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Latest Pizza disappointment

NewEnglandEggerNewEnglandEgger Posts: 104
edited May 2012 in EggHead Forum
I'm now on my 5th attempt at pizza. So far each one has been an experiment, and each has disappointed in its own way.

This time around, I made my dough from scratch. I made a mistake in the overnight cold ferment stage, and did not cover tightly. As a result I had a thick skin to remove today. That left me with about 15% less dough to work with, and thus a very frustrating shaping effort. At one point I was so pissed off I chucked the dough ball across the kitchen. Seemed to help...as my next attempt to shape it resulted in an ok result.

My sauce was also a mess. Too much spice mixture added to hand crushed San Marzanos. Sauce ended up with a brown tint, and did not taste good.

Cheese also bombed. Main layer of shredded mozzarella with fresh shredded Asiago and Romano. Did not result in the desired flavor combo.

Only high point was in finding a good Margharita pepperoni from Dave's Marketplace.

I am so far away from a good pizza at this point, I am not sure what to do. (I live in the North East, so I am comparing to the style that is commonplace in local pizza joints around here.)

NewEnglandEgger
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Comments

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    did you have a cooking problem or a taste problem? 

    from your post, it almost sounds like the issue was you didn't like the way it came together, rather than had issues with how it cooked.

    i can only say that if i am trying something new, or which i am having trouble with, i would follow a known (and simple) recipe, to the letter. then i can tell what to change or what went wrong.

    sounds like you had a lot of  'experimentals' in there. 
    if you don't want to frustrate yourself, i would say BUY a high quality sauce, BUY some dough, and keep the toppings simple and not too much.  perfect that, then make changes and experiment. 

    chin up.  we all get frustrated. after a nice run of Paellas, i find myself screwing them up continually.  usually too much alcohol (in the cook).  simplifysimplifysimply.  then aftr perfecting the basic pizza you want, start with the variations on the theme


    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • SandBillySandBilly Posts: 224
    You might consider using store bought ingredients and only attempting one (from scratch) item per cook.
    Master the cook first, then slowly change? Sam's sells pizza dough balls for like buck apiece.
  • sharhammsharhamm Posts: 254

    You sound very frustrated at this point.   If I were you I would go to my favorite pizza joint and get an uncooked pie and cook it at home on the BGE.   This will cure you need for a pizza and really get you more anxious to keep experimenting.  Haven't made an overnightt crust but I hear they are very tasty.  Prefer fresh slice juiced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, a sprinklin of parmesan.  Then after the cook sprinklin with torn fresh basil.  To die for.

    This is the pizza dough recipe that I use.   It makes 3 or 4 medium pizzas.:

                         
    * Exported from MasterCook *

                   PIZZA...Easy Pizza Dough   5**  Fine Cooking

      Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    --------  ------------  --------------------------------
      1            package  active-dry yeast -- (2-1/4 tsp.)
      1 1/2           cups  very warm water (110°F)
      18               oz.  all-purpose flour -- (4 cups) more for dusting
      1 1/2           tsp.  salt
      2               Tbs.  olive oil
       
       
                          Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside (a Pyrex 2-cup measure makes for easy pouring; be sure the cup isn't cold). Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; process briefly to mix. With the machine running, add the water-yeast mixture in a steady stream. Turn the processor off and add the oil. Pulse a few times to mix in the oil.

    Scrape the soft dough out of the processor and onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, quickly knead the dough into a mass, incorporating any bits of flour or dough from the processor bowl that weren't mixed in. Cut the dough into four equal pieces with a knife or a dough scraper. Roll each piece into a tight, smooth ball, kneading to push the air out.

    (I don't do the above.  Place everything in the bread machine and use the dough cycle.)

    Rising and storing the dough

    What you do next depends on whether you want to make pizza right way or at a later date.

    If you want to bake the pizzas as soon as possible, put the dough balls on a lightly floured surface, cover them with a clean dishtowel, and let them rise until they almost double in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, turn your oven on, with the baking stone in it, to let the stone fully heat.

     In just 45 minutes, the dough is proofed. These dough balls are ready to be shaped.

    If you want to bake the pizzas tomorrow, line a baking sheet with a floured dishtowel, put the dough balls on it, and cover them with plastic wrap, giving them room to expand (they'll almost double in size), and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight.

    To use dough that has been refrigerated overnight, simply pull it out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before shaping the dough into a pizza.

    To freeze the dough balls, dust each one generously with flour as soon as you've made it, and put each one in a separate zip-top bag. Freeze for up to a month.

    It's best to transfer frozen dough from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before (or 10 to 12 hours before) you want to use it. But I've found that dough balls pulled straight from the freezer and left to warm up on the counter will be completely defrosted in about 1-1/2 hours. The dough is practically indestructible.

