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Offline ebenezer1

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Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« on: March 01, 2021, 05:37:07 PM »
hi i've been trying to make nyc pizzas. i bought a pizza steel that is about 5kg, and have been heating it up for about an hour before use.
been looking at this tutorial:

 
pizza 1
pizza on pizza steel, the bottom of this pizza has a more clear and raw look.
this pizza i worked on the dough after it had been in the fridge for around 20 hours. was the pizza steel not hot enough or im not even sure!

pizza 2
the picture on the rack, has a bottom that is just one colour and the pizza is really brittle and hard. i've attached the bottom of that pizza, it is the one that has some leopard spots and looks a bit dusted and crunchy. that was the only pizza where i brought out the dough to heat u before placing sauce on it. this dough was in the fridge for about 40 hours. i brought the dough out and let it rest at room temp. for a bit.
this pizza tastes very brittle and hard, and not soft and nice. it reminds me of pizza I would oven from the supermarket and not like pizza from a shop.


all the pizzas taste homemade. and, they remind me of buying it from supermarkets
i've attached a picture of how dominos pizza looks in the uk. or, is it just me and this is how nyc pizza tastes?
i've attached a pic of pizza on a paper plate, that does not look like what i'm making at home so i can't be making nyc pizza yet!

what are some tips to making my pizza taste not like home made pizza but shop pizza like dominos, pizzahut and other shops. i don't want to buy pizza out again!
also, should the pizza steel be giving me such a colour on the bottom of my pizzas, or is the steel not hot enough because it is quite big.
or, maybe nyc pizza isn't the type of pizza i should be making and dominos and pizza hut is a different type of pizza i don't know about..
Also, they have some sort of oil on top of the pizzas, is that because of the olive oil in the tomato sauce?
« Last Edit: March 01, 2021, 05:44:30 PM by ebenezer1 »

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2021, 11:43:51 PM »
Hey there - you'll find that there quite a few factors that could combine to cause some of the things you're describing. I'd be curious to know:

  • What kind of oven were you using? (Gas or Electric?)
  • Were you using a broiler or the bottom heating element?
  • Were you using the top, middle, or lower rack position relative to the heating element?
  • What temperature was the oven, and how long did you bake the pizzas?

On top of that, it would be nice to know your recipe and ingredients (i.e. type of flour, type of yeast, percentage of hydration, presence of other ingredients such as salt, sugar - if used, oil, etc and their percentages relative to the dough). Those will help others to give you more specific advice. Generally speaking, purely from looking at the pictures you provided and other things you mentioned I would have the following notes:

-Ragusea is alright, but he's a bit imprecise. If I recall from his video when I watched it a while ago, he preferred adding flour to a mix he was kneading until it felt "right" to him and passed the window test, which is a somewhat haphazard way of doing it which will lead to inconsistency. This is difficult when you're first learning because if you're inconsistent it gets harder and harder to nail down which factor was the one that ruined your dough experiment because "feel" isn't always perfect and you might have no idea what's changed.

-You described your pizzas as brittle and hard, closer to grocery store pizzas. I'd say this could be over-baking, it could be low quality flour, it could be too low hydration % for what you're trying to achieve, or some combination of those things.

-Judging by the shape of the 1st pie, and the noticeable fold on the bottom crust in the first two pictures I'd say you probably had a hard time getting the dough off the peel. Those are two telltale signs of a pizza sticking to the peel halfway off and halfway off, getting misshapen as you try to shove it all the way onto the steel. If that's the case the one suggestion that helped me perfect the right technique while lurking this board months ago was to pick up the edge of the crust and blow a nice little burst of air under the pizza while it's on the peel, which will give it a nice hovercraft cushion of air that makes it even easier to slide out onto the steel.

-The Pizza itself looks very overcooked on the top. This is why I was asking about rack position, heating element, and oven temperature. Since the bottom crust doesn't look as nicely done as I'd expect from a steel (even with the fold and imperfections in it) I'd assume that the top of the pizza cooked much faster than the bottom, which forced your hand on removing it from the oven too soon for the bottom to get as crispy as you'd have liked. My guess would be that you have this top rack right near a broiler - which could even be what your pizza steel recommends. Assuming I'm not wrong about that, I'd move the rack/steel one lower and see if the top and bottom get done a bit closer to the same time

It would be difficult to give you more specific actionable advice without first knowing your process, recipe, and ingredients.

Offline ebenezer1

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2021, 01:56:22 AM »
Hey there - you'll find that there quite a few factors that could combine to cause some of the things you're describing. I'd be curious to know:

  • What kind of oven were you using? (Gas or Electric?)
  • Were you using a broiler or the bottom heating element?
  • Were you using the top, middle, or lower rack position relative to the heating element?
  • What temperature was the oven, and how long did you bake the pizzas?

On top of that, it would be nice to know your recipe and ingredients (i.e. type of flour, type of yeast, percentage of hydration, presence of other ingredients such as salt, sugar - if used, oil, etc and their percentages relative to the dough). Those will help others to give you more specific advice. Generally speaking, purely from looking at the pictures you provided and other things you mentioned I would have the following notes:

-Ragusea is alright, but he's a bit imprecise. If I recall from his video when I watched it a while ago, he preferred adding flour to a mix he was kneading until it felt "right" to him and passed the window test, which is a somewhat haphazard way of doing it which will lead to inconsistency. This is difficult when you're first learning because if you're inconsistent it gets harder and harder to nail down which factor was the one that ruined your dough experiment because "feel" isn't always perfect and you might have no idea what's changed.

-You described your pizzas as brittle and hard, closer to grocery store pizzas. I'd say this could be over-baking, it could be low quality flour, it could be too low hydration % for what you're trying to achieve, or some combination of those things.

-Judging by the shape of the 1st pie, and the noticeable fold on the bottom crust in the first two pictures I'd say you probably had a hard time getting the dough off the peel. Those are two telltale signs of a pizza sticking to the peel halfway off and halfway off, getting misshapen as you try to shove it all the way onto the steel. If that's the case the one suggestion that helped me perfect the right technique while lurking this board months ago was to pick up the edge of the crust and blow a nice little burst of air under the pizza while it's on the peel, which will give it a nice hovercraft cushion of air that makes it even easier to slide out onto the steel.

