cosnider for commercial use, and the results were amazing and kept those qualities throughout.

Ciro's has been working in one of the best pizzeria of his area since he was 6 or 7.... With all due respect, it is unrealistic for people without a similar background to aim to achieve the same results.

Ciao,

Marco
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on July 18, 2008, 07:48:03 AM
pft,

I agree with Marc (widespreadpizza) on the availability issue that exists with fresh yeast. It has been years since I have last seen fresh yeast (Fleischmann's 0.6 oz./17 g. cubes) sold in the supermarkets near me in the Dallas area. You might be able to get some from a local baker but that is inconvenient for me and I would perhaps have to drive into Dallas to get it. Fresh yeast is much trickier than dry yeast. It usually comes in blocks of a pound or more, degrades quickly, and it is not recommended that it be frozen. The age of the fresh yeast can also vary from one batch to another or from one vendor to another, and there is no easy way of knowing its actual age. The general advice on fresh yeast is to use it up fast and keep it in the refrigerator at all tiimes when not being used (that is, don't let it sit around at room temperature). Some professional pizza operators prefer to use fresh yeast for many reasons, among which is lower cost in many cases, but they have the volume to support the use of blocks of fresh yeast. They will also get more consistent results than what the average home pizza maker is likely to get in a home setting using fresh yeast. Moreover, you may also have to deal with the possibility that damaged fresh yeast can release glutathione and result not only in inconsistent yeast performance but a soft and sticky dough (because of the reducing effects of the glutathione, making it similar in that respect to l-cysteine/PZ-44).

For me personally, it would be easier and more convenient to use natural starters/preferments than fresh yeast.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on July 18, 2008, 08:17:35 AM
Hey there,   I found this while poking around this morning.  seems to shed more light on the yeast subject.  -marc
http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/dec2002.html
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on July 18, 2008, 08:58:41 PM
Marco,

Thanks for the heads-up.  :)

I'm not aiming for Salvo's pizze because I have never been there, so it would be kind of difficult for me to attempt to re-engineer such an item I know virtually nothing about. Not to mention my current state of experience is not anywhere near where I'd like it to be, to take on such a feat.

I was merely making a suggestion than anything else. Sometimes it's actually not so bad to experiment a bit.

On another note, how come Italy was eliminated so early at the EURO '08? I watched a couple of Italy's games and thought you guys actually had a good team?!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on July 18, 2008, 09:38:18 PM
Quote
It has been years since I have last seen fresh yeast (Fleischmann's 0.6 oz./17 g. cubes) sold in the supermarkets near me in the Dallas area.


Peter,

I forgot to mention that in my area, Safeway sells Fleischmann's fresh yeast in cubes. Here, they store it on the same shelf as fresh butter.

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 19, 2008, 09:14:29 AM
pizzanapoletana,
I understand your explanation though I'm still confused.

Much like you, Ciro strikes me as the sort of fellow who is a keeper of the ancient Neapolitan methods of making dough. You both seem to reject all modern techniques (refrigerator, etc.) with perhaps the diving arm or fork mixer as the lone exception. He is also a third generation pizza maker and has literally grown up in a Neapolitan pizzeria correct? If my understanding of Ciro is right, then why would he not embrace the ancient method of leavening dough when you are such an advocate?

I realize a natural starter is much more difficult to use on a commercial basis but Ciro is not one to cut corners so there must be another reason. Surely his choice of leavening has been exhaustively researched and is based on achieving optimal crust flavor and the right texture characteristics. So I'm left scratching my head wondering why he would reject using the Ischia or Camaldoli starter in favor of fresh yeast.

Or is his position that he can achieve the same results with fresh yeast through another dough management method specifically designed for fresh yeast? Or is it essentially the exact same process where he simply substitutes fresh yeast for wild yeast? If so, then it seems to me the usage of a starter is not as important as getting everything else right in the dough management process. Then would it not follow his use of a natural starter would not produce any more flavor enhancing lactic acid balance than fresh yeast?

Finally, is IDY widely available in Naples and is there a difference between incorporating equalized amounts of fresh yeast, natural starter, or IDY in terms of overall crust optimization if one were using the same dough management process for all?
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on July 19, 2008, 11:36:04 AM
I forgot to mention that in my area, Safeway sells Fleischmann's fresh yeast in cubes. Here, they store it on the same shelf as fresh butter.

Mike,

There is a high end supermarket near me that is owned by Safeway so this morning I decided to look again. When I did not see any fresh yeast anywhere in any open refrigerated space, I asked the fellow who is responsible for stocking the dairy section if they carried the fresh yeast. He immediately knew what I was talking about and just as quickly gave me a no answer. He said they used to carry fresh yeast (Fleischmann's) but the demand was not there for the product so they discontinued carrying it. My only interest in fresh yeast has been in respect of the Neapolitan style dough--for reasons of authenticity and experimenting with it to see if there is a difference between it and dry yeast. Even then, my usage would be minimal and I would perhaps end up throwing most of it away (a 17 g. cube is apparently equivalent to a full packet of ADY and almost a full packet of IDY).

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on July 19, 2008, 04:22:03 PM
Peter,

Bummer.

I guess you could always contact Fleischmann's, for example, to find out in which stores in your area their fresh yeast is sold.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on July 19, 2008, 04:44:57 PM
pizzanapoletana,
I understand your explanation though I'm still confused.

Much like you, Ciro strikes me as the sort of fellow who is a keeper of the ancient Neapolitan methods of making dough. You both seem to reject all modern techniques (refrigerator, etc.) with perhaps the diving arm or fork mixer as the lone exception. He is also a third generation pizza maker and has literally grown up in a Neapolitan pizzeria correct? If my understanding of Ciro is right, then why would he not embrace the ancient method of leavening dough when you are such an advocate?

I realize a natural starter is much more difficult to use on a commercial basis but Ciro is not one to cut corners so there must be another reason. Surely his choice of leavening has been exhaustively researched and is based on achieving optimal crust flavor and the right texture characteristics. So I'm left scratching my head wondering why he would reject using the Ischia or Camaldoli starter in favor of fresh yeast.

Or is his position that he can achieve the same results with fresh yeast through another dough management method specifically designed for fresh yeast? Or is it essentially the exact same process where he simply substitutes fresh yeast for wild yeast? If so, then it seems to me the usage of a starter is not as important as getting everything else right in the dough management process. Then would it not follow his use of a natural starter would not produce any more flavor enhancing lactic acid balance than fresh yeast?

Finally, is IDY widely available in Naples and is there a difference between incorporating equalized amounts of fresh yeast, natural starter, or IDY in terms of overall crust optimization if one were using the same dough management process for all?
pftaylor

Peter,

As you know I have self limited the amount of things I am prepared to discuss on this forum.  All I was trying to do is try to avoid you (as a group) start going for a tangent as many times before (I read this forum more often then I interveen, and there would be tons of messages that contain misinformation and wrong assumptions/methodologies). I believe you are missing the point and may be going in a direction for the wrong line of reasoning.

In any case, Ciro and I have slightly different philosophies when it comes to dough making. As I state in my avatar, I try to produce a pizza as it was surely made since at least 1730 (actually it should the dough was made in the same way since at least 1660). Commercial yeast is widely used in Naples since WW2, and it is an established tradition by itself.

The dough process with commercial yeast cannot be the same with wild yeast and viceversa if you want to obtain the best possible product of each even if the two remain very similar (I am still talking of pizza Neapolitan only). Fresh Yeast is widely available in Naples and allow consistent results. There are 2 or 3 pizzerias that actually use wild yeast in Naples with very variable results as it is the most difficult to use and needs a peculiar methodology and often tools, to obtain consistent results. Myself I rather work with commercial yeast with a client if I do not have the means, through the client capabilities, of producing a proper wild yeast dough, and not even the one I would make myself, but a simpler version. With all due respect, when it comes to wild yeast and pizza I have not seen anyone that have the same expertise as I do.

Ciro's dough is fantastic for the reological property and flavor considering how it is obtained. It is not about cutting corners, but there is no point in using wild yeast for the sake of it and not knowing the best possible methodology  and/or not having the right condition, producing something that is worst than what you can produce with commercial yeast (there is an example in NY...).

Finally, to answer your last question, yes there is a difference in the way you would need to use it even if the process remains almost identical.

Ciao

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 20, 2008, 07:56:59 AM
pizzanapoletana,
Thank you for the informative response. You have cleared up my confusion on why Ciro is not using a wild yeast starter and you do. It really was as simple as I mistakenly assumed he used one all along at Salvo and apparently he prefers not to. So tradition supports both your method of making dough as well as his.

Regarding my preferred method of home pizzamaking, I can honestly say once I began viewing dough as a living organism, and critically reviewing my dough management process in that light, my pizza has gotten demonstrably better.

I have always had the utmost respect for pizza, hence my early references to beautiful women like Raquel and Sophia. But now I really practice what I preach and could not imagine doing things like fermenting Raquel dough in a refrigerator. I now believe, and have proven for myself, a cold rise throws everything out of balance or at least it has the propensity to do so. I have learned a cold rise produces variability while a room temperature rise produces consistency – as long as one can control the room temperature somehow.

Based on my results, it’s hard for me to imagine that stuffing dough into a refrigerator when it is teeming with billions of living critters will produce as robust an outcome as when compared to a more natural room temperature rise. While I do not have any scientific evidence to back up my opinion on this point, it seems to be a very logical position and the empirical evidence overwhelms any other conclusion.

You would have been proud of me (or laughing like crazy at me) walking all over my home yesterday with a laser temperature gun trying to find the coldest location for which to naturally ferment dough. None of the locations registered below 76.5F and this was at 5am not at the height of the heat in the middle of the day. So I began to reflect on how Jonathan Goldsmith at Spacca Napoli conquered this problem. My thinking was to try and find the smallest area I could and somehow lower the ambient temperature. Jonathan’s solution was to build an insulated dough room. So I made a crude home-made dough room by blocking the space between the door and the floor of a hall bathroom with damp towels. This effectively blocked any air exchange with the larger and warmer adjacent rooms which allowed the central air conditioner to effectively drop the bath temperature to a pleasing 68F.

What was the result? Well, the photographs below detail what happened some fifteen odd hours later. Another point deserves mentioning; an hour after baking, the crust still displayed the wafer thin veneer and Bubble-Burst interior which was just as soft and pliable as it was when it came right from the oven. The only noticeable difference was obviously it was cold.

One final point. If anyone wonders how making artisan pizza can bring complete and total satisfaction in one's life (namely mine), just take a close look at the anticipation on the young guests faces as they prepare for the Nutella dessert pizza. In a scant few seconds they went from well behaved young ladies to ravenous heathens.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 20, 2008, 08:04:38 AM
Here are a few more photographs. The artichoke pie was a winner and just may make it on the permanent Chef's Walk menu...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on July 26, 2008, 12:18:33 PM
Mmmmm... artichoke!

pft, I have been away from my oven for a month, in Oman, of all places. I am happy to report though, that there was a nice Italian restaurant with a wood fired pizza oven in the mall in Seeb!  ;D I queried them so much that they stopped answering my pizza prep questions (but they are running the oven at 350C allegedly, and I know their doughball weight!).

... I am less happy to report that we had a Pizza Hut pizza for dinner tonight in Tianjin. It made me realize that my pizza, even given my limitations here, is pretty darn good!

On another note, I think my starter is lackluster after my being away for a month. I am working on reviving it. In that vein, a question (or three!):

How active is your starter? If you refresh it, what kind of action do you see after a few hours? This is obviously temperature dependent of course, but are you seeing a huge increase in volume or just bubbles and frothing on the surface? How long is the window for using your starter after refreshing? I know starters of course vary, but your response will shed some light for me, I'm sure.

... Now that you have changed your method a bit, in my blatant attempt to latch on to your coattails rather than do my own research, I am trying to follow suit with 66 degree cooling. I stumbled across some interesting devices known as Peltier plates. They are not terribly efficient, but may serve my purpose. And I find this distributor is in Shanghai! http://www.virtualvillage.com/Items/001540-008?&caSKU=001540-008&caTitle=170W%20Thermoelectric%20Cooler%20Peltier%20Plate%20TEC%20Heat%2015V

170W may be a bit much, and it'll take 15V and a bunch of amps to run the thing at 100%, but one attached to a metal proofing box may just be the ticket. That or an aquarium cooler!

This link was entertaining...

http://folk.ntnu.no/arnesen/peltierbeer/


Now I just need a pH meter to help me with my homemade mozzarella!

pft, thanks again for your exhaustive research and informative posts!

Cheers,

Ray



Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 26, 2008, 01:54:47 PM
Hi ray,
Good to have you back. Interesting links you’ve posted. I’m all for any technologies which can help produce a better pizza.

Regarding your question relating to refreshing your starter, I hate to give you a consultant’s response but as with so much related to this crazy hobby; it really depends. The key factors are refreshment regimen, time, temperature and current condition of your starter.

Here would be my guideline recommendation based on what I’ve learned from pizzanapoletana and others:

Refresh with equal weights of flour and water and when the top of the starter is good and frothy (much like a heady beer) it should be fully activated and ready to use. This can happen 3-4 hours after refreshing from the refrigerator or it might take several refreshing cycles depending on how healthy your starter is.

Another consideration is how acidic the culture is which can’t be “seen” but can be detected by smell and taste (in your resultant pizza, as I would not try and taste the starter…). If your culture is to acidic, your end product will taste more like bread (somewhat sour) than like pizza (somewhat sweet and fruity).

A good rule of thumb is to never let the starter sit at room temperature for more than 5 – 8 hours without refreshing. The balance of bacteria shifts over time from producing a pleasing lactic acid environment to producing an acidic acid one. Some folks may prefer the flavor of acidic acid, I most certainly do not. Your mileage may vary.

Give it a go and let me know how you make out.
pftaylor   
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on July 26, 2008, 01:58:40 PM
Actually an acidic starter can be "seen." I've seen really nasty ones turn to the color of grey instead of displaying a nice healthy amber hue.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza_Not_War on July 26, 2008, 02:08:31 PM
I stumbled across some interesting devices known as Peltier plates. They are not terribly efficient, but may serve my purpose. And I find this distributor is in Shanghai! http://www.virtualvillage.com/Items/001540-008?&caSKU=001540-008&caTitle=170W%20Thermoelectric%20Cooler%20Peltier%20Plate%20TEC%20Heat%2015V
That is how the Thermokool MR-138 & Koolatron C18 among many other cooler/warmers work. Not sure of the efficiency in scientific terms but for not a lot of $$$ you can control your dough using a small output 12 volt transformer.

PNW
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on July 27, 2008, 02:26:04 AM
pft, thanks...

I think I am going to initiate a new starter, using pineapple juice which I believe is the suggestion in Reinhart's book. Also I'm going to try renewing my current batch with just a spoonful of the old stuff and adding a healthy proportion of new flour/water mix. I believe I currently have too acidic a mix.

BTW those Peltier plates are all over Ebay if you want to try some. Not sure if there is an accessible U.S. source; the ones I saw were from the same Shanghai company.

Thanks for your guidance!

Thanks also to PNW, I'll have a look at those coolers.

Virtual Village also has Peltier plate based mug warmers/coolers! http://www.virtualvillage.com/Items/007170-003?sck=65387265&caSKU=007170-003&caTitle=USB%20Powered%20Mug%20/%20Cup%20Warmer%20Hot%20Plate%20%26%20Cooler%20Cool

Cheers,

Ray

Cheers,

Ray

Hi ray,
Good to have you back. Interesting links you’ve posted. I’m all for any technologies which can help produce a better pizza.

Regarding your question relating to refreshing your starter, I hate to give you a consultant’s response but as with so much related to this crazy hobby; it really depends. The key factors are refreshment regimen, time, temperature and current condition of your starter.

Here would be my guideline recommendation based on what I’ve learned from pizzanapoletana and others:

Refresh with equal weights of flour and water and when the top of the starter is good and frothy (much like a heady beer) it should be fully activated and ready to use. This can happen 3-4 hours after refreshing from the refrigerator or it might take several refreshing cycles depending on how healthy your starter is.

Another consideration is how acidic the culture is which can’t be “seen” but can be detected by smell and taste (in your resultant pizza, as I would not try and taste the starter…). If your culture is to acidic, your end product will taste more like bread (somewhat sour) than like pizza (somewhat sweet and fruity).

A good rule of thumb is to never let the starter sit at room temperature for more than 5 – 8 hours without refreshing. The balance of bacteria shifts over time from producing a pleasing lactic acid environment to producing an acidic acid one. Some folks may prefer the flavor of acidic acid, I most certainly do not. Your mileage may vary.

Give it a go and let me know how you make out.
pftaylor   

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peter on July 31, 2008, 08:16:01 AM
I made a pizza Raquel for the first time today and this is probably gonna be the way I'll make pizza in the future. I screwed up in a couple of places but it still turned out to be one of the best pizzas I ever made. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this.

A couple of weeks ago I grew a starter culture and I wanted to find out if it was suitable for making pizza. I followed the initial instructions posted on page 2 but adapted them slightly for my needs. It was mixed in a simple BBM and I don't have a high temperature oven, so I can't reproduce the recipe to the letter. I adjusted the mixing procedures slightly and added some olive oil to compensate a bit for the lower temperature of the oven. Another thing where I deviated from the original recipe is the absence of IDY. I wanted to test the starter, so I felt that including IDY would make things more complicated. The last thing I changed was sieving the flour. The BBM I use is not a bad dough mixer, but it needs some time to get decent results and I felt that sieving the flour while adding it, might help the mixing process. Something I picked up while reading this thread.

The ingredients:
- 400 grams all purpose flour
- 240 grams of water (60%)
- 8 grams sea salt (2%)
- 4 grams of olive oil (1%)
- 20 grams of starter (5%)

The starter consistency is different from the original recipe. The one I use contains 66% of water instead of 100%. This means the water content is slightly lower then the one used in the original recipe but the difference isn't that big, it's less then 1%.

I use a BBM so I adapted the mixing procedures in the following ways:
- initial stages were followed to the letter until all the flower was added (except that I skipped the step of adding the IDY)
- after that I added the olive oil and let the mixing go on until the mixing cycle of the BBM finished, some 10 minutes later.
- the dough got a 15 minute rest (like the original recipe) and was hand kneaded for a while after that.
I divided the dough in 2 equal parts and the dough was kept in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

When I took the dough out, it had started to "flow" and I could smell the sourdough culture so I think the dough was slightly overrisen. It's pretty warm here right now so I cut back the time on the bench to about 3/4 of an hour and formed the pizza after that. Stretching the dough was so easy, it was unbelievable. Before I knew it, the dough was slightly bigger then my pizza stone and that's something I never managed to do before :). I dressed the pizza, slid it onto the stone and baked if for a bit less then 8 minutes. I used the broiler for the last 3 minutes. The oven temperature was 250 C and that's a bit less then 500 F. Like I said, it's a simple home oven and I can't get those really high temperatures.