    Shaping your pizza

    Put the proofed or thawed ball of dough on a lightly floured wooden board. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the ball. Using your fingertips, press the ball down into a flat cake about 1/2 inch thick.

     Flatten the ball into a cake. Flour your fingers -- and the board -- for easier handling.  Stretch the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch by using the backs of your hands or a rolling pin.

    Lift the dough and lay it over the back of the fist of one hand. Put your other fist under the dough, right next to your first fist. Now gently stretch the dough by moving your fists away from each other (see Video). Each time you do this stretch, rotate the dough. Continue stretching and rotating until the dough is thin, about 1/4 inch, and measures about 9 inches across. Unless your dough is still cold from the freezer, it will be so soft that its own weight will stretch it out. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough thinly on a floured board. If you like a very thin pizza, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Be careful not to make it too thin, and remember that the thinner the pizza, the less topping it can handle.

    Rub a bit of flour onto a wooden pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet). Gently lift the stretched dough onto the floured peel. Top the pizza, scattering the ingredients around to within 1/2 inch of the border.

    Topping your pizza

    For some people, pizza isn't pizza without the scarlet of tomatoes peeking through the cheese, but there are many delicious savory combinations that show off fresh seasonal produce. It's better to use winter vegetables like greens or even canned tomatoes when fresh tomatoes are out of season.

    To get you started, here are two of my favorite ways to top a pizza -- plus lots of suggestions for combinations to inspire your own designs.

    To make the Angeli Caffé's favorite, Pizza al Caprino -- Over the shaped pizza, scatter 10 to 15 cloves roasted or slow-cooked garlic, 5 to 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained and sliced), 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese, a few capers, and a pinch of oregano. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

    To make a simple flatbread -- Scatter sliced garlic (3 to 4 cloves), minced fresh rosemary (from 1 small sprig), and coarse salt over the dough. Make several 1/2-inch slashes to keep the dough from puffing up. Drizzle with lots of extra-virgin olive oil before baking, and garnish with Parmesan. Serve this delicious "Pizza Aglio e Olio" with a salad or cheese.

    To design your own pizza -- Use any of these topping combinations to inspire your own creation. A generous drizzle of olive oil is a great addition to just about any pizza.

    Sautéed onions, fresh sage leaves, grated pecorino romano, grated Parmesan.

    Basil pesto, toasted pine nuts, slow-cooked garlic, grated Parmesan.

    Sautéed leeks, chopped artichoke hearts, a bit of crushed tomatoes, grated Parmesan.

    Italian Fontina, Gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes.

    Garlic, olives, capers, anchovies, and crushed tomatoes.

    Sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil.

    Thinly sliced prosciutto, ricotta, fresh basil, grated Parmesan.

    Cooked Italian sausage, sautéed onions, Italian Fontina, mozzarella.

    Sautéed mushrooms, thinly sliced cooked potatoes, Gorgonzola, crumbled cooked bacon or pancetta.

    Baking your pizza

    Put a pizza stone or unglazed terra-cotta tiles on the lowest rack of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F. Ideally, let the stone heat in the oven for an hour.

    Shake the peel (or baking sheet) gently back and forth to make sure the pizza isn't stuck. If it seems stuck, lift the edges up with a spatula and toss a bit of flour under the dough. Quickly slide the pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake until the edges are golden, about 8 min. Using a peel, a wide spatula, or tongs, remove the pizza from the oven.

    : ( U use the BGE around 500-600 degrees).

    From Fine Cooking 49, pp. 36-39

    March 1, 2002

    Description:
      "Very soft and tasty dough"
    S(Internet Address):
      "http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/easy_pizza_dough.aspx"
    Yield:
      "4 pizza's"
                                        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

     

  • Good advice from all. Time to chill, start slower and build. I can't tell you how many briskets I wrecked before figuring it all out. can be very frustrating but I'm so glad I powered through. The 20 (or 50) briskets I wrecked taught me how to do them right in the end. Keep at it and you'll be the pizza pro on here in no time. I'm doing pizzas tonight and I really have no idea how they will turn out. Hope they are good. I'll let you know.