-The Pizza itself looks very overcooked on the top. This is why I was asking about rack position, heating element, and oven temperature. Since the bottom crust doesn't look as nicely done as I'd expect from a steel (even with the fold and imperfections in it) I'd assume that the top of the pizza cooked much faster than the bottom, which forced your hand on removing it from the oven too soon for the bottom to get as crispy as you'd have liked. My guess would be that you have this top rack right near a broiler - which could even be what your pizza steel recommends. Assuming I'm not wrong about that, I'd move the rack/steel one lower and see if the top and bottom get done a bit closer to the same time

It would be difficult to give you more specific actionable advice without first knowing your process, recipe, and ingredients.

wow very detailed! i will list the things you asked for including my ingredients.

- I am using an electric oven
- i was using the bottom heating element, so not the broiler (grill). Not sure if I should be using the broiler!
- i was using one before the top to put the pizza steel on.
- the temp. of the oven was on max, so just after 230 C. I baked the pizza for about 7/9 mins (can't say exact times) .

i made 1 big dough and partionited it into 4 as mentioned in the comment section of adam ragusea's video.
I have attached the measurements down below with small amendments I had made, such as salt for kosher salt.
I'm not sure what type of hydration I have used here.

2 1/4 cups (530 ml) warm water
1 tbsp sugar (12g) sugar
1 tbsp (9g) active dry yeast
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 tbsp (18 g) kosher normal salt
5 cups (600g) bread flour, plus more for working the dough.
(I can't remember the plus more for working dough but it could've been rouhly 100/150 grams more I had to add to the dough because it was really wet with only 600g. (https://groceries.asda.com/product/77326874) this should be the flour I used!
olive oil for greasing the dough in the plastic containers once done. some olive oil was also added to the actual dough when I was adding water and yeast. added the 2 spoons.
https://groceries.asda.com/product/olive-oil/napolina-olive-oil/910002373394

the first pizza on the steel, the pizza dough was left in the fridge for around 20 hours. i worked on it straight from the cold fridge.
I then left the pizza dough of the pizza on the rack in the fridge for 40 hours and brought it into warm water to quickly get it to room temp. and make it easier to work with, as I read online.

cheese is really annoying. this is the one I've been using.
https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/255087569

i also have this cheese but haven't used it yet as it feels quite softer than the first cheese:
https://groceries.asda.com/product/mozzarella-mascarpone/asda-mozzarella-cheese/910001327528

the second pizza on the rack, I mixed the cheese with some of the following cheese
https://groceries.asda.com/product/grated-sliced-cheese/asda-grated-mozzarella-cheese/910001330995

instructions followed:
Start the dough by combining the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for a few minutes.
Add the olive oil and salt and 5 cups (600g) of bread flour.
Mix until just combined, then start kneading.
Add just enough additional flour to keep the dough workable (i.e. not too sticky) and kneed until you can stretch some of the dough into a thin sheet without it tearing.
(NOTE: You will probably need to add a lot more flour. The quantity I give here is just a base line to get your started.)

Divide the dough into four equal balls and put them in four containers (ideally glass) and lightly coat the balls and the interior of their containers with olive oil.
Cover, put them in the refrigerator and let them rise for 1-7 days.

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 12:40:57 AM »
Thanks for the response - I'll try to give you a solid blend of "teach a man to fish" vs. "give a man a fish" (either way, massive post incoming):

Flour: 600g, plus unknown quantity more
(Note: Bread Flour, the one you posted was 12g protein content, this is okay but if you can ever get your hands on one which is even higher go for it)
Water: 530ml = 530g weight
Salt: 18g
Sugar: 12g
ADY: 9g
Oil: 30g

So, if you haven't had a chance to read through some of the threads here on the Lehmann dough recipe such as this one:https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=576.0, I'd highly recommend looking through them - there is some really insightful information to pick out even in those 17 year old threads. When I originally came here I lurked through a lot of those threads and it helped sort of guide me through the do's and don'ts, and if there's any question I can't answer I guarantee Pete-zza has, it's really a treasure trove of information going through some of the stickies in the dough clinic and ny style sections of this board.

Anyway, on to the post -

Recipe Suggestions
One of the things I mentioned about Ragusea's video being imperfect for learners is the difficulty in replicating it multiple times in a row, diagnosing issues, and tweaking it. If, for example I wanted to try out the dough recipe you gave me, it would be impossible for me to correctly duplicate your efforts myself, since who really knows how much flour you added after the original mix. Perhaps a very experienced pizza maker who has been making his dough the same way for years can easily tell by feel via Ragusea's methods, but we're not there yet so it's more important than ever to be precise.

It looks like you're measuring everything by weight more or less - this is also a crucial thing to do, since a well packed cup of flour might take up the same volume as a loosely packed cup of flour and throw your actual flour to water ratio way off without you knowing it. When I am making my dough I weigh my flour and water every time. The smaller ingredients I will often use measuring spoons, since I don't trust my scale's sensitivity on 6 vs 7 grams of yeast for example, and its less likely that the volume of salt or yeast will be far off from its actual weight like flour could be.

So let's talk baker's percentage for a second - this is how we standardize our ratio of four to other ingredients. Beginning with the weight of the flour (which always represents 100% in this case), we weigh out other ingredients, and their weight in relation to the flour is their percentage. Hydration percentage, which is something you'll see talked about a LOT around here is the weight of water in the dough mix relative to the weight of your flour. So for example, with no other ingredients, 100g of flour + 60g of water would be a 60% hydration percentage. Other ingredients affect this calculation, and most people on here will use something like this: https://pizza-dough-calculator.herokuapp.com/calculator in order to calculate the right ratio of ingredients for a new crust they're testing. Since your original weights were so even in terms of flour to water (which would result in a super high hydration %) we can only know that you brought that ratio down, but even if you added 200g of flour while kneading, it would only bring the total hydration % down to maybe like 70% which is still pretty high - I know Ragusea says he favors high hydration doughs, but whether or not you really want high hydration depends on a bunch of other factors. At the minimum, if you have a solid reference point by measuring more accurately, you can adjust this later to match your own tastes/goals with the dough.

