Author Topic: Varying crust consistency  (Read 1746 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline rezman

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 4
Varying crust consistency
« on: April 11, 2007, 01:08:36 AM »
My pizzas are fairly consistent.  The one things that seems to vary, however, is the texture of the outer crust.  Sometimes it has large air bubbles and a very open and airy texture (the way I happen to like it) and other times it has a denser more bread-like consistency.  Does anyone have an idea as to why this is happening?  I can't think of anything major that changes from pie to pie.  I am using the Lehman calculator with with a 63 percent hydration and all of the other measurements right down the middle of the ranges.

I guess my other question is what effect modifying the percentage of the various ingredients has on the final product.  For example, if I use a particular percentage of yeast, but double the amount of sugar I usually use, what would be the effect.

Thanks to anyone who can help.

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3223
  • Age: 46
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Varying crust consistency
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2007, 05:48:21 AM »
rezman.  That first one, my friend, is the big question!!!

Almost every pizzeria I find has the same issues as you, even the big famous ones.  I know Chris Bianco admits that his pies change from day to day, and that guy is serious about his work.

I think every factor effects the final consistency, but I have a hunch that mainly it has to do with your mixing technique, how fermented the dough is, and how long it has been since the dough was previously handled (forming balls, shaping the skin, or mixing).  Of course how hot your oven is, how you handle the dough, and a million other variables factor in as well.

I know using a wild yeast starter makes it even tougher to be consistent. 

Hand kneading has helped me get in touch with when the dough is ready. 

So far I have only been able to get a more consistent product by practice practice practice . You start to learn how to read the signs the dough is giving you. It scares me though, that all these people with more practice than I have are still not totally consistent.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 26927
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Varying crust consistency
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2007, 09:55:44 AM »

I agree with everything that scott r has said. I will also add that I don't think it is the dough formulation that is at fault, especially if you are operating with all the ingredients in proper range. There can also be other variables that affect the final product, including the effects of seasonal changes (in temperature, humidity, etc.) and even the freshness of ingredients. As an example of the latter, fresh flour will usually require less water to hydrate than an older one because the fresh flour has more moisture, and possibly other related characteristics. Fresh yeast will also be better than old yeast, although one can compensate to a degree by using a bit more yeast than the formulation calls for, or possibly by adding other nutrients to the dough that yeast likes.

When I examine a particular dough formulation that is new to me, one of the first things I look for is an imbalance in the quantities of ingredients used for the particular style of dough in question. I especially look at the amounts of salt and sugar in relation to the yeast. If the amount of sugar and/or salt in relation to the amount of yeast is very high, that is a red flag, since either or both of those ingredients in high amounts can suppress yeast performance and fermentation. If someone insists on keeping the high sugar and/or salt levels, because of taste preferences, for example, then the way to deal with that situation is to dramatically increase the amount of yeast, on the theory that there will still be enough yeast to fulfill its duties even when a part of it has been rendered ineffectual by the high levels of sugar and/or salt. Until you restore the balance of the formulation, which may require some experimentation, you can expect unpredictable results.

The ways that the many variables affect the outcomes of our pizzas is in evidence throughout the forum on an almost daily basis. Two people can use the exact same starting dough formulation and follow the same instructions, maybe even using essentially the same equipment, yet end up with pizzas that don't bear any resemblance to each other. You will usually end up scratching your head trying to figure out how and why this occurred.