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How do I maintain dough ball integrity? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

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  • How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

    I've been making pizzas in my Primavera 60 for a couple of months now, but am having problems with my dough balls spreading out too much when I stretch it out. I'd like to have nice rounds to stretch out, like the ones shown in numerous brick oven videos online. I've been playing around with hydration percentages, yeast percentages and fermentation times, but I'm not quite sure which one has the most effect on the over-spreading.

    Here's what I'm doing step-by-step:

    Dough Recipe

    1000 g Caputo OO flour
    650 g water
    6 g active dry yeast (Red Star in today's batch but earlier attempts have been with Fleishman's)
    12 g sea salt

    1. Add add water, yeast, salt and 80% of the flour to mixer bowl.
    2. Mix ingredients on medium high for 2-3 minutes
    3. Let rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes
    4. Add remaining flour and mix on medium low for 4-6 minutes.
    5. Transfer dough to a very lightly oiled bowl to rise for 90 minutes (kitchen is probably around 78 deg F)
    6. Divide into 200 g dough balls, and roll them on unfloured countertop to create good surface tension
    7. Put in refrigerator over night.

    Here are some pictures of the dough balls in two different type of containers, just before I put them in the refrigerator.

    Tomorrow I plan on following my usual steps:

    8. Take dough out 1 to 1 1/2 hours before baking pizzas in oven
    9. Stretch dough and make pizzas

    Before, I was trying the higher hydrations (67-68%), but this time I've cut it back to 65% hoping this will help. I plan on taking more pictures tomorrow to see how much spreading I get with the dough as soon as they are out of the refrigerator and an hour after they are proofing at room temperature.

    The other two factors I'm thinking affect the spreading are % of yeast and the proofing time after I remove them from the refrigerator. I'd like to stick with the overnight fermentation in the frig just because it allows me to split the prep work over a couple of days.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I'd really like to make some consistently nice round pizzas instead of all the odd shapes I've been making. I know it doesn't affect the taste so much, but I do think it will even out the cooking a bit.

    Last edited by tempemom; 06-08-2010, 10:23 PM.

  • #2
    Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

    If you are happy with the flavor of your crust, but not the way it looks when you have stretched it; then your issue may be your stretching technique. I am about a month away from being able to cook in my brick oven, but I have been practicing all winter in my home oven on my stetching technique. It is not easy to get a nice even round pizza every time. I think the answer may simply be practice.
    Thread: http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/g...land-8759.html

    Member WFOAMBA


    • #3
      Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

      Hi dsgreco! Thanks for the reply. That's a nice pizza!

      Here are some pictures of my dough when I took it out of the refrigerator. The spreading is less than when I use a higher hydration.


      • #4
        Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

        And here's my dough after sitting at room temperature (approx 78 deg F) for an hour.
        Last edited by tempemom; 06-09-2010, 09:25 PM.


        • #5
          Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

          The first dough ball I stretched was from the large bin (with 4 dough balls). The dough was still cool to the touch, but trying to remove it from the bin was terrible. It was difficult to remove from the edges where the dough balls were touching. In addition, it was hard to remove from the bottom of the bin, even though I had lightly oiled it prior to putting the dough balls in. I was also trying to use a bench knife. Anyways, by the time I removed the dough ball completely, it was a globby mess.

          Here is a picture of my first pizza from the globby mess.


          • #6
            Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

            Here's my second pizza which also started out as a big globby mess. The mushrooms had a great flavor, but as you can see, there was one really thin spot that ended up burning through.


            • #7
              Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

              The third one I made was stored in the individual plastic bin. It came out much easier than the 4 stored in the large bin. I just loosened the sides with a spatula, then turned the bin upside down. It plopped out nicely. The end product turned out a lot nicer too.

              This was a brussel sprout and pancetta pizza, which I was trying to replicate the great Motorino pizza.

