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Not happy with pizza dough outcome

Made pizza last night, and I struggle with the dough all the time. I tried this Jamie Oliver recipe this time, mainly because I had '00' flour to use. Had high hopes because of this flour. The result was very bready, and still too thick, not enough bubbles. It did have a nice crisp base though.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ja....

I gave up kneading after a long time (like 30 mins). Never did get to window pane. mixed by hand, but then divided in half and kneaded half by hand, half with my kitchenaid dough hook. It rested, rose for about 2hours. Rolled out with rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thick, I can't imagine rolling much thinner. Used high heat (my oven goes to 550f) and preheated my stones for about 45 mins, used one pizza stone, one cast iron pan. Cast iron pan was slightly better.

I am looking for a chewy, thin crust, not crispy, not bready. Is this possible outside of a pizza oven??

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  1. I found I obtain better results (thin, tender crust that's not to bready) when the dough has a little more water, at least 60% baker's ratio.

    Assuming you're using 5 ounce cups of flour, I would up the water to at least 2 2/3 cups.

    Reinhart's recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" is my goto recipe.

    27 Replies
      1. re: dave_c

        "Rich ‘n’ Tender Crust" Pizza formula from the book, "Encyclopizza"

        16 oz oz Medium-gluten Flour (10 to 11.5% protein)
        8-1/2 oz Water
        2-1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
        1-1/4 oz Sugar
        3/4 tsp Salt
        5/8 oz Non-fat Dry Milk
        3/8 oz Egg Yolks
        1-1/4 oz Oil
               
        Yield 29 oz of dough, enough for two 12-inch pizzas.

        1. re: Antilope

          Milk, egg yolks, oil and sugar have no place in a decent pizza dough recipe.

          All you need is flour, salt, water, yeast, and time.

          1. re: Josh

            Of course you must be correct, because, after all, what does Pizzamaking.com know about making pizzas or recommending pizza reference books?

            Encyclopizza
            http://www.pizzamaking.com/pizza_link...

            1. re: Antilope

              pizzamaking.com is a great resource, no doubt. And I guarantee you will find many posters there who would agree about using those ingredients in pizza dough.

              1. re: Josh

                Pizzamaking.com has been, imo, the best source for all things pizza for quite a long time. The posters will debate/argue about almost everything. (sound familiar), but the thing that makes this such a great site is the fact that they will accommodate just about any request for information no matter how "crazy" it might seem to the traditionalists. Using egg yolks in a pizza dough is pretty tame when you consider the fact that folks have been known to request a copycat recipe for a particular Pizza Hut offering. They supply the info (many times in excruciating detail) and it's up to you to decide what's good. The Lehmann Pizza Dough Calculator is to me is the best tool out there for budding home pizza makers.

                1. re: grampart

                  Interestingly, the author of this highly-touted "Encyclopizza", John Correll, has a background that, to me anyway, explains some of the recipes I've seen here.

                  "John Correll’s work experience began in 1954 as a cook’s helper in a family business … his pizza career began in 1967 as the first hourly employee in the sixth Domino's Pizza to open."

                  Quite the pizza pedigree!

                  "Along the way he founded two unique pizza companies and pioneered a number of innovative firsts including conveyorized pizza-baking, 5-minute pizza-baking, personal-size pizza, 1-minute pizza, breakfast pizza, low-calorie pizza, the Super Sunday promotion, and World's Longest Pizza."

                  I know that I want to take my pizza making instruction from the guy who invented conveyor-belt pizza ovens.

                  Maybe the guy who invented Velveeta has a tome devoted to the arts of cheese food production.

                2. re: Josh

                  If my Italian grandparents, ever used eggs, a milk product or oil, they be excommunicated from the nationality! I don't want a brioche dough pizza.

                  1. re: treb

                    Looking at that particular website, it is obviously not necessarily "Italian" or "authentic" pizzas.... they have some of those, but it's a site that is about flat dough with toppings. Crazy kind of stuff. It's about making $ as the ads show, as well as the plugs for the POS system they are hawking. It's the kind of site where cookie dough topped with cream cheese and fruit is considered pizza.

                    1. re: treb

                      "If my Italian grandparents, ever used eggs, a milk product or oil, they be excommunicated from the nationality!"

