Pizza Bible - Neapolitan Dough Procedure

Hello Fellow Pizzamakers!

I switched from Jeff Varasano's dough preparation method to Tony G's about 10 weeks ago.

I followed Jeff's method pretty faithfully, but used a preferment (as per Tony G's poolish) instead of sourdough (I tried sourdough briefly but found it too much trouble). I now follow Tony's Neapolitan dough procedure fairly faithfully too, but use a higher salt content (3.5%), as I have a slightly salty tooth. I always autolyse for a minimum of 30 mins, sometimes more.

I have a couple of quick questions.

Tony's procedure calls for a 20 minute rest after hand-kneading. My mass of dough rests covered on a marble board and is quite sticky when you try to pick it up. Essentially, I need to reshape it and sprinkle a little flour on it to make it manageable before weighing and dividing into balls. Does this reshaping in any way damage the end-product?

Jeff V. advises a 10 minute rest at room temperature before refrigerating, which is something I continue to do. Is that OK? Or is it best to refrigerate the balls immediately?

Finally, as I also have a sweet tooth, I add a little sugar to my tomato sauce, as well as the customary salt. I make the sauce about 16 hours before first use. I read somewhere on the forum that sugaring causes the sauce to ferment; in support of that, I've found that a sauce sugared too far in advance turns out quite tasteless.

What opinion do other forum members have on adding sugar to tomato sauce? #justcurious

Greetings from Belfast, N. Ireland.

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Carlo Showalter
posted over 4 years ago

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Welcome Carlo. A few answers to your questions:

Reshaping the dough balls won't cause any damage whatsoever.

The 10 minute rest at room temperature shouldn't make too much of a difference. The room temperature rise, at least for longer times (e.g. 2 hours) and depending upon the temperature, will speed up the fermentation process. I used to leave dough balls out for 2-3 hours before refrigerating. The dough would expand noticeably, but other than that, I didn't really notice an improvement. Next time you make a batch of dough, you can put one ball in the refrigerator immediately and leave the other out for 10 minutes to see if you notice a difference.

I typically don't add sugar to tomato sauce. For Neapolitan sauces, I just use high quality San Marzanos and add some sea salt. For other types of sauce the tomatoes I use (usually Stanislaus products) are pretty sweet to begin with. For pasta sauces, I'll add a touch of sugar at the end if I find it's not sweet enough.

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Raj Irukulla admin
posted over 4 years ago

I'm in the same boat. I've been using Jeff V's dough for about two weeks. Made about four batches and it taste great, but it's too wet and soft for my liking. I have one out of five pies that turn out a mess.
Can you tell the difference in taste between Jeff's and Tony's Dought?

- Ron   over 4 years ago

Hi Ron, that's a tough question. For this reason: around the same time I started using Tony's dough procedure, I was lucky enough to find a supplier of CAPUTO ROSSO. I can tell you this has been a major step forward in terms of flavour and managability. When I used JV's method, I was mostly using bread flour from supermarkets, which was fine, but now that I've found it, I can't stop singing Caputo Red's praises. I should try a batch using it and JV's method, compare the results. There are similarities and differences between them, but right now I prefer Tony's method because it's simpler and quicker. All credit to Jeff V though, that was where it really started for me and countless others.

I've not really answered your question Ron, but what say I get on here when I've done that comparison? I found I overhydrated too when using Jeff V's method, producing sticky, sometimes unmanageable dough, it's just a matter of experimenting and finding the right 'point' for your flour - between as high a water level as possible and manageability. I find best hydration for Caputo R is around 60-61%, 62% is too much...of course there are factors like humidity, how long the pack's been opened etc...

- Carlo   over 4 years ago


Not to highjack this thread but for pasta sauces, throw in a cinnamon stick for the last 45 mins of simmering instead of sugar. Dynamite!

Got that tip from on old Italian lady I used to work with.

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Mike K.
posted over 4 years ago

Great tip Mike! I'll try it. I could see that adding some really nice flavor without being too sweet.

- Raj   over 4 years ago

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