              It was much easier to stretch since it came out of the container better. I may try 2% of yeast instead of 3% next time to see if the spreading is not as bad, especially since I'm putting in the refrigerator overnight. I also have to practice in making sure the dough has enough flour, but not too much, when I put it on the peel. When trying to place it in the oven, it takes a bit of a jerky motion to get it off the peel, and the dough tends to deform and the toppings shift to one side....

              I need a lot more practice...

              Any other advice would be greatly appreciated....

              Last edited by tempemom; 06-09-2010, 09:38 PM.


              • #8
                Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                Ah ha! Here's a video of just the type of dough ball and stretching I'm after!

                YouTube - Andre's pizza napoletana

                His ferment time is longer than mine and hydration is also higher. It must be the % of yeast....


                • #9
                  Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                  I am not sure what the percentage of yeast I'm using is, but it isn't ADY yeast anyway. I am using IDY. I use the FB perfect dough by weight recipe- I double it when necessary, but most of the time the standard amounts are enough.

                  I think 6g of ADY is probably too much. I rarely use ADY anymore since I discovered the wonders of IDY (no proofing!). Scale it back a bit and see what you get.

                  You might also try using a half sheet pan with flour in it to begin shaping- I turn my dough out into it, flip it over so both sides are coated, and then go around the edges pushing in to make a fat flying saucer. This gets you a crust that's a reasonable size- most of the dough is in the center where you want it to be. Then I start stretching- when I get it big enough to drape over my knuckles, I use them to pull it to the right size. It's usually 10 to 12 inches. Then I just flip it off my knuckles and onto the peel, and dress it up.

                  I got the sheet pan idea from Jay (texassourdough) and I have had much better luck shaping this way. Enough flour sticks to the OUTSIDE of the dough so it's workable, but it's not INSIDE the dough, so the texture isn't affected.
                  Last edited by egalecki; 06-10-2010, 05:32 AM.



                  • #10
                    Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                    Hi Sue!

                    Elizabeth has become the primary promoter of using a sheet pan and flour (note: the best pizzaria I know of uses lots of flour on their counter - I use the sheet pan because I do it outdoors and don't have an appropriate, dedicated counter - and it is tidier). Elizabeth gave great advice (including switch to IDY - not sure the amount should be cut, but??) but there are a few wrinkles that I think deserve comment.

                    You say nothing about how you form the pies other than "stretch dough and make pizzas) and that leaves an awful lot of room for variation/mistakes. Andre's technique is prettty nice - very similar to what I do but he handles the dough a LOT MORE than I do flipping and everything. His dough doesn't look particularly wet I would guess it is about 62 percent hydration equivalent AP from the look (could be bread flour at 65 or so but the softeness makes me think it is Italian or AP. His dough has some delicacy but is not as delicate or tricky as wet doughs. I am also going to guess that his dough is more developed than yours. Try giving it ten minutes or even 15 between the first mixing and the second so that the gluten is better formed. You should find that will give you a more manageable dough. Another alternative is to give it some stretches and folds before you ball it. The best dough in my experience is made with a spiral mixer and my favorite pizzaria (where they form on a floured counter with minimal slapping or tossing due to the delicacy of the dough) has a huge one that totally changed and improved their dough.

                    It helps to dust the balls of flour in the tub with flour (better in my experience than oil though I use both spray (Pam) and flour. Note how Andre put the balls well apart. That they did not flow together is also an indication of low hydration and good development. However at 67 percent and higher you have to expect them to flow a bit.

                    Your pies look pretty good (I personally like odd shape pies because it reinforces the hand made quality). The thin spots suggest you are flattening the center of the dough too much too early in the forming process. Leave a fairly thick spot in the center and let it be the last place the pie thins out. My pizza guys mainly use a "flip" technique on the edge of the pizza as the last step (not flipping it over, just flopping the edge in and back out to stretch the edge of the pie and round it out - rotating the pie as the work their way around the edge). It seems impossible to describe but it works really well with tricky delicate dough. Gentle slaps from one hand to the other will knock off excess flour and stretch the dough also and works well with doughs like Reinhart's Neo Neopolitan made with bread flour and oil. With more delicate doughs I tend to keep it on the bench except for one slap to knock off the flour.