The pizza didn't have enough char on the bottom and parts of it didn't get enough oven rise, but it tasted absolutely great. I took some pictures, but I have trouble transferring them to my pc. If I manage to do that, I'll post them here.

I'm preparing the starter for a new batch of dough as I type this and will reduce the amount of starter slightly. I think I'll go for 4% instead of 5%. For the rest I'll stick to this recipe for now.

This is a really great recipe. Thanks!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peter on July 31, 2008, 10:35:28 AM
I am quite sure that these yeast companies could be producing "sourdough yeast packets"  if they wanted to.  Stuff that would produce consistent results in dough,  with the simplicity of adding a couple grams into your mixer,  just as they do in beer,  without maintaining a starter.  There is just no market for it.

I bought a package of sourdough culture in a German supermarket a couple of weeks ago. It's purpose is not to leaven the dough, just to add a sourdough taste to it and the instructions tell you to add normal yeast to the dough. But Germans are Germans and you're not allowed to sell something as sourdough unless there is an actual living culture in it. I took a gamble and tried to grow my own starter out of it and that worked. I didn't try to make a bread with the culture I bought from the store, but since I have one package left, I might give it a go.

pft,

I agree with Marc (widespreadpizza) on the availability issue that exists with fresh yeast. It has been years since I have last seen fresh yeast (Fleischmann's 0.6 oz./17 g. cubes) sold in the supermarkets near me in the Dallas area. You might be able to get some from a local baker but that is inconvenient for me and I would perhaps have to drive into Dallas to get it. Fresh yeast is much trickier than dry yeast. It usually comes in blocks of a pound or more, degrades quickly, and it is not recommended that it be frozen. The age of the fresh yeast can also vary from one batch to another or from one vendor to another, and there is no easy way of knowing its actual age. The general advice on fresh yeast is to use it up fast and keep it in the refrigerator at all tiimes when not being used (that is, don't let it sit around at room temperature). Some professional pizza operators prefer to use fresh yeast for many reasons, among which is lower cost in many cases, but they have the volume to support the use of blocks of fresh yeast. They will also get more consistent results than what the average home pizza maker is likely to get in a home setting using fresh yeast. Morever, you may also have to deal with the possibility that damaged fresh yeast can release glutathione and result not only in inconsistent yeast performance but a soft and sticky dough (because of the reducing effects of the glutathione, making it similar in that respect to l-cysteine/PZ-44).

For me personally, it would be easier and more convenient to use natural starters/preferments than fresh yeast.

Peter

It's about supply and demand, but I guess this is a "cultural" thing as well. I've never seen a package of fresh yeast over here (The Netherlands), but hop over the border to Germany and you'll find it in convenient small size packages, even in the low-end supermarkets. Most German bread recipe I've seen call for fresh yeast and they'll put in brackets how much you'd need if you would use IDY. It wouldn't surprise me to see the same thing in Belgian supermarkets. I guess they're more conscious of what they eat and what they use to make it. Not a trait you'll find in many Dutchmen although this is starting to change for the better.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pizzanapoletana on August 01, 2008, 08:30:14 AM
I bought a package of sourdough culture in a German supermarket a couple of weeks ago. It's purpose is not to leaven the dough, just to add a sourdough taste to it and the instructions tell you to add normal yeast to the dough. But Germans are Germans and you're not allowed to sell something as sourdough unless there is an actual living culture in it. I took a gamble and tried to grow my own starter out of it and that worked. I didn't try to make a bread with the culture I bought from the store, but since I have one package left, I might give it a go.

Please note that those "Sourdough packets" are intended as dough improver and not as leavening agent. In fact these are "acidifiers" in simple terms and add flavour compounds of the original Natural Yeast Fermentation, but in fact these do not contain any live organism or even viable spores. What you have gown is more likely the results of flour/water/air contamination by yeast and bacterias.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Peter on August 01, 2008, 11:34:41 AM
Please note that those "Sourdough packets" are intended as dough improver and not as leavening agent. In fact these are "acidifiers" in simple terms and add flavour compounds of the original Natural Yeast Fermentation, but in fact these do not contain any live organism or even viable spores. What you have gown is more likely the results of flour/water/air contamination by yeast and bacterias.

Thanks for your reply, Pizzanapoletana.

I guess you're right about the "Sauerteig" I bought and I should have used my brains a bit more. It was in liquid form and the package would probably explode before it even reached the supermarket if it contained living yeast cells. I bought it, added rye flour to the culture and it was bubbling after 14 hours and fully activated within a day. Perhaps I was just lucky and jumped to conclusions because of that.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza_Not_War on August 01, 2008, 12:03:54 PM
Thanks for your reply, Pizzanapoletana.

I guess you're right about the "Sauerteig" I bought and I should have used my brains a bit more. It was in liquid form and the package would probably explode before it even reached the supermarket if it contained living yeast cells. I bought it, added rye flour to the culture and it was bubbling after 14 hours and fully activated within a day. Perhaps I was just lucky and jumped to conclusions because of that.
King Arthur sells     LA-2 Pain de Campagne Starter as well as LA-4 French Sourdough Starter which are one time use starters. I have not used them as I prefer Marco's starters obtained through Ed Wood/Sourdo. Some well known bakers advocate the use of these as an easy way to get the sourdough flavor into your breads. Someday I will give it a whirl.

As to liquid yeast, several companies sell a liquid pack of yeast with a separate nutrient that when squeezed together feed the yeast. I have seen this for beer brewing, not sure if it is also available for baking, so I don't think your brains were not working as you have stated. http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_productdetail.cfm?ProductID=16

PNW
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: cd1168 on August 04, 2008, 01:42:19 PM
PFT this is the results of yesterdays hard work on raquel, isn't she beautiful?

the dough was very robust and sweet and not acidic like you said it would be..

But, the dough still burns with the 2 stone.. i need to change the flour to something that stand up to higher heat....i.e. get rid of the AP flour...:(

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: cd1168 on August 04, 2008, 01:43:18 PM
oops.. 2 pics of the same sorry..

first is marg. second is sausage and garlic..

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on August 04, 2008, 03:55:45 PM
Chris,
Those pizzas look great... deeee-licous! 

Unless the bottom was terribly burned, those "burned" spots we can see look just like what most of us high-heat devotees are after... leoparding!
I get the same results with my 2stone and am very pleased!

Good job... and keep posting those results, please!

~sd
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 24, 2008, 04:05:49 PM
Pizza mistakes. Happens all the time, at least to me anyhow. How about you?

If there is a mistake that can be made while making pizza, I have stood in that line more than I care to reveal. The entire process of making pizza is so chock full of opportunities to fall flat on my face fully submerged into a giant mud puddle it is almost an honor given enough practice. Stockholm syndrome-ish in a torturous kind of way. I kind of expect it and embrace it.

It goes like this for me; I uncover an area of my current state pizza making that might be improved, determine the improvement is in fact obtainable, research with an assiduous attention to detail, match my requirements exactly, and then determine the best supplier. Then I wait for the UPS man to make my day. As I rip the box open I have a sigh of relief and silently say to myself “aah, I just received this new thing which will no doubt take my pizza making to a higher level.”

And then almost as if on cue, oops a new mistake happens. Just like old mistakes only with a slightly new twist. I actually feel a glow of warmth as its happening. It’s almost comforting in an odd way. You know… to make a mistake you haven’t made before. Forever the optimist where mud puddles are interpreted as a facial instead of the abject failure of slurping dirty water. I chaulk it up to climbing the learning curve and discount it as one can only do so much research to prevent these things from happening is a refrain I personally keep repeating. A loser’s refrain for sure.

And the thing about things is that you can only do so much with your hands before you realize its time to invest in “things” to make other things better. Or so I’m told.

In this post, I’m specifically referring about buying pizza related “things” which are supposed to allow making pizza to be easier and generally improve the state of things. Which is the universal goal we should all have. I mean who doesn’t want easier and better which all new things seem to beckon us with? For me it buzzes around in my head like a gadfly; if I only had that new mixer…if I only had that new flux capacitor to slow down that new mixer…Sounds like the ideal value proposition to us unsuspecting home pizza makers – right?

Yet time after time we seem to find ourselves standing in the same line just a few feet over from where we were the last time we bought new things to make things better and it simply didn’t happen.

I have found outcomes with new things might be marginally better than with old things but not always. There is no guarantee things will be better. Just as there are two sides to a coin, things could be better or worse. It depends. I have also learned improvement is generally not linear. Truth is you probably won’t go from a pizza making zero to hero because of any one thing. I don’t care how expensive the thing is. It’s more like five steps forward and 4.8 backward. However, when things get worse, it’s usually worse by an order of magnitude which makes it feel like a thousand fire ants are biting your toes. A notable exception to all this madness has been the venerable Raquel Oven. Now that is a thing of beauty.

But oddly enough not any of the things associated with my pride and joy assure improvement. Like peels for instance. Go figure. Why do things have to be so complicated?

And I’m not sure how to prevent things like that from happening because no matter my level of preparation, it still happens. And that is the focus of this post;
My experience with buying things like peels to use with the Raquel Oven.

I thought I asked all the right questions. I went to a few of the wood burning pizza elders seeking advice. And yet I still bought the wrong peels. That’s right. Peels as in more than one. Remember above when I said when things go wrong they really go wrong? Well in my case I couldn’t have made worse mistakes relative to my peel selection. The only bigger mistake I could have made was to start a land war in China.

Kindly allow me to take the mistakes one by painfully one (I find pain is often a great motivator to get things right the second time – but not always):

I consulted with other wood burning pizza oven owners as to which peels they bought and why. I spoke to a number of different oven manufacturers and the same loading peel bubbled to the top of nearly everyone’s list: the perforated aluminum alloy headed and anodized aluminum alloy handled Azzurra by GI Metal. Truth is, I had my reservations from the beginning. My spidey senses immediately started tingling upon gazing its photograph for the first time online. Its perforations seemed rather on the large size to me but I was assured they were actually a good thing. Why? Well apparently they aid in reducing friction, drop excess flour, keep the oven cleaner and are light and flexible for a spatula like effect. Now those are all good things.

Only thing is, the darn thing didn’t work out for me with my pizza in my oven no matter how hard I tried. For me, the perforations are so large that my heavily topped pies seep into the perforations with uncanny consistency and stick like glue. Making loading a near impossibility. Such is not the case with a marinara or a Margherita or when I make small diameter pies. But try putting a generously topped 16” pie with sausage, mushroom, onion, mozzarella, sauce, and pepperoni on it and you’ll soon feel my pain. The law of gravity wins every time.

Why haven’t others felt the same pain? Not sure. I kept on being told it was my newness. My lack of experience. So I kept on trying. One of the last great thinkers once described insanity as being something like repeating the same process and expecting a different outcome. My outcomes never improved and they were quite predictable. In the end, I realized I was to blame. The perforated peels might work for some but not well with really wet and thin skinned pies with a lot of weight on top. No amount of technique could overcome that pesky thing called gravity. Another contributory factor was size. Pizza for me fits my eye in the 15” or higher range. Others make really small pies along the lines of 8”, 9”, 10”, 11”, or 12” skins. Obviously I failed to account for these differences in my buying analysis.   

Also I choose a 40” long handle which I thought would be long enough. Yeah right. I don’t have any hairs left on my arms anymore due to loading pies into a ferociously hot oven. And when things go wrong like when pies are half unloaded and the other half sticks to the peel, things get really interesting. Try shaking a half stuck pie loose at a thousand degrees and tell me how your arms like it. Others use a 40” handle but I later realized their ovens are much smaller in diameter. Another detail I neglected to factor in to my buying decision.

Moving on to the spinning peel I also made two laughable mistakes. First, the handle length was 40” which turned out not to be long enough. The Raquel Oven is just over 43” in diameter so my thinking was with a head size of 8” plus a handle of 40” the overall length would be ideal. But I have learned through pain that is not the case. See, I originally thought I wanted a short handle which would be easier to manipulate. Boy was I wrong. Longer is better for wood burning ovens.

The second mistake I made was I ordered an 8” head. This would have been great if I made 12” or smaller pies. But move up to a 15” pie and an 8” head is way too small to properly spin the pie. I have punctured my fair share of half baked pies because the edge of the peel rips the skin. This leads to more heat induced pain and frustration. Not to mention removing a pie nearly twice the size of the peel head leads to significant edge droop which could cause topping to hit the floor…Yeah, I’ve stood in that line too.

Attached are photographs of the new things I bought to replace the old things which were a pain in the you know what to use – for me. Gone are the perforated head, the short handles, and the super small spinning head. Can’t wait to see what new mistakes can be made with the new things. The maddening thing about this hobby is the more I think I know the less I really do. Good thing I’m patient.

Hey. Wait a minute there is a knock at my door. It was the UPS man with another new thing. Seriously. Check out the newer time stamp on the scale photos.

I can taste the muddy water already!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on October 24, 2008, 05:13:52 PM
I feel your pain.

Everything progresses by plateaus.

Check out this book. It can be applied to pizza making. One of the best books I have ever read. I am applying it to tennis and pizza making.

http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfillment/dp/0452267560/?tag=pizzamaking-20 (http://www.amazon.com/Mastery-Keys-Success-Long-Term-Fulfillment/dp/0452267560/?tag=pizzamaking-20)

We are all on the same path.

My brother.

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on October 24, 2008, 06:13:45 PM
Hey there PFT good to see you post,  its been a while.  A couple questions.  How big is your new turner?  What are you doing with your 15" peel.  I have been thinking about getting one to be able to do some larger pies on occassion.  I would use my current 12.5 inch perforated peel to remove the pies.  Just curious,  take it easy -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: trosenberg on October 26, 2008, 08:25:50 PM
Dear PF Taylor & other kindred souls,  There is something reassuring in hearing there are other people out there who are as neurotic as I am about getting pizza right. I too have spent my fair share with G.I. Metal, Caputo, brick masons, etc.  In fact I have spent millions on wine, women and food... the rest I just wasted.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: thehorse on October 27, 2008, 10:49:51 PM
My latest NY/Neo, featuring Caputo rosso, cake yeast, 63% hydro, 1 day bulk rise,@ 625F.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on October 27, 2008, 11:36:49 PM
Pftaylor,
That's a nice looking scale.  Does it weigh a single gram?  If so, where did you get it?

Also, I like the spinning peels from GI metal, but the loaders just feel too cheap.  I think wood is the way to go on that item.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on October 28, 2008, 01:50:41 AM
Does it weigh a single gram?

It's printed on both the box and the scale seen in the pictures that it measures up to 7000 grams with 1 gram resolution.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on October 28, 2008, 08:39:08 AM
It's printed on both the box and the scale seen in the pictures that it measures up to 7000 grams with 1 gram resolution.
yer always so flaming helpful, red.  So, where'd he get it?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on October 28, 2008, 10:36:05 AM
So, where'd he get it?

Unlike the resolution (gradation) of the scale, pftaylor didn't provide that information.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on October 28, 2008, 10:42:46 AM
I believe it's this one,also available elsewhere:

http://www.oldwillknottscales.com/my-weigh-7001dx.aspx
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on October 29, 2008, 05:07:47 PM
MWTC,
Thanks for the knowledge. I'll check it out in between bites, no make that huge chomps, of Bubble Burst...

widespreadpizza,
The new spinner peel has a ten inch head. My plan was to keep the perforated peel as a backup in case my new "thing" doesn't work as well as my mind tells it should. Same for the eight inch spinner.

shango,
I purchased the 7001DX from: www.saveonscales.com
The total cost was $49.35 including shipping ($7.95) and the AC adapter ($6.90)
The new scale will hopefully replace my two old things - a super sensitive frieling scale (capacity 250g x 0.1g resolution or 8oz x 0.005oz resolution) and a Pelouze RCX5 digital scale designed primarily for weighing mail (capacity 5lb x 0.1oz resolution).

Neither the frieling or the Pelouze could handle all my weighing needs so I ordered the new "sure-to-solve-my-weighing-needs" thing. Happy as a pig in mud right now as a result. But as with all else in pizza - we'll see.

Funny you should mention wooden peels because all along I have wondered why the Naples based pizzerias all seem to use wood instead of metal (like most of the pizzerias in the US). I'd bet its because the grain captures any excess flour. It must work better than the perforations.

I do have another "thing" update to report. I have sought this thing for quite some time and now I have it. It is the Princess International MR-148. That's right the MR-148 not the MR-138. What is the difference?

Five precious liters of interior space. Photographs are below of my new pride and joy.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on October 29, 2008, 07:36:48 PM
I do have another "thing" update to report. I have sought this thing for quite some time and now I have it. It is the Princess International MR-148. That's right the MR-148 not the MR-138. What is the difference?

Five precious liters of interior space. Photographs are below of my new pride and joy.

It's about time.  That is really good news.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on October 29, 2008, 08:55:30 PM
Probably a good idea to keep the old peels PFT,  you never know when you are gonna wanna change it up a bit.  Just thinking about changing it up after I posted and the mention of the wood peel made me think and realize that I had drastically oversized peel in my possession.  So I took it down from its display rack.  Then I traced a 16 inch screen onto it and proceeded to cut it to a real nice 48 inch long by 16 inch peel.  Just took my first pie out of the oven that I made with it.  It unloaded very nicely.  I will be using this everytime I get the large pie itch or need to feed a lot of people fast.  On the wood peel note,  I am sure that the popularity of the metal peel in this country has a lot to do with state food code.  We all know though that nothing is going to live through the heat the pizza is destined to endure.  -Marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on November 02, 2008, 06:21:56 AM
pft,

I'm still here and watching!

Glad to see that you are continuing your trek. Your MR-148 uses Peltier plates, and I had assembled (and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word!) a lesser-performing facsimile a few months ago. I still need to put a thermostat in it (er, among other things) but I can play around with insulation and get it to maintain an anticipated temperature.

The Peltier plate is sandwiched between the 2 heat sinks and powered by the power supply on the right. I believe it's a 60 watt plate (as I remember). Just as an illustration, I stacked a few plates on the left. There's also a boxer fan suspended inside, by the small skewers that you can barely see on the right.

Anyway, good to see progress being made with Pizza Raquel! I've reached my parenthesis limit here (for this post), so...

Cheers,

Ray

 ;)
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 02, 2008, 07:48:50 AM
Ray,
I am really impressed by your use of the parenthetical (parenthetically speaking of course) and your keen sense of pizza innovation. Good old fashioned American ingenuity from what I can tell. To others it might appear to be the twisted efforts of a mad scientist. Come to think of it…Ha-Ha!

Last night I had an opportunity to try out my new things and gauge their impact on effectiveness and I can report complete satisfaction across the board:

- The My Weigh 7001DX performed admirably and as intended. I really appreciated the adjustable angled display. Wasn’t sure it would be useful but on the first rattle out of the box it added value by minimizing glare from overhead. Bonus marks for this little feature.

