Experience on flour and (master) dough

Hi all,
in the following, I would like to share my experiences and findings also regarding claims such as

"It's all about great typo 00 Italian flour if you want great handling dough and Pizzas that taste great (Neapolitana/Classic Italian)"

bc In my experience, it is not.

A couple months ago, I bought the Pizza Bible bc I believed there was a secret for great tasting pizzas and easily handling doughs out there somewhere which I had not yet discovered. It had to be bc I was not satsified with the stress involved in opening a Pizza and getting it into the oven fully loaded without the pie sticking to the peel or taking too much dusting flour-semolina mix into the oven and, in the process, activating all of our Smog detectors.

So, I used Tony's excellent book to dive into the subject and watched all of his Videos I could find on YouTube. There it was: a dough ball, so silky soft but still taut in shape. A dough ball that one could easily lift without it disappearing through ones fingers and that opened without hassles PLUS did not stick to the peel once the sauce was on it.

I set my goal to producing this kind of dough myself.

What did I find out?
1) as Tony points out over and over, use a high protein flour bc the gluten network enables you to create thin pies without tearing.
2) Follow the instructions in the recipe with regards to which ingredient comes when (there's a reason why oil comes last and salt and yeast should not be added together)
3) Do your stretch and folds because this aligns your gluten molecules and helps building a stronger Matrix
4) Give your dough some time to build flavor (over night cold fermentation at least)
5) Watch the temperature of your dough balls when attempting to open the dough (I found that once your temp goes above 70°F, it becomes much stickier and harder to tame)

Regarding flour:
..., I headed out and started to do my experimentation with local flour that has 14% Protein.
I did manage to find out above key Points led to an easier to handle dough which also tasted great (I'm using an oven at 752 top heat and 572 degrees bottom heat, btime 2-3 minutes).

Last week, I received 25kg of Caputo Blue flour and made a new Batch of master dough right away (36h bulk cold ferm. and 12h balled cold fermentation). I baked it at 752 d top and bottom heat and was flat out disappointed:

- the taste was nowhere near my previous pies - no structure or simply put, hardly any taste at all
- the texture was chewy
- balling the dough was much harder due to dough remnants sticking to my Hands (which was no longer the case with my local flour)

--> however, the dough came out much silkier after the initial mixing process - but this might have to do with the fact that Italian typo 00 flour is their finest milled flour.

Conclusion (at this Point):
It is not so much about special brand flours but much more about the technique carried out when making the dough while sticking to some basic rules.

So, learn the basic rules, practice them and then start experimenting and adjust to you own taste :)

I will, however, give Caputo flour another chance (of size 24.6kg :p)

Do you guys agree with my findings and if not, what did you find out?
I'd be curious to know more :)


Ulli Haus
posted over 2 years ago

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Great post Ulli, I have shared some of your experiences. After years of making pizzas with Caputo 00, I tried the High Gluten Flour (Power Flour). I followed all of Tony's instructions to the letter and came up with dough balls that retained their perfect domed shape throughout the 48 hour fridge rise, were easy to shape and tasted like a real New York Pizza.

I think both 00 and High Gluten have their place. 00 makes more tender, melt in your mouth pizzas in the Neapolitan style, especially when baked at 800-1000F. I bake them in a Blackstone oven outdoors. However with the weather being so cold and rainy now, I'm baking my pies in my home oven at 570F. For this temperature, I found Tony's Master Dough with Poolish and High Gluten Flour to work much better. The pizzas turn out more crispy and wheaty tasting with a satisfying chew, but not tough. I really like them as well.

If you keep using your 00 flour in a home oven, I highly recommend adding the malt. That will help get browning in a low temp oven. Good luck!

Alex L.
posted over 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Ulli. I've only used the Caputo (blue) a few times, but I find that it makes for a chewier crust. I think it has the same amount of protein as AP flour @ 11-12%, but IMHO it comes out a little yellower and little chewier. My fav thing about Caputo is the way the dough feels in my hands--so silky and the way dough comes together and balls up springy & perfectly. The taste is good, I think, but on par with other flours. I think to get the most out of it requires using extremely high heat.

Initially, I'm finding that the high protein flours--All Trumps & Pendleton---can have a gluten network that is a bit too strong and can made the dough a little on the tough side vs. the chewiness of the Caputo and vs the deadness/lack of chew of AP.

Keeping the yeast and salt away from each other in the mixing bowl is a mere myth. I've seen Jim Lahey, Alton Brown, and Nancy Silverton throw the yeast on top of the salt in the bowl (& myself all the time) with no ill effect. Ultimately, the salt checks the growth of the yeast, but it's not an instant dramatic seizing reaction--like your windshield fluid turning to ice the moment you spray it on in 13 degree freezing weather. (Not that I've ever done that, mind you . . .) Do it, Ulli! Throw your yeast on your salt and let the chips fall where they may!

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Maria .
posted over 2 years ago

Great points Maria. You're spot on about the feel of Caputo dough. It's noticeably smooth compared to dough made with other flours.

Regarding salt and yeast, these days I keep the two separate just in case. But in the past, I've made countless batches of dough where the two were mixed together and nothing bad ever happened.

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Raj Irukulla admin
posted over 2 years ago

I will have to say , I haven't tried the cupotos blue bag but I am currently using the Chef flour the red bag and it's absolutely wonderful. Crip crust , nice fflavor and easy to work with.

I'd recommend giving it a try.

Salvatore C.
posted over 2 years ago

Going back to the original post, I noticed that Ulli used 00 flour for Tony's Master Dough. I believe that Tony's Master Dough is designed for High Gluten Flour such as Power Flour. That is why olive oil is used for tenderization of High Gluten.

Tony has a recipe for 00 in the Neapolitan Pizza section. I've used the Neapolitan dough recipe with Poolish with good results and recommend you give that one a shot before you write off the 00. Major differences between the two is that the Neapolitan recipe uses 62% total hydration instead of 65% and does not use olive oil at all. Your sticking issues might have resulted from overly hydrated 00 dough. High Gluten flour tends to be much more thirsty than 00.

For me, the 00 dough was just right. If it is too chewy, try mixing the dough for a shorter time. You might be overmixing. Also, 00 flour does not brown as well in the home oven at lower temperatures. You may have to settle for a paler color compared to High Gluten flour, but don't cook it longer just to get more browning. That will only overcook the pizza and result in that dry/chewy texture you're trying to avoid.

Good luck!


Alex L.
posted over 2 years ago

Thanks for your Responses :)
I've now given this flour some more runs (tony's master dough recipe with Caputo blue) and here are my results:
1) taste is in great harmony when topping only with San Marzano tomato Sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper, Parmesan, morzarella and fresh basil. This run used a 38h cf and 12h balled cf. Opening at 59°F and baking for almost 3 minutes @ 760°F.
Great Sensation when taking bites and chewing through it's texture - soft without being chewy.
2) taste for other toppings --> still prefer the other flour over Caputo. Flavor just gets lost when lots of toppings are involved.

At Alex:
What are the signs of an overmixed dough?

Ulli Haus
posted over 2 years ago

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