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Jan 24, 2010 05:38 PM

Artisan Bread in 5: the pizza disaster

Tonight I tried to make pizza using the dough from the master recipe in Artisan Bread...what a disaster. The dough was one week old and much wetter/sticky than when it was first made. It stuck to matter how much flour was involved. It wouldn't roll out properly nor was I able to shape it by hand (I tried letting it rest between the rolling and shaping). What the devil went wrong? Is there a better way to make pizza dough at home? I was so hoping to use this method, as I am short on time.

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  1. I love Jim Lahey's pizza dough recipe in My Bread. Comes out beautifully. Don' t know if you could adapt it for a work day, if that's a concern (maybe mix dough in the morning and let it rise in the fridge?) or if you can get home early enough to make it before dinner (initial rise 2 h then shape into balls and rest 30 mins, stretch out and top, bake 30 mins).

    1. While I haven't had as big a flop as what you describe, I have had issues before with old ABin5 bread dough being "weepy" and hard to shape. It usually tastes good even if the results aren't pretty.

      1. Are you referring to Jeff Hertzberg's book? Perhaps some other publication.
        Try posting a description of your problem at:
        I think you'll get better results there.
        Making a good pizza dough is more about hydration levels than any other factor and requires, IMO, a well developed skill at reading the dough. Just following a recipe without knowing how to read the results in the finished dough often turns out badly.

        2 Replies
        1. re: todao

          todao: you are is jeff hertzberg's book. my hunch was that the problem was to do with the hydration level; however, my thought was that it was a bit wet because it had been in the refrigerator for a week. i chose to try out pizza using this dough at this age because, according to the book, the dough is best for pizza when it has aged a bit. perhaps, it's just not the best dough for the task at hand...

          chuang: would you please share the dough you mentioned in your reply?

          1. re: super_b

            Do you know about their website/Q and A forum?

            They're *really* quick to answer and I also remember reading something about a similar problem in the board. I think as the dough ages, it does tend to weep some. As another person said, not pretty, but still tasty...

            I've had nothing but success with these breads, but I've never made the pizza dough...

        2. I don't make pizza very often, but made some of the best pizza I've ever cooked using the regular dough from that book. I think I used cornmeal to roll it out. I'm afraid I can't remember how old the dough was, but it definitely worked well for me so maybe try again with slightly fresher dough?

          1. I've been using the ABin5 dough for pizza on a weekly basis for over a year. It is a little tricky to work with. If you're attempting to produce "the best crust ever made", I would go with more traditional methods - I've resigned myself to the fact that using this dough requires breaking a few established "rules". However, I continue to use ABin5 because it's such a great time saver and (to me) the olive oil recipe results in a crust that is just as good as most local pizza joints in my area.
            I won't say I haven't had any mishaps, but here's the short version of what I do to keep them to a minimum:

            1. I've taken to making multiple "personal size" pizzas that end up being about the size of a dinner plate instead of larger "standard" pies - easier to handle, and it allows guests to decide on their own toppings.

            2. Whatever size ball I remove from the fridge gets liberally dusted with flour and rested on the counter for at least an hour....... plenty of time for the dough to double in size and the oven/pizza stone to get hot.

            3. Broken rule #1 - Rested ball gets hand stretched in the air and placed on parchment paper so I don't have to worry about it sticking to my peel while stretching or adding toppings. - I never use a roller.

            4. Broken rule #2 - Pizza and parchment paper then goes in the oven on the stone - if your oven gets anywhere near the proper temperature for pizza making, the paper will burn before the pizza is fully cooked. My "work around" is to cook the pie halfway on the paper and then remove it while I turn on the broiler and move the pie to an upper oven rack and "broil" the toppings until the pie is done.

            5. "Plan B" - If I run out of parchment paper I've found that I can avoid having the pie stick to the peel if I put my stretched dough on my peel that has been dusted with flour and QUICKLY transfer it to the oven without any toppings. Then, after the crust has "par-baked" I can remove it to add my toppings and then return to the oven to finish.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

              @Bryan Pepperseed: Rather than using parchment under your pizza and burning it you should invest in a Super Peel. You can top your pizzas directly on unfloured countertops and it will pick them up and drop them on your stone without ever sticking. They are fabulous and a great compliment to ABin5 and other bread or pie crust recipes.

              1. re: baschwar

                Thanks for the tip.
                If my memory is correct, I think I saw some demo videos for it online awhile back and decided against it.
                Knowing me, it was probably due to the cost, but I'll check it out again to at least refresh my memory.

                1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                  Or you could buy parchment for high heat cooking. It works very well for pizza without the charring I get with the regular stuff.

                2. re: baschwar

                  Or just use tin foil easy, cheap, and probably already in your kitchen. I dont have any sticking problems.