- The loading peel from GI Metal (without the perforations) performed as intended. Couldn’t really notice a deleterious increase in flour residue upon loading a pie into the Raquel Oven. Could be I don’t use a lot of bench flour anymore. Could also be that I was never coordinated enough to use the perforated peel despite my years of being an elite athlete. Take your pick.

- The ten inch spinning peel was a delight to use for two reasons. First, its elongated handle meant I didn’t have to douse my arms in pool water to counter the Raquel Oven’s formidable heat wave. I stood a comfortable distance away from Raquel’s mouth and spun pies all night with little difficulty. Second, the bigger head allowed a bigger diameter pie which suits my eye just fine.

Currently, the Raquel dough optimizes within the following parameters:
- 1,650g Flour. 50/50 blend of Caputo (or San Felice) Pizzeria and King Arthur Special. Future experiments will consider Caputo Red (on order). The tipping point with Raquel’s wafer thin crisp crust is right about at 50/50. More Caputo or San Felice than 50% and the crust is too soft. More Special than 50% and the crust is too crispy, hard, and crunchy.
- 1L Smart water
- 50g Sea salt finely cut
- 45g Varasano starter (Maybe its me but the Camaldoli and the Ischia starters produce significantly less flavor and I don’t seem to care for the crumb structure as much either)
- 22 hour temperature controlled rise between 64 and 72 degrees
- Balls cut four or more hours before use
- Bake time between 45 seconds to 1.5 minutes with 1 minute being optimum

Photographs from last night’s Chef’s Walk are attached. Unsolicited comments from guests last night included a new one which bears mentioning;

“We can’t stop eating your pizza. We know we’ve overeaten by any reasonable measure, yet we don’t feel bloated, sleepy, or overstuffed. Why is that?”

That one rang my bell since I’ve designed the Raquel pizza experience to accomplish exactly that goal. Validates why I’m doing all this stuff…
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JimmyMak on November 02, 2008, 08:03:02 AM
It doesn't get any better than that. I agree with the starters , I  do not have varasanos starter  but I use the others in making cibatta & like the results when used with IDY. The starter gives the flavor. I don't believe the starters have enough ooph to raise the bread . What kind of pizza was the last one.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza Rustica on November 03, 2008, 09:52:03 PM
PFT,

I cannot begin to tell you how much I have learned from and enjoyed your posts. I have devoured your posts as well as the hard work and discoveries you've made along the way.

If I may indulge in a few questions? I am having trouble with my room temp rise. I don't have the mr-138/148 or equivalent temp controls and have been doing room temp rises with the RT rise in the mid to high 70 degree range. My rise after 12-15 hours seems to have at least doubled and tends to result in flat dough balls. I am using your Raquel formula, but without the KASL as I don't have any yet. After balling and rising for 4-6 hours the balls tend to come out somewhat flat and a hour or so into the bake process the remaining balls are extremely flat. I assume its over fermented, but in reading the posts everyone seems to use the generic rise times of 12-15 hours or more without a lot of problems. Questions, if you please. Do you believe I am over proofing the dough? If so suggestions? Do you knead and punch down after your rise? if so how long typically do you knead the dough and what is your technique for kneading prior to balling? I haven't been kneading after the RT rise. In fact I have been trying to not disturb the dough. In retrospect, I understand that the kneading process actually gives the dough new life with food so I would assume this is an important step I have not been employing. I assume your 22 hour rise includes the balling phase, if so what is your base period for the rise? What oven temp have you found to work best with the Raquel formula? Sorry for the long post of questions, but any help from the master would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on November 03, 2008, 10:43:14 PM
Russ,

I, too, await with interest for pftaylor's response to your questions. However, in the meantime, you may want to take a look at a recent thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7225.msg62332.html#msg62332 in which I described the results of significant experiments I have conducted to make a long, room-temperature fermented dough, without benefit of a ThermoKool or equivalent unit, even though I have a ThermoKool unit.

Peter
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 04, 2008, 07:00:55 AM
JimmyMak,
The last pizza is aptly named Tampa Verde. It features a sourdough crust, imported Prosciutto, honey ham, fresh mozzarella, Sini Fulvi Romano, organic basil, and fresh organic baby arugula topped with grated Regiano Parmesano. 

Pete-zza,
Thanks for assisting. No telling how long my response might have taken with my travel schedule. Fortunately I have a moment this morning.
 
Pizza Rustica,
We have all sat where you’re sitting right now wondering what we’ve done wrong. Fact is pizza is the ultimate expression and culmination of one’s prior efforts. With pizza, one gets exactly what they deserve.

A pizza may appear opaque to the untrained eye. But it is a veritable mirror which provides a pristine view reflecting the precise impact of what one’s efforts were leading up to the final moment of truth – the bake. Err at any of the prior steps and the result can be anything from a minor issue to catastrophic failure.

If only we knew how to look in the mirror. I have spent a lifetime peering into the pizza mirror of truth wondering how such a seemingly simple concoction can be so elusive. Learning to make killer pizza consistently is no small triumph as a consequence.

My baseline suggestion would be to initially focus on the 20% (of the effort) which delivers the 80% (of the results). Rip and replace anything not necessary or proven to be helpful. Keeping it as simple as possible as you go. Then, and only then, once robust results become routine and you’re certain you’ve dialed in your intended results, should you get jiggy with expanding your base and extending your reach into the pizza hinterland.

Let’s see if I can help you from what you’ve posted. Remember that making changes are notoriously difficult to measure when making more than one at a time so proceed prudently. I view this process as being painstakingly iterative.

My suspicions center squarely on the following areas:
- Rise temperature is too high. A room temperature rise should be somewhere between 64F to 72F. Too much heat equals too much yeast activity. The concept of a room temperature rise is akin to a marathon instead of a sprint. The goal is a steady pace of fermentation not a big bang.   
   
- Too much yeast for the rise temperature. If dough doubles and then goes flat it sounds to me like the yeast are out of food. What does your finished crust look like?

- Not enough salt relative to rise time, amount of yeast, and rise temperature

- Rise period too long relative to rise temperature.

The macrodynamics governing whats going on here are; time, temperature, yeast, and salt (flour and hydration are of minor importance relative to the big four above). And they are completely controllable by you. But only if you treat them as a system of interactions.

In order to do so, one needs to properly understand the relationship of one to another. The interaction of time, temperature, yeast, and salt is what you are struggling with. It is what perplexes every aspiring pizza crafter at one point or another.

I will end my response here and await your reply. Kindly analyze your dough management and preparation process in light of the above and ask yourself a couple of high-level questions:

- What might I have too much of?
- What might I not have enough of?

Make a pizza or two and report back with photographs so we can all view into your mirror and learn to make better pizza along with you. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza Rustica on November 05, 2008, 01:52:46 AM
Pete-zza,

I did read your long fermentation attempt and concur that what you experienced I am likewise experiencing. I particularly noticed that you re-kneaded and punched down the dough whenever you felt the dough became unmanageable and exhausted. This seemingly simple step is one that I have avoided for fear of adversely affecting the dough. But what I think you found was that it was required due to the long fermentation and the exhaustion of the food supply for the yeast. It seems from your experience to have allowed your dough a much longer and more successful lifespan ( is it simply the dough fountain of youth I've been searching for?) I await your input. As always I and countless others greatly appreciate your insight and efforts to help us more dough challenged bodies.

PFT
As you suggest it truly is a journey and I have enjoyed my ride along the way learning, experimenting and most joyfully eating the result. Our backyard was a project that came in way over budget and took way too long, but I am consoled everytime I fire the oven and crack a cold beer.

My formula is simply yours:
Flour 1650G San Felice/sometimes 100%; last version 30% San Felice/70% AP flour (pics are of 100% San Felice)
Water 60-63% range
Sea Salt 45G
Ischia 50g

Thanks to an obliging wife and the fact that smoke started coming out of our lowly kitchen aid I was both determined and fortunate to acquire a Santos fork mixer. It does wonders for my manhood. Its like looking under the hood of a early 70's muscle car knowing that tremendous potential sits waiting for someone to step on the throttle and take it where it really wants to go.

In thinking thru your post, it seems almost too obvious that the answer is simply overfermentation, but I conclude that it probably is so. I am unskilled enough to recognize when to stop the 1st rise based upon the growth of the dough to less than/more than doubling or somewhere thereabout. As I mentioned I have been doing RT rise and here in Calif. until last week it has been rather warm thus the 75 degree +  room temp rises. I have tried putting the dough in our 55 degree wine cooler, but it seemed like after 15 hours there was virtually no rise. So I'm sure there is a point of finding the right balance but again some helpful tips would be appreciated. Namely how to tell when the 1st rise is sufficient; method and duration of 2nd kneading; It seems to take me only 1-2 minutes of kneading and then I begin to lose the beautiful texture of the dough and it turns rough and begins to show some edges to it. I have attached several pics for consideration from a couple different attempts. You will notice the somewhat flatness of the dough balls in the pics. One pic has two types of dough balls 100% San Felice and the 30/70 SF/AP. The others are 100% SF.

I thank you for your assistance and guidance.

Additionally, I was able to stop by Pizzeria Mozza in L.A. and will be posting several pics from my experience. You will notice in the Mozza pics the coloration of the crust. As has been mentioned here before it is quite crunchy almost too much so, but nevertheless I and my boys enjoyed it thoroughly.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 05, 2008, 08:29:54 AM
Pizza Rustica,
Thanks for the rapid response. Let’s see if I can help based on what we now know from the enhanced detail of your dough management process and photographs provided. Your pizza looks very well done I might add.

Let’s tackle your situation as if it were mine here in Tampa. We’ll get to the end and see how we did. From the details in your post, let’s say I wanted to make a batch of dough and I was faced with the facts you provided (and some I assumed):
- Desirous of a room temperature rise at an average of 75F
- 50g of fully activated starter without additional IDY/ADY added as a booster
- 1650g Flour
- 1L purified water (equals a 60.6% hydration depending on starter consistency)
- 45g sea salt
- Santos fork mixer
- Wood-fired oven at 800F plus

Based on the above facts I would employ the latest Pizza Raquel dough management process (which you should already have) and proceed down one of two main paths:
- Shortened rise (less flavor and less digestible) with no other changes
- Longer rise (more flavor and more digestible) with necessary changes

For a shortened rise, I would make the batch of dough according to the specifications above and adjust the bulk rise time to approximately eight hours. Then hand-knead until springy (using the punch & fold technique), cut and ball. Rest for four hours. Form skin, top with favorite toppings, and bake. Then just before I put the first bit in my mouth I would close my eyes, take a hearty bite and not try to stop my toes from twitching by just submitting to Raquel’s distortion field of pleasure.

For the longer rise (twenty-two hours or so) option, I would implement a couple of upfront small yet significant changes. First, I would cut back on the amount of starter (to about 35g) and/or increase the amount of salt slightly making sure to never go over 55g (55g is safe whereas 60g can lead to trouble in my experience). The initial bulk rise should be about sixteen to eighteen hours. Then hand-knead until springy, cut and ball. Rest for four to six hours. Form skin, top with favorite toppings, and bake. Then just before I put the first bit in my mouth I would close my eyes, take a hearty bite and not try and stop my eyes from rolling into the back of my head with pure unadulterated bliss. Just submit to the pizza and repeat until full.   

From an appearance standpoint, I would expect the dough balls not to rise much during the bulk period and hardly any at all during the second rise. I would expect to see some bubbling though. Also, I wouldn’t expect to see a ball shape either which is indicative of an overly tight dough. Your photographs show a relaxed dough mass which is emblematic of a room temperature, highly hydrated, naturally leavened dough prepared properly. My dough balls never actually look like balls anymore and yours shouldn’t either.

I trust the above is useful in your pizza making.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on November 05, 2008, 11:15:55 AM
Pete-zza,

I did read your long fermentation attempt and concur that what you experienced I am likewise experiencing. I particularly noticed that you re-kneaded and punched down the dough whenever you felt the dough became unmanageable and exhausted. This seemingly simple step is one that I have avoided for fear of adversely affecting the dough. But what I think you found was that it was required due to the long fermentation and the exhaustion of the food supply for the yeast. It seems from your experience to have allowed your dough a much longer and more successful lifespan ( is it simply the dough fountain of youth I've been searching for?) I await your input. As always I and countless others greatly appreciate your insight and efforts to help us more dough challenged bodies.

Russ,

When I replied to your post, I assumed that you were making a commercial-yeast version of the Raquel dough. Sorry about that. However, I believe that the principles are the same with a naturally-leavened dough although perhaps not as pronounced. pftaylor made an important statement about fermentation temperature. Life would be made much easier for you if you used a unit like the ThermoKool (or equivalent) unit to control the fermentation temperature. Variations in room temperature require that you learn how to make dough like a skilled Neapolitan pizzaiolo would. If you did this for a living and made dough day after day, you would learn the unique behavior of your starter culture, how to reliably maintain it, and how to adapt the dough (along the lines discussed by pftaylor) to the varying environmental conditions. As a casual home pizza maker not on a regular pizza making schedule, it is harder to achieve success with a starter culture or preferment time after time and within the window of usabillty you have selected. I found that making a long (20-24 hour), room-temperature, commercially-leavened fermented dough was a real challenge--one of the toughest in my experience. To do likewise with a natural starter or preferment is even harder in my opinion if you are working with room temperatures. Unfortunately, for the volume of dough balls you have been making, you will not be able to use a unit like the ThermoKool unit to control the fermentation temperature. You will need a more commercial solution.

Like you, I once did some experiments with naturally-leavened doughs using a wine unit. I described some of my results at Reply 43 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2951.msg25809/topicseen.html#msg25809 and also in the related post at Reply 94 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,986.msg25807.html#msg25807. As noted in the above posts, I found my wine unit to be too cool and I had to take measures, as described, to help elevate the dough temperature during fermentation.

You might also be interested in a test that I conducted with two Neapolitan-style doughs in which one dough ball was fermented at room temperature and a second dough ball was fermented in my wine unit, as reported at Reply 96 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,986.msg25896/topicseen.html#msg25896. As it so happened, I used the dough fermented in the wine unit to conduct another experiment--specifically, to see if I could "kill" the dough by overfermentation. I described the results of that additional test at Reply 1 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5505.msg46570/topicseen.html#msg46570.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza Rustica on November 07, 2008, 12:16:01 AM
Pete-zza,

I agree with your thoughts, the difficulty of trying to do room temp rises in varying conditions is difficult for a novice like me to say the least. The weather here has turned quite a bit colder in the last week or so and now I must make further adjustments to a process I am still trying to figure out. I will indeed explore the Thermakool unit as a possible resource in an effort to control the one variable only mother nature can control. The amount of balls made in the pics were for a large party for my son's birthday. I normally make smaller batches of dough. I will hopefully be firing the oven this weekend and will be able to report back on my results.

PFT,

Your insight is very helpful. Shorter rise, less flavor vs. longer rise, more flavor is an easy decision for me. In my quest for a great tasting pie the longer rise and better flavor will win every time. Your earlier comments about making small adjustments seem to make perfect sense. Set up the basic parameters and then fine tune by controlling and adjusting the variables. Like my kids baseball coach always says" good hitters always make adjustments". Reducing the amount of starter will hopefully offset the higher room temp rise. Excellent suggestion, I will try dropping down the starter level as suggested. I may tinker with the salt a bit, but so far I am happy with the taste levels of salt at present formula. Your comments about the form and nature of the state of my dough balls are reassuring.

If you don't mind my asking, you seem to have gone back to the Patsy/Varsanno starter. In recalling some of the older posts I thought Jeff V, yourself and others had concluded that Patsy's didn't use a starter and did not use an old dough/chef for their dough process. If so, how do you explain the taste levels both you and Jeff V seem to find so tantalizing? If their dough is made fresh daily (or the previous night) without starter and/or old dough what in the process and/or ingredients do you attribute to the excellent flavoring? Your thoughts and insight are appreciated.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 07, 2008, 08:24:05 AM
Pizza Rustica,
It was not a pleasurable experience to disprove varasano's belief about Patsy's having a starter. I had to uncover the unshakeable facts for myself before I could get past that point. But instances such as that have taught me the value of self discovery. In God we trust - all others bring evidence...

That said, the varasano starter (origin East Harlem/ATL/& Parts Unknown) I have is most assuredly superior in every way to the Ishcia or Camaldoli starters. Why? Well, for me, the varasano starter exhibits all the properties I could want in a starter:
- Fast to activate (one or two refreshment cycles is all that is necessary)
- Not finicky after being in the refrigerator for extended periods of time
- Imparts a pleasingly distinctive lactic acid taste to Pizza Raquel's Bubble Burst crust which melds well with mozzarella
- Superior puff
- Less susceptible to going acidic (sour) with long room temperature rises

I suppose if I kept the Italian starters more active they might perform better. But for the frequency I make pizza, they are problematic at best. If I had more time or the inclination to devote to them, perhaps I could get them to perform better. But I've gotten to the point where having to constantly worry about whether or not a given starter will activate or not is not something I want to do.

And it's not as if I didn't try to make them work either. I spent countless hours activating them only to determine the following (based on my pizza making experience):
- Between the two, the Camaldoli starter activates faster than the Ischia
- Both require two full days or more of refreshing every 4-6 hours to fully activate - which is not compatible with my travel schedule
- The Camaldoli produces a more lactic acid taste better suited for pizza but only for up to 18 hour rises (generally)
- The Ischia produces a more acidic acid taste better suited for bread
- The Ischia starter produces more puff and a more competent feeling dough

So in the final analysis, the varasano starter is better suited for my style of pizza making.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: trosenberg on November 08, 2008, 05:29:40 AM
Dear PF Taylor, I love your writing as well as your passion.  There is something comforting in knowing there are others who share one's obsession.  Now that you have me wanting to abandon the starters I have been nurturing for the past two years I guess I have to get some of Varasano's starter. 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Bill/SFNM on November 08, 2008, 08:24:06 AM

- Between the two, the Camaldoli starter activates faster than the Ischia
- Both require two full days or more of refreshing every 4-6 hours to fully activate - which is not compatible with my travel schedule
- The Camaldoli produces a more lactic acid taste better suited for pizza but only for up to 18 hour rises (generally)
- The Ischia produces a more acidic acid taste better suited for bread
- The Ischia starter produces more puff and a more competent feeling dough


pftaylor,

I think frequency of use can make a big difference. I used to think Ischia was a very sour culture, so I didn't use it very often - maybe once every month. Then I started using it more frequently and the flavor profile changed dramatically. Now I use it once a week or more and the flavor is very mild. It only takes me a few hours to activate my most frequently used cultures with a single feeding. You need to take your cultures on the road with you. Just keep them in little 3 oz. bottles so TSA doesn't confiscate them.   ;D

Your biggest fan,
Bill/SFNM


Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza Rustica on November 10, 2008, 11:58:29 PM
PFT,

Amazing. If the Varasano/NY starter did not originate from a dough with starter or old dough being added to the new dough, how did the subsequent capture of the dough/yeast achieve its amazing flavor characteristics from a fresh dough product with I believe baker's yeast? If we are able simply to assume we can capture a wild yeast in the essence of a great establishment using fresh dough, what possibilities does this open up?


