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Author Topic: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style  (Read 1465 times)

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Offline xylophone

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How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« on: June 14, 2018, 08:17:12 AM »
I've been making pizza for quite awhile, and it's gradually got better. I'm reasonably happy with my dough, but it's certainly not up there with some of the home made pizzas I've seen on here, and elsewhere. My journey has taken me from using recipes like https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/pizzadoughbase_70980 (sorry, I couldn't work out how to embed the link in text), via https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/07/basic-new-york-style-pizza-dough.html and now I tend to use the dough recipes in Ken Forkish's pizza book. I took some pictures from my last attempt, and I wanted to get some opinions. I'm making this at home using a pizza stone, and whilst I have a good oven it obviously can't get to the heat of a proper pizza oven (supposed max temp is 250c, although I've measured it higher, probably somewhere around 270c). Having read some of the forum, I can see that one of my mistakes was using Caputo red 00 flour. I'm slightly annoyed about this - lots and lots of recipes have suggested 00 flour, and lots have recommended Caputo - on the advice thread I read on here I remember someone writing that if you're using Caputo flour you should be able to explain why, well my excuse is that I've read it so frequently, I assumed it was the best! The recipe I used in this particular recipe was Forkish's 48-72 hour biga recipe, which I followed exactly - biga made at night, then 12 hours later in the morning I incorporated the rest of the dough then left it over night and baked it the following day. It was the first time I'd tried it, and I usually make it NY style (I don't know whether this recipe counts as NY style?).

Anyway, here are some pictures, and I'm really grateful for any thoughts. I've tried to read up on this forum, but there's quite a lot of content so I apologise if I've missed something that is frequently repeated on the forum.

EDIT:

I also thought I'd mention that I don't part-bake (is that the term?) my base, nor do I use the broiler setting which I've seen suggested. I get the oven to the hottest temperature, make the pizza on a peel and put it straight onto the stone (which has been heated for an hour or so).
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 08:20:15 AM by xylophone »

Offline vtsteve

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2018, 09:11:30 AM »
I've been making pizza for quite awhile, and it's gradually got better. I'm reasonably happy with my dough, but it's certainly not up there with some of the home made pizzas I've seen on here, and elsewhere. My journey has taken me from using recipes like https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/pizzadoughbase_70980 (sorry, I couldn't work out how to embed the link in text), via https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/07/basic-new-york-style-pizza-dough.html and now I tend to use the dough recipes in Ken Forkish's pizza book.

Why not try a Pizzamaking Lehmann-style NY formula?

Here's mine; ball after mixing, 2-5 days in the fridge (scaled down for a 14", 0.085 TF pie):

Flour (100%):
Water (58%):
IDY (0.3%):
Salt (1.8%):
Oil (2%):
Sugar (2%):
Total (164.1%):
Single Ball:
691.72 g  |  24.4 oz | 1.52 lbs
401.2 g  |  14.15 oz | 0.88 lbs
2.08 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.69 tsp | 0.23 tbsp
12.45 g | 0.44 oz | 0.03 lbs | 2.59 tsp | 0.86 tbsp
13.83 g | 0.49 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.07 tsp | 1.02 tbsp
13.83 g | 0.49 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.47 tsp | 1.16 tbsp
1135.11 g | 40.04 oz | 2.5 lbs | TF = 0.0867
378.37 g | 13.35 oz | 0.83 lbs

I can see some thin spots in the stretched dough (trouble incorporating the biga?), and your cut slice looks a little thin (and gummy?). A larger dough (stretched to the same size) would give you a more substantial slice. And practice! I used to make 12 doughs and stretch them all.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2018, 09:39:30 AM by vtsteve »
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Offline jsaras

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2018, 09:37:25 AM »
I've been making pizza for quite awhile, and it's gradually got better. I'm reasonably happy with my dough, but it's certainly not up there with some of the home made pizzas I've seen on here, and elsewhere. My journey has taken me from using recipes like https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/pizzadoughbase_70980 (sorry, I couldn't work out how to embed the link in text), via https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/07/basic-new-york-style-pizza-dough.html and now I tend to use the dough recipes in Ken Forkish's pizza book. I took some pictures from my last attempt, and I wanted to get some opinions. I'm making this at home using a pizza stone, and whilst I have a good oven it obviously can't get to the heat of a proper pizza oven (supposed max temp is 250c, although I've measured it higher, probably somewhere around 270c). Having read some of the forum, I can see that one of my mistakes was using Caputo red 00 flour. I'm slightly annoyed about this - lots and lots of recipes have suggested 00 flour, and lots have recommended Caputo - on the advice thread I read on here I remember someone writing that if you're using Caputo flour you should be able to explain why, well my excuse is that I've read it so frequently, I assumed it was the best! The recipe I used in this particular recipe was Forkish's 48-72 hour biga recipe, which I followed exactly - biga made at night, then 12 hours later in the morning I incorporated the rest of the dough then left it over night and baked it the following day. It was the first time I'd tried it, and I usually make it NY style (I don't know whether this recipe counts as NY style?).

