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Pizza crust - can I reduce the honey without affecting texture?

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The California Pizza Kitchen pizza crust recipe is the only one that turns out consistently good for me; others just don't (not sure if it's the altitude, my tiny electric oven, or my sub-par baking equipment). The CPK has a perfect texture; it's just that it is a bit too sweet. Can I reduce the honey without affecting anything else, specifically the texture of the finished product?

Here is the recipe for the crust:

Authentic Pizza Dough:

1 cup Lukewarm (105°f) Water

4 Tbsp Honey

1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast

2 1/2 cups Bread Flour

2 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt

4 Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Authentic pizza dough:

1. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. If the yeast doesn’t “proof” (get “foamy”) pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.

2. Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the “proofed” yeast mixture. Turn the mixer, fitted with dough hooks, to knead and turn on. Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. After the dough has doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 12-inch log. Divide the log in half and form each half into equally sized dough balls. Lightly oil a 2 large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place each dough ball into its own bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover each bowl with plastic and set in a warm, draft-free place until the nearly double in size again, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Found at this website: http://restaurant.betterrecipes.com/b...

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  1. You can probably reduce the honey and still achieve a good result. The texture will change slightly. Less sugar/honey makes for a slightly tougher dough, and also a dough that is a bit slower to brown, either of which can be a good thing depending on your preferences. But your results will depend on how much you decrease the honey.

    The biggest problem is that you might find the sugar necessary to keep your dough tender if you're cooking in an underpowered oven or not using a nice, hot stone. I would say that you can compensate (in some ways) by adding more oil and keeping your hydration % high, but your recipe already has a good bit of oil and a relatively high % of water in it. You can try tweaking either one a little bit to compensate.

    If all else fails and you just can't get the texture you want without making your dough overly sweet (and you don't upgrade your set-up to create a hotter cooking environment), you might consider using a glucose syrup rather than honey to add sugar to the dough while minimizing sweetness.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cowboyardee

      Another tsp. of olive oil will reduce any toughness that the removal of the honey might cause. I don't use any sort of sugar in my pizza dough.

      I do a poolish method of bread dough, olive oil, salt and water, plus yeast. The polish works for 8 hours the night before and then I add the remainder of the bread dough, oil and salt. The completed dough ferments on the countertop the entire day.

    2. I just add a pinch of sugar to activate the yeast, that's all it needs. I don't use honey at all.

      2 Replies
      1. re: treb

        Technically speaking, you don't even need that pinch of sugar - Neapolitan pizza doughs and baguette doughs with no sugar at all come out just fine, given the right oven conditions.

        But the amount of honey in the OP's preferred recipe definitely has an effect on the texture of the finished crust.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          I agree that honey helps with the browning of the pizza. A home oven doesn't get hot enough to brown the pizza fast enough, hence the addition of honey/ milk/ sugar. If you added any sweetener to a Neapolitan pizza dough it would scorch in a 900 degree oven.
          Sugar helps feed the yeast, but isn't essential and salt retards it.

      2. Oh gosh, yes!
        That's way more sugar than the yeast needs- that's for making it sweet- a flavor thing.
        I'd try half.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monavano

          The yeast doesn't need ANY sugar at all!

        2. Next time you make pizzas just do two batches. Just a squirt of honey in one. See if you like it. I personally use no sugar or honey. 65 to 70% hydration, .5% yeast, 1.5% salt, 1% oil.

          1. The only ingredients you need are flour, water, salt and yeast. Honey is definitely not needed. I never use oil of any sort. I divide the flour and use half with an equal amount of semolina. The semolina adds a nutty flavor to the crust.

            1. This is interesting. I always thought that the yeast needed sugar to activate.

              3 Replies
              1. re: monavano

                Nope, there's plenty of food for the yeast in the flour, no need for sugar. However, it does affect flavor of course, and texture if present in significant quantity.

                1. re: biondanonima

                  Exactly. Sugars and starches are basically the same stuff, just arranged differently - corn can become cornstarch or corn syrup, wheat can become flour or glucose syrup. Hence all the backlash against refined flours.

                  1. re: babette feasts

                    Well, we've been sold a bill of goods by Food Network!

              2. Thank you so much everyone! Tonight I reduced the honey by one tablespoon and increased the oil with one tablespoon, with no significant difference in texture. I didn't notice the crust being too sweet this time, but then it was the Thai chicken pizza, so if the sweetness was there, I may not have noticed. I had only read the first couple responses at the time I made the dough. Next time I will reduce the honey further and see how it goes. Unfortunately, I can't upgrade my kitchen equipment at this time and in this apartment. :-(

                1 Reply
                1. re: musicalchef

                  Since you can't upgrade your kitchen, you might want to try the "skillet-broiler" method described in step 5 at the following link. - Works well enough so that I have a hard time (especially in the summer) justifying cranking up the oven the traditional way.
                  http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...