  • frankie482frankie482 Posts: 253
    edited May 2012
    I hated making pizzas at first. I could never get the dough right. I went to a local pizza joint and bought a dough ball so I could figure out the consistency I was looking for. Then I started making dough again and cooked small pizzas on the mini. Once I got the mini pizzas figured out, I went back and duplicated on the large.
    I just buy premade pasta sauce and use that for now with straight mozzarella. I pretty much got it down but still not happy with the texture of the dough, but it tastes good. Take baby steps; makes a huge difference.
  • BotchBotch Posts: 2,599
    Since you're benchmarking off of NE pizzas (I'm Jealous!) may I recommend a book?  It's almost more of a pamphlet, you can read it in about 20 minutes, and it describes in detail how to make a New York-style pizza.  The Ultimate Pizza Manual, by Francesco Brunaldo.  Its around $7 from Amazon.  
    I just got the high-gluten flour recommended (14.2%!!) and I already have semolina, will be trying a pie or two this next week.
    Keep at it, I struggled for years to get a good dough; Alton Brown is usually spot-on but his pizza dough technique is off, quite a bit.  I learned a lot at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php , but there's a LOT to wade thru there for a beginner.  
    Good luck!  
    61kr6AnTyJL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
    300 x 300 - 41K
    _____________________________________________
     
    I Know Why The Egged Bird Sings.
     
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • Thanks for all of the advice. I really like the idea of getting dough from a local pizza joint, in order to see the proper consistency.
  • Thanks for all of the advice. I really like the idea of getting dough from a local pizza joint, in order to see the proper consistency.
    We do that quite a bit. We did homemade dough (2 day recipe) tonight but I'm all about simplicity. Just go in to your fave place and tell them how much you love their pizza and tell them what you are up to. They will very likely help you out and would probably love to hear about the results. Wouldn't hurt to have a glass of vino at the bar while you wait to show them you'll still support the joint.



  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 781
    I think one of the things I learned in making pizza less is more.  One of my favourite pizzas is a Margherita Pizza, just tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil on a thin crust.  The more you pile on a pizza the less you can really taste so I would suggest one meat, maybe two types of cheese (buy good cheese and use less) and a couple vegetables.  I know when we first started making pizza we would put everything on and were not really happy with the results and then when we simplified it the results were better.

    Gerhard
  • "(buy good cheese and use less) "

    Amen Gerhard- Think of cheese in the same way you think about other ingredients you care about- search for the best. There is a world out there that most peeps never dig in to. Cheese is as tweaky as any other ingredient out there (maybe more) and you will be richly rewarded by searching out good cheeses.

    Signed,

    Guy who owned Gourmet Deli and Cheese Shop (and lost his arse in the process) :)





  • My pizza was a wreck. Burned crust but super nice topside. Dang. Miscommunication between TFJ (wife) and I. She is the crust guru and I light stuff on fire (works for us). Her crust is set to go at 550. I was at 650 because that's where I always cooked pizza before. We salvaged a bit of a meal but in the end, no joy tonight.

    Pics to follow. Got to post the gory with the glory so I'll fess up and send the pics of the damage.



  • Cen-tex...any specific cheese recommendations? I am convinced that just using pre-shredded low moisture Mozzerella is one reason several of my past attempts have been very bland. Missing that wonderful flavor of a great pizzeria's cheese.
  • SamFerriseSamFerrise Posts: 544
    Low moisture Mozzarella is not a great melting cheese for pizza.  You need mozzarella made from whole milk for a real flavorful cheese.  Polly-O, Sorrento, Grande are some of the best if you can find them.  After it is cooked I dust mine with a good Parmiggiano cheese.

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 781
    edited May 2012

    Youtube video showing making pizza, we don't cook as hot as this oven does so ours is more like 550º and it allows you to put the basil on before putting it in the oven.  I wouldn't bother looking for the particular brand of cheese but find the type packed in a brine, once you break or cut one of the cheese balls don't put it back in the brine as it will break down quickly.

    Gerhard
  • So here's the damage. We'll do it again at 550 this week and that should fix things. 
    big green egg.jpg
    2592 x 1936 - 2M

  • Cen-tex...any specific cheese recommendations? I am convinced that just using pre-shredded low moisture Mozzerella is one reason several of my past attempts have been very bland. Missing that wonderful flavor of a great pizzeria's cheese.
    I love Bellavitano from Sartori. It has a great nutty flavor and is really cool to finish off a pizza after it comes off. This cheese is awesome for cheese trays as well. For other fun stuff to try, I recommend: Humboldt Fog (or anything from Cypress Valley CA). I love anything from Carr Valley in WI and my favorite is Yarra Valley's (Australia) Persian feta. It's harder to find but if you see it, you have to try it. It is awesome

  • NewEnglandEggerNewEnglandEgger Posts: 104
    edited May 2012
    So I went to my local/favorite pizza joint (Kingston Pizza). The owner/manager was great. I asked to purchase an uncooked small pepperoni, and at first he was skeptical I would be able to move the uncooked dough to my grill. After we sorted that out, I mentioned my struggles. He grinned and said 'it's not easy is it!'. I mentioned my experiments with cheese, and he said he uses a simple 50/50 mix of Mozzerella and Cheddar!