Anyway, here are some pictures, and I'm really grateful for any thoughts. I've tried to read up on this forum, but there's quite a lot of content so I apologise if I've missed something that is frequently repeated on the forum.

EDIT:

I also thought I'd mention that I don't part-bake (is that the term?) my base, nor do I use the broiler setting which I've seen suggested. I get the oven to the hottest temperature, make the pizza on a peel and put it straight onto the stone (which has been heated for an hour or so).


A couple of quick thoughts come to mind.  The Forkish formulations are fine, certainly better than the others you've listed, but his approach to fermentation makes for difficult scheduling. Although he finally came to the realization that "pizza is not bread" in his latest book, he still really hasn't let go of his bread background. 

Although less than optimal formulations can be a significant problem, just correcting that will not be cure for everything that ails you.  That said, I strongly suggest that you "reset" using the basic Lehmann formulation with some bread flour (King Arthur, Gold Medal, Pillsbury).  Start out without any oil and sugar, 61% hydration, 2% salt, 0.2% ADY, thickness factor 0.09.  Follow the basic directions on the website for a cold fermentation.  This amount of yeast will work fine within a 24-48 hour window. 

When you're ready to make the pizza, you'll find this dough to handle much easier than your previous approaches.  Dough handling is an skill that you need to improve upon, and this will allow you to make significant advances fairly quickly.  What's been interesting to me over the years is to notice just how significant this step is.  I've been helping out a friend of mine with pizzamaking for about a year.  When we stretch dough from the exact same batch, the dough that I've stretched looks MUCH different than his after it's baked. 

After your first bake, you can then decide whether you want to add oil and/or sugar to the formulation, and vary it in 1% increments, having a specific goal in mind as you do so (more tender, more browning, etc.).

Once you've settled on these variables, you can then start playing with more interesting fermentation techniques, and there's no shortage of things to try.    Although I've run the gamut with different approaches, I still occassionally make the simple Lehmann dough using the exact formula listed above and I and my in-house critics find it to be satisfactory every time.
Things have never been more like today than they are right now.

Offline xylophone

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2018, 12:37:42 PM »
Why not try a Pizzamaking Lehmann-style NY formula?

Here's mine; ball after mixing, 2-5 days in the fridge (scaled down for a 14", 0.085 TF pie):

Flour (100%):
Water (58%):
IDY (0.3%):
Salt (1.8%):
Oil (2%):
Sugar (2%):
Total (164.1%):
Single Ball:
691.72 g  |  24.4 oz | 1.52 lbs
401.2 g  |  14.15 oz | 0.88 lbs
2.08 g | 0.07 oz | 0 lbs | 0.69 tsp | 0.23 tbsp
12.45 g | 0.44 oz | 0.03 lbs | 2.59 tsp | 0.86 tbsp
13.83 g | 0.49 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.07 tsp | 1.02 tbsp
13.83 g | 0.49 oz | 0.03 lbs | 3.47 tsp | 1.16 tbsp
1135.11 g | 40.04 oz | 2.5 lbs | TF = 0.0867
378.37 g | 13.35 oz | 0.83 lbs

I can see some thin spots in the stretched dough (trouble incorporating the biga?), and your cut slice looks a little thin (and gummy?). A larger dough (stretched to the same size) would give you a more substantial slice. And practice! I used to make 12 doughs and stretch them all.

Thanks vtsteve! I think the thin spots are actually a result of how I shape the dough - I have found that it gets really thin, but I think that may be because I'm not using enough dough, so I'll make the balls bigger next time. It was a bit gummy - more so than the others I've made from Forkish. Not sure whether it was the type of dough, or something else that caused it.


A couple of quick thoughts come to mind.  The Forkish formulations are fine, certainly better than the others you've listed, but his approach to fermentation makes for difficult scheduling. Although he finally came to the realization that "pizza is not bread" in his latest book, he still really hasn't let go of his bread background. 

Although less than optimal formulations can be a significant problem, just correcting that will not be cure for everything that ails you.  That said, I strongly suggest that you "reset" using the basic Lehmann formulation with some bread flour (King Arthur, Gold Medal, Pillsbury).  Start out without any oil and sugar, 61% hydration, 2% salt, 0.2% ADY, thickness factor 0.09.  Follow the basic directions on the website for a cold fermentation.  This amount of yeast will work fine within a 24-48 hour window. 

