• #41 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • Here is a picture of a slice from pie #1:
  • #42 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • Pie #2: A Margherita with fresh Mutz and basil:
  • #43 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • More pictures of pie #2:
  • #44 by varasano on 16 Mar 2005
  • What mozz are you using?

    Get me your address and I'll get you out some culture
  • #45 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • In summary,
    I have a lot to learn about pizza making. Let me count the ways:

    I excercised bad judgement thinking I could change the tile configuration around to try and squeeze out the last drop of performance from my grill. It resulted in a burned bottom and an uncooked top.

    I have serious questions as to why the dough was so very difficult to stretch. I ended up tearing the dough trying to get a bigger skin. My guess is the shorter than 24 hour rise contributed some. Perhaps all. Who knows?

    I thought I followed the dough preparation techniques to the letter. Perhaps I skipped a step somewhere? Or more likely, 16 minutes of mixing time is too much.

    I'm open to all suggestions for improvement...
  • #46 by varasano on 16 Mar 2005
  • Hey I've got a buddy in your town. You may have to make him a pie since he can't have one of mine. He loves to cook but hasn't gotten into the pizza thing.

    My experience on stretching the dough is very clear to me.  90% of the issue is settled by the time the dough ball is formed. The rise time and temp play a tiny role.  It's all in the hydration and the kneading. If your dough is windowpaning well during the kneading or after a 10-15 min rest after kneading, then you will have no problem stretching it. If it's not great at that point, no amount of care will change it.

    In my DLX 11 minutes of kneading is max. But as I say, much of the kneading is done when the dough is highly hydrated, then I keep mixing in alittle flour at at time. But the time it's fully hydrated, It's really not mixing anymore, just spinning around the machine. Then it's done.

  • #47 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • Varazano,
    Your buddy is welcome any time.

    I covered up the fresh mutz with sauce - just like ilpizzaiolo suggested. Sure enough it didn't burn at all. I take it from your comment that you are going to give the Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella a try?

    I knew I was in trouble when I removed the dough ball from the stand mixer. I just didn't know how much. It was hard as a rock and dense feeling. In fact, I didn't need to flour the prep area in order to hand knead it at all. It wasn't sticky. From a practical standpoint I'm not sure a Kitchen Aide stand mixer can adequately process dough at a 60% hydration level. I now know why you have a DLX.
  • #48 by Pete-zza on 16 Mar 2005
  • pft,

    When I saw the results of your latest effort, I revisited your original recipe and put my thinking cap on. Based on the amounts of ingredients you used, and assuming that they were weighed properly, then the total dough ball weight should have come to around 26.2 oz., or 13.10 oz. for each of the two dough balls. I believe you were actually a bit short of that weight, but I don't think that was the cause of your problems.

    I think that there could be several possible reasons for not achieving the results you wanted, apart from the possibility that your baking regimen was at fault. First is the hydration percent--60%. That is at about the middle of the hydration percentage range for a NY style pizza dough, but relative to what you have been using in your Patsy's experiments, that is on the low side and will be noticeable when you handle the dough. The dough will feel dry and a bit tough. It also means that the fermentation will be slowed down. The more water in the dough the more everything in the dough is permeated by the water, leading to greater chemical activity and a faster fermentation. Consequently, to achieve the same level of fermentation as using more water, and all other things being equal, you usually need to extend the fermentation time. So, in your case, you might have fared better if you let the dough ferment for at least the 24 hours, if not a few more hours longer, before bringing it out to room temperature.

    Second, you did not use any oil. Oil is not commonly used in authentic Neapolitan doughs but it does help increase the extensibility of a dough because it coats the gluten strands to achieve a smooth structure. I often knead doughs by hand and when I add the olive oil to a dough I have been kneading I can almost immediately tell its presence. The dough gets softer, smoother and more malleable. (If anyone ever wants to learn about dough, try hand kneading. It will tell you far more than you will learn just throwing everything into a machine.) Third, a total of 16 minutes machine kneading may have been too long, even for a high-gluten flour. I don't recall what machine speed you used so it is hard to comment much on that. But if it was at very low speed, I don't think the dough would have suffered from a 16-minute knead time. If it was at a higher speed, then it could have been toughened up by the longer knead, by creating a denser, tighter structure.