                      *sigh*

                      This reminds me of a recent debate on SeriousEats about whether or not sugar belongs in pizza sauce. Many people claimed that "no Italian would ever do that." Then a bunch of people chimed in who said "my Italian grandmother, straight off the boat, used to add just a pinch..."

                      There is no right or wrong answer except what you like. Period.

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        and don't EVEN get into a discussion about what constitutes a proper carbonara recipe! ;-)

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          The OP's topic line states 'PIZZA DOUGH'.

                          *sigh*

                          There's no right or wrong answer except what you like. Period. That's life!

                          1. re: treb

                            Period, eh?

                            Well that settles that!

                          2. re: davis_sq_pro

                            The two things aren't analogous. A pinch of sugar might be added to sauce as a shortcut to make up for subpar tomatoes.

                            Milk and egg yolk in pizza dough is a rather more extreme alteration.

                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                I love living in the post-truth era.

                                What's the right answer here, that there's no definition of pizza? That anything flat with stuff on top should be called pizza?

                                If words mean whatever we want them to then why bother with a written language at all?

                                Maybe I should ask you to define "define"?

                                1. re: Josh

                                  And don't go down the road of pizza sauces cooked vs raw.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    The right answer here is to stop thinking in absolutes. There are numerous different things called "pizza" by different people. It doesn't matter what you or I think it means, because there is specific context and someone in Hartford might think differently of pizza than someone in Los Angeles or someone in Naples. That doesn't mean any of them are wrong, or that the word doesn't have meaning.

                                    The same can be said of many other things. Try to define the word "chair" or the word "table" in absolute terms. As for your "post-truth era," it doesn't apply. These issues are nothing new. Plato's Theory of Forms is almost 2500 years old.

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      I somewhat agree, although I think the term 'flatbread' would be a better definition and open to placing anything on it.

                                    2. re: Josh

                                      I'm with you on this tangent.

                                      Or does "my favorite champagne is Budweiser" become meaningful too.

                                      :)

                        2. re: Josh

                          Absolutly correct...and one of the most important ingredients is time. The best pizza doughs (and the ones that will give the OP the desired result)are made at least a day in advance.

                          same-day pizza dough will make 'ok' pizza, but a slow rise/ferment is what the best pizza doughs great.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Josh, while I almost always side with purists/authenticists and I applaud your level of passion, I believe that you're painting with too broad of a brush here.

                            If you wanted to say something along the lines of "Milk and eggs have no place in the top two favorite styles of pizza- New York and Neapolitan," that would be an excellent argument. But you really can't restrict ingredients in a non-style specific discussion. You can't make the inference that any particular style of pizza isn't 'decent.'

                            Milk and eggs have no place in what most people would probably consider the best pizza (they definitely have no place in my favorite style), but not all.

                            1. re: Antilope

                              It's funny how chowhounders alternate between being culinarily adventurous and stuck in dogma. Have any of the naysayers ever eaten pizza made with a crust containing milk and eggs?

                              I don't see any reason why it would be bad. Just different from the run of the mill "authentic" pizza, whatever that is.

                              1. re: kengk

                                Authentic pizza may be a nebulous concept, but it, for sure, isn't topped with cream cheese and fruit.

                                1. re: grampart

                                  Would you feel better if they called it a cream cheese and fruit tart instead?

                          2. I've made that recipe before and it turned out well but I use AP flour, not 00 flour. I don't knead it for 30 minutes though -- that seems excessive! The recipe calls for kneading until the dough is soft and springy. I use my KitchenAid with the dough hook. It's usually good to go within 5-7 minutes I'd say. Then you let it rise, punch it down, and use it. I don't roll it out -- I use my hands to stretch it thin on put it on my pizza peel. Top and transfer to my preheated pizza stone.

                            1. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/p...

                              This is the recipe by Peter Reinhart from American Pie. I have used this recipe without fail for years. I actually was introduced to the book by Peter himself. I went to a pizza class that he was the instructor. It's actually a good read. He studied pizza making all over the world...tough life!

                              Give it a try. It think his instructions will be helpful as well. I agree that 30 min of kneading is too much. You developed too much gluten. It was probably hard to roll out? Snapping back, not keeping shape?

                              29 Replies
                              1. re: pagesinthesun

                                Has anyone tried the suggestion of substituting half milk vs. all water to get a chewy crust?