I'm rambling but my suggestion to you would be on your next attempt, try out that dough calculator and go with the following settings:

Thickness factor: 0.1
Dough Balls: 2
Shape: Round
Size: 12
Hydration %: 64
Yeast Amount: .5
Preferment: None
Salt: Regular/Sea Salt
Salt Amount %: 2
[Add Ingredient]
Olive Oil %: 2
Bowl Residue Compensation %: 1

This will give you the following amounts:

Flour: 384g
Water: 245g
ADY: 1.9 g (1/2 TSP)
Salt: 7.6g (1 1/3 TSP)
Olive Oil: 7.6g (1 3/4 TSP)

Single Dough Ball = 323g

I'd suggest starting out with that recipe, since it's a strong baseline. If you try it and don't like something about it, it will be easy to tweak it wherever you want by simply adjusting the percentages or adding ingredients (like if you wanted to use sugar or honey, different kinds of yeast, small amounts of yeast, etc.)

Process Suggestions (Making Dough)

Step 1: Your first step is correct for ADY, add the water and yeast together and give it 10 minutes to activate/bloom. Make sure your water isn't too hot, since super hot water can kill the yeast - should be 29c to 37c range I believe.

Step 2: Weigh out your flour in a bowl, add in your salt.

Step 3: Once the yeast+water mixture is ready, if using a stand mixer (I'd recommend this if available just to save time/mess/effort) make sure the water is in the mixing bowl, then add the flour. Some people add this in two stages, but I find that when working with small quantities it doesn't turn out differently if I add it in stages (like half, then knead, then half) or if I do it all at once. Add the flour to the water. Its been proven that adding the flour to the water helps the flour absorb slightly faster, especially when using a stand mixer, so it's a habit I keep. If kneading by hand, just make sure the water is in whatever bowl you want to start mixing in, then add in the flour.

Step 4: Mix or knead the dough until it starts getting pretty solid and smoothing out - add the olive oil and continue kneading. After a few minutes, transfer the dough to a work bench - you shouldn't need to flour your bench at this stage, and I'd recommend against it since it can throw your hydration off especially when working in small quantities. With 64% hydration and 2% olive oil, it shouldn't stick too badly and you should be able to knead until the surface is looking nice and smooth.

Step 5: I skip window pane tests and other things of that nature. If it's looking pretty smooth and I don't see any unincorporated ingredients after a while mixing I move on to portioning - portion your dough balls out, weigh them. The exact amount for the recipe posted above is 323, doesn't have to be flawless, but try to get each close to 320 - don't worry if you have to cut chunks off one and add to the other.

Step 6: Ball the dough. There are a lot of different techniques for doing this. I think Ragusea covers one of them in his video, and it's probably sufficient as long as it produces a smooth ball.

Step 7: Oil your fermentation containers lightly, I like to get a little coating of oil on the dough balls themselves, and then pop them into the fridge.

I'd suggest with that formula a 24+ hour rise in the fridge, 48+ if you want the dough to be really easy to work with. While it's fermenting over the next day or so (can be in there probably 4-6 days) check on it - assuming you have clear containers. You'll see air bubbles start to form all over the dough, which is an excellent sign that the yeast are doing their thing. If those bubbles are totally absent after hours and hours in the fridge, it's a sign that the yeast are not doing their job (they could be dead, they could have been killed by a mishap in any of the pizza steps - for example one time early on I accidentally misread TSP for TBSP and added way too much salt and it was R.I.P. for my poor yeast - that dough did not ferment, it was a total loss).

Process Suggestions (Day of pizza cook)

1. You mentioned that you took the cold dough out of the fridge on the first pizza and made your pizza then put it straight in. For the second pizza, you used warm water to bring the temperature up quickly. I'd recommend neither of these things. When you pre-heat your oven (which you're doing for ~1 hour, right?) take your dough out a bit before you begin that process and just let it sit on your counter top for that hour or so. Once your steel has preheated for long enough, make your pizza and pop it in.

2. How are you opening up your dough when you're making your pizza and prepping for the oven? There are a few techniques for stretching (I know Ragusea uses the gravity stretch, which is okay but there is more to it all) and I could provide some youtube videos from good pizza makers that have a few good examples of some things to try.

3. I didn't see you address your peel or how you're prepping/transferring the pizza to the steel, I might have suggestions for you if you've had any difficulty with this step (which is very common when you're starting out)

Oven/Bake Suggestions

So with your oven as you've described it, I would suggest trying the following:

1. Cook the entire time using your broiler (grill I guess is the UK term?). It should be on the highest setting (usually they default to whatever the hottest possible temp is)

2. Leave your rack position where is it - many pizza steel companies out there will recommend cooking with the broiler and the oven rack on the 2nd position from the top. This has two effects - the surface of your steel will of course absorb the heat from the broiler when pre-heating, so you should be fine there in terms of getting it to temp. and having good oven spring for your pizza. Secondly, since a piping hot steel should cook the bottom of your dough quite quickly, having your cheese and the top of the crust close to the heating element usually helps you get the cook to turn out pretty evenly.

3. Cook time itself is less of a factor, I assume you were not closely timing it originally which is not a problem - watch your pizza closely while it bakes (try not to open the door way too much and let all the heat out of course). A lot of the rules for the oven apply solely to your oven in your home. My electric oven behaves far differently from the gas oven at my brother's house which is night and day different from the gas oven at my parents' house, etc. Watch your pie and make sure to take it out of the oven before the cheese gets uncomfortably burnt. From there you can assess how the bottom cook went, etc.

You're going to need to experiment with your oven and dial your pizza cook in. For example, if you follow the recipe well, cook as I've suggested and the cheese is burning like crazy - forcing you to take the pizza out, but the crust isn't done enough on the bottom yet - move the rack lower and try again. This will put your pizza top farther away from the heating element, and allow it to char slower on top, giving the bottom more time to get crunchy. Likewise, if the bottom is burning quickly before your pizza top is cooked, consider moving it up a notch.

