• #221 by varasano on 08 Apr 2005
  • Cheesy, bounce over to my page (click the little globe under my name) and I cover my opinion on the oven and the kneading.

  • #222 by varasano on 08 Apr 2005
  • LOL.... good luck with that...  I would rather have Patsy's take out, but ....

    This is not an easy thing to do.  It took years to get all this down. With a digital thermometer and aliminum foil you can control the temp.  Look at the photo of the bottom of my pie. It's perfect. But, the first 5 were pitch black.

    Of course you don't have to be as crazy as pftaylor and I, but there are no shortcuts.  None of these methods are 'set it and forget it'. A real brick oven guy is constantly managing his coals. With the grill pft is, I'm sure, constantly adjusting. Same with the cleaning cycle thing. 

    The digital thermometer is key though. You won't get far without it. Not without tons of practice.

  • #223 by varasano on 08 Apr 2005
  • Actually Cheese, I hope I didn't sound snippy in my reply. I read it over and it came across that way. Sorry.

    But I don't know a home oven that can be rigged to self regulate itself at these out of bounds temps. There might be a commercial oven that does so.  But for home, I doubt it. Any homemade rigging is going to need tweeking by you ongoingly, but it is a battle that can be mastered.


  • #224 by bakerboy on 08 Apr 2005
  • Sounds good, but $16.00 ?

    Thats some expensive yeast. 
    cheesy, if you mix together 1lb. of flour, 1lb. of water and a pinch of regular yeast, it will produce a very nice starter if you allow it to ferment and keep refreshing it.  Bought yeasts will work well also,but for pizza purposes, you really don't need to go to that expense.  Also, your right in using whats available.  if your pies bake better at 500 or 550F, and that works for you,cool.  it works for me.  i bake mine in an oven on 550 on a stone and they come out great.
    PFT, maybe i didn't catch it in your previous posts but what is the hydration of the preferment your using?  Just wondering if you like it more liquid or more "doughy" and thick.
  • #225 by varasano on 08 Apr 2005
  • It's $16 one time. You keep it alive and never have to buy it again.
  • #226 by bakerboy on 08 Apr 2005
  • I would rather run around with a net catching wild yeasts before I paid $16.00

    lol  thats funny.

    varasano, what kind of oven are you using to get that extreme temp.?  you doin the grill thing like pft?
  • #227 by varasano on 08 Apr 2005
  • no, I'm using a regular kitchen aid oven on the cleaning cycle
  • #228 by bakerboy on 08 Apr 2005
  • I don't have a self clean cycle, i just bury mine on 550.  The ovens i've seen that have a self clean cycle have doors that lock down until the cycle is over.  Obviously yours doesn't.  THAT would be a catastrophe.
  • #229 by quidoPizza on 08 Apr 2005
  • pftaylor; if your really going to build an outdoor oven. i would make sure it will burn coal.   you may WANT to get intouch with BAKERS PRIDE. THE PIZZA OVEN CO. THEY ARE IN NEW ROCHELLE NEW YORK. I THINK ON PINE STREET. TO GET YOUR STONES. THERE IS ALSO A MAGAZINE I THINK CALLED PIZZA TIMES OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. most pizzeria's get it free.  you may get somwe good ideas from reading that maybe you can subcribe. by the way your pie's look good. when you look at the bottom of a cooked dough. the more little  burnt circles you get. means the dough is not fully risen. ui would try adding an hour to your stand out time before streching when the dough is near perfect. after cooking the crust will have a uniform color all the way around. plus i looked at your pictures. looks like you may be using too much temp? i would try 50 or 75 degrees less and let the pie cook an other minute or so. should make the pie a little more crunchy.   again i'm just guessing.  i may make a pie in my cookie sheet tomorrow. wish i had a camera. to show you what i do. the only question will be what is the topping i may make diced fresh plum tomatoes, with fried oil and garlic, red pepper, hot sausage, chopped brocoli rabe. with fresh mozz. just ooooooooozzzzing with flavor :o john
  • #230 by varasano on 08 Apr 2005
  • I would rather run around with a net chasing wild yeasts before I paid $16.00