    As an aside, my new supply of KASL just came in so I plan to try out the recipe for the dough for the 13-inch pizza I posted recently on this thread. But I know in advance that the dough will be a drier dough and will not handle as well as a more hydrated dough or one with oil in it. So I plan to allow plenty of fermentation time, at least 24 hours, to compensate. I also expect that the dough will be harder to shape and stretch. Based on the recipe, the dough ball should weigh around 8.6 oz. and be stretched super thin to 13 inches. To do this without tearing should be a real challenge. I may have to revisit D.C. Pizza Maker's instructions in advance to refresh my memory on how to stretch the dough ball to that diameter without tearing.

  • #49 by pizzanapoletana on 16 Mar 2005
  • Sorry guys

    Are you considering that different strength flours have different absorption rate?

    A 60% rate with a strong flour id very dry whilst with a Caputo will be just on the wet side and with a regular 00 will be very wet…
  • #50 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • Wow. What a diagnosis Doctor Pete-zza. I thought you were a detective but now I think you have a bit of Physician in you to boot. Any ideas about the blister holes?

    I am frankly baffled by them. Or am I? I think there is way too much yeast - either Patsy's or commercial and that had to be a contributory factor.

    Here are the changes I'm prepared to endorse at this juncture:
    1) Reduce the knead time from 16 minutes to 10
    2) Reduce the amount of commercial yeast by half
    3) Replace the layer of quarry tiles I removed
    4) Wipe dough balls with OO

    Here are changes I'm prepared to endorse if the above do not yield the appropriate outcome:
    1) Add 1/2 teaspoon OO
    2) Increase hydration percentage to 62.5%

    While I realize it was asking a lot to post an impressive outcome right out of the gate, I was optimistic. Making pizzas reminds me of golf. It's just not fair at times.

    Thanks for all your help.
  • #51 by Pete-zza on 16 Mar 2005
  • pft,

    I assume by blister holes you mean on the bottom of the crust, not on the top. If that is so, I would think that they are most likely linked to your high temperature baking system. I say that in part because I have never seen a crust bottom like yours using my standard home oven. I tend to doubt that the cause is the yeast level, although what you used was higher than specified in ilpizzaiolo's recipe.

    What were the sizes of the pizzas? 15 inches?

  • #52 by pftaylor on 16 Mar 2005
  • Yes. I am referring to the holes on the bottom of the pizza. I believe they are caused by bubbles which naturally have a thinner wall lining then a typical dough structure. The intense heat of the grill must incinerate it in no time. The connection I am drawing between the excess yeast and the blister holes is my belief that excess yeast causes excessive bubbling. Excessive bubbling is susceptable to incineration at an earlier stage than normal dough.

    The skins were much smaller than 15". The dough balls weighed about 13 ounces each and only stretched to maybe 13 inches. I didn't measure them but they were noticably smaller than my usual. I used 1/10th of an ounce of IDY.
  • #53 by varasano on 17 Mar 2005
  • I hate to throw water on some of this analysis, but...

    I stand by my earlier comments. No changes in rise time or temp can compensate for the knead. By the end of the knead, it's a done deal.

    oil in the dough is a no-no. I'm sure Marco will agree. Oil around the dough is a no-no too. A TINY amount of oil in the bowl to keep from sticking is ok.

    Patsy's real dough is the most blistered I've ever worked with by a wide, wide margin.  That's a good thing, not something to be avoided to avoid burning.  The blistering is more a result of the kneading than the quantity of yeast. The knead determines the window paning, which corresponds well with the bubbling.

    The burning is caused by poor heat distribution in the oven. Have you tried my suggestions with foil to fix some of the heat issues?

    Knead times are affected by hydration, simply because the small home mixers cause the dough to stick to the hook and low hydrations, more or less stopping any real kneading action. Large commercial mixers, or spiral mixers don't have this problem. This is why I add flour gradually, so that a lot of mixing occurs at a higher hydration, even if I want a lower end hydration.