    The pizza cooked up absolutely beautifully on the egg. I cooked plate setter legs up, SS grate, pizza stone. I got the grill settled in at 550 first. Then put in all of the indirect gear, and once again let it settle in at 550.

    After 12 minutes...voila! Fantastic light crust, crispy with a bit of chewiness too.
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

    So my commitment to reproducing this from scratch has now been reinvigorated. Going to go with a store bought dough and sauce next time...with a focus on the cheese and pepperoni (sliced much thinner than i've been doing). Once I get that the way I want it, I'll work on the sauce. Final step will be homemade dough.
  • If you like his dough, just buy dough from him if he will let you. It will be better than store bought and will allow you to get up to speed with dough as you are ready.

    Good looking pie.



  • NewportlocalNewportlocal Posts: 474
    Seriously understand. I spent multiple days cultivating yeast for San Francisco sourdough sent to me from a chef in New York. Eventually I will try again. My last loaves didn't rise properly. Just find a pizza place and buy some. Get it dialed in on the egg, then worry about adding more complexity. I empathize with you.
  • So here's the damage. We'll do it again at 550 this week and that should fix things. 
    My wife is looking over my shoulder. When she saw your photo she said, "Did you post that? Is that yours?"

    You see what I put up with? Be nice to me, guys.
    I finally took the plunge and bought my large Big Green Easter Egg from Roswell Hardware in Roswell, GA 03/31/2012
  • So here's the damage. We'll do it again at 550 this week and that should fix things. 


    My wife is looking over my shoulder. When she saw your photo she said, "Did you post that? Is that yours?"

    You see what I put up with? Be nice to me, guys.
    Ha! I had to do it. You can't post all winners. God knows I screw enough up for all of us.



  • So I went to my local/favorite pizza joint (Kingston Pizza). The owner/manager was great... So my commitment to reproducing this from scratch has now been reinvigorated. Going to go with a store bought dough and sauce next time...with a focus on the cheese and pepperoni (sliced much thinner than i've been doing). Once I get that the way I want it, I'll work on the sauce. Final step will be homemade dough.
    I'm glad to hear you had a victory. When I go very long with nothing but disappointment, I clawing or a victory anywhere I can get it. This was very good advice you got. I too was skeptical, so I'm glad @sharhamm spoke up. I would suggest you keep getting dough from that place while you hone your craft.

    Let's see if we can help you with other aspects. Are you a member of Sam's Club, Costco, BJ's, or another wholesale club? I shop at Sam's and they have a great deal (2 of these for <$9) on mozzarella cheese there.
    image

    As for sauce, check out Jeff Varasano's site and search for "let the sauce". He really makes it sound easy and I want to try making my own sauce next.
    I finally took the plunge and bought my large Big Green Easter Egg from Roswell Hardware in Roswell, GA 03/31/2012
  • tazcrashtazcrash Posts: 1,772
    I would defiantly recommend getting the dough from the pizza place. Change 1 thing at a time this way if (when) you have a fail you know where it came from.

    @rich: your not alone. My wife made the comment "are you in a burnt crust club?". My son was laughing so hard he couldn't breathe.
    Bx - > NJ ->TX!!! 
    All to get cheaper brisket! 
  • wolfsburg18wolfsburg18 Posts: 78
    One thing I find that works for me is using the plate setter. The burnt bottom is associated the stone having so much direct heat and not the egg cooking as an oven.  I have been successful both ways with the plate setter, feet up or feet down with grate then stone on the grate, also get an IR  thermometer to check the stone temp prior to dropping your pizza.
  • Oh i was using a plate setter. Just cooking too hot for the doughs recipe we were using. Wife made the dough and it said cook at 550. I was at 650. Pretty simple......after the fact :)

  • I did some good "cheater pizzas" last night with some store bought naan bread. It did very well as a stand in. Homemade dough is better but this is better than any store bought crust I've had. Ready in 4-5 min at 500

  • tazcrashtazcrash Posts: 1,772
    I had the plate setter as well. Feet up, grate then stone.
    Problem was when i got close to temp, and opened lid, I didn't get a flashback (bottom and top were wide open), but the wood under the plate setter ignited raising the temp of everything in there.
    Bx - > NJ ->TX!!! 
    All to get cheaper brisket! 
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,242
    Guys, not to make too fine a point out of this but I think that too much space between the platesetter and the stone is as bad as having no platesetter at all. Some might say that BGE now says not to use the platesetter legs down but I have had pizza success for many years with the platesetter legs down 4 to 5 plumbing tees and the stone on top. The setup I use now is the adjustable rig, grid, platesetter that I broke a leg on and ground off the other two, copper tees and pizza stone. I cook at anywhere from 500* to 900* and always get even crust and topping cooking.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

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