Here's a few pics from the latest batch. Still working on the dough/RT rise. Unfortunately it has turned colder and thrown off my RT rise. I tried the rise in my garage at lower temp using the same 50g starter and found very little if any rise. After 15 hours bulk there was not any increase whatsoever. Dough was too cold and didn't want to warm up. As a result the crust had very little oven spring and much too dense. Obviously, back to your comments starter vs. temperature need to be adjusted. I really need to work on achieving a consistent rise for the dough. In regard to your useage of the Thermakool. Do all the dough balls fit into the unit? if so how are they packaged after balling?



Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on November 30, 2008, 07:26:27 AM
Pizza Rustica,
Interesting question about culturing dough and forming a starter. My guess is he started from a chunk of Patsy's dough and the local yeast strain took over after a period of time.  Quite inadvertently perhaps.

Anyway, attached are a handful of photos depicting:
- A pepperoni pie,
- A mushroom/onion/ricotta/fresh mozzarella kitchen sink type pie
- A few slices showing Bubble Burst
- A classic Raquel

Happy holidays...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JConk007 on November 30, 2008, 02:17:24 PM
PFT ,
Just curious what type of oven you are using? Did not catch that info yet, 2 stone? Those  pies sure look great whatever it is. I have not experimented with a starter yet but getting some nice results. Moved indoors so I have a lot of things I want to try. Any recommendation for a starter? Frankie G? Sourdo.com? Is it hard to keep going?
thnaks

John
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on November 30, 2008, 04:25:04 PM
PFT,  I know we are on similar paths right now... but heres my IDY room temp,  then retard version of raquel.  Couldn't help but show you,  I too have pretty much settled in on the 50% KA bread/special 50 % caputo.  This one came out about 5 minutes ago,  it's gone.....   touchdown patriots!  thats a real ugly start for pitts. -marc
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 02, 2008, 09:36:25 AM
JConk007,
I am using a custom built ultra-low dome wood-fired oven which uniformly bakes a pie at whatever temperature I so choose. Want a perfectly baked pie in thirty seconds? No problem!

Sixty seconds? Sure - sign here ____________.

Two minute pie? Yeah, but why would you want to?

Seriously though, it was the result of an intense collaboration with an oven builder and refractory expert with more than twenty years experience. Cad/Cam optimized design, cost-no-object refractory and insulation materials, etc. In a nutshell it is, in my opinion, the ultimate pizza specific oven.

Regarding starters, I could write for a month and not cover all the pertinent details. My recommendation would be to try any of them out and see if the extra work is worth it for your style of pie. Care and feeding of a starter requires true effort – sort of like keeping a pet. 

Suffice to say that use of a wild yeast starter incorporated into a naturally leavened room temperature dough management process and baked in a wood-fired oven is my definition of the optimal process for producing stupendous pizza.

Hey widespreadpizza,
Your pies look delicious and vaguely familiar. Keep up the good work.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 21, 2008, 07:36:55 AM
Had a few guests over the house for wood-fired Pizza Raquel over the weekend. It always amazes me how pizza brings everyone together.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: jeff v on December 21, 2008, 04:45:46 PM
Very nice as usual PFT. Question for you since I've enjoyd this thread so much-

Where are you now in regards to Raquel? There? Plateau? Still working, and if so on which area?

Just Curious,
Jeff
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 22, 2008, 08:00:07 AM
Hi jeff v,
Where am I currently at with Raquel? Simple question with a complicated answer. It really depends on what facet of Raquel you are referring to. I’ll take a stab with a high level explanation and see if my glide path makes sense.

The most honest answer to your question is; I am intensely curious about finding out about the twenty percent of learning which gets me eighty percent of the way there. My journey has been a series of ripping and replacing anything which doesn’t work with some other method, tool, or technique which does. A very Darwinian-esque approach for sure. Tools help but building pizza knowledge is the supreme accomplishment. Right now, my array of tools is greater than my wisdom in optimizing the use of them. But I am learning every day so it’s only a matter of time. That time may take a lifetime but I am a patient man…

When I put your question in the context of what I consider the ultimate expression for pizza, the easy answer is a wood fired pizza with a naturally leavened crust topped with your favorite flavor combinations. It is a dream come true for me and I can now die in total peace as a result of the venerable Raquel Oven. In many respects it symbolizes the end of my journey as well as a new beginning. The Raquel Oven clearly had the single biggest impact on my pizza making from a tool perspective. I do have some good news to report; the new vent and cosmetics will be finished sometime in Q1 2009. I know, I know, I’ve promised completion before. But this time I’m certain of it. The vent is redesigned and the mold is finished. Checks have been written.

Over the course of my journey I’ve baked hundreds of pizzas in a 580 degree home electric oven and an 850 degree gas grill. The fact is, in my experience, pizza comes out different in those than it does in a wood fired oven even with identical bake times. They may look the same (not really identical but close enough) however the resultant crust is fundamentally different because of the lack of live flame and balanced heat. I was fortunate to be in a position to take the wood fired oven concept to an extreme with an ultra-low-dome and cutting edge design which incorporates the latest refractory and insulation technology and materials. Bottom line is I achieved my goal of producing a perfectly uniform balanced bake at any temperature I so choose. Are there other ways of getting a perfectly balanced bake irrespective of temperature? Well maybe but in my case the answer was clear – it takes an ultra-low-dome design. And that clear answer worked so I’m happy.

I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me with respect to operating the Raquel Oven. There are so many variables to get one’s arms around that it is a field of study all to its own. As an example, I have exhaustively researched the use of various available woods and have concluded that a certain strain of Oak has the ability to produce the very best heat profile for pizza making. Though I must admit, I do enjoy the fragrance of Shagbark Hickory wafting through the air. Burning Shagbark Hickory produces a scent which reminds me of my early childhood in Pennsylvania. I still have a stack of it left and truth be told, I enjoy throwing a log in just before the first pie is slid in for heat blasting.

An early experiment I tried was to get the fragrance of hickory infused into the Raquel crust. It never really worked in the end but it did lead to a whole new way of thinking about food.

My failed efforts to infuse additional flavor into Raquel’s crust led me to observe how other chefs cook other foods with their wood fired oven. Last year I noticed a most fascinating technique while in Paris. The chef used dried grape branches in his wood fired oven to infuse aromatic flavor into oysters. And boy did it ever. The oysters were delicious. Well, I decided to use the same approach to infusing additional flavor into Raquel’s crust. Only problem is when I opened my wallet wide and bought grape branches (not easy to find in Florida I might add), they didn’t produce the same effect on Raquel. In hindsight, the oysters were in his oven for about eight minutes and Pizza Raquel was in my oven for only about a minute. 

But for me the whole point of grape branch experimentation was to get to the extreme limit of what’s possible in making and baking Pizza Raquel. And the only way I know how to do that is by doing and learning.

So that is my answer. I am in the optimization stage of pizza learning and baking. I have the best tools available and the determination to find out what’s possible irrespective of what’s been done before by me or anyone else. I’ll stop there for now.

Happy holidays
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: jeff v on December 22, 2008, 12:07:34 PM
I thought you'd say that!  :P

I hope your able to enjoy the moment as you learn-especially with all the tools you have at your disposal now. It's too bad about the grape vines, but it makes sense. Experimenting with different woods/herbs/branches has been a fun part of wood grilling for me.

A couple of follow ups-You mentioned hundreds of pizzas done in the home oven, and on the grill. How many have been done in the WFO? Following along it seems there have been a some big leaps in your pizza making and many small ones. Do you see any big leaps in the future or mostly incremental ones that lead to something big? How are you going to measure these?

Thanks,
Jeff
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 22, 2008, 05:02:34 PM
Hi Jeff,
If I had to guess I would say I have made between three hundred to four hundred pies and about twenty calzones in the Raquel Oven. The gaps or leaps left for me to close, off the top of my head, are as follows:

Supply chain optimization. Tampa being a pizza wasteland consistently challenges me in sourcing ultra-premium ingredients. In particular, cheese. I have struck agreements with wholesalers to source the three hard cheeses I prefer to use; Sini Fulvi Romano, Ricotta Salada, & Parmigiano-Reggiano. BTW, once I tried the real Parmigiano-Reggiano, I vowed never to go back to that acrid, powdery Parmesan, either – despite its $20/lb price.

However Bufala Mozzarella, with its pitiful shelf life, takes a real effort to properly source. I’ve given up and switched to Fior de Latte Mozzarella. Since I only make pizza a couple of times a month, I’m not sure I can ever overcome the freshness issue with distributors and Bufala.

I’ve toyed with making my own Fresh Mozzarella cheese from scratch but the taste has been suspect at best. The direction I am now headed in is to buy a good curd and make it fresh. That’s how my buddy Chris in Phoenix does it and his cheese was epic – in my humble opinion. The specific leap issue I have identified as being upgradeable is not related to the usual concern I typically read about – puddles, poor melting and burning. No I’ve fought those battles already and now my concern is the optimal mixing and matching of a lactic acid flavor profile to offset the acidic acid flavor of tomatoes. I remain convinced this is a treasure trove of contrasting opportunity just waiting to be uncovered.

It is why I exclusively use a lactic acid dominated natural leavening as well. I have a sense that the wafer thin crisp veneer of the Raquel crust can maximally combine with the creaminess of the right Fresh Mozzarella and contrast it against the acidic tomatoes to take melt-in-your-mouth flavor to new heights. I love contrasting flavors and I think this area justifies suitable exploration.

Another area worthy of investigation has to do with Caputo Rosso flour. I have a sense that it might, just might, be better suited for my style of artisan pizza making. I find Caputo Pizzeria flour produces too soft a crust for my guests and most importantly me. Americans innately want to pick up a slice and begin eating with their hands. Tough to do, in my experience, with a well made Caputo Pizzeria based crust over ten to twelve inches in diameter. The toppings just seem to fall off the slice tip and make a mess of it.

Frankly, I fail to understand why Caputo Pizzeria flour is so revered by so many. While I appreciate its flavor and high quality specifications, it is just not the right flour for my application. I tend to pile on the topping and need a level of rigidity that Pizzeria has issues with. I have found that a suitable work-around for my taste buds is to blend it 50/50 with KA Special or 66/34 with KASL. I’m hoping that the Rosso will negate the requirement of blending that its softer brother does. We’ll see.

Perhaps the granddaddy of all leaps is technique. It needs to be discussed in relation to proper process and procedure. I still have a lot to learn to match my process and procedure to my style of pizza. Problem is, there is no roadmap because I’m not emulating any known style of pizza. Though if I had pay homage to the real masters, I believe the Neapolitans have no peer and have mastered a very demanding style of pizza crust.

Their process and procedure is unbelievably complex yet elegant when properly executed. And it requires a certain set of tools in combination with the right process, procedure, and discipline to produce genuine pizza Napoletana. I have begun to understand the pain Marco carries within him on this topic because nearly everyone who claims to make pizza Napoletana doesn’t. It is sinful to be honest. I just shake my head at those that claim to make the real thing. Both famous and not. Nothing in the realm of pizza could be further from the truth. Even those that claim to make Napoletana style make me laugh with wonderment as to exactly where they believe they veered from being truly authentic. Marco should be revered for his undying efforts at enlightening the masses on pizza Napoletana.

I sometimes wish I didn’t mind authentic pizza Napoletana’s lusciously soft crusts, mini-me diameter skins, and somewhat soupy middles which necessitate the use of a knife and a fork. But the fact is I do. I rail against those aspects of pizza Napoletana instead of embracing them. I cannot help but view them through the optics of being defective. I truly wonder if harder strains of wheat were available to Neapolitans through the years if they wouldn’t prefer to pick up a slice and eat it with their hands. The sensory impact would be huge as a result and most assuredly is the definitive way to eat pie in my opinion.

If it sounds like I’m tortured on this point, I guess I really am because I just wish I liked it more than I do. It would make my journey easier to complete. I could just catch a flight to Naples and train under any number of masters and be done with it.

But pizza making has never been easy for me because I just cannot stomach defects so obvious on any level. I pay ridiculous attention to every detail big and small when it comes to Pizza Raquel and I want it to be perfect not compromised in any way.

I can’t emulate the elite New Yorkers either because they absolutely have no aspect of their pizza making which, in my opinion, is worth emulating. The questionable use of bromated flour and coal ovens might produce glorious taste at the expense of one’s health. The outright use of inferior ingredient quality is reason enough to look in another direction.

But which one? Chicago is out of the question because I can’t relate to pizza as a casserole on any level. California can’t distinguish between bread technique and pizza. Their crust is the absolute worst of the lot but toppings wise I can appreciate their reach. But since crust is the show, I can’t get my arms around it either.

So I’m resolved to go it alone and wander in the wilderness to find my own way. Selectively borrowing a little here and there from known styles while inventing new technique and applying my collective knowledge as I go to forge a new end-in-mind. Problem is I don’t know what I don’t know. So I just keep on grinding away at a goal which may not exist for all I know. Or I might not know when I get there.

But I have reason to hope. Pizza Raquel is stupendous now and I have no reason to believe she can’t be improved in some way.

We’ll see.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on December 22, 2008, 09:33:39 PM
Quote
Neapolitans through the years if they wouldn’t prefer to pick up a slice and eat it with their hands. The sensory impact would be huge as a result and most assuredly is the definitive way to eat pie in my opinion.
PfT,  This is an interesting comment.  The Napolitans do eat pizza by picking it up and biting it, in fact the perfect Napolitan pizza,(the entire pizza) should be able to be folded into a "wallet" ( I believe in Napoli it is called a "libretto", but I could be mistaken). 

In fact, while eating pizze in the city with a local couple, the gentleman mentioned that pizze and chicken were the 2 foods acceptable to eat with your hands.  Believe me this is truly the most satisfying way to eat a Neapolitan pizza.

I do understand that Raquel is a different creature, and has her own subtleties and nuances, and I respect you for letting us all get to know her so well.  Thank you, good luck, and good eating.  Can't wait to see the next batch.

I believe soon we will have even more to talk about, pizza, of course!

cheers,
-E
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on December 22, 2008, 10:13:06 PM
Quote
PfT,  This is an interesting comment.  The Napolitans do eat pizza by picking it up and biting it, in fact the perfect Napolitan pizza,(the entire pizza) should be able to be folded into a "wallet" ( I believe in Napoli it is called a "libretto", but I could be mistaken).

Shango,

I'm from Europe and have been to Italy a few times and have many Italian friends back there. I have seen Italians fold their pizza in half and then eat it. However, for as long as I can remember I have seen pizza being eaten all over Europe with a fork and knife until I came to the United States, where it's eaten with your fingers.

I don't know if that procedure refers back to the Italian tradition or if it is just a convenience thing. A couple of Italian friends, who ran a pizza shop back in Europe, told me that pizza is mostly eaten by folding the entire pizza in half. It must have somehow evolved into cutting up the pie into slices and eat them separately by hand.

Maybe someone can find out the history of it or perhaps Marco, as an Italian, can shed some light on it.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on December 22, 2008, 10:24:42 PM
found an image from one of my favorite pizzeria in Napoli...

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on December 22, 2008, 11:12:37 PM
 
Wishing you all Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year !

David

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 23, 2008, 08:13:15 AM
Hey guys,
I immensely enjoy follow-on discussions like these because when I write long posts I never know what facet is going to spur additional discussion. I just hope that someone does pick up on a point or two so that we can have further exploration. It’s how I like to learn. On the other hand, It is somewhat deflating to write long posts and have them go by without a passing remark. Now however as they say, the game is afoot.

Shango, you picked a good point. Neapolitans do eat pizza with their hands. Of course they do. But I’m not sure though that they traditionally eat slices with their hands. Marco early on had offered that explanation up to me privately so I was well aware of the technique of folding half or even an entire pie then picking it up and eating it. Not the same thing in my libro.

In the original post, picking up an entire pie was not the central point I was trying to get at. I was specifically referring to Neapolitans picking up a slice. Which some may do but the common practice is to use a knife and a fork due to the crust’s softness. Wouldn’t you agree? Later on in the post I further clarified the point now under discussion:

“I truly wonder if harder strains of wheat were available to Neapolitans through the years if they wouldn’t prefer to pick up a slice and eat it with their hands.”

One of the things I had wondered about with picking up an entire pie and folding it is this; aren’t you then turning the pie into a makeshift calzone? The problem for me is when I want to eat a pizza, I do so by eyeing up the selection of slices and choosing the one which best suits my eye. A minor point to some but to me, it adds to the allure of the experience. I personally fail to understand the charm of folding up a pie and gavoning it down without the opportunity to selectively bite the exact spot I desire. I do so enjoy the opportunity of biting the specific ingredients I want such as just biting the spicy tomato sauce and crust but not the cheese. It seems to me that folding up a pie would take that away from me.

I also know the NY tradition of rolling up a slice from its tip to the rim, sort of like a pizza roll. Surely you have seen that as well. That doesn’t make much sense to me either. Why would anyone do that unless they were in a hurry? 
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JConk007 on December 23, 2008, 09:12:47 AM
PFT,
 Happy Holidays! to you and all.
I just want to back you up on a few points you make in your generous posts.

#1 Yes, pizza surely brings people together. Since Building my outdoor oven (earthstone) and reading for 3 months on this very site. Our Family and circle friends have become much closer. Many times they ask when are we coming over again, when in the past it would be hard to get a phone call returned!

#2  I Loved what you said about eying up the slice. You brought to my attention, there isn't a pie go by where I don't eye each slice and secretly pull it out before placing on the table, and bite into the exact spot of ingredients as you mentioned.

#3 This thread is really about your Pizza Raquel, and not how to eat pizza, but again you tickled my thoughts.  A folded pizza in my mind is a Calzone. A double folded pizza, as shown, I would think could become  a real  mess once cracked open?
and finally I must admit to slice rolling  but from the crust to the tip on occasion. However this is generally due to lack of decent ingredients or anything good to look at (eye candy) as far as the slice goes. More like a bread stick? Yes in a hurry. Don't they sell these at 7/11 rolling next to the hotdogs? No, I have never and will never try that item.

Again thanks for provoking my thoughts   ???

John

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on December 27, 2008, 02:10:55 PM
Hi pftaylor,

Quote
I was fortunate to be in a position to take the wood fired oven concept to an extreme with an ultra-low-dome and cutting edge design which incorporates the latest refractory and insulation technology and materials.