  • #54 by varasano on 17 Mar 2005
  • Anyone who wants to work with the starter who is not already experienced with starters should by the book from Ed wood over at

    Unless Marco want's to suggest another resource.
  • #55 by varasano on 17 Mar 2005
  • I want to discuss windowpaning and kneading.  When I say that something is "windowpaning very well" I mean that a 270g ball can be stretched to 20" or more without ripping.  Not that you would want a pizza that thin. But if the dough is REALLY kneaded right, that should be no problem.  It should be like streching out phyllo dough, if you really wanted it to.

    I've made some really good pizzas without kneading to that point. But I can tell you that some of the best pies had that ability, and for SURE the Patsy's dough had that ability. I doubt that I'm exagerating when I say that the Patsy's dough, which was probably around 375g, could be streched to 30". It was actually hard to rip.  I've had a few conversations and taken a few samples from a high quality local baker and his dough was kneaded to that point too.

    I don't think this is possible in a Kitchen Aid mixer. I've done it with a food processor with the steel blade (but it got too hot for the yeast) and almost there with the DLX, but not quite yet.

    This is mostly about hydration and kneading (including the autolyse periods). The flour is a factor, but I've got this with AP too. It's more in the technique. This is why I'm not feeling like the Sir Lancelot is that important. It's more in the knead, I think.

  • #56 by pftaylor on 17 Mar 2005
  • After having a night to sleep on my utter and complete failure, I am refreshed to go at it again. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will the world's best pizza. Having said that, let's go:

    The absorption rate issue is a good one to discuss. For Lancelot, 60% may be a little too dry. I don't know. It may be too dry for the typical home equipment we all have. What I do know is that a standard Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer is virtually incapable of kneading a 60% hydration dough well - using the dough preparation techniques suggested in my recipe.

    So with the goal to produce a credible version of a Patsy's pizza with the available tools and ingredients most of us have, we will have to change. Either we all buy commercial grade equipment or we vary our mixing methods. I don't know about anybody else but the spouse approval factor for a Hobart would be very low in my house.

    Combining varasano's comments into your absorption theory, it seems to me that the the answer does indeed lie in the mixing process - from beginning to end. I have nothing to lose by slowly adding in the flour over time to get good kneading up front. I can tell you, my experience with 60% Lancelot is that it spins around the hook looking real pretty and shiny but I didn't notice a lot of kneading going on. Maybe a waiting period after initial mixing wouldn't hurt either. All these things may help and according to varasano they do and will.

    What I would ask that you do is first temporarilly switch back to using your Kitchen Aid. The theory being that if we can work out a viable set of mixing instructing on a Kitchen Aid than by default it should also work for the more powerful DLX. Then collaborate with Pete-zza on adjusting the mixing sequence instructions contained in the master recipe as a way of overcoming the difficulties of a 60% dough.

    Now if the more learned members among us think that bumping up the hydration percentage wouldn't fundamentally alter the ultra-light crust we are desiring, than maybe that's a solution as well. Otherwise, let's try and get our home gear to be compatible with 60% Lancelot.

    I appreciate the feedback on blisters, it is all very helpful. I will tinker my way through it by adding back a layer of brick first and then measuring results. I really should have known better than to adjust the height. I should have used some form of foil to make the minor adjustment required to get the perfect ratio of top and bottom heat. 

    One other point I neglected to mention earlier. I measured the temperature of the dough ball at the hook immediately after the 16 minute mixing period and it was slightly over 85 degrees. That would be another indication that 16 minutes is too long. Hence my recommendation for a shorter mixing period.

    As Jim Valvano once said: "Don't give up, don't ever give up."
  • #57 by pizzanapoletana on 17 Mar 2005
  • cxxx
  • #58 by Pete-zza on 17 Mar 2005
  • I think we all know that we aren't about to get the quality of kneading in our KitchenAids that commercial Hobart mixers produce. Early this morning I took a look at the stand mixers that KitchenAid and Hobart currently sell for home and commercial use, respectively, and the differences are stark. There are currently 9 models of home KitchenAid mixers ranging from 250 watts up to 575 watts, with most having around 10 speeds (although only a few can safely be used for kneading dough). By contrast, the Hobart mixers run from 1/2 hp to 2.7 hp, with no more than 4 speeds. Interestingly, even Hobart, with such powerful machines, recognizes the problems in kneading high-gluten doughs and low "AR" doughs (AR is the term used by Hobart for hydration percent). Hobart's specs specifically recommend reducing the rated dough batch size by 10% for high-gluten doughs and they say that certain speeds "should never be used on 50% AR or lower products". So it's quite clear that home stand mixers are no match, even for the relatively small amounts of dough to be made in a home environment. Maybe Jeff's machine is an exception, but I don't expect to see most of our members abandoning their KitchenAid units anytime soon.