                                1. re: monavano

                                  milk is a tenderizer. It would be a way to get a more cakey crust.

                                  1. re: splatgirl

                                    But the suggestion was to get a chewier crust, which I don't associate with cake.
                                    I'll give it a try for sh*ts 'n grins anyway.

                                    1. re: splatgirl

                                      Indian naan bread contains milk, and while the bread is tender it's certainly not cakey (not what my cake is like at least. YMMV!)... That said, I'm not sure it would work well for pizza. Wrong texture I think.

                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                        I actually think naan bread is close to what I associate good Neapolitan crust to be like, maybe slightly crisper though, but same chew and tenderness.

                                        1. re: cleopatra999

                                          If what you want is a Neapolitan type crust, milk (or the recipe you linked) is not going to get you there.

                                          Higher hydration would be my #1 suggestion. Technique improvements would be next.

                                          Part of your problem is the recipe, but that aside, 00 flour is incredibly sensitive to technique--moreso than any other flour I've ever worked with. (I have a wood-fired oven, I'm a Neo pizza fanatic, I've dedicated years to researching and perfecting my dough and I make hundreds of pounds of it a year.) It's also completely wasted in the recipe you linked. An astute eater would only ever notice the difference, and then in a dough that has been expertly constructed and handled, but since you have it, find a recipe that is in the 70-80% range for hydration, and scale your ingredients. The suggestions to try the Peter Reinhardt formula are sound.

                                          1. re: splatgirl

                                            A hydration level greater than 70% seems a bit high for pizza. But maybe you're doing something different; can you share your formula?

                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              Not for Neo style pizza.
                                              The Reinhardt recipe is 81%, IIRC.

                                              In my experience with Neapolitan style doughs in a wood-fired oven, my best results come from hydration in the 75-80% range. More than that and the increased difficulty in handling offsets the "better". Hydration is only one factor, though. I can't emphasize enough how much technique matters at every stage. The casual home dough and pizza maker way over handles dough almost without exception.

                                              My formula is sourdough based. Prior to developing that, or if I were having a dough emergency and were prevented from doing sourdough, my formula would be 75-78% hydration, Bobs Red Mill organic AP Flour OR King Arthur conventional or organic bread flour, 2% salt, 1% yeast (or less if time permits). 20 minute autolyse, add salt, a very brief mix, and then stretch and fold every 30 minutes x 2-3 hours, portion to 250g. and shape, let sit at room temp until just beginning to rise, then cold retard overnight. In a critical pinch, no overnight retard, and that would also change my working technique, but I try to avoid this scenario like the plague because the end product is that much inferior. We've got a very good VPN place nearby, and I'd rather just eat theirs at that point.

                                              I think it's worth noting that IME no matter what pains are taken with the indoor oven, the difference between that and a WFO-cooked pizza will be significant. One can produce an excellent pizza in a home oven, but it's a completely different animal than WFO-cooked pizza, even when every other variable is exactly the same. The same can be said of the results from an experienced pizzaiolo and a novice.

                                              1. re: splatgirl

                                                The Reinhart recipe I found calls for 20.25 oz of flour and 14 oz of water, which is 69.1% hydration. There may be others with higher hydration floating around, though. According to the Varasano's link, he gets better results with higher hydration at higher temps (and lower hydration at lower temps), so perhaps the Reinhart recipe I found was published with the lower-temp home oven in mind.

                                                This is such a fascinating topic - I really appreciate the input of all you experienced pizza bakers!

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    And just for the heck of it, here's a 75% Reinhart formula straight from the horses mouth:
                                                    http://www.fornobravo.com/pizzaquest/...

                                                    It's possible I'm pulling the 81% out of thin air, but I would swear that formula is in one of his books (that I obviously don't own).

                                                    In any case and in WFO or home oven, my experience has been that higher hydration dough greatly increases ones chances of achieving a satisfactory end product. Too little water will ruin a dough in a variety of ways and in almost every case. This is exacerbated by home cook recipes and tendency toward using volume measurements instead of weights. OTOH, high hydration almost always makes doughs better.

                                                    1. re: splatgirl

                                                      Very interesting. Did you cultivate your starter out of thin air, or start with a purchased one? The options at sourdo.com are intriguing...

