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heliman 10-02-2009 08:55 PM

Pizza Dough Temperature
I have just bought a nice new digital scale which comes with a temperature probe. I seem to recall that temperature is a factor in preparing good dough.

Is there a preferred temperature range for pizza dough, and if so, how is the temperature maintained?

This is certainly becoming a "science" that's for sure!!



texassourdough 10-03-2009 07:08 AM

Re: Pizza Dough Temperature
Temperature is much more critical for bread and for sourdough in particular. You will be hard pressed to tell the difference between dough that is kneaded to different temperatues. And if you retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator it becomes pretty moot.

There are those who build proofing boxes (usually for bread and not pizza) but most of us go with the flow and use room temperature for the ambient proofing. Elevated temperatures as in heated proofing boxes shorten the process but definitely decrease flavor. Slow and cool is preferred until the last two hours or so if you are using conventional recipes like the FB recipe.

Good Luck!

heliman 10-03-2009 07:19 AM

Re: Pizza Dough Temperature
Thanks for the feedback Jay.

Does the temperature not matter for activating yeast as well? I think I read somewhere that is should be around room temperature but perhaps it needs a bit of extra heat for optimal results??


texassourdough 10-03-2009 07:43 AM

Re: Pizza Dough Temperature
Hi Rossco!

Temp is in all cases more critical if you are in a hurry and doing "fast" dough. As time is extended - even at refrigerator temps - the criticality declines (until the final rise after you remove the dough from the fridge.)

That said, you wouldn't mix dough with ice water. Commercial yeast works pretty well down into the mid 60 range so it wouldn't gag too badly with "cool" tap water. Oooohhhh! I just realized where your quesion came from.

IF you use regular dry yeast it needs to be activated and that is best done with warm water (usually with some sugar) up in the 105 oF range (no more than 110). Regular dry yeast (called active dry yeast) is made in an old method with heat to dry the yeast that kills most of the cells so has little LIVE yeast. Don't buy it. Buy instant yeast which has much higher concentration of live yeast. It can be mixed straight in the flour with the salt. Simply add water and either mix or knead. It is much faster and very reliable. Anywhere from 70 to 80 oF water will be fine. In Texas our tap water is reliably in the 70s - even in the winter. I just weigh it in. With instant yeast there is no big benefit to dissolving before adding or using sugar.

I have never used fresh yeast but once you triple the amount (relative to instant) it should be equivalent. It's all about the number of live yeast cells.

The usual logic is that you want the dough to be about 76 degrees F out of the mixer. KA mixers add about 1 degree of temp per minute of kneading. So if you wanted to do that and kneaded for four minutes you would start with flour and water at 72 oF. This is overkill! The overnight retard will serve as an equalizer of starting point to some extent. Avoid temps over 80 (takes off too fast) or under 66 or so (too slow) but in between you should never notice any difference if you retard. (And the only diff will be in how long it takes for the dough to double if you don't retard). And... since you are unlikely to bake all the dough balls 2 hours after you remove them from the fridge (or 4 hours after mixing) (i.e. at the peak point) it is ultimately no big deal. I routinely bake pies for about 2 hours so the dough balls are out of the fridge for 2 to 4 hours and they are all fine. (Note: the first two hours are on an indoor counter at nominally 72 oF and the second two hours are outside at anywhere from 60 to 90. The temp you start at is pretty trivial compared to the time and temp variation!)

Bake On!

heliman 10-04-2009 02:39 AM

Re: Pizza Dough Temperature
Thanks very much for that detailed overview of dough temperatures Jay. As a test I bought a chunk of fresh yeast from the local Italian shop but will definitely go backto instant when that's gone.


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