One thing to consider when you want a crispy exterior that holds up is building up your acid production through a preferment (poolish, biga or sourdough starter) and using a long slow bulk fermentation. We use a modest 12% all winter wheat flour which is not considered high gluten.
Even though you use a certain brand and label of flour, variances occur ever month and from region to region. One's experience is hard to relate to another, so hydration % should be taken with a grain of salt.
Yes, different types of baking stone will be more efficient in pulling moisture from the dough as it cooks. I cannot recommend anything available on the retail level, however I have enough commercial baking stones to cut up for about 12 - 18"x18" home pizza stones... is that too big?
When I do, it will be a first come, first served basis.
Yes, we went to a mixer about 3 years ago to the day. My joints simply could not handle the work load after mixing hundreds of pounds a dough by hand for 6 days a week x 10 years.
At the time we moved from hand mixing to a standard mechanical mixer, we dropped the hydration level from 72% to 62% for many, many reasons.
Even though we went to a commercial mixer, we only mix for a short period of time at 1st speed. We still stretch and fold our dough 4 times over the course of the bulk fermentation.
The video shoot with Anthony Bourdain was with hand mixed dough at around 72% hydration. We use to ramp our poolish up overnight so that it was on the brink of collapse when it was time to mix the dough by hand. All the acids in the poolish bucked up the dough so much that it was becoming elastic at the 72-74% hydration, when the final dough was near full proof. Of course, experience helps in handling all dough. I have made probably made somewhere near 400,000 pizzas to date and I can shape with my eyes closed by now. I let the feel do the talking, not the look.
No bromated flour here... Just Harvest King by General Mills as Peet-Za stated earlier.
No sugar... steam does help in the retardation and even browning.
Nobody likes char anymore. What the hell happened in the pizza world? I grew up with pizzas that had a nice char and now we have to beg for it? Even if I ask another pizzeria to bake "extra crispy/dark" it is lighter than the pizzas that I make. I know some of you like the GBD (golden, brown, delicious) pizza, but I find them lacking on many levels.
If anyone has any questions, I will do my best to answer. Thanks for your time.