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Help with Neapolitan pizza dough recipe

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Hi all,

I'm using this recipe:

http://mobile.seriouseats.com/recipes...

though I'm using all purpose flour. I'm having some difficulties getting a puffy and airy crust. I also can't get that nice char. I'm using a conventional oven. Do I have to use the skillet-broiler technique in my conventional oven? Is the puffiness and airiness a function of the recipe, the kneading, the oven or all of the above? The pizza I'm making is still real good but its not where I want it.

Thanks,
Justin

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  1. Do you use a baking stone? You really need to use one to get the bottom crust in order. Make sure to liberally preheat it at max temperature, up to 60 minutes. Even then, to get the char on the top at the edges, you might need to move the pie up to a higher rack and broil it for a few minutes. Some sugar and oil in the dough will help with the browning.

    From what I've read, using 00 Italian flour would be less successful than AP flour in an oven cooking at less that 750 or so degrees. The Caputo 00 flour tends to remain very blond in lower heat levels (again, just what I've read/heard).

    1. professional pizza ovens exceed 800 degrees, so pizzas cook very fast. the char and the crust bubbles come from this. the skillet/broiler method can approximate it, but it still will never get that hot.

      you will get a lighter dough with the other flour.

      3 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I do use a pizza stone placed on the second to top rack of my oven. It's about as high up as I can go while still being able to slide the pizza onto it. I have a little sugar in my dough so it does brown, but I'd love to get the charring and bubbling.

        I've experimented once with the "00" flour. It was a bit of a botched experiment. The dough turned out more dry than I'd wanted so I kept adding flour and water to it to soften it up (I'm not really sure of the proper technique for adding water to dough AFTER it's already formed, which is why I add a little more flour too). It did not brown very well, however I didn't have any sugar in this batch. Pizza was still good but might have been over-kneaded.

        I was reading at seriouseats that you should let the dough cold rise in the fridge at least over night and ideally a few days. That also helps to get the bigger bubbles.

        1. re: justinmiller61

          a slower, longer rise will give better flavor to the dough for sure.

        2. re: hotoynoodle

          She can uuse a pizza pan to form the crust but you need to take it out of the pan on directly on the stone as soon as you can move it without the crust tearing. I give the crust 2-3 minutes and the it will slide easily off of the pan.

          Letting the dough rise for 1 hour after you form it before topping it will give it time to puff up.

          I like to start the dough the night before so I get the maximum rise. I also add 1-2 TBL of milk to the water because the butterfat aids the browning of the crust , plus the yeast like the lactose.

        3. Do I have to use the skillet-broiler technique in my conventional oven?

          ______________________________

          Yes.

          Conventional ovens do not get hot enough to give you that nice restaurant char that you want.

          So heat a CI Skillet on your stovetop until it's screaming hot. In the meantime turn on your broiler to its highest setting. Once the skillet is smoking, turn it over, place your pizza on top (or the bottom of the skillet), then stick the upside down skillet underneath your broiler.

          Couple of minutes and you'll have yourself a great pizza.

          7 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Why turn the skillet upside down? I've read some posts about that method that says to place the dough IN the skillet. Is there a big difference?

            1. re: justinmiller61

              upside down, the edges of the pizza are more greatly exposed to heat, allowing for better crisping and browning.

              also easier just to slide it off, instead of trying to get a super hot pie out of the pan.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Yup. Thank you hotoynoodle.

                Previous discussion here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683259

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  very interesting tip, thanks!

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I should try this approach. Good for smaller pies, I bet. For me, and in response to the OP's reply above to hotoynoodle, I find it's best to put the stone closer to the bottom of the oven. I have an infrared thermometer telling that the stone gets to 570-80 degrees there (the oven is set to its 550 max; it's a gas oven).

              After five minutes of bake time, the bottom crust has some charring, and I fire the broiler and then slide the pizza onto an oven rack closer to the broiler to finish the top (usually another 2 minutes). The problem with the method is that the broiler takes a few moments to fire on, and the broiler will automatically fire off when it thinks it's hot enough in there, so I'm still jiggering with the timing of when to fire it.

              1. re: Bada Bing

                I posted about this technique earlier here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683259

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  Regarding which rack to use, I found this article interesting:

                  http://mobile.slice.seriouseats.com/a...

                  I'll be going out to buy a cast iron skillet tomorrow :)

              2. If you will persist in making pizza, I suggest that you get a copy of 'American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza' by Peter Reinhart. I has 2 parts. The first one is about his search for the best pizza in the world, and the 2nd part has many recipes according to the origins of the pizze (plural). The book is really a great read!

                14 Replies
                1. re: ChiliDude

                  Has anyone had success with "00" flour in a conventional oven? Or should I just stick to all purpose?

                  1. re: justinmiller61

                    I have no clue where to get "00" flour in the US. I know that the Italians use the stuff. I find that a combination of all purpose flour and bread flour produces a nice crisp thin crust which is what I like.