I continue to enjoy your passionate posts on Pizza Raquel. I am on a similar quest for a low, flat dome oven, and have made some progress since my last posting.

I finally got the moulds completed, and produced the inner dome and cowling from hi-tech refractory material (see pictures below).

The inner dome is 43.3" X 29.5" and the ceiling height is 12.4" 

The cowling design draws the hot air to the front of the oven (near the mouth), then re-directs it back over the roof of the oven (MORE HEAT), and out into the chimney at a point at the centre of the roof.

The mouth is 17.4" inches in diameter (8.7" high).

The insulation will consist of wrapping the structure with a 1" thermal ceramic blanket. This will be covered by 4 inches of a light weight (perlite) insulation concrete, re-inforced with chicken mesh.

Any comments ?

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 27, 2008, 04:26:19 PM
Hi Barry,
What an elegant and beautiful pizza oven. I'm happy for you. I trust your oven will serve you well for many years to come. Congratulations.

Let's start with a few questions:
- How thick will the insulation for the deck be? 5" total?
- How did you settle on 1" of blanket & 4" of Perlite?
- How thick is the dome and deck?
- How close of a match are the material properties of the deck and dome?

Its my understanding in order to achieve a perfectly uniform and balanced pizza bake, in a circular wood fired oven, you generally need a low dome. In order to do it time after time you need as much insulation as you can afford.

In fact, insulation is like money. You can never have too much. The Raquel Oven has four inches of ceramic insulation for the dome (blanket) and deck (boards). Once the oven comes to operating temperature it is cool to the touch.   

Price aside between Perlite and ceramic insulation, two thoughts come to mind:
- My understanding is Perlite is not as effective as ceramic insulation. You won't have to buy as much wood if you use a thicker ceramic blanket/board vs Perlite. My experience bears this out. Wood consumption is appallingly low. Ceramic insulation, for me, pays for itself over time.
- Stabilizing the deck temperature from one pie to the next might be more challenging with only one inch of blanket.

Let me know your thoughts and what is the target date for the first firing?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on December 27, 2008, 04:53:36 PM
Sorry,  I meant to PM you.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on December 28, 2008, 07:52:20 AM
Hi pftaylor,

Thank you for the kind words. I will try to answer your questions in sequence.

The deck was constructed on top of a base of concrete lintels 43 inches above ground level. First, a layer of 1" insulation boards was laid on top of the lintels. See the pic below of the oven door made from the same insulation board. Secondly, on top of the boards, a 3 - 4" layer of Pratley Pearl insulating concrete was placed. Then the 2" thick kiln (fire) bricks were fixed to the wet concrete using a fire mortar on the brick bottoms only. No mortar between the bricks to allow for expansion. Total insulation 4 - 5".

I had an oven built at my previous home in Johannesburg just over 2 years ago, and it worked beautifully. This oven was insulated by using a single layer of 1" Thermal Ceramic blanket, covered with 2" of perlite concrete. I decided to up the perlite concrete to 4" over the blanket that covered the new flat-low dome design.

The inner dome and cowling are both cast using refractory material to a thickness of 40 mm (1.6") exactly. The floor incorporates 2" thick kiln bricks for the thermal mass.

The dome incorporates refractory material, while the floor incorporates kiln bricks. This combo worked well for me in the past.

The pics below, (taken an hour ago), show the almost finished oven (still need to paint, etc), and the first little fire. I expect to make ever increasing sized (hotter) fires over the next 5 days before it should be ready to be fired to max !

I will keep you posted, and definitely send pics of pizza when it gets going. I am concerned that my posting should be posted to a new topic heading like "Low-flat roof ovens" ?

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on December 31, 2008, 11:04:08 AM
Hi Barry,
Thanks for the clarification. Sounds like you are on top of things with your second oven. I can't wait to see photographs of the finished oven and your pizzas. I agree that you may want to start a new thread dedicated to low dome baking.

BTW, what recipe are you using these days?
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: solconnection on January 02, 2009, 03:53:51 PM
I gave this recipe a try (version one of the recipe) and followed it almost to the letter (though one of my deviations may have been a big one).

I didnt have an electric mixer so i mixed it by hand, i thought i did a good job of pretending to be an electric mixing machine :) hehe. I also used a high gluten specialty pizza/bread flour (it's an icelandic brand so i doubt anyone here would know it)

I got the dough out after doing a 24hour fridge rest and let it sit on the counter for 1 hour. Handling and shaping in to peels was lovely, easily the smoothest, silkiest dough i have ever worked with. I let the peels sit for maybe 20/30 mins after forming as well. I was excited about how these were going to turn out.

I baked for 4 or 5 mins on the top rack of my oven at 550ish (on fan forced) unfortunately what i got was tough/leathery & crispy and didn't puff much at all (not much air in the crust). It had a nice flavor, but that was it.

I am confused about the lack of rise..I used my own wild yeast sourdough starter that was very active (almost jumping out of the tub) and also IDY, maybe i needed to let it counter rise for longer? I think baking it on the top rack wasn't a good idea either, or at least for so long, as i baked a pizza tonight on the middle rack for 2:15 and got a much nicer result from a different dough mix than i had in the past on that same mix.

any tips or advice would be great

have a nice day
-Dan

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on January 03, 2009, 04:39:19 AM
Hi pftaylor,

I have taken your advice, and started a new topic, Low-Flat Dome Ovens. I will be posting pics of my first pizzas later today.

I will also post details of my current dough recipe (neo NY style).

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 03, 2009, 02:33:31 PM
Barry,
I look forward to joining you in your own thread and sharing in your success.

Today I decided to take another step in perfecting the Raquel dough management process. I'm at the point where I'm really struggling to find an area where noticeable improvement might be measurable. But incorporating the use of wooden dough boxes just might be it.

I figure with the elevated hydration levels Pizza Raquel is currently at, that the critical second rising period and eventual handling might be improved through the use of wood. The issue at play I'm targeting is the wicking of surface moisture away from the bottom of the dough ball. Surely wood has to be better than glass, stainless steel, or plastic right?

The attached photographs depict my "weekend carpenter" technique at building wood dough boxes. Tie-wraps were used to keep the side rails in place until the glue dried. I plan on putting drawer pulls on the ends to facilitate ease of placement. Dimensions are 24"L x 18"W x 3 1/4"H. The base is unfinished oak which I hope will hold up to the rigors of drawing dough balls with a putty knife.

Time will tell.   
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 03, 2009, 04:22:11 PM
Hi solconnection,
I'll try to lend a hand. Do you have photographs of the crumb you can post? It would be much easier to diagnose the specific problem if you did.

Otherwise, my sense is it could be just about anything because in the world of pizza making everything is inter-related. But if I had to guess, I would say to double check in these areas:
- Your dough was perhaps not at room temperature
- Not enough yeast and/or starter to develop a proper rise
- Rise period not long enough relative to the amount of yeast used
- Starter not properly activated
- Oven not pre-heated properly or not at maximum temperature
- Last but not least, you made a mistake somewhere along the way...
- Was this the first time you made Pizza Raquel?

Let me know your thoughts and we'll go from there.
pftaylor   
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on January 04, 2009, 01:52:44 AM
Hi pftaylor,

I like your wooden box idea for the final rise. I may also try it, as the plastic box that I currently use is just a little too small. The balls often fuse into one another, despite covering them with flour. I guess I would increase the dimentions by 10 - 15% .

The pic below is from my trip to Salvo near Naples, Italy, and it shows them using a plastic box - like the one I currently use.

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 04, 2009, 12:19:54 PM
Barry,
I remember reading about the Italian version of the FDA or health department forcing pizzerias away from wood dough boxes and toward plastic. Your photograph just confirmed it. I can't help but imagine the new rule hurts the dough in some small way...

On another note, Santa put Six Thousand Years of Bread by H. E. Jacob in my stocking rather than coal and it is a flat out must read for all passionate pizza makers. It isn’t a cookbook or even a book about pizza but it is a fascinating read. If I may, kindly allow me to share a most beautiful and deeply moving passage:

“A seed grows into a grass that yields more seeds, some of which are harvested and destroyed, pulverized into a powder called flour. The once life-giving seeds are combined with water and salt to make clay and the clay is leavened with yeast.

With this act the baker has engaged the Promethean challenge: he (or she) has raised an Adam (which translated means clay) and brought that clay to life. The clay, now called dough, undergoes numerous transformations as its enzymes rearrange the starchy molecules and release hidden sugars; the sugars are then transformed by bacteria and yeast fungi into acids, alcohols, and gasses. The dough grows and develops character; the baker divides and shapes it and exposes it to various temperatures and environments in which it can achieve its optimum potential.

But, as dough, it is still unable to fulfill its destiny; for this the yeast and other living organisms must make the ultimate sacrifice, enduring the fiery furnace, passing the thermal death point (TDP), and in a dramatic, final surge and feeding frenzy, create one last carbonic push while the flour proteins coagulate, the starches gelatinize, and the sugars on the surface caramelize.

Multiple and nearly simultaneous transformations take place behind the veil of the oven door until, at the appointed time, the dough emerges as something totally other. It has become a loaf of bread, the iconic staff of life. We then consume it and begin the cycle again.

That is the microcosmic, literal, metaphorical, analogical, and even anagogical story of one loaf of bread. You are now, courtesy of H. E. Jacob, about to embark upon the macrocosmic outplaying of this loaf as it reveals itself over a six thousand year series of cultural transformations, as it is acted upon and in turn, acts upon the actors.”

The above snippet struck a chord with me and the entire book is written in the same vein.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on January 04, 2009, 12:43:02 PM
pftaylor,

A little bit over a couple of years ago, I looked into wooden dough boxes and discovered that there is a company, Marsal & Sons, that sells them. For those who are interested, I reported on my findings at Reply 516 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,576.msg31992.html#msg31992. I suspect that you were already aware of the Marsal wooden dough boxes since the dimensions are the same as the ones you are using.

I also recall that you talked about using a wooden bowl in one of your very early posts on the forum, at Reply 7 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,690.msg6236/topicseen.html#msg6236.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: ray on January 12, 2009, 08:12:03 AM
The only pizza that I'd had in NYC came from a place on Broadway near 73rd (west side I think), a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria which I think was named Ray's (not so strangely). This was 7 or 8 years ago.

... Anyway I remember reading a newspaper clipping that was taped to the window, applauding the pizza, and especially the fact that the dough was proofed in wooden drawers. This was before I was seriously interested in attempting to craft a decent pie, so I really wasn't taking much notice. Though I did confirm they were indeed proofing in wooden drawers.

And the pizza?

It was unremarkable in every way! Also I remember distinctly on our trek back, the less-fortunate soul leaning against the wall outside soliciting quarters. I asked him if he wanted the remaining slices.

He said no.

 ;D

Cheers,

Ray
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on January 18, 2009, 07:04:07 AM
Hi pftaylor,

Off subject - sort of ...

What is the name of the digital/laser thermometer that you use to measure the temp of your oven, and who distributes them?

Thank you.

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 20, 2009, 06:53:06 PM
Hi Barry,
Attached is a photograph of the Raytek laser temperature gun I bought back in 2006. Not sure if it is still available. I paid less than $75. Newer models might serve you better anyway since prices have come down even further. Just Google around.

As a recommendation I would seek out a model which has at least a 1200 degree (F) limit. The Raquel Oven frequently pegs the 999 degree limit on the MT6 so I really don't know the temperature half the time.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on January 21, 2009, 01:27:53 PM
Hi pftaylor,

Thanks for your reply.

Yes the Raytek MT6 is available in the USA for $99.  In South Africa, I can get it for the equavalent of $156, due to import duties, taxes and profit I guess. The next model up (up to 1,112 deg F) is very expensive at the equivalent of about $290 local price.  I will just have to bite the bullet and get the MT6. I really need to know what my low-flat dome oven can do.

I will post pics next week of my "new, improved" insulation of the low-flat dome oven. I doubled up on everything, but still kept the aesthetics - I think.

Any more news on the wooden boxes improving things for Raquel ?

Kind regards.

Barry

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: solconnection on January 26, 2009, 07:44:45 PM
Hi solconnection,
I'll try to lend a hand. Do you have photographs of the crumb you can post? It would be much easier to diagnose the specific problem if you did.

Otherwise, my sense is it could be just about anything because in the world of pizza making everything is inter-related. But if I had to guess, I would say to double check in these areas:
- Your dough was perhaps not at room temperature
- Not enough yeast and/or starter to develop a proper rise
- Rise period not long enough relative to the amount of yeast used
- Starter not properly activated
- Oven not pre-heated properly or not at maximum temperature
- Last but not least, you made a mistake somewhere along the way...
- Was this the first time you made Pizza Raquel?

Let me know your thoughts and we'll go from there.
pftaylor   

hi pft, thankyou for your reply and the offer of help, i didn't notice it until now. Unfortunately there were no photographs taken and my memory on it all is a little hazy.

I am going to try it again with some of your points in mind. Yes it was my first time and i am thinking something went wrong somewhere with the yeast, i stretched it too thin and baked it too close to the element (top shelf). Next time i might just use IDY to be safe until i am sure I have the other variables under control.

thanks for your help, thanks to this forum i have been making some real progress on my pizzas lately, but progress in the area of NY/Neopolitan is a little slower, which i am finding the hardest to get right.

have a nice day
-Dan




Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: solconnection on January 26, 2009, 07:51:16 PM
Also, one more question.

I know raquel is an attempt at creating pizza art, so there may be elements to it that just cant be achieved in the basic home kitchen but...

any tips for
1. Home oven (550max)
2. Hand Kneading(!)

i realise it's not going to be exactly a raquel with these factors, but any tips on making the best of my situation would be appreciated.

have a nice day
-Dan
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on January 27, 2009, 06:04:55 AM
Barry,
No update yet on the wooden dough boxes as I haven't made Pizza Raquel in a while. I"ll be sure to report my observations when I do though.

solconnection,
Any tips for home oven use and hand kneading? You bet. I'll provide you the best tip of all - knowledge.

Below is my favorite explanation (I can't seem to remember the original author) regarding the challenges facing home pizzamakers when it comes to things like oven spring with home ovens. It provides a fascinating view into what is really going on come the moment of truth when you peel the pie into your home oven:

Oven spring is what happens when a piece of dough hits a hot oven surface. Heat from the oven surface transfers into the dough. How much heat transfers into the dough, how rapidly and how thoroughly the heat transfers into the dough depends on the temperature of the oven surface, the heat capacity (i.e., the "quantity" of heat) of the oven surface, and the thickness of the dough.

A very hot oven surface that has accumulated a lot of thermal energy is able to quickly and thoroughly transfer heat into a thin piece of dough. Water in the dough turns into gas and the air in the dough rapidly expands. When that happens, the tiny air bubbles in the dough rapidly expand, combine, etc. The dough "springs up" from the oven floor, and the result is a light, airy, pliable texture.

If the oven temperature is too low, or the oven floor has not accumulated sufficient heat or the pizza is too thick, this mechanism doesn't work as well. Heat is not transferred from the oven floor throughout the pizza dough with sufficient rapidity or intensity, and the result is less than spectacular oven spring.

The typical situation at home is one where the temperature of the oven, the short firing time and the weight of the toppings conspire against a strong oven spring. In addition, since the pizza must be baked for a longer period of time in order to cook through and achieve a crisp, charred bottom, the crust dries out somewhat. This is a net loss with respect to the quality of the crust.

A pizza that is baked with a good oven spring in a short period of time has a crisp bottom but also has an ethereal lightness and pliability -- morbidezza -- due to the airy interior created by the expansion of the crust and also to the moisture that is retained as a result of the short baking time.

A thicker layer of toppings weighs down the crust, inhibiting oven spring. It also means that the crust has to be a little thicker, which also inhibits oven spring.

Ultimately, it's all part of the tradeoff: if you're going to have heavier toppings, you're going to miss out on crust perfection.


So now I'll ask you a question: With the understanding from the above, what changes could you now make to improve things?

Regarding hand kneading, the attached photograph shows the proven Roman method of folding over the dough at the end of kneading. Incorporate it into your hand kneading regimen and let me know your results.

Ciao,
pftaylor
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on January 29, 2009, 12:11:27 PM
Quote
A very hot oven surface that has accumulated a lot of thermal energy is able to quickly and thoroughly transfer heat into a thin piece of dough.

Hi pftaylor,

Another great posting as usual !

How long does it take to get the Raquel oven up to heat to bake, say, 20 pizzas to perfection ?

Kind regards.

Barry

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 10, 2009, 09:14:45 AM
Hi Barry,
Tough question to answer. You may have to come to Florida to get an exact time. Ha-Ha!

Seriously though, I have gotten the Raquel Oven up to operating temperature in as little as 1.5 hours. Could be even less if the ultra-low dome didn't get in the way of stacking more wood. Conversely, I have slow walked the preheating process over as many as six hours. The dome walls are 4.5" thick and I have learned that a proper preheating process takes a fair amount of time. No sense rushing matters just like with the Raquel dough fermentation process - longer is better. Once up to operating temperature the Raquel Oven is quite stable and barely varies temperature wise.

On another note, I have been given the opportunity to test Caputo Rinforzato Flour. I don't mean Caputo Pizzeria Flour which is confusingly sold in the small red bags, I mean the real McCoy, Rosso. As a side note, it seems a certain oven related website has been marketing Caputo Pizzeria Flour as Rosso when in fact it is not. For the record, all the small bags of red Caputo Flour sold in the U.S. are Caputo Pizzeria Flour. True Rosso is only sold in 55lb sacks in the U.S. I trust this helps those that are seeking a slightly firmer and crisper crust than what Caputo Pizzeria Flour typically produces.

Finally, I'm happy to report that there may be a breakthrough on the bufala mozzarella front. It seems Lupara in Italy has figured out a method to freeze their bufala using a proprietary process which when thawed properly, is comparable to fresh bufala aged just 1 - 2 days. If this is true, then Lupara has cracked the code on distributing bufala here in the U.S. We might finally be able to enjoy bufala mozzarella at a freshness state which heretofore has been impossible (well, at least here in the hinterland anyway...).

I am blessed to be given the opportunity to test the Lupara bufala mozzarella this weekend along with the Caputo Rinforzato Flour and should be able to report my observations by Monday.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 10, 2009, 09:56:34 AM
For the record, all the small bags of red Caputo Flour sold in the U.S. are Caputo Pizzeria Flour. True Rosso is only sold in 55lb sacks in the U.S.

Compare http://fornobravo.com/store/Caputo-Tipo-00-Flour-p-1-c-23.html and http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7191.msg62063.html#msg62063.

Peter
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 10, 2009, 12:22:44 PM
Pete-zza,
Thanks for pointing the earlier thread on Caputo Rosso/Pizzeria out. I’m not sure I added any new information but some records are meant to be played again and judging by the continued confusion in the marketplace, this one bears replaying.