Summary

Alright, my pizza dissertation is complete. Sorry for the longwinded post, but I saw in your pizza some of the things I've worked to correct over the past few months and it's been extremely rewarding to see my efforts come to fruition and great pizzas to start rolling out of the oven, I only hope that you can get there too. For reference, in my home I have an oven that maxes out around 500, it's electric and I'm baking with a 1/4 inch steel using All-Trumps flour and a recipe similar to, but not exactly like the one I posted above and getting excellent results.

My other tip would be to worry about your cheese and sauce second. At a glance, the Tesco mozzarella looks like it's probably pretty decent. Different cheeses in particular may change the character of your pizza quite a bit. After months of hemming and hawing I pulled the trigger on trying out some Grande brand cheese, which is only really sold to restaurants via distributors. It's not even a uniformly loved cheese by the actual restaurant operators on here but the difference vs. the grocery store cheese I was using prior was night and day. The melt changed my bake times and allowed me to get my crust a bit crispier on bottom because it's a more resilient cheese to the heat of my oven. Point is, if I started with the great cheese but hadn't nailed down my crust I really wouldn't have known what I had or appreciated the upgrade to my overall pizza. Get your dough just the way you like it and the pizza world is your oyster - good luck! If you have any questions I'll try to answer. There is always a smarter and more experienced member of this forum around though - my word is not gospel, seek out the advice of others here and find out what works for you.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 12:54:25 AM by sal951 »

Offline ebenezer1

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  • Posts: 11
  • Location: uk
  • I Love Pizza!
Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 01:46:48 AM »
Thanks for the response - I'll try to give you a solid blend of "teach a man to fish" vs. "give a man a fish" (either way, massive post incoming):

Flour: 600g, plus unknown quantity more
(Note: Bread Flour, the one you posted was 12g protein content, this is okay but if you can ever get your hands on one which is even higher go for it)
Water: 530ml = 530g weight
Salt: 18g
Sugar: 12g
ADY: 9g
Oil: 30g

So, if you haven't had a chance to read through some of the threads here on the Lehmann dough recipe such as this one:https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=576.0, I'd highly recommend looking through them - there is some really insightful information to pick out even in those 17 year old threads. When I originally came here I lurked through a lot of those threads and it helped sort of guide me through the do's and don'ts, and if there's any question I can't answer I guarantee Pete-zza has, it's really a treasure trove of information going through some of the stickies in the dough clinic and ny style sections of this board.

Anyway, on to the post -

Recipe Suggestions
One of the things I mentioned about Ragusea's video being imperfect for learners is the difficulty in replicating it multiple times in a row, diagnosing issues, and tweaking it. If, for example I wanted to try out the dough recipe you gave me, it would be impossible for me to correctly duplicate your efforts myself, since who really knows how much flour you added after the original mix. Perhaps a very experienced pizza maker who has been making his dough the same way for years can easily tell by feel via Ragusea's methods, but we're not there yet so it's more important than ever to be precise.

It looks like you're measuring everything by weight more or less - this is also a crucial thing to do, since a well packed cup of flour might take up the same volume as a loosely packed cup of flour and throw your actual flour to water ratio way off without you knowing it. When I am making my dough I weigh my flour and water every time. The smaller ingredients I will often use measuring spoons, since I don't trust my scale's sensitivity on 6 vs 7 grams of yeast for example, and its less likely that the volume of salt or yeast will be far off from its actual weight like flour could be.

So let's talk baker's percentage for a second - this is how we standardize our ratio of four to other ingredients. Beginning with the weight of the flour (which always represents 100% in this case), we weigh out other ingredients, and their weight in relation to the flour is their percentage. Hydration percentage, which is something you'll see talked about a LOT around here is the weight of water in the dough mix relative to the weight of your flour. So for example, with no other ingredients, 100g of flour + 60g of water would be a 60% hydration percentage. Other ingredients affect this calculation, and most people on here will use something like this: https://pizza-dough-calculator.herokuapp.com/calculator in order to calculate the right ratio of ingredients for a new crust they're testing. Since your original weights were so even in terms of flour to water (which would result in a super high hydration %) we can only know that you brought that ratio down, but even if you added 200g of flour while kneading, it would only bring the total hydration % down to maybe like 70% which is still pretty high - I know Ragusea says he favors high hydration doughs, but whether or not you really want high hydration depends on a bunch of other factors. At the minimum, if you have a solid reference point by measuring more accurately, you can adjust this later to match your own tastes/goals with the dough.

I'm rambling but my suggestion to you would be on your next attempt, try out that dough calculator and go with the following settings:

Thickness factor: 0.1
Dough Balls: 2
Shape: Round
Size: 12
Hydration %: 64
Yeast Amount: .5
Preferment: None
Salt: Regular/Sea Salt
Salt Amount %: 2
[Add Ingredient]
Olive Oil %: 2
Bowl Residue Compensation %: 1

This will give you the following amounts:

Flour: 384g
Water: 245g
ADY: 1.9 g (1/2 TSP)
Salt: 7.6g (1 1/3 TSP)
Olive Oil: 7.6g (1 3/4 TSP)

Single Dough Ball = 323g

I'd suggest starting out with that recipe, since it's a strong baseline. If you try it and don't like something about it, it will be easy to tweak it wherever you want by simply adjusting the percentages or adding ingredients (like if you wanted to use sugar or honey, different kinds of yeast, small amounts of yeast, etc.)

Process Suggestions (Making Dough)

Step 1: Your first step is correct for ADY, add the water and yeast together and give it 10 minutes to activate/bloom. Make sure your water isn't too hot, since super hot water can kill the yeast - should be 29c to 37c range I believe.

Step 2: Weigh out your flour in a bowl, add in your salt.

Step 3: Once the yeast+water mixture is ready, if using a stand mixer (I'd recommend this if available just to save time/mess/effort) make sure the water is in the mixing bowl, then add the flour. Some people add this in two stages, but I find that when working with small quantities it doesn't turn out differently if I add it in stages (like half, then knead, then half) or if I do it all at once. Add the flour to the water. Its been proven that adding the flour to the water helps the flour absorb slightly faster, especially when using a stand mixer, so it's a habit I keep. If kneading by hand, just make sure the water is in whatever bowl you want to start mixing in, then add in the flour.