                    1. re: ChiliDude

                      I found an Italian market in my city at sells it. Also, Kenji over at seriouseats claims to have found it at Whole Foods. I'll be headed there this weekend to verify, because thats even closer than this Italian market. The batch of dough I'll be using tomorrow was made with the Tipo flour, so we'll see how it goes. Kenji recommends using the Tipo flour with the skillet/broiler method even with conventional ovens. The added sugar apparently helps it brown.

                      1. re: ChiliDude

                        I have made pizza crust in a skillet a few times, a Mario Batali recipe. I got the 00 flour from King Arthur Flour. This Batali method is a little different-- you heat a griddle or large skillet to 375F, place the round of dough in it and let it cook and bubble just for minutes until browned in spots. Flip it and do the other side. You then have a parbaked single serving (9 or 10 inch) crust. Freeze, refrigerate, or use immediately. Top however you like and broil until toppings are cooked and further crust edge browning/charring occurs. Usually about 7 minutes. The dough made from the 00 flour is *very* elastic -- a challenge to get a ball of it spread into a 10" circle, but the taste and "chew" are both lovely.
                        Ah -- edited to add I found a good description of this on the web
                        http://pragmaticattic.wordpress.com/2...

                        1. re: blue room

                          I didn't care for the King Arthur 00 flour. Taste was great, but it was very difficult to work with.

                          I built a Neapolitan wood fired oven in our backyard, so we make a fair amount of pizza. It was worth it for us to buy a 50lb bag of the Caputo 00 to have on hand. I bagged it into gallon ziplock freezer bags and keep most of my stock in the freezer. The Caputo 00 flour really is spectacular, and worth finding. It stretches like you wouldn't believe, and the taste is fabulous!

                          1. re: modthyrth

                            For some reason, King Arthur chooses to use a rather low protein mix for its 00 flour, which is different from the higher protein commonly used in Italian pizza making. (As other threads here have discussed, the 00 means fine milling, but the actual protein content is a different matter.)

                            The King Arthur gives more of a cracker crust. The Caputo will work more like bread flour or King Arthur AP.

                            1. re: Bada Bing

                              Well, I thought the fact that it was so hard to work with (elastic and springy!) meant it was especially good flour ...
                              Odd that King Arthur would use the opposite of what is traditional. I looked it up, their 00 flour, decribed as "extremely supple", is 8.5% protein. Their bread dough is over 11% protein. So now I know to not take pizza flour so seriously--there are options.

                              1. re: blue room

                                Actually, I recommend taking pizza flour seriously, but pizza is also a thing of many variables. Once you find the dough that works with your kneading technique, hydration level, proofing approach, shaping, preferred toppings, oven temp, etc., THEN it is useful to be a stickler about using the same flour. It's art and science both.

                                That said, I do puzzle at why King Arthur doesn't market a 00 flour with more like 10.5 percent protein, which is (as I recall) about where Caputo 00 pizzeria flour weighs in. Maybe it's just too hard to get that stuff to behave in a regular oven.

                    2. re: ChiliDude

                      Another question about the skillet/broiler method. Instead of preparing the pizza on the upside down hot skillet, can I just prep it on the pizza peel like I normally do then slide it onto the skillet? I don't see it being much different than sliding it into the oven onto the stone. You may had to be a little more precise, but I feel like it wouldn't be as easy to burn yourself this way.

                      1. re: justinmiller61

                        No.

                        The point in using an upside down skillet is you can heat the bottom directly on your stovetop.

                        Your method might work if you're willing to put the pizza stone directly on your stovetop ... which leads to its own hazards.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Maybe you misunderstood? I'm suggesting heating the skillet on the stove as you describe but instead of prepping the dough on the hot skillet, prep it on a peel, then slide it onto the hot, upside down skillet -- then everything under the broiler. Still essentially the same steps. Am I missing something about why one would prep the pizza ON the skillet vs. sliding it on after it's prepped? I think in one of the original articles I read, the author has trouble sliding a prepped pizza into the skillet. So he took to preparing the pizza IN the skillet. By using the underside of the skillet, I'd think you'd avoid that issue.

                          1. re: justinmiller61

                            If you prepped the pizza on a peel and then stacked it on an upside down skillet, you'd lose the direct heat transfer of the hot skillet.

                            1. re: justinmiller61

                              It is not the way i would do it. Just how large a skillet do you have? The largest ones I have are only 10 and 1/2 in diameter. Using a pizza stone is your best bet.

                              1. re: ChiliDude

                                I have a 12" skillet. I'm experimenting with both methods -- in the skillet and on the underside. First pie was in the skillet. I had prepped two pieces of dough and the first one I botched. When transferring it to the skillet it stretched and was too large for the skillet and just kind of folded over on itself. So I tossed that piece. The second worked better and the pie came out good. One problem I had was that the dough started to cook the minute it hit the skillet, before I could even start topping it. This was 'odd' although may have been good in a way -- the sauce had less/no time to make the dough soggy. It's still a PITA to get the dough into the skillet, so I'll be trying the dough on the underside of the skillet tomorrow. Depending on how that goes I may just revert to using the stone + the broiler and depending on the amount of charring on the bottom, finish it off in the skillet on the stove.