Author Topic: how 'perfect' is the surface of your dough when it comes out of the fridge?  (Read 2386 times)

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Offline youonlylivetwice

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I use a fairly high hydration, around 63.5%, and generally let it go 3-4 days in the fridge.  The problem I seem to be having more recently is that it has expanded such that it is really not a ball anymore when I pull it out of the fridge.  It has relaxed and in trying to get it out of the bowl I really mess up the surface of the dough.  It is apparent on stretching and cooking where I badly distorted the dough.  I think a lower hydration would help, but that seems like going the wrong direction on one thing to fix another.  Should the dough be doubling in size in the fridge?  or do most of you see a lot less expansion in the fridge, and more in the last hour or two as it warms before being baked?
thanks for any ideas!

Offline Pete-zza

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I don't know what specific NY dough formulation you are using, but your experience seems quite typical for a high-hydration NY style dough.

I often carefully observe my NY style doughs during their complete lifespan up to the point of use in order to detect patterns that might help me in future efforts, or simply to be able to learn enough to be able to answer questions like yours.

Depending on the formulation itself (mainly the amount of yeast) and the finished dough temperature, it is common to expect some rise in the dough after being placed in the refrigerator. Since it takes about a half hour for the yeast to start working, and since the dough often is placed in the refrigerator right after the dough has been made, you will usually not see a significant rise, if any, within the first hour or so. It will be like watching paint dry. Depending mainly on the amount of yeast used and the dough's temperature while in the refrigerator, the dough will often then noticeably increase in volume. After the passage of sufficient time, and certainly 3-4 days would qualify as "sufficient", the dough will often then flatten out, and especially if it is in an unbounded container such as a zip-type storage bag. It is also likely that the dough will become wet and a bit sticky. The reason these things happen is because the enzymes in the flour/dough, mainly protease enzymes, attack the gluten and relax and soften it. Water is also often released, creating some wetness in the dough. I might add that the higher the hydration the greater these effects, because high hydration doughs ferment faster.  At this juncture, handling the dough, including the simple step of removing the dough from its container, can become a problem. And, as you noted, some of the imperfections you introduce at this point can carry through to the finished skin.

In terms of the amount of dough expansion you can reasonably expect, doubling or otherwise, will largely be dictated by the amount of yeast used and the temperature of the dough at its different stages. I have made what seemed to me to be identical doughs yet got different results in terms of dough expansion. Dough will behave differently at different times of year and water (tap) temperatures and refrigerator temperatures will vary seasonally. I have had winter doughs rise hardly at all while in the refrigerator yet produce very good results. But, on average, my doughs tend to increase by about 1 1/2 to to 2 times. Sometimes it is hard to tell because the dough will first rise and then flatten out, as discussed above. In almost all cases, the doughs behave similarly and end up at about the same point when they have been allowed to warm up in preparation for shaping, stretching, etc. It may take longer in winter than in summer, but that is what the laws of thermodynamics say should happen. I sometimes use a thermometer to check the dough temperature and use the dough when it gets to the desired temperature.

In your case, you may want to investigate better ways of holding your dough during fermentation. I usually use a fairly large metal container with a tight fitting lid (I use a lidded cookie tin). I am able usually to remove the dough without significantly maiming it. I often just turn the tin upside down and tap the bottom to let the dough fall out. I like zip-type bags also but I have discovered that it is hard to remove the dough after 3-4 days because of the flattening and spreading, and the wetness. In these case, I try to place my hand under the dough as gently as I can and then slowly retract the dough from the bag. The bigger the bag, the easier it is to do this.


Offline tonymark

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The problem I seem to be having more recently is that it has expanded such that it is really not a ball anymore when I pull it out of the fridge.  It has relaxed and in trying to get it out of the bowl I really mess up the surface of the dough.  It is apparent on stretching and cooking where I badly distorted the dough. 

I have had this problem numerous times, but I think I have figured it out.  I have started using the Glad brand "Big Bowl." (6 cups each)  I saw Jeff using these and thought I would give it a try.  (I actually prefer a #2 rubbermaid, but I can no longer find these.)  The Glad bowls are a little deeper than I like, but I can make them work.   I lightly oil bowl before I put in the prepared dough ball.  I leave balls (really discs at this point) in container for 1-2 hours after removal from fridge.  Right before taking them out I dust the tops of balls lightly with flour.  I then loosen the edges and turn (tilted) to work a little flour around the edge.  I then flip over and lightly pull on the edges while turning the bowl so that the last thing part to release is the middle of the dough ball.  As I am sure you have learned, if the last part released is the side, the ball deforms out of a circular shape.  Once on work bench, I just flatten a little  to widen disc and stretch.

I hope this helps,

Making Pizza is not cooking, it is Performance Art!

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Thanks TM.  I do something similar... I do lightly flour the top of the dough while in the bowl, but it seems no matter what I try to do when it comes to getting underneath the dough i get all sorts of creases and seams in it, and that carries over to the final disk.  I don't want to deflate it, but it completely loses any look of a smooth surface.  and then on stretching it only gets worse.  Seems this is a new problem for me, must be a combination of factors. 
I am going to try cooler water on initial mixing, and see if I can get it to rise less in the fridge and hopefully it will still take on a good texture if I give it 2-3 hours to warm before baking..... we'll see.....


Offline Glutenboy

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Suggestion: Works well for me.
Instead of rising the dough in a bowl, clear a shelf in the fridge, put down something like cardboard to cover the metal grate (assuming your shelves are like mine), and rise the dough in oiled ziplock bags (1 gal size is easily big enough for dough that has been portioned).  The bags have a better seal than you can get with a covered bowl and you can cut the top of the bag when ready to fully expose the dough and easily extract it with minimal DRT (dough-related trauma).  I had similar issues, but since I've been using this technique, my pizzas are round and lovely.

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Quote under my pic excludes Little Caesar's.


Offline Kinsman

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I ferment the whole thing in one big lump; then I knead lightly and portion into balls.
The balls sit on the counter for a little while before they get shaped and tossed.  I think the texture on my pies is perfect, and I like 'cysts'.
Chris Rausch

Long Riders BBQ
Florence, Montana