Step 4: Mix or knead the dough until it starts getting pretty solid and smoothing out - add the olive oil and continue kneading. After a few minutes, transfer the dough to a work bench - you shouldn't need to flour your bench at this stage, and I'd recommend against it since it can throw your hydration off especially when working in small quantities. With 64% hydration and 2% olive oil, it shouldn't stick too badly and you should be able to knead until the surface is looking nice and smooth.

Step 5: I skip window pane tests and other things of that nature. If it's looking pretty smooth and I don't see any unincorporated ingredients after a while mixing I move on to portioning - portion your dough balls out, weigh them. The exact amount for the recipe posted above is 323, doesn't have to be flawless, but try to get each close to 320 - don't worry if you have to cut chunks off one and add to the other.

Step 6: Ball the dough. There are a lot of different techniques for doing this. I think Ragusea covers one of them in his video, and it's probably sufficient as long as it produces a smooth ball.

Step 7: Oil your fermentation containers lightly, I like to get a little coating of oil on the dough balls themselves, and then pop them into the fridge.

I'd suggest with that formula a 24+ hour rise in the fridge, 48+ if you want the dough to be really easy to work with. While it's fermenting over the next day or so (can be in there probably 4-6 days) check on it - assuming you have clear containers. You'll see air bubbles start to form all over the dough, which is an excellent sign that the yeast are doing their thing. If those bubbles are totally absent after hours and hours in the fridge, it's a sign that the yeast are not doing their job (they could be dead, they could have been killed by a mishap in any of the pizza steps - for example one time early on I accidentally misread TSP for TBSP and added way too much salt and it was R.I.P. for my poor yeast - that dough did not ferment, it was a total loss).

Process Suggestions (Day of pizza cook)

1. You mentioned that you took the cold dough out of the fridge on the first pizza and made your pizza then put it straight in. For the second pizza, you used warm water to bring the temperature up quickly. I'd recommend neither of these things. When you pre-heat your oven (which you're doing for ~1 hour, right?) take your dough out a bit before you begin that process and just let it sit on your counter top for that hour or so. Once your steel has preheated for long enough, make your pizza and pop it in.

2. How are you opening up your dough when you're making your pizza and prepping for the oven? There are a few techniques for stretching (I know Ragusea uses the gravity stretch, which is okay but there is more to it all) and I could provide some youtube videos from good pizza makers that have a few good examples of some things to try.

3. I didn't see you address your peel or how you're prepping/transferring the pizza to the steel, I might have suggestions for you if you've had any difficulty with this step (which is very common when you're starting out)

Oven/Bake Suggestions

So with your oven as you've described it, I would suggest trying the following:

1. Cook the entire time using your broiler (grill I guess is the UK term?). It should be on the highest setting (usually they default to whatever the hottest possible temp is)

2. Leave your rack position where is it - many pizza steel companies out there will recommend cooking with the broiler and the oven rack on the 2nd position from the top. This has two effects - the surface of your steel will of course absorb the heat from the broiler when pre-heating, so you should be fine there in terms of getting it to temp. and having good oven spring for your pizza. Secondly, since a piping hot steel should cook the bottom of your dough quite quickly, having your cheese and the top of the crust close to the heating element usually helps you get the cook to turn out pretty evenly.

3. Cook time itself is less of a factor, I assume you were not closely timing it originally which is not a problem - watch your pizza closely while it bakes (try not to open the door way too much and let all the heat out of course). A lot of the rules for the oven apply solely to your oven in your home. My electric oven behaves far differently from the gas oven at my brother's house which is night and day different from the gas oven at my parents' house, etc. Watch your pie and make sure to take it out of the oven before the cheese gets uncomfortably burnt. From there you can assess how the bottom cook went, etc.

You're going to need to experiment with your oven and dial your pizza cook in. For example, if you follow the recipe well, cook as I've suggested and the cheese is burning like crazy - forcing you to take the pizza out, but the crust isn't done enough on the bottom yet - move the rack lower and try again. This will put your pizza top farther away from the heating element, and allow it to char slower on top, giving the bottom more time to get crunchy. Likewise, if the bottom is burning quickly before your pizza top is cooked, consider moving it up a notch.

Summary

Alright, my pizza dissertation is complete. Sorry for the longwinded post, but I saw in your pizza some of the things I've worked to correct over the past few months and it's been extremely rewarding to see my efforts come to fruition and great pizzas to start rolling out of the oven, I only hope that you can get there too. For reference, in my home I have an oven that maxes out around 500, it's electric and I'm baking with a 1/4 inch steel using All-Trumps flour and a recipe similar to, but not exactly like the one I posted above and getting excellent results.

My other tip would be to worry about your cheese and sauce second. At a glance, the Tesco mozzarella looks like it's probably pretty decent. Different cheeses in particular may change the character of your pizza quite a bit. After months of hemming and hawing I pulled the trigger on trying out some Grande brand cheese, which is only really sold to restaurants via distributors. It's not even a uniformly loved cheese by the actual restaurant operators on here but the difference vs. the grocery store cheese I was using prior was night and day. The melt changed my bake times and allowed me to get my crust a bit crispier on bottom because it's a more resilient cheese to the heat of my oven. Point is, if I started with the great cheese but hadn't nailed down my crust I really wouldn't have known what I had or appreciated the upgrade to my overall pizza. Get your dough just the way you like it and the pizza world is your oyster - good luck! If you have any questions I'll try to answer. There is always a smarter and more experienced member of this forum around though - my word is not gospel, seek out the advice of others here and find out what works for you.

This is an extremely detailed answer and I will be making this dough later in the afternoon, in the next 10 hours when it's 4pm.

- When preparing for the oven, I did try the gracity stretch for the first pizza.
for the second pizza I tried out what was being done from 8mins of this video. of course I can't get it as thin and long because 1. the dough was shrinking and 2. my pizza steel isn't large enough.
https://youtu.be/t4t3bqb_91E?t=490

- On the peel, I lightly dust it with some flour, top my pizza on the peel. as i'm topping the pizza, I continue shaking the peel to ensure it doesn't stick and then i shimmy it onto the pizza steel. I have spilt cheese onto the steel twice now, on both occasions using it! When cleaning the steel I actually scracthed it and it now has marks, it hasn't been very easy to transfer the pizza onto the steel!