                                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                                        I birthed and raised sourdough baby up from scratch. I have never worked with a purchased starter, but I would be interested to do so at some point. To know if/how those change over time...a much-debated subject in the realm.
                                                        If you're interested learning about and from natural leavens, pizza dough is the perfect experimental vehicle because of the few ingredients and uncomplicated rise/bake.

                                                      2. re: splatgirl

                                                        Interesting: "you can certainly use Italian flour, such as Caputo, if you want to make an authentic Napoletana dough. Just cut back on the water by about 2 ounces, since Italian flour does not absorb as much as the higher protein American flour"

                                                        That would cut it down to about 66% hydration.

                                                        I think it's important to balance the high hydration rhetoric against ease of handling, especially in a thread like this. The OP seems to be relatively new to pizza making, and jumping immediately into a super hydrated dough is in my opinion a recipe for frustration. Handling dough with ease, learning how to shape it without ripping, work with it on the peel, etc, takes some practice. Doing this on, e.g., a 75% hydration dough vs a 65% hydration dough, adds a tremendous amount of additional difficulty.

                                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                          The fact remains that the simplest and most immediate route to an improvement based on the information presented is higher hydration. Whether or not that suits your status quo or the OP's presumed skill set is a separate issue.
                                                          How is one to ever develop the skill if one never tries? Handling 70%-75% percent hydration dough is well within the abilities of anyone who cares to invest in a little edible practice. I see this firsthand every time I have a pizza party. Even as a Neo style beginner I found this far easier than doing battle with the stiff, underhydrated doughs I was more familiar with.

                                                          1. re: splatgirl

                                                            Great point. High hydration dough isn't hard to handle once you try it a couple of times. It's actually much nicer to work with since once you have good gluten developed gravity handles the stretching for you. I think it's actually much easier to work with than a drier dough.

                                                            1. re: splatgirl

                                                              There's no such thing as fact when we're discussing someone else's subjective description of making food in an environment that we've never seen. We can only offer our educated guesses and opinions.

                                                              My opinion is that super high hydration doughs are an outlier, and I don't think high hydration is necessary given what we know of the situation, nor is it a guaranteed path to achieving the stated goals. Even on pizza-specific forums (e.g. at pizzamaking.com), it's rare to see mention of hydration over 70%. And in those threads it's common for people to mention that they're having some sort of difficulty with handling such liquid dough.

                                                              I am also of the opinion that positive reinforcement via success is a better driver for learning than negative reinforcement via failure. Given the difficulty that some people may have with working with high hydration dough, and given the fact that many pizza obsessives are perfectly happy with lower hydration doughs, it seems to me that the most probable path toward positive (successful) reinforcement is to start at a lower hydration and move up from there. If high hydration is desired, I believe that it will be easier to build up to it than it will be to jump right into the fire (or water, as the case may be).

                                                              YMMV, as always.

                                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                In my own experience, higher hydration yields a better product, especially in a home oven where you will likely have longer bake times.

                                                          2. re: splatgirl

                                                            Reinhart has different iterations of many of his recipes; I think his recipes evolve. Mine do the same. Every time I try to put together any sort of book of my recipes, I am faced with the thought that as soon as I get them all typed, I will probably have changed most of them.

                                                        2. re: splatgirl

                                                          Thanks a lot for sharing your method.

                                                          I'm going to give it a try.

                                                          1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                            Oh My, so much information here. I will definitely give these tips a try and report back. Thanks for all the information!!

                                                          2. re: splatgirl

                                                            Splatgirl, I reread this thread and I don't think you ever revealed your sourdough formula. Now that I have an active starter, I'd be very interested to hear what you do! I've looked at a ton of recipes that use starter recently, but many of them call for such a small amount (15g in a recipe that makes 600g of dough) that I can't imagine it makes a huge difference in terms of flavor.

                                                            I actually did an experiment of my own today - I needed to feed my starter, so I removed about 125g of it from its jar and instead of discarding it, I fed this portion another 125g of water and flour and let it sit at warm room temp for about 6 hours. It was nice and bubbly by this point, so I added enough water and flour to give me 600g of 75% hydration dough, plus a tiny bit of yeast and salt, let it autolyse for 30 mins and then kneaded for 5 mins in the KA. I let it rise for a couple of hours, then shaped and baked. It turned out really well (IMO), despite the shortish rise time (I would do an overnight or 2-4 night retarded rise next time). However, I used a LOT of starter in comparison to most of the recipes I'm seeing - I mean, technically all 375g of my pre-ferment was starter, right? Is there some reason NOT to use this amount of starter?

