Old 09-30-2010, 03:34 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: georgia
Posts: 31
Default Re: Crust issues

So Dino, what do you use on your counter to prevent the dough from sticking while you work it into shape? I assumed I needed flour to keep it from sticking to the granite...but maybe not?

Where does one find rice flour? Can you use rice flour to roll out the dough?
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: georgia
Posts: 31
Default Re: Crust issues

Originally Posted by texassourdough View Post
Biggest caveat is to ball it early. The bread flour needs to relax before you form pies. Longer the better.
Jay, I appreciate the advice, but I don't understand this part of what you offered. Can you explain this please?

Thanks so much.

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Old 09-30-2010, 04:36 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 4,216
Default Re: Crust issues

Pizza screen images
My geodesic oven project:
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Old 09-30-2010, 06:02 PM
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Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northridge, CA
Posts: 1,017
Default Re: Crust issues

I don't use a rolling pin. Actually, very few on this forum use a pin. I use either caputo or bread-flour on the back of my hands and knuckles and gently turn it over back and forth while I gently stretch it round. I use a plastic tray or large round metal pizza tray to flop it on (well floured) and usually add a little hand pulling and tugging on the flat tray. I use a tray or pizza pan so not to get flour all over the counter-floor-roof rafters...it ain't pretty.

Jay will have to explain it to you (he's much better at this) because I think "balling" early and "relaxing" all have to do with the suppleness of the dough and then how easy it becomes to hand stretch (not compressed with a rolling pin).

I get the rice flour at any ethnic store (Persian, middle eastern, asian and larger markets always carry it and it's cheap). And no, the rice flour is only shaken onto the 'placing peel', you hand-stretch (or roll-if you insist) with flour.

OK, maybe now you're not so happy with all this advice.

Actually, thank you, I'm getting lots of good info too -Dino
"Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death." -Auntie Mame

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Old 09-30-2010, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: georgia
Posts: 31
Default Re: Crust issues

Yeah, I figured out that a rolling pin would tend to inhibit the development of bubbles in the crust (Right?). So my last pie was done purely by hand. Now, my technique really blows...but I am trying to be patient and still properly aggressive in stretching the dough out to the thickness and diameter that suits me. Needs work here!!!

I suspect that getting the dough to just the right consistency/degree of wetness has something to do with how "workable" the dough is. Yes? Again, needs work here.

Would I be accomplishing the same thing as you do by using the stone counter tops instead of a metal or plastic tray?

Actually, my ego is very much in check and I am drinking in all the advice I can. At some point I will think I've become an expert and will not listen to anything...but thats a ways off.
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Old 09-30-2010, 06:33 PM
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Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ausitn
Posts: 3,292
Default Re: Crust issues

I can throw a dough, but as a rule, I just push it out leaving 1/4" of the edge strictly alone. It helps to leave the center a little thicker, but I end up pounding the crust pretty good by the end. My pies are not big or many, 14" max, usually 12", but if I was doing more or bigger pies, I would throw them.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 308
Default Re: Crust issues

Originally Posted by bobframe View Post

I am interested in this "screen" approach. Can you describe the screen in more detail? Pictures?

Thanks a bunch.
Pizza Screen, Pizza Screens screen

This is one of the few times when I'll actually say, "I really recommend using this source; They have served me well over and over and over again!" You might be able to find them in a local restaurant supply store and save the hassle of shipping.

p.s. for Dino: Star Restaurant Supply on Sepulveda... walk to the back, past the counter into the baking supplies. On the rack to your left. I also like having a supply of those aluminum pizza trays.

Last edited by BrianShaw; 09-30-2010 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:08 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Crust issues

Hi bob(frame)!

I need to jump back a ways. Your "complaint" of too much uncooked flour on the bottom of the pie is troublesome. Something is wrong - you shouldn't need to have a lot of flour on the dough. The excess SHOULD come off. So...I will carry you through a LONG description covering both the mixing/balling and the forming...

For a start, I think you are either using dough too wet or dough that you are "afraid" of (and thereby getting in trouble). As I recall your first dough was Neopolitan which is usually pretty soft and fragile and at hydration above 60% begins to pose handling problems for newbies. (And if you are in the 65% range it can seem impossible though there are a number of us on here who in person would simply smile at your frustration and make it happen). It has a lot to do with experience and it is hard to shortcut the process.

Neopolitan dough is in Reinhart's book balled after the bulk ferment. It will be very relaxed after the retard in the fridge. The low protein of AP allows it to relax pretty quickly so the balls will relax during the 2 hour warm up and expansion and be ready for forming pies at that time.

The reason I and others say to go NeoNeopolitan is that the NeoNeo dough uses bread flour which has more protein and can remain "manageable" at higher hydrations. (for the same hydration it gives a stiffer (seemingly dryer and less sticky dough). This makes it easier for newbies to deal with. (And, I prefer it for lots of pizzas - there are some I prefer Neopolitan for and others NeoNeo (in particular wetter pizzas - the increased protein gives the crust better ability to maintain "bite" and structure).