    LOL, Ed wood circled the globe finding the best yeast samples. Good luck with the net thing...
  • #231 by varasano on 09 Apr 2005
  • I've always used Cento Tomatoes. In the past few months I tried out several others:
     -  Escalon Bella Rosa
     -  Sclafani DOP Certified San Marzano
     -  La Bella San Marzano

    My conclusion:
    I have a new appreciation for the Cento.  I'm going back. It's no contest.

  • #232 by pftaylor on 09 Apr 2005
  • bakerboy,
    I refresh the starter with 50% water and 50% flour by weight, not by volume.

    I am preparing to go India all next week so I won't have time to make pizzas - unless I find a Bangalorian pizzaiolo who will let me at his oven! Wouldn't that be fun? I'm sure they make pizzas over there that are, well, lets say different.

    Anyway, I will heed your sage advice and allow the dough to rest a little more on the counter. I must tell you though that the dough is so very competent right now I'm hesitant to change anything. There may be one other area where a slightly longer counter rise would be helpful and that would be in the area of flavor. If another hour or so would allow the wild yeast to burst through even more than its a change worth making. Color me willing but skeptical. The dough produced by the Raquel formula is outstanding in every way compared to anything I have produced in the past. Now if I can coax a little more flavor out of it by a slightly longer counter rise and not compromise the superior handling characteristics, than count me in.

    As a data point, I used an all natural yeast rise last night for an experiment. One dough had a cold 26 hour rise followed by a 4 hour counter rise and the second dough ball has a 4 hour counter rise followed by a 22 hour cold rise followed by a 4 hour counter rise. The results were uneven at best.

    Better flavor at the expense of noticeably poorer dough performance is the summary. One very interesting note though is the fact that the crust tasted exactly like Patsy's. Dead ringer. Indistinguishable from Jose's crust. It even had the same sticky-to-the-tooth-feeling-before-melting-sensation that Patsy's is known for (at least by my family). But my family didn't prefer it to the Raquel formula crust which is a little crispier. The dough didn't handle or stretch as well either. It also had those pesky blister holes on the bottom.  I was probably to blame for those as my grill was preheated for a little longer than 1/2 hour. The intense heat of the TEC grill must somehow super heat the tiles past their ability to uniformly heat the bottom of the pie.

    An overall conclusion I can draw from this is that Jose must let his dough sit at room temperature for about 4 hours after an overnight cold rise. Or that my dough management procedure somehow mimics Jose's when I utilize a 4 hour counter rise with natural yeast.

    The taste was too close (dare I say even identical) for his dough process to be much less than that. In an odd way, I may have stumbled upon the exact way to reproduce the Patsy's crust in a home setting, without even realizing it. The rim spring is another bell ringer. Jose's crust had very little if any. My crust last night had very little if any either. Coincidence? I think not. The point of the experiment was not to try and reproduce the taste and texture components of the Patsy's crust but that is exactly what happened.

    Varasano, are you listening to this? This could be the end to your journey my friend. Schlep over to the Lehmann thread for the visuals. I report, you decide.

    Life is kind of funny. I spent months trying to duplicate the exact taste and texture profile of my favorite pizza joint and when I stopped trying it happened. I made my mind up a few days ago to not try and reproduce another man's pie. Then bam. It just came to me out of the blue. Whew! Think about that for a moment.

    So I now find myself standing on the cliff of being able to reproduce the Patsy's pizza perfectly. What will I do? Easy question to answer. I will blow right by Jose and all the other coal fired pizza joints in NYC and produce my pie, my way. Which very well may be a Patsy's style pizza with oven spring. Wouldn't that be nice. Oh and with ultra high quality ingredients to boot. There, I said it. That's my ideal. Pizza Raquel - Everything you'd want!