I don't really cook with my broiler open but then again it is rarely used and I've read closed or open is okay, is this one of those times where I must close the broiler when cooking?
I'm not too sure what my oven reccomends on opening or closing the door, and this is going to be a very hot steel, will this create problems?

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Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 03:39:08 AM »
For stretching the pizza out, gravity stretching should work fine, the method in that video is also a good one. If you find that the dough is recoiling on itself a bit much, that's usually a sign of either being too cold still or being underfermented. The longer your dough has to ferment in the fridge, the softer and more pliable it will be in a couple of days when you're ready. The warmer you get the dough before stretching it the easier that process will be, though I believe (and someone could correct me if I've imagined this Tom Lehmann recommended letting it warm up to at least around 50F or 10C before stretching, so it doesn't have to be super warm.

For the peel, whether you have a metal one or wooden one, I find that the best tip I got on this forum was to pick up the edge of my crust and blow a quick and stiff burst of air under there. Creates a pocket of air that the pizza can slide on a bit (and if you're not careful, it'll slide right off onto the floor if you don't hold it level). It makes transferring to the steel much easier. I had a really hard time doing it when I first started - I was spilling stuff left and right, getting misshapen crusts bunching up on one end, all sorts of stuff. Finally I figured out the right tricks and everything has been smooth sailing ever since.

When it comes to the broiler, I leave my oven closed while cooking. I read on the instructions for my steel to leave the oven door open a crack, with the reasoning being that the broiler (being electric and all) cycles on and off, and leaving the oven door open ensures that it doesn't cycle off. I'm quite certain that if I did that and the broiler stayed on 100% of the time while cooking my pizza, the top would be a charred mess before the bottom ever reached the level of crispiness I like, so I let it cycle normally with the door closed. Of course, opening the door a couple of times to check on the color of the cheese and top of the crust eventually kicks on the broiler cycle anyway, and it cooks noticeably faster once that happens so I have to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

Attached two pictures - first one is a pizza I made for my kids on Monday using Grande 50/50 mozz/provolone blend and extra cheese, which was cooked in my home oven which is electric. Second one was baked in my parents' gas convection oven using the gas broiler and a normal store bought mozzarella similar to the one you're using. I'd love to see if the ones you end up making in the next couple of days wind up similar to these, since that would mean you're set on the right track. (Ignore the orange-ish look of the first one, that's simply bad lighting)

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 03:45:15 AM »
Also, for reference - these are the same pie as the 1st one posted above. I took them while it was baking to give an idea (and because I had to open the oven and pop a bubble in the center of the dough before it got too big). Note the broiler coil on top is dark in the first pic, but in the 2nd by the time I opened the door once or twice it cycled on and was red hot. That got the top bubbling and sizzling in a hurry.

Offline ebenezer1

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 06:46:27 AM »
Also, for reference - these are the same pie as the 1st one posted above. I took them while it was baking to give an idea (and because I had to open the oven and pop a bubble in the center of the dough before it got too big). Note the broiler coil on top is dark in the first pic, but in the 2nd by the time I opened the door once or twice it cycled on and was red hot. That got the top bubbling and sizzling in a hurry.

Making the dough very soon... quick question before I go silent for a day or so to go and make this! How do you actually lay out your dough before adding sauce and cheese? Are you folding up the crusts or are you just stretching as normal?

Modifying post now...
First 2 should be before it was divided and rounded into balls.

I feel as if the dough isn't going to ferment properly because of the volume of the container. maybe the container is too small!
containers are normal home takeaway containers like so:
https://gopackagingproducts.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Black-bg-25.jpg

I could only get it to 313g and 316g of dough into each container   ;)
Also, when I was tasting some of the bits of the dough after, it tasted quite salty (in a tasty way). When measuring a tablespoon, I did try to be a little more conservative with the amount of salt and even yeast I put on the spoon.

Feeling hopeful!
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 08:21:46 AM by ebenezer1 »

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 10:49:24 AM »
Stretching normally - I'll do the following:

-Put some flour down on my bench area
-Plop the dough out of the container in the flour, sprinkle some on top to cover it
-Press down in the middle like seen in this video: https://youtu.be/9f9-xTcKzZo?t=52 (from roughly 52 seconds to 1:26)
-Stretching wise, I can do all of the major techniques but my go to is what he describes at 2:15 roughly, laying the dough on the back of my knuckles and shimmying it around like that. I'll give it a few spins to open it up, and if I feel that the crust is too dense I'll switch over to doing a very quick gravity stretch while pulling the rim open more. If my dough has fermented for a long time and is very soft and I'm nervous of tearing I'll do the two hand spinning on the bench stretch or slapping it back over one hand like you see a lot of the Neapolitan guys do. I'd say just figure out something that works for you right now and go with it, get more adventurous as you go
-I stretch, then transfer to my lightly floured peel, add sauce/cheese/toppings, slide it onto the steel to bake.

Your container is fine, in a pinch (aka not wanting to do the dishes on the dirty container from earlier that day) I've fermented in smaller ones. All that really happens is the dough is a bit more cramped and might have more of the shape of the container when you plop it out to stretch on your bench, but that's not really a problem. I mean maybe if you're looking for a flawless circle with a 3.14 circumference to diameter ratio it would be a problem, since you'll maybe have one side that's flatter because it was up against the container edge, but all neuroses aside it will not harm your end product to ferment in a more cramped container. You mentioned saltiness and table spoons in your post - the measurements I posted were in tea spoons so I just wanted to mention and check that we're talking about the same thing, because a tablespoon of salt in this amount of dough will kill your yeast.

Looks good though overall, keep checking in after 12 or so hours on the bottom of the dough ball in the container - it should be developing some nice small little bubble spots. Hopefully in 24-48 hours you'll get a successful experiment result, and if not we'll hopefully have a clear idea of what went wrong at least to adjust. Good luck!

