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May 23, 2007 07:22 AM

Pizza Americana dough: Am I kneading this right?

Tried Peter Reinharts Pizza Americana dough last night. It is supposed to come out a little sticky. I mixed the ingredients, knead a few minutes, rest a few minutes, and knead a couple more.
Just at the surface of the dough tiny rips and tears form every time you fold it. Is this right? Should the dough be totally smooth instead after this first round of kneading?

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  1. It sounds a little dry. It should be smooth and not rip. Which did you use -- high-gluten or bread flour? How did you measure it -- with a scale, spooned into cups, or dip-and-sweep? When you finished kneading, was it still tacky/sticky? I always use his Napoletana recipe, but I find the original recipe a little too dry. On that one I use 67% hydration rather than his 62%. It makes a big difference.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bakergal

      I'm visiting family in Cleveland and couldn't find any high-gluten flour. I used bread flour and measured by digital scale. It was on the sticky side of tacky when I finished kneading.
      I may have underkneaded it? Usually I use my kitchen-aid, but last night I was using my hands. The windowpane test worked, but I don't know if my windowpane is the same as everyone elses.

      1. re: Romanmk

        Lol, I wish someone else would chime in with their thoughts! Well, if you used a scale, you should have been within the ballpark on hydration. Usually it takes a little more bread flour than hi-gluten for a given recipe, but too sticky is better than too dry. I doubt it was underkneaded. I took a pizza class with Reinhart after the pizza book came out, and he said -- "Don't knead too much. The less organized the gluten, the larger the holes. The more organized the gluten, the finer the texture." Were you dipping your hands in water as you kneaded it? I don't like that method! I like to get it to the right hydration in the bowl, let it sit 15 minutes for gluten to start developing, and then knead on a counter sprayed with Pam, and spray my hands, too. That way the hydration stays where you want it. You're not adding extra water. You never said -- how did it turn out after baking?

        1. re: bakergal

          The dough was so soft I could barely pick it up. Just lifting it off the counter stretched it into an ovalish oblong shape, like snowshoe naan, of at least 12 inches in length. I faithfully spread it out on the peel, topped it, and loaded it onto my fathers blackened pizza stone. (I think he preheats it briefly and then puts a Boboli crust on there that has been rubbed with oil underneath. It is not pretty.)

          The first pizza turned out amazing. I used the pizza americana recipe minus pepperoni with lightly sauteed veggie toppings. A spot was too thin which caused the toppings to leak through and stick to the stone. I had to scrape part of the pizza off the stone and more cheese/sauce spilled over making a huge burning mess. Sort of a disaster. But the flavor/texture/crispness/thinness of the crust, sauce, and cheese was incredible. Maybe one of the top three pizzas I have ever eaten!

          I had to load and bake the rest of the pizzas sitting on aluminum foil to deal with the mess on the stone. This worked pretty well. Overall a grand experience.

          1. re: Romanmk

            I'm so happy for you!!! That dough sounds a little softer than mine, but now that I think about it, I stopped taking it out of the fridge so early because it was soft and tricky to work with. Sorry about the mess. I've finally learned to pull the fuse on the smoke alarm when I make pizza, lol. It's so embarrassing to have the neighbors knock on the door and ask if everything's all right. Yes, just making pizza again!

    2. i know this a little off subject - i haven't tried Peter Reinharts dough....but i use this one from ages ago when Jamie Oliver had a show on Food TV:

      Except that since then I have modified and/or I think somehow I got the recipe from writing it down from the show - it seemed that easy....what I do different is:

      1) i use three packets of active dry yeast (30grams) - and mix it with the sugar and less than half the water - 300mls (i use a total of 625 mils of water)

      2) i do start in a big bowl - measure using a scale and mix in the salt and and flour....i use any kind of flour but bread is better

      3) i then pour the yeast mix into the flour mix with the olive oil and the remaining 325 mls of water - and begin mixing until it starts to get together - then it all gets poured out onto my kitchen table and i knead it together.....

      i usually mix this up after work on a thursday - form into a ball and pop it in the fridge - then the next morning - its popped out of its saran wrap by then usually but not as much as it should - i take it out - reform the ball into two balls - cover in plastic and let stand all day until friday night....

      then i roll / stretch it out onto oiled cookie sheets and let it sit at least another 15 mins before adding sauce....

      oven is at 500 - i pop them in one at a time and bake until the underside is golden and by then the sauce is cooked - then i take it out, add cheese and pop back in until it melts and bubbles....

      and then YAY Friday night Pizza - my husband is from Southern Italy and swears this is better than his moms......

      if i make one with peppers and onions - i put the peppers and onions on raw to cook with the sauce before the cheese BTW.....

      3 Replies
      1. re: deliciousnyc

        One can't argue with success, that's for sure. But, golly, that sounds like a lot of yeast!

        1. re: bakergal

          i totally thought so too bakergal - everytime i make it i doubt that it will be ok....but my craving for the pizza usually overrides the desire to figure out what would be correct.....

          this morning i made my dough and used three packets of yeast instead of the 30g ive used the past three times it was more like 20g - so we'll see tonite what the difference is.....a few weeks ago at the supermarket i found a giant jar of Fleshmans in lieu of the little foil packets thats why i ended up with really doing the 30g - jamie's recipe said 30g but when i watched the show ages ago i remember that he said to use the triple packet active dry yeast and use all three.....which i had been doing for a while - i had always assumed it was 30g until recently......honestly the full 30g was making a fluffier crust - like a sicillian - the 20g i think will make it crispier.....but again - we'll see......

          so wish i could quit my day job and learn all this stuff for real!

          1. re: deliciousnyc

            Lol, I pictured you going to your fridge and finding a big blob of pizza dough oozing out the door,

            I hope you'll check back with your results of the 20g experiment. This will be interesting!