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No knead pizza dough question

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Hi, I've been using Jim lahy's no knead pizza recipe (essentially flour, water, yeast and salt; very slow rise time). The consistency of the dough is beautiful, stretches into pie shape effortlessly with no need for rolling pin. I use a pizza stone, preheated at highest setting for 1 hr, then turned onto broil when pie goes in oven. Pizza is done in less than 5 min.
My question - the taste and texture of the finished crust is meh. How come? It doesn't have the crispness AND chewiness that I associate with Neapolitan crust. It's kind of bland tasting without the airy texture and crispness and chewiness I love. The last time, I put in a tsp of honey hoping that would help. No go. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. Someone on another thread did post this link of a video of his pizza dough. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

    Although IMO if I had not made pizza dough lots of time, I did find a couple of steps missing between the putting the ingredients into the bowl and when they were shown in raised balls. However, point is that you might find at the end the video showing his crust at the end result.

    From my experience, I have not had a pizza CRUST such as he is demonstrating completely done in the time that he gives - I think it is 2-3 minutes at the temperature he gives. His pizza crust edge did have the burnt-type one would expect of a HIGHER temperature than 500F IMO.

    I do like your idea of putting on the broiler. I've not done that.

    Regarding the bland taste, perhaps it's the 8-9 hours resting time instead of a longer time. I think there is a disconnect in that I believe he says 8-9 hours on the video and 18 hours in the instructions. (I always leave his dough set overnight.) and/or

    do you do the fold and stretch during this 8-9 hours? or overnight setting of 18 hours?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Rella

      Since my house is fairly cool, I actually let it rest about 20 hrs without touching it at all. It rises beautifully, looks and feels gorgeous. The taste though is just bland, and the hole structure after baking is really small. Not like a well risen Neapolitan crust. My husband says it tastes like it doesn't have enuf salt though I follow lahy's instructions precisely (using a scale). Can't understand it.

      1. re: katnat

        Not much yeast goes into this recipe. Maybe it's also missing the yeasty flavor that develops in regular pizza crust when allowed to rise several hours.

        1. re: katnat

          I always double the salt called for when I make his no-knead bread - I think it helps the flavor a lot. Also, I often make mine with leftovey whey or beer instead of water, which adds a bit of flavor. You could also try adding a pinch of sugar to the dough, or a tiny bit of vinegar.

          1. re: biondanonima

            I double the salt, too. It makes a big difference. Theoretically, it could retard the rise but I haven't ever added enough salt to cause it.

            1. re: chowser

              i double the salt *and* add a little bit of diastatic malt powder to aid in the breakdown of the sugars

          2. re: katnat

            Yes, I do wonder if an less salty recipe for his crust is Lahey's way of allowing for strongly salted cheese and other strongly salted toppings; i.e., black olives. However, if this is the case, I can't imagine not having an 'option' for salt in his recipe.

        2. School Cafeteria Pourable Pizza Crust

          Makes 1 half-sheetpan (13" x 18" x 1")

          Makes 10 servings

          For best results, have all ingredients and utensils at room temperature.

          Preheat oven to 475° F.

          1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
          2 2/3 cups (11.25 oz) Enriched all-purpose flour
          3/4 cup (1.85 oz) Instant nonfat dry milk
          2 1/2 Tablespoons (1 oz) Sugar
          1/4 tsp Salt
          1 1/4 teaspoons Vegetable oil
          1 2/3 cups Water, warm (130° F)
          2 Tablespoons (1/2 oz) Cornmeal

          1. Mix dry yeast, flour, dry milk, sugar, and salt together.

          2. Add oil to dry mixture mix for 4 minutes on low speed.

          3. Add water to dry ingredients. Mix for 10 minutes on medium speed.
          Batter will be lumpy.

          4. For 10 servings, lightly coat 1 half-sheet pan (13" x 18" x 1") with pan release spray.
          Sprinkle half-sheet pan with 1/2 oz (approximately 2 Tbsp) cornmeal.