In either case, if you make a batch of dough and you can't handle it gracefully, reduce the water for the next batch. It seems like 60% hydration AP/Neopolitan dough is reasonably handleable by most people and say 64-65 % bread/NeoNeo dough.

Now...bread flour has more protein. It gets tougher and has longer memory. It doesn't relax quickly. As a result Reinhart has you ball the NeoNeo dough about 20 minutes after you finish mixing. (Note: timing at this point is not critical, fifteen minutes or 30 minutes no big deal. If you let it sit out an hour it will tend to be overpoofed later. Still no big deal. But form the balls before you put it in the fridge for the retard. (Reinhart says to put them in baggies. I put mine in dough pans (big plastic lidded rectangular boxes), others use round food storage containers. Of these choices the baggies seem to need the most oil and I don't want a lot of excess oil because it encourages excess flour at forming)).

If you wait until after the retard to divide and ball the NeoNeo it will get firm and tough and it will not be fully relaxed in two hours so it will fight you when you try to form the pies. And it will give a tougher pie. The relaxed, pre-balled dough is much more similar to the straight Neo - still more bite and mouthfeel but not nearly so tough.

NOTE: A number of us feel that Caputo 00 is similar to bread in that IMO it does not like to be worked late. It isn't as troublesome to me as bread flour but I definitely prefer to ball it before the retard.

And finally... to pie formation. Once the dough is warm and relaxed and soft it is ready to form the pie! There are a zillion ways to do this and you will eventually come up with your own variation but this works well and will allow you to make relatively round pies out of doughs you probably can't handle on a counter or just with your hands.

Take a sheet pan or jelly roll pan and put a cup or so of flour in the pan and spread it around. Put the dough ball on the loose flour and flatten it to about half its height. Flip it over to flour the other side and gently press it down to about half that height. It will probably be five or six inches in diameter and about an inch tall.

Beginning near the center begin using your finger tips to press the dough down and spread the dough. Use both hands. There are pretty decent videos of this part. As soon as the center is down to say half an inch start working farther out and get the outer portion and cornicione to the thickness you want. Then go back to the middle and thin down the center and work your way out to the edge again. Note: It can be done quickly faster than I can write it... The key is don't thin the center first or you will get a pie that is unevenly thin. By forming a "flattened" spaceship form with a low dome in the center and then finishing the pie you can get airy, thin, more uniform pies.

At that point put semolina (I am NOT a rice flour fan! YUCK! GRITTY!) on the peel. I then put the pie on one hand and spin/slap it from one hand to the other and back to knock off the excess flour (and there should be very little left) and immediately put the pie on the peel. (I find wood is preferable over aluminum for putting pies in the oven - less sticking problems (but that is also that developed better technique after I quit using aluminum!)

Dress the pie. Pop in the oven and....

One last comment.... Your picture of your pie raises a couple of questions. The top definitely looks more done than the bottom but you say you heated for 75 minute so the pie should have been more uniform. Two possibilities that I can see. First is the flour on the bottom is misleading me OR you kept the oven on convection and the top was too hot relative to the stone. The second issue is that the pie (top) is IMO still undercooked. You could have gone at least another 30 seconds and probably a minute or more longer. And that would have helped the bottom too.

Good Luck!
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:55 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: georgia
Posts: 31
Default Re: Crust issues

Gulp...that's a lot to process. Let me pick a couple of things that I think I can process.

Starting at the end- I did use convection all the way through, which may have sped up the top cooking at the expense of the crust's browning. Makes sense to me. Solution: Stop using convection? BTW, I was using Convection Bake mode. I think this means that only the bottom burner is active (plus the fans). Wouldn't Roast mode be a better choice as (I think) that employs the bottom and top (broiler) elements?

I wonder if using too much oil on the dough is encouraging flour to stick and that is at the root of my flour problem? Before I try to form my next crusts I will attempt to wipe all of the oil off the dough. In hindsight, I really did over oil the dough. Oh well.

It is hard for me to accept that my dough is too wet. I think it is just the opposite. Now, am I "afraid" of it? Could easily be the case...I am worried about overstretching and ripping the dough as I form the crust.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: minnesota, usa
Posts: 472
Default Re: Crust issues

If you can handle it and make it into a pie like that, it's not too wet. The flouring bit will come with practice, but an oily dough ball is no good. I use cooking spray and just a little bit at that. By the time my dough blobs are ready to be shaped and I dump them out onto the flour, you can't tell the containers were ever even sprayed and the dough is definitely not oily on the surface.
Parchment paper is a great thing for the indoor oven if you are getting hung up on the transferring bit. I won't discourage you from honing your skills with flouring JUST enough to shape and then be able to transfer a pie, but for experimentation purposes, there is no shame in shaping on lightly floured parchment and then putting the whole thing onto the stone on the paper. You can either leave it or pull it after a couple of minutes.
A properly developed dough will stretch to absolute tissue paper thinness without tearing. Assuming you've got good gluten development, you just need more practice.
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