When you're ready to make the pizza, you'll find this dough to handle much easier than your previous approaches.  Dough handling is an skill that you need to improve upon, and this will allow you to make significant advances fairly quickly.  What's been interesting to me over the years is to notice just how significant this step is.  I've been helping out a friend of mine with pizzamaking for about a year.  When we stretch dough from the exact same batch, the dough that I've stretched looks MUCH different than his after it's baked. 

After your first bake, you can then decide whether you want to add oil and/or sugar to the formulation, and vary it in 1% increments, having a specific goal in mind as you do so (more tender, more browning, etc.).

Once you've settled on these variables, you can then start playing with more interesting fermentation techniques, and there's no shortage of things to try.    Although I've run the gamut with different approaches, I still occassionally make the simple Lehmann dough using the exact formula listed above and I and my in-house critics find it to be satisfactory every time.

Thanks for the tips. You're right about the fermentation being difficult to schedule (especially for a working father!). I'm going to try out the Lehman recipe this weekend following thid advice, and see how it goes. I'm based in the UK so the brands of flour you suggest aren't available, but I'll use a bread flour - I believe it should be high in protein, so 13-14%?

Dough handling is something I'll have to work on, I gues one of the difficulties is knowing what I'm actually looking to get as an end result, and what the important aspects of the handling are to get that end result.

Offline jsaras

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2018, 03:41:38 PM »
You should do fine with flour at or above 11.7%.   13% protein is the "sweet spot" in my experience, but it's not easy to come by. 
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Offline xylophone

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2018, 02:12:00 PM »
Phew. I managed to get my dough made in between getting home from work and putting my twin toddlers to bed. Consequently there wasn't too much attention paid to fine honing a recipe.

I used vtsteve's numbers:

But rounded some of the numbers, so:

Flour = 691g (strong white bread flour that appeared to have a protein content of 13.4%, although I believe I have read elsewhere that it isn't a straight how many grames of protein per 100g of flour calculation)
Water = 401g (at about 25 degrees - stopped measuring when I realised water had got into my thermometers battery compartment and it was dying...)
Yeast = 2.08g
Salt = 12.45g
Oil (good quality extra virgin) = 13.83g
Sugar = 13.83g

I know jsaras suggested leaving out the oil and sugar, but I was in such a rush I just followed the ingredient list as it was!

For mixing method, I was desperately skimming the Pete-zza's Roadmap thread (there are a LOT of entries in there). I don't have a stand mixer, so I combined the dry ingredients, then slowly mixed into the water with a wooden spoon and then my hand (used the Forkish pinching technique). When it was combined I turned it out and kneaded in the oil until I had something that looked like photo 1. I then split it into three balls (you can see the cross section shot in photo 2), basted with oil and put them in plastic bags in the fridge. There are several steps there where I would have liked to have read a bit more re: technique - specifically should it have rested as a whole ball at room temperature for a couple of hours before balling as I've done with Forkish (and I think Serious Eats) recipes? The instructions in the Roadmap thread (or the one I looked at) suggested not. Intrigued as to how it will turn out! Even if there were a few mistakes, the one thing I've learnt in the years I've been doing this is that any home made pizza is better than a supermarket one, and usually better than take away (I live in the UK, after all).

Now to try and work out what sauce to use!

Really grateful for the comments chaps.

Offline jsaras

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2018, 04:31:37 PM »
Going directly to the refrigerator was the correct call for this.  Pizza sauce should be simple. Get a can of 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (no calcium chloride).  Add 1.5 tsp salt, 1.5 tsp oil and 2 cloves of freshly minced garlic (or 1 garlic equivalent of whatever garlic powder you have).  That's it.  Put the oregano on top of your pizza immediately after the bake. 
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Offline xylophone

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Re: How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2018, 02:05:50 AM »
Interesting. I have previously used a simple tomato sauce that I've cooked and reduced (tinned whole tomatoes, slightly processed in hand food processor > garlic, salt, oregano, sugar and chilli fried in oil and butter > tomatoes in, a halved onion added and a couple of basil stalks and then reduced, I think it's the Serious Eats one) down to a thickish sauce. Last time I tried the Forkish FSWY sauce which is a simple blend of tomatoes, garlic, salt and oregano, but I thought it seemed a bit thin on the dough.

Offline xylophone

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How can I improve my pizzas? Normally NY style
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2020, 12:42:18 PM »
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« Last Edit: March 01, 2020, 05:21:17 AM by xylophone »

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