          5. Pour or spread 1 lb 11 1/2 oz (1 qt 1/2 cup) into each half-sheet pan.
          Let stand for 20 minutes

          6. Prebake until crust is set:
          Conventional oven: 475° F for 10 minutes
          Convection oven: 425° F for 7 minutes

          7. Top each prebaked crust with desired topping.

          8. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted:
          Conventional oven: 475° F for 10-15 minutes
          Convection oven: 425° F for 5 minutes

          9. Portion by cutting each half-sheet pan 2 x 5 (10 pieces per pan).

          SERVING:
          1 piece provides 2 servings of grains/breads.

          YIELD: about 1 lb 11 1/2 oz

          Special Tip:
          To use high-activity (instant) yeast, follow manufacturer's instructions.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Antilope

            There are pictures and a review of the school cafeteria pourable pizza crust at Pizza Making .com. The reviewer liked the recipe and said it is soft and breadlike. Here's a link to the review (about halfway down the webpage). It's a USDA school lunch recipe that has been in use since 1988.

            Pourable Pizza Crust recipe review at PizzaMaking.com
            http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/inde...

            Link to original USDA Pourable Pizza Crust recipe for 50 and 100 servings
            http://www.nfsmi.org/USDA_recipes/sch...

            Link to USDA school lunch recipes for 50 and 100 servings
            http://www.nfsmi.org/Templates/Templa...

          2. I agree with the added salt suggestions. I was watching Martha do bread once, and couldn't believe the amount of salt she put in. I was always stingy with the salt, but it really does help develop flavor. If you are worried about it affecting the yeast, then just put in a bit more yeast.
            Also, maybe you should bake the crust a bit before turning on the broiler. I like to prebake my crusts, it yields a nice, crispy crust.

            10 Replies
            1. re: wyogal

              I've never pre-baked a pizza crust; however, I do add some toppings later than others; i.e., basil or arugala, or any topping that has a lot of oil that might burn.

              1. re: wyogal

                I've read repeatedly that too much salt can retard the yeast. I'm pretty heavy handed with salt and have yet to find that to be the case.

                1. re: chowser

                  Yep, I'm adding more salt these days, really pumps up the flavor.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I think that "too much salt" is a very large amount of salt - more than would taste good.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      I've noticed while making sweet doughs, sugar seems to have more of an effect on slowing down the yeast than salt in savory doughs.

                      1. re: Antilope

                        Really? Sugar feeds the yeast. It shouldn't retard it.

                        1. re: chowser

                          There is even a special yeast for sweet doughs. Here's an explanation at King Arthur Flour:

                          http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

                          Sugar robs the yeast of water and causes it to grow slower.

                          1. re: Antilope

                            I've never had that problem w/ sugar but maybe the recipes already adjust with more hydration. I'd rather add more water than buy that expensive specialty yeast!

                        2. re: Antilope

                          Doughs with larger amounts of sugar are usually enriched - dairy, eggs, etc., and I always assumed that this extra fat/weight delayed the rising.

                        3. re: sandylc

                          That's what I've decided but think it's funny in that case that so many sources say it since people wouldn't normally add that much to begin with.

                    2. You might need a higher protein flour. Try King Arthur bread flour? Also, how are you judging doneness? Under 5 minutes is on the quick side for a home oven.

                      1. I agree that it sounds like you need more salt. Another option, instead of the normal long room temperature rises, is to make the dough and refrigerate it for a few days so it tastes more like sourdough. I do that with most bread products if I have time.

                        1. I like the dough recipe in Bittman's Cooking Matters Cookbook. 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup white bread flour. I use King Arthur. He says flavors become more complex if you let sit for up to 12 hours. I thought it was too wheat-y tasting so I decreased the whole wheat to 1 1/2 cups and added 1/2 cup semolina flour from King Arthur. The crust seems a little bit crunchier now.