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The secret to WFO crispy crust?

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  • The secret to WFO crispy crust?

    We had another successful pizza bake Sunday night. The only "pizza challenge" I'm having a struggle with is crispy crust.

    My recipe is ASUDaveW's found here:
    http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f10/...cipe-4027.html
    I've also used the Caputo/FB recipe with very similar results.

    I mix the dough in my KitchenAid for a minute, let it rest, then finish it for a minute or two. Bulk rise until double, split into balls, sprinkle with flour and rise a few more hours in covered containers.

    In a fully heated 42" Pompeii, I get good spring, puffed up edge crust and a good tasting char on the bottom. The toppings are cooked, cheese slightly brown, but the top of the crust is a little pale and the crust is chewy.

    Don't get me wrong, the pizza is GREAT!! But I'm looking for a different style. I'm trying to get a browner, crispier top crust (like Pizza hut??).

    Over all, my pizza crust is a bit chewy. Like New York style pizza that they fold in half and eat like a taco.

    I tried rolling out some crust with a rolling pin Sunday night. Interesting results. Very thin, uniform and cracker-like, but still not crispy on the top of the edge crust.

    Any advice? I know this has been talked about before but I couldn't find any particular thread that clued me in on the solution.

    Are you all getting the same results as I am?

    Thanks!
    Ken H. - Kentucky
    42" Pompeii

    Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

    Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
    Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

  • #2
    Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

    Your dough looks o.k. as far as ingredients. Might be fire management. You state the oven is fully heated. Was there an active fire going? What was the proximity between the fire and pizza. Was the edges uniformly brown or did they have the sweet, sweet char spots? Personally, my ideal crust ( or at least what I shoot for ) is spotted with just a slight crunch, but the middle is soft and airy. An over baked pizza will have a thicker crunchy crust but appears almost normal. You can try the Jimi Hendrix and kiss the sky. Raising to the roof will quickly brown and crisp your top within a few seconds.
    As always, I'm no authority.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

      Hi Pizza,

      I get the char spots (I love 'em!) and there is usually a light crispness to the bottom when it comes out. Yes to the active fire question. I rotate the pizza once during baking.

      I'll often do the Hendrix maneuver to finish things off... but I still often get an undercooked top edge crust (harrumph!)

      Someone mentioned adding olive oil or sugar to the dough. Will that help?
      Ken H. - Kentucky
      42" Pompeii

      Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

      Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
      Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

        NO, sir. Oil will just make it brittle under high heat. Think cookies. Sugar will burn your bottom. (Not good for the pizza, either.) The hydration is spot on, if you can handle it without adding a bunch of raw bench flour to the skin.
        Umm.. When you form the skin, are you also forming a "rim"? Like extra dough around the edges? That would explain a gob of undercooked dough, especially when you bake for less than 2 minutes. If not, maybe you can run the sauce a little closer to the edge. The crust is where the sauce is not. Or...
        Maybe next time you can try sticking a plain round in the oven and see how it acts. It'll puff up but also give you an idea as to how the floor heat interacts with the dough without all that sauce and stuff in the way. You'll get some semblance of baking time.
        So, hopefully with a thin hand stretched and not over handled round and sparsely dressed you'll see a difference.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

          Hi Ken!

          As I read your description I am struck by the "char on the bottom", "pale crust", and "cheese slightly brown". Sounds to me like your hearth is too hot and your dome is too cool.

          A good test of the hearth is to throw some semolina (half a teaspoon is enough) on the hearth. On a hearth with a proper temperature the semolina will sit for about three seconds and suddenly turn black. If it is less than two seconds the hearth is too hot.

          Personally, I think the "char spots" should be on the top, not the bottom...but that is probably a personal variable.

          Lots of other good suggestions above!
          Jay

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

            Originally posted by texassourdough View Post
            A good test of the hearth is to throw some semolina (half a teaspoon is enough) on the hearth. On a hearth with a proper temperature the semolina will sit for about three seconds and suddenly turn black. If it is less than two seconds the hearth is too hot.
            I use general purpose flour on my peel. This last bake, the flour turned black nearly instantly. Does general purpose flour act similarly to semolina? I'm guessing my floor is too hot.

            BUT... If my floor is cooler, my pizzas take longer than 2 minutes to cook. I've been trying to shoot for 90 second pizzas. Hmmmm...

            Personally, I think the "char spots" should be on the top, not the bottom...but that is probably a personal variable.
            YES! I want some char on the top!

            Thanks for all the advice guys!
            Ken H. - Kentucky
            42" Pompeii

            Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

            Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
            Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

              Howdy Ken.

