Some random questions (raising in fridge, shaping, peel)

I made my first pie from the book and have some questions. I basically did something between the master class at the start of the book, and the NY style. (Basically, Master dough with Tiga, All Trumps Bromated flour, and sauce was the NY/Jersey but used 6 in 1 because I had some left over from the meatballs recipe, only toppings were sauce, cheese, and pepperoni).

My questions afterwards fall into three categories:

The placing the dough on a sheet pan and covering with plastic wrap is problematic for me. I have a (stupid) counter depth fridge, and with a family of four it can be somewhat difficult to find that much room in one place in the fridge. What I did was place each ball in the middle of a very lightly oiled gallon ziploc bag. Then, when it came time to use the dough, I simply cut the sides open and then could lift or flip out the dough. It worked pretty well. About the only thing that seemed a bit difficult was spinning the dough on the counter when starting the shaping process. But I think this was more due to poor technique (I watched a video later and realized I was missing part of the first step). Is there any particular reason that the dough should be raised on a sheet pan?

Second question has to deal with the dusting mixture. In the master recipe Gemignani notes using a 1:1 ratio of flour to semolina, whereas the NY recipe notes a 3:1 ratio. I just split the difference and went with a 2:1. Does the ratio make a particularly large difference, and is it more noticeable with wetter doughs?

Last question has to deal with the peel. I've typically always used a wooden peel, but recently bought a large metal one because I was tired of using a cookie sheet for ciabatta (wooden peel was too small, and the curve on the front didn't help with sliding the loaves on the stone). Alas, the wooden peel was a bit too small for a 13" pie, so I went with the metal one this time. Personally, it seemed like I used way too much flour on the peel (noted when sliding into the oven). I'm tempted to make a larger wooden peel, but was curious about something. Why do most (all?) wooden peels seem to have a curved leading edge, yet many of the metal ones seem to have a more straight edge?

Oh, and the little bit of left over dough makes an adorable little pizza fit for a toddler. Alas, I didn't take a picture of it. Got a picture of one of the full size ones though. Probably could have cooked it just a bit more, but it was tasty.

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Mark S.
posted over 4 years ago

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Restaurants lean towards sheets and dough trays, because they have different space constraints and they're easily stackable. For the home fridge you're better off with round plastic containers. It's so much easier to store dough in your refrigerator AND you get the added benefit of your dough being forced into a round shape. You can get Rubbermaid or Ziploc containers at most grocery / department stores. Also, if you go to a restaurant supply shop, you can get some nice cambro containers. Get the larger ones if you want to do a bulk ferment.

About the mixture, the more semolina you use, the easier it will be to slide your pizzas off the peel. That said, semolina will burn in your oven, and will also stick to your crust. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes it's not. It's really a matter of what you want. In high temperature ovens, the semolina will burn. I think it's less about hydration, more about temperature.

When it comes to peels, it's an interesting question. I don't know the answer, but I'm not convinced there's a functional reason. If you do a Google Image search for wooden peels, and one for metal peels, you'll see lots of form factors. If I had to guess, certain models just caught on more than other ones and the most popular wooden one is rounded. And the most popular metal one is square. This is just speculation though. The only other thing I could think of is that metal comes in sheets, and it's easier to cut into a square-like shape.


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Raj Irukulla admin
posted over 4 years ago


Raj gave you solid advice there.

Personally, I moved away from the flour & semolina combo mainly due to a somewhat burned aftertaste on the bottom of the crust. My go-to dusting agent is now rice flour. Much better, imho, in terms of the burning issue.

However, for very wet doughs I still use semolina but only as a bench flour since it draws out some of the moisture.

Hope that helps...

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Mike K.
posted over 4 years ago

Whoa. Rice flour.. never even thought about that. Is it fairly neutral in terms of flavor?

- Raj   over 4 years ago

Totally neutral in taste, Raj. It's what Baker's use in the boule proofing baskets, for example.

- Mike   over 4 years ago

Awesome. Heading to Whole Foods tonight to pick some up from the bulk bins. I'm making two pies tomorrow. Will use it on the NY style.

- Raj   over 4 years ago

Just use it to dust the peel, nothing more. I don't use it as bench flour.

- Mike   over 4 years ago

Thanks for all the help you two.

Might have to try the rice flour. Was definitely having some burning.

Mark S.
posted over 4 years ago

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