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Getting Pizza Dough Right

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
First post here. Looking foreword to joining in the discussion.

So, in my little community of family and friends I'm kind of the cooking guru, mostly for my home made pizza, which isn't bad. But recently, I've been wanting to make my pizza in the New York style with the puffy crust and ultra thin center. So, I've had to rethink the way I shape my pizza dough. After ordering pizza out last night and watching the guys tossing the dough, I decided I wanted to learn to toss the dough also, since as far as I can tell, that's how the guys up in New York get it the way I want it.

So, I made up a batch of dough that would provide for eight practice runs. But what I discovered is that my dough actually tears really easy. In fact, by no stretch (no pun intended) of the imagination could it be considered elastic. More like a stretchy play-dough.

So, I bagged the dough (figure I'll use it for something else later).

After some research, I think I've discovered that I've been either over-kneading or adding too much flour, or both. Probably both.

Most dough recipes say the dough should be "smooth" and "sticky" but not "tacky". I'm realizing now that these words really don't mean much of anything since there's no real objective way to measure them. Usually I add flour until the dough is "smooth" like a velvet that doesn't stick to my hands at all. I also do the mixing in a kitchen aid stand mixer. I used to kneed 8 - 10 minutes by hand. So that's what I do in the mixer--which apparently, may be way to long.

So I'm hoping someone might be able to explain in more explicit detail what I should expect of my dough. What should it look like, how should it feel, how sticky are we really talking about here?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 21
Sorry I can't help you but I'm sure interested in finding the answer. I too am having problems with my dough the same as you. Add on that no matter how much flour or cornmeal I put on my metal peel, the dough sticks. I either end up with a mess or I have to assemble the pizza on parchment paper and slide the whole thing on to the stone.

Looking forward to some pizza gurus setting us straight.

Rich
post #3 of 21
There are people here with more experience than me, but I'd say you are adding too much flour AND not keading the dough enough. If the dough has enough gluten and has had time to relax, it should be easy to stretch the dough.

I personally only add enough flour to make the dough workable, if it feels really smooth then I think there is too much flour.

There is a great forum dedicated 100% to pizza making. PizzaMaking.com - Pizza Making, Pizza Recipes, and More!

They have great advice and great recipes. I found one on there that is my favorite. Easy to make and tastes amazing:

Little Caesars Pizza Dough

1 1/4 (9.7 oz) warm water (appox. 120° F)
2 3/4 tsp. dry active yeast
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Olive Oil
2 Tsp. Salt
1 1/2 cups (8 oz.) bread flour or all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (8 oz.) whole wheat flour (optional, can use 100% bread flour or all purpose flour)

Mix water and yeast in mixing bowl and allow it to proof for 5 minutes. Mix in sugar, honey and oil. Then mix in 1 cup flour and the salt. Continue mixing in all the remaining flour until you get a nice, soft dough. Knead until dough is soft and smooth (approx. 10 minutes).

Finish kneading on a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Place in the refrigerator in a covered container coated with olive oil for overnight (or make this dough first thing in the morning and place in the fridge until dinner that evening).

3 hours before baking: Remove from fridge and either divide dough in half for two 12” pizzas or leave whole for one somewhat thicker 16” pizza. Work each piece of dough into balls. Allow the dough to come back to room temperature (this process generally takes 3 hours).

45 minutes before baking: With your pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven, preheat your oven to 475° F to allow the stone to get hot enough (this process generally takes 40-50 minutes).

15 minutes before baking: Shape dough into desired pizza crust, sprinkle pizza peel, wooden cutting board or upside down cookie sheet with corn meal, flour or rice flour. Place pizza crust on top, then add toppings. Gently slide pizza onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 9-11 minutes.

*****
I’ve spent some time on the Pizzamaking forum where there are several dozen amazing chef’s who have dedicated an extraordinary amount of time perfecting pizza making at home. Some of their doughs take up to 7 days to make with a huge focus on temperature control and top quality ingredients. They are inspiring!