Edit: I might make a pizza this evening for dinner, if so I'll try to bother my wife for some pictures of technique/setup to give a clearer idea of what I mean. I added a picture of what I've currently got in the fridge - it's on day 4 and a similar recipe to the one you're using - same hydration percentage and salt content, it's instant dry yeast and a slightly larger dough ball size but this many bubbles I think it's essentially perfect right now on the edge of maybe being a bit overfermented (which isn't necessarily a problem, I've gone 7-8 days before with this same formula) bubbles after 12-24 hours will be smaller but they'll still be there.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 11:04:11 AM by sal951 »

Offline ebenezer1

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 12:00:27 PM »
Stretching normally - I'll do the following:

-Put some flour down on my bench area
-Plop the dough out of the container in the flour, sprinkle some on top to cover it
-Press down in the middle like seen in this video: https://youtu.be/9f9-xTcKzZo?t=52 (from roughly 52 seconds to 1:26)
-Stretching wise, I can do all of the major techniques but my go to is what he describes at 2:15 roughly, laying the dough on the back of my knuckles and shimmying it around like that. I'll give it a few spins to open it up, and if I feel that the crust is too dense I'll switch over to doing a very quick gravity stretch while pulling the rim open more. If my dough has fermented for a long time and is very soft and I'm nervous of tearing I'll do the two hand spinning on the bench stretch or slapping it back over one hand like you see a lot of the Neapolitan guys do. I'd say just figure out something that works for you right now and go with it, get more adventurous as you go
-I stretch, then transfer to my lightly floured peel, add sauce/cheese/toppings, slide it onto the steel to bake.

Your container is fine, in a pinch (aka not wanting to do the dishes on the dirty container from earlier that day) I've fermented in smaller ones. All that really happens is the dough is a bit more cramped and might have more of the shape of the container when you plop it out to stretch on your bench, but that's not really a problem. I mean maybe if you're looking for a flawless circle with a 3.14 circumference to diameter ratio it would be a problem, since you'll maybe have one side that's flatter because it was up against the container edge, but all neuroses aside it will not harm your end product to ferment in a more cramped container. You mentioned saltiness and table spoons in your post - the measurements I posted were in tea spoons so I just wanted to mention and check that we're talking about the same thing, because a tablespoon of salt in this amount of dough will kill your yeast.

Looks good though overall, keep checking in after 12 or so hours on the bottom of the dough ball in the container - it should be developing some nice small little bubble spots. Hopefully in 24-48 hours you'll get a successful experiment result, and if not we'll hopefully have a clear idea of what went wrong at least to adjust. Good luck!

Edit: I might make a pizza this evening for dinner, if so I'll try to bother my wife for some pictures of technique/setup to give a clearer idea of what I mean. I added a picture of what I've currently got in the fridge - it's on day 4 and a similar recipe to the one you're using - same hydration percentage and salt content, it's instant dry yeast and a slightly larger dough ball size but this many bubbles I think it's essentially perfect right now on the edge of maybe being a bit overfermented (which isn't necessarily a problem, I've gone 7-8 days before with this same formula) bubbles after 12-24 hours will be smaller but they'll still be there.

Those bubbles look nice and lovely!
can't wait to see how yours comes out.

when i tried my grill out, it doesn't seem to work closed! Only open, that's when the top elements heats up and goes orange!

my steel just stays in my oven.
a picture of my grill and oven.

what would you say I do now?
want to ensure I am all set up for doing this right!


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Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #10 on: Yesterday at 01:21:52 PM »
Would I be right in assuming that the broiler/grill itself is in the lower picture (IMG_0420) and that it's in the upper (smaller) portion of a double oven? This is why it can be difficult to give exact instructions since there is such variety with different home ovens.

I'd say that whichever portion of the oven contains the broiler/grill and can heat from the top, that's where you should have your steel. So for example, if the heating element is in the top of the (IMG_0419) picture, I'd keep the steel exactly where it is and try it out. If the heating element is in the top of (IMG_0420) then I'd try out having the steel sit on the rack in that lower position.

In terms of the door needing to stay open - does it not heat up at all unless the door is open, or does it cycle on and off if the door is closed? Cycling on and off is fine, I've never seen a broiler that wouldn't generate heat at all unless the oven door is open, that would be a first for me. If it absolutely needs to stay open in order to generate any heat at all, then by all means try it out, but if it's just a matter of whether or not the heating element stays on 100% of the time I wouldn't worry about the cycles off as long as the oven itself is getting hot and heating up your steel to the proper temperature.

The oven portion of it will be trial and error. When I first tried mine out, I had it one rack too high and the cheese was burning before the bottom was cooked. I moved it much lower and then the crust was getting singed on the bottom but the crust on top was pretty pale and not getting cooked as well as I'd like. It took a few pizzas to figure out what worked best for me. If your oven has a convection fan I'd suggest trying the bake with that turned on as well (if possible). I've had a lot of good results keeping things even in my parents' gas oven with a convection fan.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 01:25:10 PM by sal951 »

Offline ebenezer1

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 02:06:55 PM »
Would I be right in assuming that the broiler/grill itself is in the lower picture (IMG_0420) and that it's in the upper (smaller) portion of a double oven? This is why it can be difficult to give exact instructions since there is such variety with different home ovens.

I'd say that whichever portion of the oven contains the broiler/grill and can heat from the top, that's where you should have your steel. So for example, if the heating element is in the top of the (IMG_0419) picture, I'd keep the steel exactly where it is and try it out. If the heating element is in the top of (IMG_0420) then I'd try out having the steel sit on the rack in that lower position.

In terms of the door needing to stay open - does it not heat up at all unless the door is open, or does it cycle on and off if the door is closed? Cycling on and off is fine, I've never seen a broiler that wouldn't generate heat at all unless the oven door is open, that would be a first for me. If it absolutely needs to stay open in order to generate any heat at all, then by all means try it out, but if it's just a matter of whether or not the heating element stays on 100% of the time I wouldn't worry about the cycles off as long as the oven itself is getting hot and heating up your steel to the proper temperature.