While on the topic of Caputo, one new tidbit I can bring to the table is that in the coming months they will change the graphics on the packaging of the small bags of Caputo Pizzeria Flour.

Apparently they want to broaden its intended usage (and perhaps distribution channels) and will highlight other appropriate uses on the bag. If memory serves me correctly the front of the bag will state for Pizza, Pasta, and Baked Goods. Same red color though so it remains to be seen if confusion will rein supreme. 
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 12, 2009, 05:42:56 PM
I’ll get right to the point here. One of my Chef’s Walk guests recently asked me, “over your lifetime how many hours have you studied the topic of pizza.” What an odd question I initially thought. Little did I know it was a loaded question. So I went about using high level monkey math to calculate my approximate time invested and announced by the end of the evening “about ten thousand hours.” My guest then presented me with Malcom Gladwell’s latest book entitled “Outliers” and suggested I read it without delay.

Talk about an eye-opener. Among other things, “Outliers” explains an awful lot in layman’s terms about how long it takes to really become extremely proficient at things.  If anyone has read Malcolm’s previous books “Tipping Point” & “Blink” it is a must read. Even if you haven’t, I urge you to get your hands on a copy. You won’t be sorry.

I’m a patient man when it comes to pizza. Good thing too. My pizza patience came in handy today as I took delivery of a box which was supposed to contain genuine Caputo Rinforzato Flour (Rosso). I carefully took a razorblade and sliced open what I thought might be the final answer to sourcing a competent enough flour which would meet my stringent requirement for producing a wafer thin egg shell veneer with a Bubble Burst silly-soft middle. All without the need of blending various flours as has been my reluctant process heretofore. Then all my plans for a Rosso inspired Valentine’s Chef’s Walk extravaganza went puff in the blink of an eye. Have you ever noticed how fast something can go wrong but how long it takes to get something right? I know I have and wouldn’t you know it I found myself sitting in that seat again.

The box barely made it in one piece (see below) as the rigors of overland transit took its full toll. Much to my surprise, the box didn’t contain Rosso but rather Pizzeria. Oh well another bump in the road to pizza bliss. BTW, I want to be clear, I don’t have anything against Pizzeria Flour. Lord knows I’ve made countless batches of the stuff and to date it manages to produce the finest tasting crust I’m capable of. But it does carry a heavy price tag in terms of texture.

Others have already long experimented with Caputo Rosso. I am just now getting around to it. Why? Well, I wanted to eliminate all doubt about Caputo Pizzeria being right or wrong for my style of crust. It took the right tools and considerable efforting to conclusively eliminate that doubt.

And I don’t make that statement flippantly either. What with the investment for the Raquel Oven, the Santos fork mixer and the countless batches of dough mixing. Heck, I’ve made batches by hand, with an Artisan KA mixer, a KA Professional 600 mixer and now the Santos Fork. Almost forgot I’ve also made a few batches with a hand-held Sunbeam mixer (in India no less with a course flour which resembled rough cut oats).

So I can now comfortably state with 100% certainty that Pizzeria is not ideal for Pizza Raquel. Not for my style of pizza. Not for my interpretation of artisan pizza. It may be decidedly for Neapolitan styles yet no matter how hard I tried to make it work in my setting it just didn’t deliver the goods. Not that I didn’t work my you know what off to make it work because I did. I also did so with a tear in my eyes.

All I have ever heard about Caputo Pizzeria is that it is “the” best. But I have learned that best is relative. As with most other facets of this crazy hobby, I couldn’t prove that hypothesis for myself. While I admire its ability to snicker at the immense heat output of the venerable Raquel Oven, it is simply not up to the task of creating what I consider to be the perfect crust. I finally know enough about pizza to know that I’m not failing it somewhere along the way either. Hence more teary eyes.

When using Caputo Pizzeria and my favored Raquel dough management process to create my version of a naturally leavened pizza dough (with gracious thanks to pizzanapoletana for its origin), it tends to produce such a soft crust that I have no option but to declare it unsuitable for my artisan style of pizza. Over the years, I thought the problem was with me but I have had hundreds of guests’ stream through Chez Taylor and not one of them – that’s right not even one has ever said they prefer the super softness of Pizzeria based crusts overall to San Felice or a 50/50 blend of Pizzeria with a stronger flour like KA Special. I can only conclude that my guest’s personal preference (and mine for that matter) favor slice pick-up-ability (not a word but it should be) over the subtle favor advantage Pizzeria imparts.

Frankly I’m weary of trying to make it work. And I know that my position is perhaps a dissident one but for my intended use it is the correct one. I just feel that it is an inalienable right to be able to comfortably and confidently pick up a slice with more than parsimonious amounts of toppings and not worry about if the toppings will make to your mouth or not.

As I’ve stated in the past, I suppose if I were cranking out 9” – 12” pies the point would be rendered moot. Because in those cases the rim is such a large percentage of the form factor that one can pick up a whole slice without worry. But try a 14” – 16” Caputo Pizzeria inspired crust properly created using the best aspects of ancient pizza tradition and customized to reflect modern times (my humble contribution) and you will immediately see the defect of super softness rear its ugly head to unsuspecting slice meisters. I am left with having to draw the inevitable conclusion of inappropriateness for my style of pizza. So much for wandering down the Neapolitan trail. No I’m clearly taking a different route.

So I’m throwing in the proverbial towel on Pizzeria, going my own way and looking in the direction of Rosso. I do so with the belief that everything I know about Antimo Caputo’s standard of quality leads me to believe Rosso should be in my consideration set. I must confess I am privately pulling for Rosso to come through but if it doesn’t I will leave it in a New York minute.

So a fair question to ask is just how do I know that Rosso will be the panacea answer to creating a wafer thin crispy veneer crust capable of supporting Americanized levels of toppings? I won’t actually know until I start trialing Rosso in my kitchen which has been my approach from the beginning. And that approach will have to clearly wait a little longer - until Rosso arrives.

Only then will we see.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 12, 2009, 06:36:05 PM
I too like to be able to pick up a slice. We all know Dom uses the Caputo pizzeria flour but he compensates by cooking his pies for a lot longer(and at a lower temperature) than what you are, to get the crispiness. Have you tried any Giusto flours?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on February 12, 2009, 09:47:10 PM
PFT,  as usual another thought provoking post.  Sorry to hear about your screwed up delivery!  About 4 months ago I had a similar experience when ordering caputo rosso.  My experience ended with a bag of caputo rosso being delivered to me pretty badly damaged.  It was shipped from chefs warehouse,  30 for the product 30 for shipping.  They did a good job packing the flour but the styrofoam cooler type thing they packed it in broke and infiltrated the product.   After several attempts to remedy the situation with NO response whatsoever,  my trusty amex card reversed the charges.  I was able to salvage about 20 pounds of the flour that I considered to be not contaminated and perfectly good to use.  Not my favorite way to obtain a sample,  but it was enough to figure out that this flour held no promise to produce the crust that I and maybe we are looking for.  Believe me,  I had the exact hope that you may still have for it too,  but it did not deliver.  At least for me.  In fact I disliked its performance so much that I put it down and still have about half of it left.  I started to use it just like I was using straight pizzeria and bread flour/pizzeria blends which I thought would be a logical place to start.  For whatever reason It just wouldn't hold standard amounts of water ie:62%  the dough was a wet mess.  I repeated and reduced hydration to under 60% and again not good.  I could still work with the dough and produce pizza from it but even then it wasn't what I want at all and not very much different than pizzeria.  I concluded that it was never going to outperform standard pizzeria or my normal hybrid blends.  I thought if anything I would be able to go up in hydration not down.  Granted this could be a fluke.  It could be that the humidity level of the flour was way higher than normal.  I don't know.  What I do know that it was so far away from what I wanted that there is still some left,  and I have little desire to revisit it.  I would be happy to ship it to you if you like.  Anyhow,  enough about that,  I just wanted to outline my experience with it for you to use as you wish.  So,  this brings me to my point.  As usual,  your description of your "perfect pie" for you is almost exactly like mine.  I can make a very authentic Neapolitan pizza in my oven with all the right ingredients, cooked at the right temp, fermented correctly with natural yeast, and believe me I love it, once in a while.  It can be very succulent,  delicate and amazing when you get it right and I am glad that I can attempt to produce it when I want to.  I am by not a master of the style,  but like to think that I can hold my own.  I truly believe that it is the most challenging type of pizza to make,  and that in itself is why folks like yourself,  myself and others chase it down, figure it out and get it done without respect for time or money.   I think it was an amazing journey to be able to get to this point and have learned so much on the way.  Part of what I have learned is that Naples style pizza is not my favorite style of pizza.  Heck, to be honest,  I have never been to Naples,  so why did I try so hard to duplicate a product I have never had?  I covered that above.  So I have had the same reaction from family,friends and self as you have.  They of course think the Neapolitan style pizzas are great,  but like the "artisan" style pie you refer to better, and also as the best they've had.  So I have changed my thinking as you have yourself,  and given up on Neapolitan style,  and with it the flour and outrageous heat that goes with it.  The 90 second barrier has almost been forgotten.  Now I just make what I am in the mood for and usually that is an artisan pizza,  made with great care and the best ingredients,  it rarely disappoints,  and usually excites.  I have been using a larger form factor up to 16 inches and the unbromated unbleached version of all trumps along with a small percentage of caputo and couldn't be happier with the results, and others agree.   Along with the flour the key has been running my oven at about 750-800 instead my previous 900+ for 1 minute pies.  They bake for 2-3 minutes and I get a nice crisp that stands up to toppings has a nice char to go with it.  Add to that plenty of nice bubbles and a pleasantly soft interior and an amazing flavor, its just what I crave and think you would agree.  I just had a large gathering a couple weeks ago with 25 plus people coming by,  made 12,  16" pizzas throughout the evening and not a slice to be found.  Everyone loved the large form factor and crispy crust.   I have to say that trying the all trumps along with the lower heat has been great.  I wonder if you might try similar things to reach your target soon.  I'd be curious what your results would be.  Well,  hopefully I gave youback something to think about.  I leave you with a picture of my newest piece of pizza equipment that I just got a good deal on at my local HD.  No more splitting by hand.  Winter caught me of guard last fall!  -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 12, 2009, 10:07:31 PM
At Reply 5 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3059.msg25957/topicseen.html#msg25957, Marco indicated that the Caputo Red is more like the San Felice flour. As noted, he also recommended getting Caputo's Manitoba flour and combining that with the Caputo Pizzeria flour.

The Caputo red is the flour that is shown at the Woodstone website at http://www.woodstone-corp.com/cooking_naples_style_dough.htm. Image 4d and also at an earlier page at http://www.woodstone-corp.com/cooking_naples_style.htm.

Peter

EDIT (6/14/16): For a Wayback Machine version of the above inoperative Woodstone link, see http://web.archive.org/web/20090215125027/http://www.woodstone-corp.com/cooking_naples_style_dough.htm

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on February 12, 2009, 10:34:41 PM
This is the flour i was refering to in the last post.  -marc

http://www.chefswarehouse.com/Catalog/DisplayDetail.aspx?prd_id=GF296A
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on February 12, 2009, 11:20:53 PM
The Caputo "rosso", or rinforzato, (reinforced) is a much stronger flour, suited to a longer fermentation under refrigeration.  Or, perhaps you are thinking of the Caputo gnocchi flour?

In either case, I think that the flour may not be the issue.  Perhaps baking at a lower temp will give you the "crisp" you desire.  Perhaps a thorough draining of tomato, cheese and other toppings, and paper thin slicing of solid toppings such as salumi, onions, mushrooms, etc.  Also, a heavy hand in topping is not your friend when cooking with wood.

My two teeth.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 13, 2009, 12:48:01 AM
PFT and Widespread, Reading these posts about your preference of a slightly longer slower bake made very happy.  Sometimes I think that I am crazy to prefer my pizza this way, and its nice to hear some other pizza obsessed friends going down the same path.  I like a 2 minute pizza, and find that the sub minute pies (even the ones I had in naples!) are just too soft and soupy no matter how much draining I do.  Even the ones without topings  ;)    Still, Ron at Il Pizzaiolo, and UPN  do manage to turn out some pies that put a big smile on my face, but they are both clocking in at about 1.5 min now.

Widespread, I did have a different experience with the Rosso.  I know its the real thing because I went to Chefs Warehouse myself to pick up the 55lb bag.  For me this flour was very easy to deal with and made an excellent crust, maybe some of my best.  The Russo provided no soupy problems for me, but then again, I don't measure my flour anymore so I guess I could have been using an unusual hydration percentage. I actually remember it to be quite the joy to work with.  Up until that point the caputo pizzeria was the only other flour I had encountered that was so silky soft and so incredibly easy to mix, especially when mixing by hand. 

It is very difficult for me to get the Rosso, and I didn't find it so amazing that it was worth paying the shipping.   I am quite happy with the blend of King Arthur Special and Caputo pizzeria that I have been using for a number of years, and I can get them both quite close to where I live.  Its my old tried and true mixture that I judge all others by.  I am very curious if Peter finds it worth the effort to obtain the Russo on a permanent basis, especially knowing that he too is preferring the caputo/special blend these days.  I do know that If I could not blend flours, and use only one type in my medium temperature pizza, it would either be the Russo combined with maybe a bit of diastatic malt (depending on oven type) or a good American bread flour, and not a straight up caputo pizzeria.

Widespread, I am also curious about your love of the all trumps.  Just like the Russo, I had to drive quite far to find some that was unbleached and unbromated.  when I finally got around to doing comparisons with KASL, I found them to be quite similar.  Similar enough to not bother jumping through all the hoops required to obtain it.  Have you ever done a side by side comparison between the 2?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 13, 2009, 12:50:43 AM
I almost forgot to mention that another reason why a medium temp pizza is so nice is that it massively opens up the options for the types of cheeses you can use.   
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 13, 2009, 11:26:36 AM
It’s only good if you like it.

That statement has stuck with me almost as long as “there’s no place like home” from the Wizard of Oz (my favorite movie of all time). My dad first uttered that statement to me when I was but a young lad. It’s been my mantra with respect to pizza ever since. It’s particularly useful these days when there is so much information which requires vetting floating around. I can’t begin to tell you how many times some well meaning writer or chef has said to do this or use that ingredient only to find out that I didn’t much like the result. Or it didn’t work for my style of pizza as well as it did for their style. This is why it is important to put everything into proper context by trying it for yourself and seeing if you like it. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it.

As an example, I grew up with elite NY style pizza and that style perhaps more than any other is my lens through which I try to put things into proper context. If I had grown up in Chicago or Naples then I have no doubt my baseline would be much different. 

It’s only good if you like it.

Only problem with my mantra these days is I no longer have a baseline from which to broaden my base and extend my reach. I’m out of options. My optic lens is cloudy. Like the Hubble, I should be able to see things more clearly but I’m hampered right now because I’m on my own path.

For most of my life I thought elite NY style pies were the ultimate expression of pizza. After all they were the best tasting pizza I had ever eaten. That was until I learned most use the cheapest ingredients available and lean entirely on high heat as their differentiator. Not to mention that I easily surpassed their end product not using anything more than my TEC and the collaboration here.

I then striped away the veneer of elite NY style and began examining Neapolitan pies in earnest. What I found was nearly everything I had been searching for; tradition, artisan technique, quality ingredients, a true understanding of how to make dough flavorful and lastly high heat baking. Should have been enough to last my lifetime. But it wasn’t.

It’s only good if you like it.

Only problem was I genuinely didn’t like it enough to stop. Maybe it is a baseline problem where I’m unable to put things into proper context because I didn’t grow up with it. But the defects were too many for me to overlook or accept. I will say there are fewer defects with Neapolitan style pies than any other broad category but it can most certainly be improved based on what I have had the pleasure of eating commercially and producing privately.

The initial problem for me was the form factor was too small. My mind’s eye told me that 12” makes a foot not a pizza. I needed bigger. The cure was worse than the disease as I quickly learned because an increase in the form factor to an acceptable size led the softness of the crust which was a benefit at 12” to becoming a serious defect. Classic case of action and reaction. Slice meisters shouldn’t have to be told how to eat pizza. It should just a natural thing to pick it up and go for it. I have been unable to overcome this issue in my mind.

It’s only good if you like it.
 
In fact, that seemingly obvious statement is perhaps one of the more relevant in the world of pizza. I know it applies to me in spades which is why I share so many aspects of my reasoning behind my journey. Take my most recent post regarding Caputo Pizzeria’s applicability to my style of pizza making. I just don’t like it (by itself) for my style of pizza.

I do however understand its place in the Neapolitan world of pizza making. It’s taken me a long time to get there in terms of knowledge and having the right tools to comfortably make that statement and really mean it. Up until the point where I had the right tools I couldn’t make a call on the style. I just knew that what I had commercially was not up to what I was cranking out on my grill let alone the Raquel Oven.

So then I set my sights on blending flours to craft a crust which compensated for the defect I just knew I had to overcome. At a visceral level that just galled me. Still does frankly. I am unwilling to accept the fact that I have to blend flours to craft my perfect crust. There has to be flour out there that I can use which meets my requirements and I won’t stop until I find it.

Just to clarify my previous post, I now craft what I would call near perfect crust with a combination of Caputo Pizzeria and KA Special. I am not interested in compensating for what I consider to be a defect in the Pizzeria flour with a longer bake. I’d rather replace the culprit than create another chain reaction. Why would I want a longer bake when I can achieve a breakthrough level of quality in anywhere from about forty-five seconds to a minute and a half of blast baking?

Actual bake time is very dependent on whether or not I use wood chips and the stabilized temperature of the Raquel Oven. Any longer of a bake and crust begins perceptibly dying in my opinion. In fact, somewhere just over the minute and a half mark, I think crust crosses over into the realm of being bready. Personal opinion but I can’t stand the thickness of the crisp past that point. I have consistently been able to produce a wafer thin crisp crust at shortened bake times and I intend to find a compatible four. Or I’ll have to keep blending.

San Felice straight out of the bag is neck and neck with my blend as well and is certainly better than straight Pizzeria. I’m just hoping unblended Caputo Rosso, right out of the bag, will meet my expectations and I will relentlessly trial it until it proves to me it is incapable (like it’s brother Pizzeria) of hitting the mark by itself. Giusto flour would then be in my consideration set if Rosso doesn’t work but I’m a long way from waving the white flag. Heck, I haven’t even started yet.

A final thought. You have no idea how delighted I was in reading the reactions to my previous post. And it is good, no great, to see how it resonated with others. My original post and subsequent member responses are emblematic of what has kept me at pizzamaking.com for years. Simply put, I enjoy the sharing of ideas for the collective gain of making better pizza. 