This recipe is from their site but is simple to use, forgiving and only takes a day to make without sacrificing on the flavor. It was designed to mimic the flavor of Little Caesars pizza using the same processing time as the restaurant along with the same cornerstone ingredients.

After trying this recipe, we no longer crave takeout pizza- this is SO much better (at least we think so)! Yeah!!!

I think the two secrets to great homemade pizza are finding the right dough and baking it on a hot stone (Fibrament sells a great stone with an outstanding reputation and a 10 year warranty against cracking). The benefit of baking it on a hot stone is it duplicates the professional brick ovens. The ceramic stone creates a light crispy crust by absorbing excess moisture and distributing the heat evenly and efficiently. The results are night and day compared to baking a pizza on a cookie sheet or cold stone. Give it a try, you’ll love it!

Thanks to Randy at the Pizzamaking forum for providing this excellent recipe!

Emily
post #4 of 21
hey guys check out:


http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/food-...zza-night.html

and

http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/pastr...nce-dough.html


all kinds of tips, and I know someone mentioned how to achieve a New York Crust in the first link. just not sure which page:p
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses folks!

After quite a bit of trial and error yesterday, I made some progress.

I did make some more dough. Like you've suggested, I allowed it to stay much stickier than I'd originally thought was right and just floured up my hands real good. However, in the machine I let it knead only for about 2 - 3 minutes. Just enough to be very well mixed. I had to scoop it off the dough hook a few times to get it to knead evenly. Apparently the dough hook kneads much more efficiently than by hand and dough can be over-kneaded. The symptoms of which, I was apparently experiencing.

Then after the first rise, it was much more elastic, but it still tore pretty easily. So after each failed lump, I kneaded it by hand for a short time then let it rise again. On the second rise it was much better. I could actually toss it--well, sort of. I am a beginner here. It was still pretty weak though. But I have a feeling that a third rise and perhaps refrigeration would probably do the trick. Also, it occurred to me that I the lumps I was working with were probably a bit too small to begin with, which was making things harder.

Also, in the process I figured out that putting corn meal on the pizza peel was actually backwards. I was watching a guy at a local pizzeria tossing pizza and noticed that he actually had a really good amount of corn meal/flour on his working surface in which he spread out and thoroughly coated the dough itself. So, I tried this too and discovered that after doing so there's no need to put anything on the pizza peel at all. It just slides freely.

Anyway, I finally got at least one edible pie out of the deal and it was a big step in the right direction. I had a picture to share, but apparently I'm not allowed to post a picture until I've posted on other threads or something. Well, I'm looking foreword to exploring the links you guys posted and hitting the kitchen again.
I'm a photographer, here's my website: petruzzo.com
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I'm a photographer, here's my website: petruzzo.com
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post #6 of 21
many pizza places make their dough and keep it overnight, refrigerated.

gives the dough plenty of time to hydrolyze, develop gluten, and relax.

give that a go with a lump and see if it handles better for you.
post #7 of 21
I haven't had experience over kneading dough with a Kitchen Aid before. My Kitchen Aid did a terrible job in truly kneading dough. Until I got a Bosch, I would mix the dough in the KA, then knead by hand until the dough reaches the window pane test. My Bosch can knead to the window pane test but my KA never could.

It sounds like you've already made a lot of progress and have the pizza peel down. Try the retarded rise in the fridge overnight, it makes a big difference. Places like Papa John's let their dough rest for 4-7 days in the fridge.

Emily
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Yeah, that's what I figured. Of course, the trouble is that I don't know when I'm going to want pizza until it's nearly time to eat it. So perhaps once I get the science down I'll make it in huge quantities, let it rise appropriately, then freeze it for future use.

Does that work?
I'm a photographer, here's my website: petruzzo.com
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I'm a photographer, here's my website: petruzzo.com
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post #9 of 21
The recipe I listed above I have frozen the dough several times. I don't think the thawed dough is as good and its a little harded to toss. My husband doesn't notice the taste difference but I do.

It does take an entire day to thaw so it doesn't save much time.