                    Hang in there! Your are making nice pies!. Thin spots are a common early problem and will get better with experience. Consider dropping the hydration another percent or two (or three) if you continue to be frustrated. Then, once you feel you have that under control add back a bit of water....

                    Good luck!


                    • #11
                      Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                      Hi Elizabeth and Jay,

                      Thanks so much for the input. I'm definitely going to try the flour in a pan method. I know I've read in one of Peter Reinhart's book that recipes have to be adjusted when using IDY vs. ADY. Besides not having to proof, are there other advantages to using IDY? I just bought a 16 oz package of ADY and it's in the mail!

                      Also, here's the guy in the video's technique for making his dough:

                      my latest video

                      He uses a sourdough starter in addition to a very small amount of IDY (0.08%), but his hydration is only at 60%. Based on Splatgirl and Jay's previous advice, I'm sticking with yeast for the time being. Also, I thought his hydration was higher than mine, but it's actually lower.

                      He also doesn't form his balls until after the dough sits in the refrigerator over night. I've been doing the opposite...

                      So, there's several things that I'm going to try the next time around. The first is reduce my ADY to 2%, form the balls after the overnight in the frig, and use the flour in the pan technique prior to stretching.

                      I'm hopeful this will get me closer.

                      Thanks so much!


                      • #12
                        Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                        Hi Sue!

                        IDY is mainly finer than ADY and has more active yeast (fewer dead cells). There is no big diff except convenience. 2% IDY or ADY is about right for most purposes. 1% will work also. Technically needs a bit more proofing time but pizza is much more forgiving than bread on proofing so no big deal.

                        Balling before or after retarding is IMO a function of the dough. I ball AP dough (no oil) after retarding. The dough is so relaxed and the memory is so low late forming is no problem. Bread flour (with or without oil), and Caputo doughs (no oil) do not in my experience behave well when balled late (after retarding). In my experience they will still be stiff two hours later when you want to form and they don't shape well. So... I ball them before retarding.

                        Let me suggest one change in plan for your next event. Divide the dough in half and make two or three balls before retarding and bulk retard the rest and ball after the retard. Then you will have a one variable experiment where the only difference is balling point and that will serve to provide meaningful experience and insight.

                        Please let us know what you decide!

                        WRT sourdough, it is mainly adding flavor as an additive though it will make the dough effectively a bit wetter for its hydration. Commercial yeast is much more active at refrigerator temps and will outperform the sourdough (yes the wild yeast will contribute but...) The bacteria in the SD will also multiply somewhat and boost flavor beyond just being an additive but...

                        Good luck! Look forward to hearing your opinion after the experiment!
                        Last edited by texassourdough; 06-10-2010, 08:16 AM. Reason: add comment on percent yeast


                        • #13
                          Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                          How heavy are those balls he's making do you think? That pizza he made was huge..
                          Shay - Centerville, MN

                          My Outdoor Kitchen/Pompeii WFO Build...


                          • #14
                            Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                            i think I found it. 320g
                            Shay - Centerville, MN

                            My Outdoor Kitchen/Pompeii WFO Build...


                            • #15
                              Re: How do I maintain dough ball integrity?

                              Hi Shay!

                              Good question. I think the dough was well inflated more than that the ball was larger and that he spread it pretty thin. Still, I would guess he was around 300 to 350 grams. I thought Andre's pie was excessively deflated. He really beat on it and it was awfully flat laying on the counter. Almost looked like it had been rolled out with a rolling pin. Great roundness but not much character. I like more rustic looking pies and shapes.

                              Bake On!

                              Postscript: Nothing like being a second late replying to make one look "brilliant"! Duh!
                              Last edited by texassourdough; 06-10-2010, 12:18 PM. Reason: add postscript