    As far as regulating the heat better I wish that were an option. My grill is really not designed for baking pies and is really being asked to do things which it shouldn't. I cannot control the heat setting finely enough to drop it down a hundred degrees or so. It is either full bore and I get a 3 minute bake or its inconsistent and deeply flawed baking times. The least little change in anything right now spells doom.

    Remember, I can't see through the hood to see how the bake is going. It has taken me the better part of six months of burning pies to get to the point where I'm at now which is relative equal heat for the top and bottom of a pie. There is only so much one can expect from a grill which is not designed to be an oven. The biggest difference is that a grill is not designed to retain heat whereas an oven can. I fear that I will have to limp along with my grill until a wood burning oven is erected on my pool deck.

    The good news is I do have access to the luxury of extreme heat. While it may not be as robust as that from a true oven, its the next best thing. Certainly better than the 550 degree pies I used to make.
  • #233 by varasano on 09 Apr 2005
  • I'm listening....  It sounds like after all this your recipe is pretty much what I was telling you to do in Jan, LOL...  Patsy's starter plus commercial yeast booster to give it spring, sea salt, no sugar, autolyse, long wet knead, high hydration, post knead rest, no oil coating, long cold rise plus short counter rise, 800F oven. Crushed tomatoes strained with a bit of salt and sugar and not much else.


    But you are a great perfectionist like me and had to test everything.

    The pies you had recently at Patsy's had little spring. But the best pies I had there years ago had a lot of spring and that's what my recipe is trying to get to. I've only done a few pies with no commercial yeast booster, and just like you, I concluded that's not the way to go.

    As I can see it, there are only 2 real differences in our dough. I'm using KA Bread flour and don't put any oil in the dough. I think we may end up splitting the difference. I think that now that you know how to autolyse and do the wet knead, you will find you do not need the oil to get the dough to handle right. It will actually be lighter with more spring and less chewyness without the oil.  The recent shot I posted of that very windowpaned dough had no oil. I took an extra 8.2 oz piece and stretched it to 15 inches no problem at all.  As for the flour,  I have the KASL here but haven't gotten round to trying it, so maybe I might come around to that.  But I predict you will start using the Cento Tomatoes with a dash of romano cheese grated in...

    Welcome to paradise ;-)

  • #234 by pftaylor on 09 Apr 2005
  • Varasano,
    Good points one and all.

    You still use a slight amount of oil to wipe down the balls right? I have eliminated that amount as I have a plastic scraper which cleanly removes the ball from the stainless steel rising bowls. However, I have found that a little amount of oil is beneficial. Specifically, the crust doesn't seem as dry with the addition of oil. But you may be right, now that I'm more comfortable with the value of autolyse, it may not be necessary anymore.

    I was considering removing the oil all together but I have been trying so many other tweaks I haven't had a chance to try the recipe without the aid of oil. I now have a firm discipline of only trying one change at a time. I will not stray from that committment to myself.

    I must confess that I think the Kitchen Aid needs the help of the oil to properly develop the dough. But I am open to trying the time-tested formula without it. Unfortunately, it will have to wait till I return from AsiaPac. Clearly, the fact that I have to use oil when Patsy's and others don't have to has weighed on my mind.

    I have not had the same luck with Cento DOP San Marzanos as you by the way. So far, they are rated near the bottom by me and my entire family. Bitter aftertaste is what I remember about them. The Italian market where I buy the DOP tomato sauce carries about five brands. I buy them all and so far no one brand has distinguished itself from the pack. Several brands have been dropped from further consideration however, and Cento is in the latter category.
  • #235 by varasano on 10 Apr 2005
  • Hey pft,

    I don't coat the ball, all I do is wipe down the container with literally a drop per ball. The plastic containers really need this or the dough sticks and deflates when it comes out. But the amount needed is literally just the smallest amount then I try to wipe it out and whatever is left is what I need. I have made as many as 14 balls so I can't stack that many stainless steel containers in my fridge, so I use the plastic ones.