It’s only good if you like it.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Cass on February 13, 2009, 11:44:11 AM
^^^

Very well said!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: MWTC on February 13, 2009, 12:15:19 PM
Widespread, I am also curious about your love of the all trumps.  Just like the Russo, I had to drive quite far to find some that was unbleached and unbromated.  when I finally got around to doing comparisons with KASL, I found them to be quite similar.  Similar enough to not bother jumping through all the hoops required to obtain it.  Have you ever done a side by side comparison between the 2?

Scottr,

I have done a side by side comparison of KASL and All Trumps. My conclusion is that All Trumps is more flavorful. The KASL is more of a blank slate, to my taste. Guisto is between those two.


pftaylor,

It seem that we are on the same path.

I have come to this conclusion:

100% AllTrumps
65% Water @ 68 degrees
1/2% IDY
2% Salt
2% EVOO
2% Sugar

2 min Mix, 20 min Riposo, 5 min Knead.

Ball it up, then into the fridge for at least 48 hours.

At least a 1-1/2 hour counter rise.

I am baking in the 2stone, at 500 degree stone temperature with a air temperature of 700 degrees.

A better bake in a cutter pan or a 1-1/2inch tin plated steel pan than directly on the stone. IMHO

Try it and let us know what you think.

MWTC  :chef:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: AZ-Buckeye on February 13, 2009, 12:33:49 PM
It’s only good if you like it.


It’s only good if you like it.

Only problem with my mantra these days is I no longer have a baseline from which to broaden my base and extend my reach. I’m out of options. My optic lens is cloudy. Like the Hubble, I should be able to see things more clearly but I’m hampered right now because I’m on my own path.


Always enjoy your posts.  When I saw your statement quoted above, my thought was that I wish I was at the level of pizza making so that I was "on my own path" rather than trying to copy the elusive true "Neapolitan" pizza.  There was a short but good interview with Chris Bianco in the latest La Cucina Italiana magazine.  When asked if he ever received criticism from Italians for his style of Neapolitan pizza, he said: "I am not looking to recreate what I ate in Italy, but to make food that is a reflection of me and my tastes."  He also says that his pizza is not a replica of Neapolitan but an "homage."   I'm not sure if this is what you meant by being on your own path, but clearly Chris is on his own path and its not a bad thing.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 13, 2009, 01:29:14 PM
I had a discussion with Chris about this.  Basically he went down the same exact path as us, growing up with longer baked pizzas, discovering neapolitan and going the super fast route, then swinging back somewhere in the middle.  I am sure that some will say that his pizza style is dictated by his oven which is probably not capable of producing evenly baked 1 minute pizza all night long, but after spending some time with him I can assure you that if he preferred a 1 minute pizza he would have found an oven that could deliver that speed all night long.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 13, 2009, 01:39:16 PM
AZ-Buckeye,
You have captured my quest perfectly. It is gratifying to know that who I am at my core and therefore what my pizza stands for, is coming through my posts. Chris Bianco, like scott r, myself and others here, do share the same pizza gene. Though there aren't many like us, we know who we are and we wouldn't have it any other way.

When I met Chris a couple of years back it validated everything I stood for in the world of pizza. I will say that to find your way, understanding what the Naples style is all about is more than a little helpful.

They are the original artisans of pizza. 
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 13, 2009, 02:29:26 PM
scott r,
I wanted to address your notion of a slightly crispy crust from another perspective because I think it deserves further discussion. That perspective has to do with what is best for the pizza as a whole.

Conventional wisdom suggests that in order to achieve a wafer thin veneer that one must extend the bake at slightly lower temperatures. That it can't be done with a bake in the 45 second to 1.5 minute range. Well, I've challenged that notion and proven for myself that extending the bake is not the only way to get there. Everytime I make pie I consistently produce the exact egg shell thin veneer I'm looking for.

I have found that extending the bake has tradeoffs which I couldn't solve. Which got my mind racing along the lines of what IF I was able to achieve a shortened bake and a slightly crispy crust? It would be the best of both worlds would it not?

Here is what it takes in my experience:
- blending Italian 00 and North American flours (as of right now)
- a naturally leavened dough
- a long room temperature rise
- absolute alignment of dough, sauce, cheeses and toppings
- an ultra low dome oven fired with thoroughly seasoned wood & wood chips once the pie is peeled in (raises the flame but not the temperature too much)

What's the benefit to a shorter bake?
- just about everything. In fact, I can't think of a downside
- ingredients aren't stressed
- a pizza which is truly alive with stupendously vibrant flavors

Food for thought.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 13, 2009, 05:17:02 PM
Peter, I actually have another means to achieve a crispier crust with a shorter bake time, and I am sorry but I would prefer to talk privately about it for a number of reasons, but, again I must say,  don't underestimate the effect on the flavor of the cheese that comes with a longer slower melt.   I would like you to try something.   Get a piece of normal boring old mozzarerlla, poly-o, whatever.  put it on a pie and do a 1 minute bake.   Now take that same cheese and put it on another pie and cook it slowly in the mouth of the oven, do something closer to an 8 minute bake.  The cheese will taste TOTALLY different, I mean, you wouldnt even believe that it was the same cheese at all.  Now, this is an extreme example, but I have found that it holds true for all cheese be it processed, buffalo, fior de latte, whatever. Some cheese tastes fine when it's melted fast, and some tastes WAY better when it's melted slowly.  I just want to point out that "not stressing" the ingredients is a bit of a generalization, and is subjective.   
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on February 13, 2009, 11:29:18 PM
or the cheese could simply be cut into different sizes depending on the desired bake time to cheese melting ratio..
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 13, 2009, 11:45:52 PM
This is a great way to find the middle ground between a fast baked crust, and a cheese that tastes better with a slow melt.  There is a popular pizzeria NJ, and another one in Los Angeles that do it this way.   Unfortunately when I visited these two places the cheese on the outside of the big chunks still ended up with that cooked too fast (lack of) taste, while the center remained pretty much unmelted, not totally solving the problem, so you just have to be careful not to make the chunks too big.   Of course the best scenario is what I found in Naples where the cheese was put on the pizza in small to medium sized pieces, and they have access to mozzarella perfectly suited to the fast bakes.   
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on February 14, 2009, 11:36:46 AM
Quote
Widespread, I am also curious about your love of the all trumps.  Just like the Russo, I had to drive quite far to find some that was unbleached and unbromated.  when I finally got around to doing comparisons with KASL, I found them to be quite similar.  Similar enough to not bother jumping through all the hoops required to obtain it.  Have you ever done a side by side comparison between the 2?

Scott,  I have not been able to do a side by side with SL and it has been a while since I used SL so it would be hard for me to compare them.  What I do notice about the at is the yellowy creamy rich appearace that the dough has to it,  and its ability to produce a killer  feeling looking dough in no time and everytime with no special mixing regimen.  It just comes together perfectly.  After fermentation it handles amazingly well and opens up easily while staying strong enough to retain gasses.  It produces an nice crisp crust with a great taste without being chewy at all and  is even good after cooling and sitting for a while.  I think the bottom line is that its flavor is more rich than the sl. 

Quote
Widespread, I did have a different experience with the Rosso.  I know its the real thing because I went to Chefs Warehouse myself to pick up the 55lb bag

I as well know that I got the real thing as it was the 55# bag that was shipped to me.  it was just damaged a bit,  but surely is the red bag,  i still have pictures from when i was trying to get my refund or reship out of them.  So,  based on your positive experience with the red,  I have busted it back out and just made up a batch for room temp fermentation with the vasarano pref. till tomorrow afternoon.  i also have some 4 day IDY at/caputo cold balls ready for tomorrow as well.  I had to bring the red hydration down to 56% to get to where i have been liking my doughs to feel,  but it is still very soft and smooth.  It will go for a long bulk rise and divide it tomorrow morning.  So we'll see how it goes.  I forgot to ask,  is the red malted and fortified or not?  I am guessing not right.  -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: scott r on February 14, 2009, 03:55:33 PM
No, the red caputo is not malted either.   That is one of the key differences between caputo and american flours, although there are a number of different things.  Almost every american flour is malted, its really hard to find them that aren't.  I know Guisto makes some unmalted flours, but they aren't the biggest sellers, and its tough to find them here on the East coast without doing mail order.  Basically the malt helps the flour to brown in the oven.  The caputo flours which were designed for super high temperatures don't really need any extra browning capabilities.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 15, 2009, 12:07:40 PM
Just for fun, kindly review the photographs below of four different crusts.

I would be interested in feedback from the community on the quality of crust you see. Let's say on a scale from 1 - 10 with 1 being "who cares" and 10 being "best I ever saw."

Then rank order the four crusts from your favorite to your least favorite.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizzacrazy7 on February 15, 2009, 12:55:59 PM
Pftaylor,
         Not that I'm an expert by any means(still have a lot to learn), however, I'd rank em as follows:

#3 - 10
#1 - 9.5(Little more charring on crust would of put this one in front of #3, more of a fuller crust instead of hollow like #3)
#4 - 7? (Kind of a confusing pic trying to figure out what is what)
#2 - 2 (Sorry, I dont care for that flat of a crust---nothing personal!)

Tony
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: haybot on February 15, 2009, 02:41:15 PM
I've got a little problem with removing the dough balls from the bowls. i usually add a little oil to the bowl but the dough still sticks to the bowl and looses a lot of volume while removing it. Is there anything else besides adding oil? flour maybe?
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 15, 2009, 03:14:11 PM
Hey haybot,
Sorry couldn't resist...Can you post a photograph of your bowl, ball in the bowl and implement you use to extract the ball?

Otherwise we are guessing in the dark. Right now all I can offer up is a two step remedy;

- dip the extractor tool in flour and scrape the sides of the bowl first. Thereby freeing up the ball from the sides.

- Then dip the extractor in flour again and slide under the ball.

Preventive medicine would be to splash a little flour on the bottom of the bowl and lightly on the sides before placing the ball in. Potential penalty is a slight increase in bitterness due to raw flour.

Pizzacrazy7,
Thanks for kicking off the crust challenge. After reading your comments perhaps we should add bonus points for anyone adding their reasoning as to why they rank ordered the crusts in the order they prefer.

Triple points if anyone can guess all four styles represented.

Quadruple points if they can guess which crusts are professionally made and which ones are made in the friendly confines of a home.

Grandmaster status is awarded to anyone who can correctly guess the maker of each crust.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 15, 2009, 04:18:37 PM
I am going to guess #3 Chris Bianco?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: haybot on February 15, 2009, 04:41:19 PM
Well actually ... the tool is use is my hand ^^. Since I'm a student and at the beginning of my quest for the perfect pizza the "bowl" that i use is this one right here http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90044467 . I'll tried adding some flour first and will take some pictures when the dough is still sticking.
Thanks for the advice.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 15, 2009, 06:15:55 PM
I say #1 is made at home and judging by the crumb was made with a bread sort of technique. No? Just a guess..
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on February 15, 2009, 06:41:56 PM
Alright, I'll play even though I'd prefer to do this live.

1 # 1 (10)  PFT’S
2 # 3 (9)    Looks like one of mine. You been sneaking into my garage?
3 # 4 (8.5) Picture is a little cryptic but it looks good. Maybe a bit too charred?
4 # 2  (2)   Flat and greasy. The greasy part could just be the light.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on February 15, 2009, 09:23:11 PM
I'll take a shot at this.

#3 (favorite) I'll give it an 8.  Clearly Neapolitan..Wide open crumb resembles the best of what I've had in Naples.  Little too charred perhaps?  Looks professional

#4 (2nd) gets a 7.5-gonna say this is from PFT's house too..only complaint; The cornicone is a little small.  That's Raquel style?

#1 (3rd)  uh, 5. Nice crumb-too brown and not charred-looks bready.  This is the style of (hmmm) wanna be Neapolitan? professional

#2 (last) 3.  I'm not really into this cracker style, (new haven?)  Looks like it came from Comet Ping Pong.  I think they forgot the leavening. Sadly, also a pro job. (hope I didn't make it)

I don't dare to guess the maker of any. 

and PFT, I should probably pm this, but my daughter, Kaya, is back home and doing fine.  Thanks for the kindness.

That was a fun game.  How long until we get the answers?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: jeff v on February 15, 2009, 11:07:46 PM
I'll take a shot at this.

#3 (favorite) I'll give it an 8.  Clearly Neapolitan..Wide open crumb resembles the best of what I've had in Naples.  Little too charred perhaps?  Looks professional

#4 (2nd) gets a 7.5-gonna say this is from PFT's house too..only complaint; The cornicone is a little small.  That's Raquel style?

#1 (3rd)  uh, 5. Nice crumb-too brown and not charred-looks bready.  This is the style of (hmmm) wanna be Neapolitan? professional

#2 (last) 3.  I'm not really into this cracker style, (new haven?)  Looks like it came from Comet Ping Pong.  I think they forgot the leavening. Sadly, also a pro job. (hope I didn't make it)

I don't dare to guess the maker of any. 

That was a fun game.  How long until we get the answers?

This is my opinion also. 3 &4 are close, but it looks like 4 is not cooked alll the way on top. 1 looks to be NY style from the cornichone, but the interior of the pizza makes me wonder.
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 16, 2009, 09:24:46 AM
Okay pie meisters,
Thanks to those who stepped up. You all showed courage with your guesses. But like a poor marksman, the target is largely unscathed. Though shango came closest to the bullseye.

So it's time for a little help. Below I've stitched together a bottom shot for each one of the four crusts. Let's see if your guesses change now.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on February 16, 2009, 10:17:06 AM
Well here my gueses in order of preference by appearance,  I think the additional pictures may have helped but who knows.

first  #1 style raquel made by pft with a blend of flours

second  #3 new haven ? if not una a while ago or posibly bianco

third #4 neapolitan professional ............in italy?

fourth #2 ny elite style from coal oven NYC loks like one i had there recently.

could be way off who knows...... -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on February 16, 2009, 10:32:53 AM
Hi pft,

This is fun !  My 2 cents worth ....

First place: #1    I guess this is yours from Raquel !
Second place: #4  This could be from UPN ....
Third place: #3  This could be from Chris Bianco
Fourth place: # 2  This looks like a sem- cracker style. Could be from a million wannabees.

BTW, I have received my Raytek MT6 laser thermometer, and am having a lot of fun. I will post results in the Low-Flat dome oven topic.


Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 16, 2009, 01:21:24 PM
I am perhaps the last one you would want to opine on this collection of photos, but here is my two cents worth:

#1 Chris Bianco
#2 Una Pizza Napoletana
#3 Coal Vines
#4 Spacca Napoli

Order of preference: 1, 4, 2, 3

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on February 16, 2009, 02:09:19 PM
pft, et al...

I would not hazzard a guess as to the makers of any of those pizzas since I am not that familiar with all the different pizzarias like some folks on this site, but I'm glad that my confusion has been ended with the post of the second set of pics.  In the first set, they were posted in reverse order of the numbers underneath, so wasn't completely sure whether to go by the actual numbers or the posting order.

Just curious... since this is kinda like The Price is Right, is there a prize for anyone who guesses the makers correctly?   >:D   ;D   ;)

My order of preference:  1,3,4,2


~sd
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 16, 2009, 02:46:30 PM
Tell ya what I'll do.

If anyone:

- can correctly guess all four styles(without cheating),
- can correctly guess whether it was made by a professional (in any kind of oven) or a home pizza maker (in any kind of oven)
- can correctly guess the country of origin
- would kindly rank order their preferences and state why

Accomplish all four tasks without any further pictures being posted (I have one final set which will spill the beans), and I'll donate $50 to pizzamaking.com on their behalf and ask Pete-zza to make the winner a member (if not already).

How's that for stepping up!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JConk007 on February 16, 2009, 02:51:57 PM
Way to step up !
I am just gonna second the preference 1,4,3,2 and I am hoping your is #1 way to many variable for me here
#1 PFT #2 New Haven, #3 Una pizza nepolitana, #4 Authentic Naples.
More hints please not that I will ever get to try any of them unless 1 is one I guessed.

John
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on February 16, 2009, 03:09:48 PM
Wow, pft, nice!

I'm not in the running, though, because I don't have any idea, other than what looks good to me... and I AM hungry!


~sd
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 16, 2009, 03:11:42 PM
JConk007,
Your offical guess is in and the judges will make a determination by 6pm EST on Wednesday February 18th.

One guess only will be allowed. Make it a good one. First correct guess wins.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pizza Rustica on February 16, 2009, 03:12:57 PM
PFT, you never stop to impress with your creativity. This is fun!

Here's my guess-

First Place #1 Neapolitan, Origin Salvo, Naples, Pro, Beautiful crumb structure, beautiful cornicone, nicely charred, vibrant, a true Neapolitan, wood fired
Second Place #4 Neapolitan/Raquel, Origin US-, PFT?, Firm crust, beautiful crumb structure, nice char
Third Place #3 Neapolitan, Origin US- UPN, Pro, High heat, nice char,
Fourth Place #2 - NY Thin crust, Origin US, Pro, Small cornicone, ok bottom char, not wood fired
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JimmyMak on February 16, 2009, 06:29:48 PM
 My guess is there all yours in different dough recipes thru your journey of pizza making. Just a wild guess but all pizzas look great.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on February 16, 2009, 06:50:22 PM
#1 Salvo NA - Italy
#2 A16 SF-USA
#3 Spaccanapoli Chi -USA
#4 PFT TPA - USA

Order of preference:

#3 Beautiful.Wish all mine looked like this !
#1 Possibly a tie...... :-\ Would have liked more Basil
#4 Nice, but seemingly problems with stretch technique as seen from the underside.
#2 This was a wild guess as i've never been to A16 (I also considered UPN but it looks too pale? ) Someone having an off day I think?
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 16, 2009, 07:58:45 PM
Keep the guesses coming...

I am impressed with the ingenuity so far but sad to say the competition is still open...

Hey Barry,
Below are photographs of the wooden dough box in action and the resulting pies. It was so easy to extract the ball from. Highly recommended.

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 16, 2009, 07:59:13 PM
Final shots...
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JConk007 on February 16, 2009, 08:43:14 PM
PF,
So what is the wood you used? regular plywood and 1X3s ? I have plenty of  wood kickin around from countless house projects. I can even make any size with my shop. Can you provide another detail shot of constrution. Did you dado, or route a slot to fit the thickness of the base(how thick 1/2 inch?) How did you handle the corner joint? 45? Lap joint? biscuit? I plan to make a few, Thats your caputo dough right? How do they clean out? or not required? Sorry for all the questions but I am very interested.
Thanks
John
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 17, 2009, 06:35:57 AM
JConk007,
Your latest post struck my funny bone and I just have to relate this story now that spring training is upon us.

A few years ago John Kruk was loosening up moments before a Phillies spring training game when he was caught smoking a cigarette by an elderly female fan. She began heckling him and yelled at John saying in so many words that athletes shouldn't smoke.