    I know from personal experience, shared by most of us I'm sure, that it is hard to knead a small amount of dough in a KitchenAid stand mixer, and often even larger amounts of dough. That is one of the reasons I frequently use either hand kneading (for small amounts of dough) or a food processor (using only the pulse switch and cool water to keep the dough temperature down). I agree with Jeff that kneading is highly important to the final outcome, and there may well be a strong correlation between the quality of the kneading and the final results, but I am not prepared to say that there aren't other things that take place after kneading that improve the final results. Jeff himself acknowleges the value of autolyse (rest) periods, where the quality of a dough improves without even touching it. And Marco acknowledged the same thing this morning. But even after the dough has been subjected to machine kneading and an autolyse, there is still biochemical activity taking place during fermentation that affects the gluten and other components of a dough, all for the better. A while back, I had an exchange with Tom Lehmann at PMQ, in which I happened to mention the "window pane" test, among other things, and Tom's response was, in part, as follows (in quotes):

    "Forget about the "window" test. That is appropriate for making breads, but not pizza dough. For pizza dough you just want to mix the dough long enough to get a smooth appearance to the dough, no longer. If you want, you can take a piece of the dough just before you shape and dress it and stretch it out in your fingers and you will be amazed at how thin you can stretch the dough. This is due to biochemical gluten development. This is what allowed bakers to make breads and pizzas way before Mr. Hobart created his first patentable invention."


  • #59 by pftaylor on 17 Mar 2005
  • I am intrigued by the potential of a viable go-forward strategy with our existing Kitchen Aid mixers. Sounds like this can be accomplished to a large degree if we get creative. Let's see if I understand varasano's, pizzanapoletnana's, and Pete-zza's point(s).

    Varasano firmly believes that the early mixing procedure dictats the quality of the dough. More time spent in the beginning stages of mixing yields huge improvements. Did I get that right?

    Pizzanapoletana believes that a rest period after machine mixing with some hand kneading will bring us to where we want to go to. Did I get that right?

    Pete-zza believes in robust dough management techniques all along the way including after mixing, such as a 24hr refrigerated rise, will assist in developing the dough properly. Did I get that right?

    If so, I do not sense that these potential solutions are mutually exclusive and would suggest the following for trial and error: Incorporate varasano's upfront mixing tips, rest periods, and pizzanapoletana's end of process rest period and ancient hand kneading approach. Then abide by Pete-zza's overarching techniques including let's say a 24 hour minimum time frame for a cold rise and other dough management techniques and we should be there. Make sense?

    It would be a small price to pay (a little extra time) to enjoy the ultimate crust experience.

    Feedback please!
  • #60 by Pete-zza on 17 Mar 2005
  • Last night I started a dough based on the 13-inch recipe I posted recently. My first thought was to hand knead the dough. I had been doing this sort of thing recently with the Caputo 00 doughs and thought that hand kneading a roughly 8-9 oz. ball of dough would be easy. Maybe I'm just a weak guy but I found it difficult to hand knead even that small a dough ball with the high-gluten flour and 60% hydration. Rather than doing that for 20 minutes, I finally decided to finish the kneading in my food processor. I thought to use an autolyse before adding the salt to the dough, but got distracted and forgot. I guess I will have to rely on fermentation to do the job.

    A further point on rest periods. I realize that they are often used for low-protein doughs, such as those for Neapolitan style pizzas, and that is one of the few instances where I have used autolyses. I have tried them for NY style doughs using high-gluten flour but have not detected any particular advantage. I know that Jeff appears to have benefited from using them, so I am trying to keep an open mind. After all, it's hard to argue with success. But I'd like to see more evidence of their value in the context of using high-gluten flours. This is an area where I would like Marco or Dinks or any of our other knowledgeable professionals weigh in to get the benefit of their experiences. I do, agree, however, that gradually adding the flour to water is a good idea, if only to increase the rate of absorption of the water by the flour.