    The dough will not seem dry when it is light (and it will lighten without the oil.)

    >the Kitchen Aid
    You know I hate that machine and use the DLX. But maybe with the newer wet-mix procedure I might be able to coax a good knead out of the machine. If you want to drop the oil but feel the KA is not working, try going wetter for longer and add more of the flour nearer to the end. And just lengthen the overall knead time, perhaps by a lot.

    Or just dump the machine. The DLX is so much better. It's only $469 new, even less on ebay.

    I don't use the Cento San Marzano, just the regular. I didn't like the San Marzano either. I don't know if anyone has ever mentioned this, but I shake every can when I buy it. You can tell a watery can from a viscous can by the sound and feel when you shake it. The more watery, the more bitter. Try the grated romano to remove the bitter flavor.  Check my web page for an overhaul of my sauce section ( section 8 ).

    Regarding the time of the counter rise and it's affect on flavor, read section 1 on the lactobacilli. Now that you have the starter, check out that section again. I don't think the counter rise time is a factor in flavor. But you might consider aging in the fridge a lot longer. I've gone as long as 5 days with good results. After that it's downhill. I think 3 is really optimal. If you found that the all-culture dough had more flavor than the culture/commercial combo, you should consider that the longer cold rise will make up for that.  You put in the commercial to help the spring, but let it age more to get more flavor and in the end you get both desirable features. Try a 1 day and 3 day from the same batch and you will see the difference.

    Have a safe trip and try the Nan bread. Did Mark ever call you? I didn't follow up with him. Wish me luck on my launch next week in New Orleans.

  • #236 by varasano on 10 Apr 2005
  • Quick note on the dough you tried a counter rise, followed by a cold rise. This basically never works in my opinion because after 4 hours some expansion of the dough has taken place and when you chill it the bubbles collapse and the dough structure can never really recover.
  • #237 by pftaylor on 10 Apr 2005
  • V,
    Great point. I noticed that the cold rise dough had superior handling characteristics over the warm rise dough. The taste though was nearly the same with the warm rise dough having slightly more pronounced flavor - but not by much. In fact, I was the only member of my family who could detect the difference.

    I am definitely going to try an extended cold rise. Perhaps 2 and 3 days and measure the results. I have not been contacted by Mark yet.

    Thanks for all your tips, they really are quite helpful. I have another batch ready to go today and it will be interesting to taste the results. I reread your web page and noticed you made a number of changes - for the better it seems.
  • #238 by pftaylor on 10 Apr 2005
  • I wanted to share with the community my latest effort before I whisked off for Bangalore. I varied my usual rising procedure at the suggestion of quidoPizza and tried a 3 hour counter rise instead of 2. The result? Comparatively the dough seemed a little softer but I didn't detect any noticeable thin spots. After grilling the crust seemed a tad softer. Not a bad crust mind you but it didn't exhibit the normal crispy bottom veneer my family has come to appreciate. In the first photograph where I'm holding the dough over my knuckles, notice how uniform the skin appears. It was very competent and stout. Overall, I would say the extra rise time had little downside. The suggested rise time could be anywhere between 2 - 3 hours and the dough would still be exceptional.

    I giggle every time I make a pie now because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how delicious it will turn out. I no longer have to worry about all the little things affecting how the dough will perform. It is as if the margin of error has been improved ten-fold. I cannot begin to tell you how comforting it is to know that little mistakes won't turn your dinner into a disaster. I can now experiment with interesting topping combinations, perfecting my sauce recipe, or try other formulas because I now know I can always go back home into the waiting arms of Raquel.

    The first pizza was a pepperoni pie where I decided to cut the pepperoni in a match stick style instead of round. It was a winner. The second pie was my normal Raquel with the addition of Italian salami. Em em good!
  • #239 by pftaylor on 10 Apr 2005
  • #240 by pftaylor on 10 Apr 2005