Author Topic: Can I please ask a couple stupid questions? Rise in the fridge and salt  (Read 2234 times)

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Offline youonlylivetwice

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Thanks everyone for your help, I often feel unworthy of the discussions here, and yet learn so much.

First question is how much of a rise do you typically get in the fridge?  I usually let the dough rest 15-20 minutes after kneading, and then throw it in the bottom of the fridge.  It seems to rise a fair amount, and I am never sure if I should punch it down or not.  I have read often enough about not overkneading, and I don't want a bread-like crust, so I am cautious to go easy, but the dough is never even close to something you could toss, I tear it just trying to stretch it carefully.  I usually use an organic bread flour from a local co-op.

Second, my scale measures grams, but is not that sensitive on small stuff like salt.  When a volume measure is given, does that assume kosher salt?  Seems to me I have heard kosher crystals are so large it may require nearly twice as much volume to get the same weight, and also read that amount of salt can dramatically affect the dough.

thanks for any help....  I keep trying!!

Offline scott r

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Re: Can I please ask a couple stupid questions? Rise in the fridge and salt
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2005, 01:35:42 PM »
YOLT, These are not stupid questions!  I hope I am right about this stuff and can help you, but here is some of the info I have learned on the subject.

Some doughs do not appear to raise at all in the fridge, and other ones (using more yeast, left too long, or not chilled enough/fast enough) double or even triple.  From the sounds of your dough troubles it appears that you might not have fully developed the gluten structure of your dough.  You might want to try mixing longer.  This could also not really be your fault, and you might be just using flour that is not great for pizza. Since it sounds like you need a better gluten structure in your dough, punching it down might help you.  If your gluten was already fully developed, I would suggest that you avoid punching down the dough, and that you use less yeast in your recipe to avoid "blowing" of the dough.

Also, you might want to try a technique that I have been working on that I have learned from breadmaking sights online. You might want to save this for later when you have more of a handle of what is going on, but it should achieve the same effect:
Instead of mixing your dough longer, you can improve the gluten structure by doing a series of folds and flips during the rising process.  I have not tried this with refrigerated doughs, but it definitely works with room temp rises.  Imagine your dough is a piece of paper.  Fold each of the four corners into the middle, then flip the dough over.  Do this a few times during the early rising stages, then leave the dough alone for the last few hours (or days if you are refrigerating your dough).  The theory is that you will have less oxidation of the dough (from mixing) and still build up the gluten in your dough (so that it will not tear).

If you are serious about baking anything you need to get a scale right away. I think a lack of salt could contribute slightly to the ease of tearing that you are experiencing. If you were using too much salt you would taste it. I just checked on ebay and there are TONS of digital scales for very little money. I saw some decent ones that had sold for $20 or less!  I have a scale that only measures in 5g increments, but I work with fairly large batches for a home pizza maker, so this is not really a problem for weighing anything but yeast.  Luckily I have tossed out my commercial yeast, and only use a starter, mainly because I prefer the texture and flavor.  The advantage is also that recipes call for much larger amounts of starter than they would commercial yeast, so my scale is fine.  Since it seems like you are just starting out, you might want to invest in a scale that can weigh in one or two gram increments so that you can use commercial yeast.  The disadvantage with the cheaper scales that measure in small amounts is that they have a smaller maximum capacity.  However you go, you need a scale to really get things right with pizza dough, or any other baking for that matter.

Good Luck with the dough!!!!
« Last Edit: September 13, 2005, 02:06:31 PM by scott r »

Offline chiguy

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Re: Can I please ask a couple stupid questions? Rise in the fridge and salt
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2005, 01:52:40 PM »
 Iwould like to start by saying buy a thermometer they are a cheap necessary tool when using the retarded fridge method, you shold be using Instant Dry Yeast for this method so after your dough comes off the hook take its temperature ideal temp is 74 to 84 degrees, you dont have to let it sit for 20min, this may be causing the faster larger rise. As for how much rise, Tom Leahman told me personally the ball may not even double with this process. This is what i shoot for, a fermentation process of at least 15 hrs. going to fridge no higher than 82Deg. the flour you are using i am not to sure about, but bread flour in general can be stretched a fair amount and should not tear. Here could be some problems make sure the dough has sat at room temp for 2 hrs out of fridge before shaping,increase liquid level, increase mix times. Also be careful with the salt level, when making dough the salt can make or break the whole process 1 to 2 1/2% is optimum. As for stetching, dont try to stretch it on the counter,press down the dough ball and coat both sides in a pile of flour(so it dont stick to your hands)  pinch the ends all the way around to develop a crust/thicker edge the flip it onto your knuckles and top of hand (closed fist).begin to stretch outward  maybe 5 inches apart then turn a 1/8 turn clockwise and repeat. A hand stretch will create a more airy type crust. Takes some practice.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2005, 02:02:28 PM by chiguy »

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Can I please ask a couple stupid questions? Rise in the fridge and salt
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2005, 06:16:46 PM »

scott and chiguy offer very sound advice.