Kruk felt compelled to do something so he took one last drag and walked up to the lady and said; "Ma'am I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player." All the while smoke was billowing out of his nose and mouth. Everytime I go to a spring training game now I am on the lookout for a Kruk type moment. Priceless.

Your question of "Did you dado, or route a slot to fit the thickness of the base(how thick 1/2 inch?) How did you handle the corner joint? 45? Lap joint? biscuit?" stuck my Kruk bone. So in true John Kruk fashion my answer to your question is: I'm not a cabinet maker, I'm just a pizza maker.

Seriously though, go to page 33 of this thread where I posted photographs and explained the process I used.

The Raquel dough was made with 100% pure love and Caputo Pizzeria flour, sea salt, purified water and natural leavening. Then fermented with a long room temperature rise.

Final thought about how I used the dough box; I didn't employ any flour whatsoever and the balls were quite wet. I'm not sure the camera properly shows the sheen on the balls but they were about as wet as one could handle. After extracting the ball from the box, a rather noticeable wet spot was left.
 
Let me know how else I may assist.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on February 17, 2009, 08:18:58 AM
Quote
I didn't employ any flour whatsoever and the balls were quite wet. I'm not sure the camera properly shows the sheen on the balls but they were about as wet as one could handle.

Hi pft,

I can see that the balls were very wet: they had that "low-spreadout" look about them. I also noticed a little "bubbling" in the balls. How long was the pic taken after balling? I am sure that the reduction of raw flour on the base will reduce the chance of a bitter taste, and improve Raquel even further.

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JConk007 on February 17, 2009, 08:41:25 AM
Cute story.  :) I am not cabinet maker either ,just used to mess around with a lot wood and set up a nice workshop in my garage with every imaginable Gadget. Then came the pizza oven  and my little girl I can tell you  there is more dust than just saw dust in there now! But I can whip up a few boxes quickly. I will check pg 33 thanks. I did not see thicknesss of unfinishe Oak 1/4"? As Barry mentioned with regard to dough Low and Wet This is what I experience when I make  this dough, and its good to see another pic of it. I usually make a few other batches of various recipes beside the Caputo 00  in search of my Raquel and they have a lot more activity and rise to them. I was wondering if this was the "look" I know it sure taste good!
Thanks
John
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 17, 2009, 11:09:56 AM
Barry,
I flipped the off switch on the Santos at about 9:30pm the previous night and placed the bulk dough in a covered stainless container until balling at about 1:30pm the following day. First pie was peeled into the Raquel oven at 6pm sharp and the photograph was taken at about 5:30pm.

So the two stage rise comprised:
- a 16 hour bulk rise
- a 4.5 hour ball rise

JConk007,
The oak plywood was 1/4" which is more than enough to support the 280g dough balls. The look is exactly the way I prefer. I would imagine a higher W flour like Rosso might have more of a ball shape though.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 17, 2009, 12:06:51 PM
OK, I am going to end this contest right now:
1. The Big New Yorker from Pizza Hut(best pizza ever!)
2. That's a pita pizza made in a toaster oven. Obviously, a very good toaster oven!
3. All I have to say is....it's not delivery.
4. Well, the first photo threw me but I think I got it....it's a hot pocket. Prepared professionally in a wood fired oven.

As far as order of preference, I would have have to say ...........I don't have one. PIZZA's PIZZA, BABY!!!!


Nailed It! ;D
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: sourdough girl on February 17, 2009, 12:37:30 PM
Pft,
I was wondering about the base of the proof box, which first you said was oak (so I assumed solid oak) but then you say it is oak plywood.  My concern is about the food safety issue of putting raw dough on plywood of any type ( and especially plywood so thin) because the glue in most plywood is phenol formaldehyde resin... and the industry itself is concerned about the off-gassing of the formaldehyde into homes.  With as wet as your dough is, is there no concern about formaldehyde leaching into the dough through such thin veneers?

I'm interested in having DH build me a wooden proof box for use with the 2stone doughs, (which this spring I will be making with Caputo Pizzeria) but I already have several severe health problems and cannot afford to add to them!

Your thoughts would be appreciated!

~sd
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 17, 2009, 02:00:58 PM
tdeane,
The judges don't think you've won but it was creative.

sourdough girl,
Sounds like I shouldn't use the dough box any longer. Perhaps our resident chemist can weigh in here.

Red November,
What do you think?
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 17, 2009, 02:20:13 PM
tdeane,
The judges don't think you've won but it was creative.


Dang it!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel and Wood Box
Post by: bakerbill on February 17, 2009, 03:45:09 PM
I made a wooden box, but apparently it was not sufficiently sealed as the dough balls had a crust on them after a night in the refrigerator. Using the same recipe and procedure, the dough balls in the plastic container with a tight lid were just fine. How tight does the cover have to be?  How did you manage this?

bakerbill
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: November on February 17, 2009, 05:06:38 PM
pftaylor and sourdough girl,

Ah yes, phenol and formaldehyde.  I know them too well.  Unreacted phenol will give you the effect of a disinfectant, something you don't want unless you were going for the dead microorganism version of Pizza Raquel.  Unreacted formaldehyde will present health problems in large enough quantities.  While I would definitely avoid using plywood for proofing boxes (unless you know the bonding agent is food safe), formaldehyde in such small quantities as a health hazard is mainly restricted to inhalation, not ingestion.  I do find it amusing that one would likely acquire more formaldehyde in their body from ingesting aspartame (about 10% by weight) than what you could trap in your dough balls from outgassing.  Formaldehyde is a natural byproduct of human metabolism, so it isn't going to be much of a threat if ingested in miniscule amounts.  Again though, I wouldn't have used plywood to be on the safe side.

- red.november
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Barry on February 18, 2009, 09:16:55 AM
Hi pft,

This is my final reply to the competition.

a) Crust #1: This is Neopolitan style made by Salvo in Naples, Italy. Rank: First. Awesome soft crust, good bite, fresh tomato sauce and fresh ingredients.

b) Crust #2: This is New York style, possibly by Patsy's, NYC, USA. Rank: Fourth. Not my favourite.

c) Crust #3: This is Artisan style by Chris Bianco, Phoenix, Ar. USA. Rank: Second. Similar reasons as for crust #1. Almost as good as Salvo.

d) Crust #4: This is Raquel style (also Artisan) made by Pete taylor, Florida, USA. Rank: Third. Close behind Salvo and Bianco, similar reasons.

Kind regards.

Barry
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 18, 2009, 04:35:53 PM
All the ballots are in...

The judges have read all responses and unfortunately no one correctly met all the requirements for winning the crust challenge. Some came close (Pizza Rustica, jeff v & shango), others not so close (Pete-zza & tdeane), some chose to respond privately, but hopefully all had fun.

Here are the correct answers:

Crust #1: Pizzeria Salvo, Professional Neapolitan Style, Naples Italy (the red tablecloth was a sure giveaway)

Crust #2: Pizzeria Sorbillo Gino, Professional Neapolitan Style, Naples Italy

Crust #3: Da Michele, Professional Neapolitan Style, Naples Italy

Crust #4:  Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente, Professional Neapolitan Style, Naples Italy

Surprised? I am. 

From the comments received, it goes to show that even professionals from the natal epicenter of pizza don’t always make a consistent looking style anymore than us humble home pizza makers. Frankly, I’m not sure that these pies are all that far out of reach from us.

Looks like I’ll have to come up with another challenge for someone to win. Thanks for playing and here are the complete series of images revealed for all to see:
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 18, 2009, 04:36:58 PM
Crusts 3 & 4:
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: JConk007 on February 18, 2009, 04:45:29 PM
Thanks Pete, That was fun thanks,
As you said very attainable here at home . Did you see how many (including me) thought that 1 or more of these was from your oven :D Says something for your Raquel!
Now that I have seen the final pic I change my preference to
#1 Sorbillo
#2 Salvo
#3 Da Michele
#4 Presidente.
Thanks again, waiting for the next Keep it local I have not been to Italy yet (someday!)
John
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on February 18, 2009, 05:22:49 PM
Great fun PFT !It just goes to show how much of an impact the visual appearance has on our perceptions.I stand by my rankings for the visuals,but would probably change them on a side by side taste test.How long before we get aromatherapy via the forum Peter?  ;)
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 18, 2009, 05:51:23 PM
Pete,

Those dinky things ain't pizza. Give me a man's pizza anyday, like a juicy NY slice from an 18" pie like shown at  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7561.msg65237.html#msg65237 or even a slice of one of Trin's masterpiece pizzas at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2167.msg19318.html#msg19318.

I'd feel the same way even if I got all of the answers right.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 18, 2009, 10:01:48 PM
Pete,

Those dinky things ain't pizza. Give me a man's pizza anyday, like a juicy NY slice from an 18" pie like shown at  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7561.msg65237.html#msg65237 or even a slice of one of Trin's masterpiece pizzas at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2167.msg19318.html#msg19318.

I'd feel the same way even if I got all of the answers right.

Peter
I am flattered you called my pizza a man's pizza!
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 18, 2009, 10:50:20 PM
I am flattered you called my pizza a man's pizza!

Terry,

I was having a little fun because I know that pftaylor likes the larger size pizzas with enough structure to accept a lot of toppings. Finding the right flour or blend of flours to achieve that end is one of the remaining challenges for pft.

Peter

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: widespreadpizza on February 18, 2009, 11:42:35 PM
So,  now having the full picture set,  it would appear to me that the salvo pizza was cooked slower than some of the others pizzas with a bit less fermentation,  crumb structure is amazing and its cooked,  unlike the da michelle pizza.  It looks highly fermented extremely wet, weak and like it was cooked in an overfired oven.  The other two are in between these two.  PFT,  What do you think fair assessment?  and BTW I don't think we have gotten your order of preference on these pictures.  -marc
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Essen1 on February 19, 2009, 12:50:50 AM
Allow me kindly to chime in for a moment...

PFT has been a pioneer on this board, has not been afraid to engage in new endeavors, has and still is providing us with perhaps very valuable information while being on a personal quest, trying to out-do himself! 

That's a tough task to take on, Pft!  :chef:


However, I digress.

All the crusts that were pictured looked great! But not one can compare to the Honoree, Madame Jo Raquel Tejada herself!

Shown at age 67...she's turning 69 this year!

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: s00da on February 19, 2009, 01:38:25 AM
Allow me kindly to chime in for a moment...

PFT has been a pioneer on this board, has not been afraid to engage in new endeavors, has and still is providing us with perhaps very valuable information while being on a personal quest, trying to out-do himself! 

That's a tough task to take on, Pft!  :chef:


However, I digress.

All the crusts that were pictured looked great! But not one can compare to the Honoree, Madame Jo Raquel Tejada herself!

Shown at age 67...she's turning 69 this year!



Perfect fermentation and ripening I must say  ;D
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 19, 2009, 01:57:26 AM
Terry,

I was having a little fun because I know that pftaylor likes the larger size pizzas with enough structure to accept a lot of toppings. Finding the right flour or blend of flours to achieve that end is one of the remaining challenges for pft.

Peter


Ohhhhh OK, so I'm not flattered. :(
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 19, 2009, 06:34:24 AM
Thanks for the kind words from all. It is much appreciated.

What’s my rank order? Easy question to answer...

Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 19, 2009, 07:52:07 AM
Seriously though. My preference for the four sets of photographs comes down to what Chris Bianco shared with me; “All styles of pizza are valid. I make the best I’m capable of; you should make the best you’re capable of. I don’t want to make somebody else’s pizza.”

Therefore, I no longer judge what I perceive the quality to be of another man’s pizza. Rather I look deeper into who is standing behind the pizza. That’s where huge differences are to be found. Either they care or don’t. I’ll support those who do and won’t if they don’t.

As an example, I believe each of the four crusts were made by pizza makers, like us, who care deeply for their craft. Doesn’t matter whether they are professionals or not. What matters is their attention to detail and caring. I can see in each one of the pizzas a tremendous amount of caring. They are clearly artisan in every way yet they are all different. Much like our pizzas here. They represent the best that the pizza maker can make which is good enough for me. I’d bet that if I sat down with the four fellows who crafted those pies that we would come away with an appreciation for each other’s passion.

I can also spot flaws in each one of the crust photographs much like I can spot flaws in my pizza. I have yet to make the perfect pizza and I doubt I ever will. I can proclaim, however, to craft pizzas which are consistently above my minimum bar of expectation.

My impression is most aspiring members here strive to make the best pizza they are capable of. The way they want to. I’d be willing to bet that if you gave twenty members the exact same ingredients and oven that no two would be exactly alike.

There is always an exception to the rule and in this case Pete-zza is perhaps the lone one. He seems to strive to make the best version of everyone else’s pizza. I have yet to see him attempt to make “his” best. I’m sure it would be a standard of excellence for sure. 

So for all the reasons above, I liked all four a great deal despite their imperfections. But I clearly prefer Raquel and Sophia rather than another man’s pizza.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: Pete-zza on February 19, 2009, 08:27:07 AM
Ohhhhh OK, so I'm not flattered. :(

Terry,

No, I didn't mean that. I was looking for the best manifestation on the forum of the 18" NY style pizza that is capable of supporting a lot of toppings, and yours was the one that I felt best met the test.

Peter
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on February 19, 2009, 09:11:58 AM
I'm at a loss PFT?I can't bring myself to see Sophia second to anyone.Could Rafia be lurking in the distance? ;) A beauty from another place as yet unknown ....
Title: Pizza Raquel
Post by: pftaylor on February 19, 2009, 09:38:26 AM
David,
Bill/SFNM in the great Southwest might probably choose "Quelso" thereby tieing in the latina factor.

Others may want to choose "Soraq" since the Neapolitan influence clearly came first. Admittedly, a bit too harsh sounding for my tastes...

But in the true spirit of pure passion and Ancient Tradition, Classic Old World Technique for Modern Times I would lean toward "Souel."

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: shango on February 19, 2009, 11:06:04 AM
I'll take a shot at this.

#3 (favorite) I'll give it an 8.  Clearly Neapolitan..Wide open crumb resembles the best of what I've had in Naples.  Little too charred perhaps?  Looks professional

#4 (2nd) gets a 7.5-gonna say this is from PFT's house too..only complaint; The cornicone is a little small.  That's Raquel style?

#1 (3rd)  uh, 5. Nice crumb-too brown and not charred-looks bready.  This is the style of (hmmm) wanna be Neapolitan? professional

#2 (last) 3.  I'm not really into this cracker style, (new haven?)  Looks like it came from Comet Ping Pong.  I think they forgot the leavening. Sadly, also a pro job. (hope I didn't make it)

I don't dare to guess the maker of any. 


That was a fun game.  How long until we get the answers?
:-[
Uh, I must reconsider my judging-a-book-by-it's-cover skills;  Gino Sorbillo makes one of the best pizza I have ever eaten, and the largest I have had in Naples.

Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 19, 2009, 03:00:35 PM
Terry,

No, I didn't mean that. I was looking for the best manifestation on the forum of the 18" NY style pizza that is capable of supporting a lot of toppings, and yours was the one that I felt best met the test.

Peter
I was just joking. ;D
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: tdeane on February 19, 2009, 03:02:25 PM
Thanks for the kind words from all. It is much appreciated.

What’s my rank order? Easy question to answer...


Wow, that Sophia Loren photo is amazing.
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: mmarston on February 19, 2009, 06:00:11 PM
Sophia Loren is the tip of an iceberg of beautiful Italian women.
See Fellini's 8 1/2 and his other films as well.

Michael
Title: Re: Pizza Raquel
Post by: David on February 28, 2009, 11:05:33 AM
This is a great way to find the middle ground between a fast baked crust, and a cheese that tastes better with a slow melt.  There is a popular pizzeria NJ, and another one in Los Angeles that do it this way.   Unfortunately when I visited these two places the cheese on the outside of the big chunks still ended up with that cooked too fast (lack of) taste, while the center remained pretty much unmelted, not totally solving the problem, so you just have to be careful not to make the chunks too big.   Of course the best scenario is what I found in Naples where the cheese was put on the pizza in small to medium sized pieces, and they have access to mozzarella perfectly suited to the fast bakes.   

I put your quote in here Scott as this is somewhat related to the points you raised (and that the info originated in Pittsburgh ;)).I do not necessarily agree with all the comments however.The article was taken from the Chow Boards:

Why Does Cheese Get Rubbery when Melted in the Microwave?
By Roxanne Webber

Keep it creamy and soft by following a few simple tips
The microwave isn’t really the culprit when it comes to rubbery melted cheese, says Robert L. Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained. “The cheese was simply heated too hot or too long.”
When the temperature is too high or cheese is heated too long, its protein molecules tighten, and water and fat are forced out. This results in rubbery, greasy melted cheese, says Wolke.

Though the microwave isn’t the main cause, it can make the problem worse, says Dr. John A. Lucey, an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Department of Food Science. “In a normal oven, the air is hot, and this helps form a crust or skin to hold in [oil and water], but in a microwave the air in the unit is unaffected by the microwave process, so no crust forms.” If you microwave cheese under less power and for a shorter time, then “this kind of problem can be minimized,” he says.

Wolke adds that once cheese gets to the rubbery stage, there’s no going back, so it’s always best to melt cheese with low heat, regardless of the cooking method. He also suggests shredding or cutting up the cheese to increase the surface area, which makes it melt faster and reduces the need for prolonged cooking.
Title: Raquel Review
Post by: Tampa on December 16, 2009, 03:18:09 PM
Dr Bob and I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Taylor at his restaurant, Wood Fired Pizza, yesterday and biting Raquel.  She's good, very good.

The pizza was really outstanding.  We especially liked the mozzarella, closely followed by the delicate seasoning, fresh ingredients, and flavorful crust.  If you have been reading this thread, you know Mr. Taylor is a perfectionist, and frankly, you can taste it.

I read several Peter’s posts in preparation for the experience.  I knew before going that he insists on “absolute freshness” and grows Basil, Oregano, Arugula, Cilantro, and Mint.  Per the web site, he even makes his own Mozzarella”.   On the drive over, I was reminded of the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” episode and imagined Kramer saying “You suffer for your pizza”.  Which brings me to the funny moment.

Peter is talking to our small group about his vision of the perfect pizza and offering some of the best examples world wide.  Then he acknowledged that everyone has a different opinion of the perfect pizza and that one usually judges according to how his pizza compares to a pizza that they remember fondly from the past.  As a patron was leaving, he overheard the Peter’s comment and added: “You know who makes a really good pizza?  That ABC franchise downtown.”  I know the place – think fresh nothing and cardboard everything.  I almost fell off my chair but wasn’t sure whether to laugh or duck and cover.  Peter took it all in stride.

I'm new to the forum and am humbled by the knowledgeable and helpful members of this group.  I found y’all because my neighbor, Dr Bob, is on recipe number 413 and he makes a darn good pie.  (Yep, he counts and keeps too.)  I’m better at the internet than I am making pie, so I went searching for help.  Thanks for all the great posts.