Emily
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, that's a bummer. I'll have to do some expirements and see if I can find a best-of-both-worlds situation.
I'm a photographer, here's my website: petruzzo.com
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I'm a photographer, here's my website: petruzzo.com
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post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Oh, and here's the pie that worked out yesterday:
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post #12 of 21
the crust profile looks good to me; then again, I don't really care for pizza so much <g>

looks like you may need a preheated pizza stone and an hotter oven to get some browning/crisping on the crust....
post #13 of 21
There are pizza dough recipes that can be in the fridge up to 7 days. You could make the dough on Monday, then any day that week pull it out of the fridge 3 hours before panning. That way you can make pizza any day in the week.

The pizza forum I listed above has a lot of great recipes that have flexibility in the retarded rise time.
post #14 of 21
I made some pizza last week for the first time in a long time, it turned out pretty good. Did the dough in our trusty old bread machine - hey, it has a setting that said 'Pizza Dough' so I figured why not? Made it saturday night and planned to cook sunday, ended up cooking monday.

We had both forgotten how good home made can be, she found a pizza recipe book at the library the other day, and she keeps wondering when I'll do it again. Soon, I imagine.

mjb.
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post #15 of 21
I knead by hand and pull it apart, always pulling the dough and kneading it again. Pulling and kneading has some positive effect on the gluten though I'm no scientistic and could not explain to you why this is.

The great thing about pizza is that dough is cheap and easy to make and remake and practice with. Now for the toppings, it gets much more expensive if you want real cheese and quality ingredients, but well worth the expense.

I don't like NY pizza, there I said it. I live in NY and I really do try to enjoy the pizza here. Whenever someone says "go check out this or that pizza place, it's the best in NY" I do, and get dissappointed every time. Besides the crusts at these so called best places (which is always good due to their ovens) the sauces are too salty with virtually no herbs, the cheese is the pregrated yellow processed mozz, and the toppings are inedible.... canned mushrooms? Really?? Anyway, making your own at home is not too time consuming and ends up getting better every time you make it.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #16 of 21

Bikergirl73 is online now or Gadget Girl

 

I have found out that in order to make your pizza crispy you need to  use a pizza crisper, you can bake your dough on a pizza pan

however, once you go put your pizza together and your doing your final bake, it needs to be on a crisper, it has alot of holes in the pan. The

final product will taste alot better

 

tootles

Hope this helps

post #17 of 21

I make pizza directly on the stone with no pan.

post #18 of 21

I have two of those pans with the holes in them.  They're completely useless.  I find that baking my pizza on the underside of a 2in tall pan gets a much crisper result.  Found that out by accident.  I use those perforated pans now for making pigs in blankets and warming up stuffed phyllo triangles.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #19 of 21

Dough that can be tossed requires a relatively dry dough.  More like bread dough than pizza dough.  Great pizza dough is very moist--since it is flattened and baked at high temp, pizza dough is easy to dry out, hence why the dough starts with more water in it.

post #20 of 21

I have been looking for an answer to that question SO many places.. Thank you all for sharing. :)

post #21 of 21

I make my dough by hand, once it comes together in the bowl I take it out and knead it for about five minutes, until it becomes soft, supple, shiny and not sticky.  It's one of those "you'll know it when you get it" things... But make sure not to knead longer than that takes, or else you'll over-knead and get too much gluten development which will make your dough too rubbery and will fight you in the shaping stages. 

 

As I said before in a recent pizza dough thread, the trick is balancing wetness of dough with cooking temperature.  As someone said above, the key to real NY pizza is a very wet dough with extremely high temperature, much higher than any home oven can achieve.  So you need to know your oven, and formulate your dough accordingly.  Let your oven preheat for up to an hour, and cook it directly on a baking stone.  Use lots of cornmeal on your peel too - lots, especially if you have a wetter dough.  Check to make sure it's loose before trying to slide it onto your baking stone!

 

Also, there is no need to actually "toss" a pizza, it's mostly for show (although there are centrifugal forces at work to help stretch it).  The "slap" technique works just as well, and you don't risk dropping your precious dough! lol

 

 

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