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Feb 9, 2011 06:27 AM

Pizza Woes

Ive had some trouble getting the desired crust on my pizza.

Can you tell me what im doing wrong?

I usually use 3 cups KA bread flour.

I dont have the recipe on hand at the moment- but the rest of the ingredients are the basics- yeast water salt and a lil oil- NO SUGAR

I also assemble it on some parchment and put it on the baking stone at 450 ( with the parchment)

This all results in a pale crust.. not too much browning at all.. The cheese would begin to brown but the bottom is pale, pale, pale. This is where i figured some sugar would help.

Also the texture of the crust is not what i want.. I want a "corner pizzeria" bottom. Softer with a lil chew.

Mine was a lil harder with less chew.

I tried moving the stone as well.

Initially began in the middle.. but my cheese would brown way before the bottom

moved to lower.. and that helped balance that out..

So any ideas? thoughts?

Would all AP flour help? or just be harder to stretch?

Is the parchment hurting the crust? should i just use cornmeal and assemible on the peel?

Also any thoughts on different flour combos?

i have semolina and like the crunch it can give on a thin crust.

also i have oo flour. should i use instead of bread flour for pizza?what would the difference be>?

thanks much for the help

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  1. I make alot of pizza, and what I've found is that it has less to do with the flour and more to do with temperature and rise time. I let my dough rise until it has doubled, punch it down, and then leave it on the counter until it has doubled again.

    How long is your rise?
    Do you refrigerate?
    Do you use an oven thermometer? I try to get my oven as hot as possible, which means turning it to broil but cooking the pizza in the oven.

    I think the king of pizza has to be Jeff Verasano. His devotion to good pizza is something to be admired.

    Dough Recipe:

    1 & 1/2 cup warm water
    1 packet yeast
    2 teaspoons salt
    Roughly 3 cups of AP flour

    Here in LA I'm fortunate enough to be able to grill my pizza and I have to say it's my hands down favorite method.

    1. Rise the dough in the refrigerator overnight if possible. Get the stone, low rack, as hot as you can (I do at least half an hour at 550 but aim for longer). I use parchment so it's easier to slide into the oven, on the peel into the oven.You want more gluten so don't go w/ AP flour. You could add vital wheat gluten if you want but I use all bread flour.

      1. Besides ingredients, how to you make your dough? How long does it rise for? The dough gets progressively better after a few days in the fridge. Adding a little sugar will also help with the browning of the crust. Also the ratio of water to flour makes a big difference in the end pizza. The more water (meaning higher hydration) will be a more airy dough but will also make it more difficult to handle.

        Also, 450 is a bit low for the oven, so my guess is that, as a result, you are baking your pizzas too long and the crust is drying out. My oven goes to 550. Also, how long are you preheating your stone? It should be preheated for 45-60 minutes, so its hot all the way through and doesn't drop in temp when you put the dough on it.

        I don't use parchment at all. I use a wooden peel dusted lightly with semolina. I stretch the dough on the counter and then transfer to the peel before topping. I have zero issues with sticking.

        My best pizzas are made using the broiler. I have the broiler in the main oven compartment (as opposed to a broiler in the bottom drawer). I preheat the oven at 550 for an hour with the stone about 4-5 inches from the broiler element. After an hour, I turn the broiler on and start stretching the dough. by the time I'm ready put on the stone, the stone registers about 650-700 degrees. Then I put the pie on the stone. It cooks in about 2 minutes. I get good spring and a nice browned, airy crust. The only issues is my broiler shuts off periodically when it gets too hot, so I have to be careful with timing, lest the broiler go out because the ambient temp in the oven is too high.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ESNY

          thanks all

          i put the dough in the fridge for an over night rise- i believe i made the dough at 11 on saturday and took it out the next day by 5pm

          is that enough time?

          and then let it get to room temperature and shaped and stretched etc.

          regarding water to flour.

          I took a class once that said the dough should be soft and wet

          I am not sure if that is right.. i tend to knead mine for a while till it passes the window pane test and is soft but strong *( not wet)

          I think my error is the stone.

          i turn the oven on and when it hits 450 i throw the pizza in,

          i also usually make 2 pizzas and i dont allow for enough time to let the stone get hot again.