To a degree, the results you achieve by the time you are ready to shape a dough ball into a skin will depend on several factors: the basic recipe you are using, the type of flour, whether the dough includes oil, and the hydration percent. A high-gluten flour will produce a dough that shapes more easily than one based on bread flour, and, similarly, a dough based on using bread flour will shape more easily than one based on all-purpose flour. The differences are due to the different protein contents of the three flours and the amount of gluten that is formed using the three different flours. High-protein flours yield more gluten and a better gluten structure than weaker flours. It also means that high-gluten doughs require longer fermentation times than doughs made using weaker flours so that they aren't overly elastic when time comes to use them. If this condition is met, it translates into a better handling dough that is easier to stretch and shape, with fewer thin spots and tendency to tear.

Using oil in the dough will increase the extensibility (stretchiness) of the dough as compared with using none. A dough with a high hydration percent (say, above 60%) will also be easier to shape than one using a low hydration percent (say, 50%). All of these factors (type of flour, use of oil, and hydration) are based on what the recipe you are using specifies.

chiguy makes some very valuable comments on temperature and yeast. I think that temperature is the villain in most dough problems (even General Mills says this is so), followed by the amount of yeast used. If you use high water temperatures (which usually leads to a high finished dough temperature), the dough will rise quite quickly even in the presence of small amounts of yeast. Increase the amount of yeast also, and you will have dough balls that can easily double and even triple, even while in the refrigerator. As chiguy points out, Tom Lehmann is an advocate of low-yeast, low finished dough temperatures and the use of water whose temperature is controlled to yield a finished dough temperature of around 80 degrees F, which is considered optimum for dough fermentation purposes. In a home setting, this is not a sensitive matter, since what difference does it make if the dough doubles or triples while in the refrigerator so long as the pizza turns out OK?

However, in a commercial setting, there are practical reasons for not using a lot of yeast or high finished dough temperatures (and high water temperatures). Dough balls occupy a fair amount of space in the dough trays. If the dough balls expand too much or too quickly, they will require more space in the dough trays. That means more dough trays, and if there are too many dough trays as a result, this means you need more cooler space. You also have to worry whether the dough balls will run into each other and make a big mess. Low yeast usage and low finished dough temperatures means better controlled dough balls and little rising while they are in the cooler (refrigerator). I have made Lehmann doughs that have not risen much at all while in the refrigerator. Occasionally, the rise will be about 25-30%. When you realize that this was all by design to accommodate professional pizza operators, it all starts to make sense. The Lehmann recipe I started with and downsized for home use was a commercial recipe, not a home recipe.

On the question of regular salt versus Kosher salt, whenever a recipe just says salt, you can safely assume that ordinary table salt is intended. When Kosher salt is called for, then you have basically two options: use Kosher salt or determine an equivalent amount of ordinary table salt (or vice versa if you want to convert from table salt to Kosher salt).  Kosher salt in most cases is indeed lighter than ordinary table salt, because of the larger crystalline flakes. It is not uncommon, for example, to see that 1/4 t. of ordinary table salt (the kind that comes in the tubular packages) weighs 1.5 g., and that 1/4 t. of Kosher salt (e.g., Morton's coarse) weighs 1.2 g. The folks at Morton's realize that this can be confusing to ordinary home users, so they will often tell you to use the two salts interchangeably on a 1-for-1 basis, even though there is a 20% difference. Since I have internalized this difference, I usually just make minor adjustments, one way or the other, depending on which salt I am planning to use. I wouldn't worry about the ability or inability of a digital scale to weigh either accurately.

I hope you will now agree, youonlylivetwice, that not only are your questions not stupid, they are very good, thoughtful ones.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2005, 02:10:23 PM by Pete-zza »