                                                            Anyway, I'd love some guidance on how to improve my dough - any tips you might have would be very much appreciated!

                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                              I generally start with 20g of starter out of the fridge, double it, and then double it again each 12 hours for 36 or 48 hours prior to making the dough. (All done at room temperature in order to wake up the yeast and get it ready to go.) So 20g yields 160g or even 320g when I'm ready to actually mix everything up. Most recipes that call for a very small amount do so in order to set up a preferment, so it's the same basic idea.

                                                              Too much starter is problematic because the starter is very rich in enzymes that can destroy gluten, especially if you do long retarded ferments. With your shorter ferment it's really not an issue, but if you left it for a few days you might notice that your dough was very weak and prone to ripping. To keep things safe it's usually advised to take less than 20% of the dough's flour percentage from the starter.

                                                              I usually shoot for around 12%, so for 1000g of a 70% hydration dough for which I was planning a multi-day retardation, I'd do something like:

                                                              141g starter (12% + 12%)
                                                              341g water (58%)
                                                              518g flour (88%)
                                                              12g salt (2.0%)
                                                              18g olive oil (3.0%)

                                                              == 1030g total (I don't count the salt or oil when I do the math, in order to keep things simple)

                                                              Best thing I've found recently to improve overall dough quality: Longer autolyse, sans salt and oil. I combine the starter, water, and flour, then let the whole thing sit for 2-3 hours prior to any further additions or kneading. This has made a huge difference in my recent batches.

                                                              (Excellent blog post on this topic, from which I got the tip: http://www.northwestsourdough.com/dis...)

                                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                Davis - thank you so much for this post - VERY informative! I'll keep your tips in mind when I can plan for a long process, but for a quick dough I felt like the large amount of starter added a lot of flavor. The autolyse is somthing I nadn't tried before but I thought it definitely helped with gluten development. I'll try leaving the salt out of the autolyse next time.

                                                        3. re: splatgirl

                                                          Is that your vocation Splat? Creating and cooking?

                                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                                          Perhaps not, but it seems to be the predominant style. I just googled and every result on the first two pages contained either milk, yogurt (milk in fermented form), or both.

                                                    2. re: monavano

                                                      "Lean ‘n’ Chewy Crust" Pizza formula from the book, "Encyclopizza"

                                                      13-5/8 oz High-gluten (Bread) Flour
                                                      2-3/8 oz Semolina
                                                      8-3/4 oz Water
                                                      2-1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
                                                      2 tsp Salt
                                                      1/3 oz Egg Whites
                                                             
                                                      Yield 25 oz of dough, enough for two 12-inch pizzas

                                                    3. re: pagesinthesun

                                                      It was snapping back a bit, but not a ton. I guess I did overknead it, I just kept trying to get the window pane!

                                                      Am I reading your recipe correct, it has no kneading? I will try this recipe next time.

                                                    4. Yes, you can make chewy tin crust in a consumer oven,

                                                      What 00 flour were you using? The 00 designation indicates a fine milling, whereas the protein level, another matter entirely, is also important. For some reason, King Arthur markets a 00 flour in the USA, but it's protein level is lower than Italian 00 and not so good for pizza, I think, unless you want a cracker-like crust..

                                                      Try King Arthur AP flour or their bread flour.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Bada Bing

                                                        I don't know what the specific brand was, but it was imported from Italy.

                                                        Next time I am in the states I will pick up some King Arthur.

                                                      2. Pizza dough usually comes out way better after a 2-3 day rest in the fridge. It improves flavor and texture.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                          1. re: cleopatra999

                                                            I usually use recipes from American Pie by Peter Reinhart, but I also like these: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

                                                            1. re: cleopatra999

                                                              "All-purpose Dough for Retarding" Pizza formula from the book, "Encyclopizza"

                                                              16 oz oz High-gluten (Bread) Flour
                                                              9 oz Water
                                                              5/8 tsp Active Dry Yeast
                                                              1-1/8 tsp Sugar
                                                              1-5/8 tsp Salt
                                                              1/2 oz Oil
                                                                     
                                                              Yield 26 oz of dough, enough for two 12-inch pizzas.