Served 4x 18" pizzas today to 11 new taste testers:
Pizzas #1 and #2 were Volpi pepperonis with #1 64% hydration with water and #2 using 50/50 water/Red Hook beer. All the pizzas had 72 hours to proof, none were reballed. Bake time was 4:30 in the old Blodgett. The testers were told only that the dough formulation was "different" between the pizzas. However, #1 came out a little over-charred on the bottom (read burnt), this invalidated the results. Three testers preferred #1 and 8 liked #2 the best.
Pizza #3 was a straight 64% water hydration and topped with Columbus calabrese salami and mushrooms. This pizza was tested by the tasters and a couple stated they enjoyed the mushrooms, but otherwise few comments were forthcoming. I may have to develop some evaluation worksheets to gleen more structured information from the testers.
Pizza #4 was 50/50 beer and consisted of ham, linguica, bacon, fresh tomato, fresh basil, smoked mozz and a cheese blend. Very popular in the flavor department but a little sloppy and mushy as my toppings were too-much for the crust to support.
In summary, the beer pizza was favored by most but the race was again really close. Those who preferred the beer crust, did so by the slimmest of margins. Several described the water-based crust as slightly lighter but the beer crust as a smiggen more flavorful. This was the third and most elaborate of the beer tests and the trend that women prefer the beer crust more than men was again present--I won't speculate why. Also, I am now convinced that the flavor difference between beer and non-beer dough is fairly small--at least with the Fat Tire and Red Hook beers I've used so far. Two additional test parties and a free catering gig should yield more data next month. Since beer effectively doubles the price of a dough ball and adds labor, I'm scrutinizing this outcome very carefully. Overall, I'm disappointed with this round of pizzas, they weren't awful but were a long way from where we need to be.
I was given an assortment of Blue Moon beer at the party, which type should I try, Tom?
(1) Used Stanislaus 7/11 instead of Escalon 6 in 1 as a sauce base. Today's sauce did not turn out as good as usual . . . one step backward. Need to stick with 6 in 1, made only 7 miles from my house. Escalon has a sweeter, brighter taste out of the can.
(2) Compressing and reballing at 48 hours, allowing a 24-hour second rise, then baking at the 72 hour point seems to enhance the texture and eating experience of the pizza. Reballing represents additional labor but this time and money well spent. Today's straight 72-hour proof, without the reball wasn't as good as the reballed dough used during the previous testing session.
(3) Cut the cheese quantity from 450 to 350 grams and increased the provolone ratio. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
(4) Very little oven spring today despite the 4:30 bake times. Allowed dough 2 hours to come up to temp from the frig, may try to use colder dough next time. Suggestions?