The oven portion of it will be trial and error. When I first tried mine out, I had it one rack too high and the cheese was burning before the bottom was cooked. I moved it much lower and then the crust was getting singed on the bottom but the crust on top was pretty pale and not getting cooked as well as I'd like. It took a few pizzas to figure out what worked best for me. If your oven has a convection fan I'd suggest trying the bake with that turned on as well (if possible). I've had a lot of good results keeping things even in my parents' gas oven with a convection fan.

Yes, IMG_0420 is the broiler, it has the heat source at the top. this is right under the stove. under the broiler is IMG_0419, the larger part of the double oven.
I have been using the half in IMG_0419 so far, with the steel in that position. I will do it with the broiler with my next, I can't tell if the broiler stays on or alternates on and off when it is closed. All, I can tell is that when that broiler door is left open, the rods on top go really orange and stay orange.

ONE LINE EDIT: I opened my broiler and for like 8 mins the heat source on top stayed at a constant colour of orange/ red. When I then closed it, the heat source within a few seconds lost its orange/ red colour. IMG_0424 - JUST AFTER OPENING FOR MAYBE 60 SECONDS. IMG_0423 - TAKEN RIGHT AFTER OPENING DOOR

Will await to see how your one comes out!

Making pizza is fun, thanks for your help so far!
One does hope he is not taking up too much of your busy time!
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 02:23:13 PM by ebenezer1 »

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 02:58:43 PM »
That all makes sense, and yeah I'd try it in the upper portion under the broiler/grill and the lower rack position out of the two. Sounds like it's heating up at least if the door is closed - just it cycles on and off as electric does. This shouldn't be a problem. As long as you can keep the door closed and it will pre-heat that steel to it's max temperature it likely won't matter if the element turns off while the pizza is in there baking. My suspicion is that if your maximum temperature was around 450 or 500F (230-260C) then you'd probably be better off leaving the door shut and letting it cycle on and off - having it on 100% of the time that close to the top of the pizza will probably cook the top faster than you want and leave the bottom a little less crunchy than you're going for.

It's all guesswork though - it really is fun going through the trial and error of it, I never knew how much there was to learn until I decided to give it a go. I consider the time spent doing it and helping others where I can time well spent. You may find once you've mastered this crust and figured out what's best in your oven that it's a pretty big world of stuff to try out. I've done Sicilian pizzas, pan pizzas, cracker style, bar style, etc. since I figured out a decent NY/American style. Only thing I'm limited on is Neapolitan. Maybe someday I'll build a backyard wood fired oven and get those 90 second 900 degree bakes but for now it's fun to see pizzas coming out with restaurant quality - I have high hopes for the ones you're going to attempt. I just hope I've done as good of a job imparting information half as well as some of the long tenured posters around here.

While you're waiting around for your dough to be ready, here's a video I would recommend quite a bit:


Tom Lehmann was a disciple of pizza dough, and he's one of the reasons this forum is the place that it is. Not everything in this video will apply to you or me in the home setting, but Tom will never steer you wrong and there are some conceptual things I took out of videos like this when I was starting which were very helpful to me.

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 03:06:41 PM »
Good follow-up to that first video:


Offline ebenezer1

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 04:41:11 PM »
Good follow-up to that first video:



Will check out the videos! Wow, that man is legendary after searching some stuff up on him!
Put some grocery store pizza pan in grill with door closed for maybe an hour, didn't go past warm! I could touch the pan and it didn't burn me, just felt warm!

It really only works with the door open unfortunately. I will probably have to experiment by alternating between open grill door for preheating steel and close grill door for cooking.

Quote
As long as you can keep the door closed and it will pre-heat that steel to it's max temperature it likely won't matter if the element turns off while the pizza is in there baking. My suspicion is that if your maximum temperature was around 450 or 500F (230-260C) then you'd probably be better off leaving the door shut and letting it cycle on and off - having it on 100% of the time that close to the top of the pizza will probably cook the top faster than you want and leave the bottom a little less crunchy than you're going for.

Do you have any amendments to the suggesstions above based on my findings?

Maybe a steel only keep open for 30 mins, close for 30 mins, and then put pizza on steel with door open for 4 mins and door closed for remaining time could work  ?  ;)

This really is a science  :D

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Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #15 on: Yesterday at 05:49:39 PM »
Hmm... if its only possibly turns on when the door is open I'd say open it a crack (letting as little air escape as possible) and preheat the steel that way. When you put the pizza in, I'd try it both ways (one where you leave the door ajar most of the cooking process, one where you close it and maybe only open it once the crust is looking good on the bottom and you want to bake the top better.

If it's too much of a hassle, you'll be able to bake with the lower oven but I'd say experiment with the upper first, I've had better results overall with broilers and steel vs. normal heating elements.

Attached is a compilation of the pizzas for this evening. For the step narration or whatever I'd say:

1. Sprinkling dough on my work area
2. Spreading it out a bit
3. Put dough ball down in the flour, sprinkled some on top, rubbed it in
4. 1 handed version of starting to squish the center flat
5. Progression of that effort before beginning stretching
6. Stretched out and ready to transfer to the peel
7. On the peel, sauced and cheesed
8. Bake results
9. Crumb cross-section

One thing I'll note is that I've had a lot of air bubbles in my dough the past few times I've made it - not just at the edges but in the middle. This is usually a sign that the dough is too cold when it was popped in the oven, and I'm sure that's it because I wasn't always being 100% patient. Some people really despise them, I'm alright with em.


Offline foreplease

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #16 on: Today at 08:19:32 AM »
Sal, what patience and generosity you have shown a new forum member - and you are relatively new yourself. Great job and welcome to you both.
-Tony

Offline sal951

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Re: Pizza making help with steel, dough, texture everything
« Reply #17 on: Today at 10:54:03 AM »
Sal, what patience and generosity you have shown a new forum member - and you are relatively new yourself. Great job and welcome to you both.

Hey I'm just trying to give back a tiny amount of what all the longtime posters on here have given me - yourself included. I only joined back in January but I was reading these boards as a guest for months and digging through old threads, finding tips and tricks - nuggets of information I'd have taken forever to figure out by myself. I've never seen a place as full of great information as this, where the posts dating back 17 years aren't all archived and hard to find. It's like the ancient library of Alexandria for pizza!

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