              Ok. The only reason why a Neapolitan dough has high hydration is because of the heat. Specifically, the floor on which it lays. Water, in and of itself has no taste and brings nothing to the table other than it's ability to stave off combustion longer than it's drier and less hydrated brother. The wetter bottom (read: A properly mixed dough - NOT one with a bunch of raw flour clinging to the bottom.) allows more time for the sides and top to cook at the desirable high heat. Sure... dry flour, dry semolina, dust bunnies and *pixie dust will all combust @ almost at the same rate. (* Your mileage may vary.)
              I only have experience with my oven, so I may be telling you something that is not true of your oven. Mine is 5' and has a TDC roof of 19". The temperature between the floor and ceiling is @ optimum temperature +/- 200F.
              So, That's why I'm saying you might try using one (@67% hydration) undressed, plain skin as a bellwether. It'll pop like an aneroid in your altimeter. ( Old A-4 pararigger )

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                Ken

                I agree, try a higher hydration. I would think if your floor is too hot, you will notice as you cook the 3rd-5th pizza's the difference and does it get more the way you want it.

                Have you read Jeff Varasano's pizza tutorial?
                Jeff Varasano's NY Pizza Recipe
                I first tried my house oven recipe ( I know,what was I thinking), then FB, then JV, JV sourdough and have since experimented and hybridized both.

                I am afraid you are going to have to eat allot of pizza, in the name of science of course. WoFOE! Wood Fired Oven Experimentation; The noble effort of trying different recipes/modifications to see what works best in your oven.
                Wade Lively

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                  I have recently been adding a couple of tablespoons full of semolina to my dough mix (4 cups of flour) It produces a crispier crust and we like it !
                  Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                    Quote from Ken: This last bake, the flour turned black nearly instantly. Does general purpose flour act similarly to semolina? I'm guessing my floor is too hot.

                    I don't usually use flour but when I have it has seemed to follow the same pattern of about 3 seconds to "char". It is kind of neat... the flour/semolina/cornmeal sits there for a couple of seconds and then like flipping a switch, turns black.

                    In my experience the flame level is more a determinant of cooking time than the hearth...because I am going for a level of char/browning on the top that is dictated by flame. The key to the hearth is more to not burn it (so long as it is reasonably warm. There is a balance between the two. Remember...you can make pretty good pizza in a 500 degree oven on a 500 degree stone "hearth" but it takes longer.

                    To get 90 second pizzas, I think you need a pretty good fire going in the oven. Shooting for two minutes or even a bit longer might get you closer to the look and taste you want. And to do that you probably need a "3 second" hearth...

                    Let us know how your next batch comes out!
                    Jay

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                      Thanks guys!!

                      Wade is right... It's going to be a tough sacrifice for our family to find the perfect crust.

                      "Hey kids... sorry, but we're having pizza for dinner again"
                      "YEAAAAA!!!"
                      Ken H. - Kentucky
                      42" Pompeii

                      Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

                      Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
                      Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                        Ken, I'm sure your dedication is an inspiration to us all...
                        "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)

                        http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/p...pics-2610.html
                        http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f9/p...nues-2991.html

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                          Two more posts and Frances will celebrate her 2,000 anniversary!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                            Oh hey wow, you're right!

                            I'd better make sure I write something really useful and memorable then - for a change.

                            Oooops, too late...
                            "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)

                            http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/p...pics-2610.html
                            http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f9/p...nues-2991.html

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: The secret to WFO crispy crust?

                              We had some interesting results with tonight's pizza bake.

                              I added a few extra grams of H2O in the mixer last night so I had high hydration. It wasn't too hard to shape. No problems there.

                              The first pizza was baked at a hearth temp of 830F with an active fire going on the right side. The video below is this first attempt. It turned out pretty good. The crust was tender and puffy and had just started to brown on top when I took it out to avoid over cooking the toppings.

                              It was better, but still not a crispy outside; tender inside crust.

                              I did a couple more pies with similar results then sat down to eat. After all pies were eaten, my oldest wanted one more for his school lunch tomorrow.

                              When I put this last one in the oven, the floor had cooled to around 620F. We still had an active fire on the right side. BINGO. The toppings cooked slowly, giving the crust time to rise, set and brown. This one had a light crisp to the outer crust, yet still nice and tender inside. So, we are definitely on the right track.

                              My biggest question is: I thought we were supposed to be cooking these pizzas at around 700-800F for 90 seconds. Is my oven just wacky? Could it be that my dome is a wee bit on the high side (around 21")?

                              It goes without saying that all of this evening's experiments were devoured without complaint.

                              Ken H. - Kentucky
                              42" Pompeii

                              Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

                              Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
                              Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

                              Comment

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