          The stone should register 650/700? I have an infrared. i can double check that .

          1. re: lestblight

            I would try pre-heating your stone for an hour next time. It doesn't have to get up to a set temp, but the hotter it is the better. Just for comparison, use your infrared next time when the oven hits 450, the stone will be much lower in temp. Also, you want to stone to be heated through, not just the surface, which is why most people recommend you preheat for an hour. This will help the temp bounce back. Also, try to wait a few minutes after your first pizza is done to let the stone get hotter before cooking the second pie. Also, how long do you cook your pizzas for? Using the oven set at 550, mine takes about 7-8 minutes. As I said, using the broiler it takes 2 minutes.

            An overnight rise is ok but I prefer a 3-4 day. it develops the taste more. Plus, since you don't put sugar in your dough, you need more time to let the yeast do its work. I'm not sure of the science but here is an article from Slice showing differences in the same dough after a multiple day rise.


            Lastly, regarding the water and dough, pizza makers, are notorious for their exactness related to hydration level. You can go blind and crazy trying to read everything. But basically, the drier the dough, the more crackerlike the crust will be and the wetter the dough the more "neapolitan" puffy/airy style it will be.

            If you are happy with the taste of the dough, but not the texture, I'd start with the oven temp/preheating factor and see if that helps. Then i'd move on to a longer cold ferment. Then potentially adding a pinch of sugar (nothing more than a TBS). FWIW, using the same dough, I've found that using the broiler instead of the "normal" 550 degree oven, created a lighter, softer airer pizza.

            1. re: lestblight

              I set the oven to 550ยบ..... and ignore the beep when it reaches temperature. Wait at least 45 minutes before throwing the pizza onto the stone. I too use a peel with semolina, and it slips right off. [First three times, it didn't... now I keep swishing it around as I add the toppings so I know that it won't stick.]

              1. re: lestblight

                My husband does pizza every week - he insists he can't get "decent pizza" here in upstate NY.

                We use a sourdough starter, but that shouldn't make a huge difference.

                He makes the dough on Tuesday for Friday pizza.

                Around noon or so, he takes the dough out of the refrigerator to come up to temperature.

                Oven gets preheated (to 550) at 4:00.

                And he starts shaping pizza (while straddling the dog who's looking for any stray bits of cheese that may hit the floor!) around 5:30. At that temperature, I think the pizzas cook 6 or 7 minutes - he takes the first out, then shapes and slides the second in.

            2. While a no-sugar dough is very important for a true Neapolitan pizza (cooked in 90 seconds in a 900ish degree oven), I think you'll get better browning experimenting with doughs with a little sugar cooking at your temperatures.

              I'm a recent convert to the 00 flours (finally got around to ordering it, not that I had anything against it before). Oh, does the dough handle gorgeously! Finally, I'm able to stretch the dough enough and get something just like we tasted in Naples! I can really push the hydration and get just gorgeous puffy, slightly chewy crusts. But I'm making my pizzas in the wood-fired pizza oven I built in the backyard, so I am cooking at extremely high temps and my pizzas are done in 90 seconds. I'm using the flour designed to cook in those conditions, and the dough recipe designed for those conditions. I have no idea how they'd behave at half the temperature in a normal oven. The 00 is worth trying, I'd say, but if you're after a more NY style pizza rather than a true Neapolitan crust, I'm guessing you won't find the extra cost of the 00 flour worth it.

              I always raise my pizzas to the top of the dome to get a little extra browning at the end. I'll bet ESNY's suggestion of using the broiler could really help in that respect.

              1. We make pizza, with the parchment, all the time. The stone is on the bottom rack. 500 degrees, half hour preheating. Bottom browns perfectly, no problem. And that's using Trader Joe's dough so it's not like we work too hard at it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: escondido123

                  For those of you who use your stone at 500 degrees or more, do you have a problem with the oils from past pizzas (seeped into stone) smoking out your house? Mine is okay at 400, but if I go to 500 or higher I'll be entertaining the fire department! Any solutions?

                  1. re: CocoTO

                    Past 450, it gets a little fumy, but if the oven hood is on, it's no big deal, and clears pretty quick. You know something's in the oven, but it's not fire department time.