The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

breaducation's blog

breaducation's picture

I've been tinkering with pizza dough for awhile now and recently I've had a break through both in my dough formula and with the bake.

Most formulas I've found online for serious quality pizza doughs are designed with high heat wood fired ovens in mind. These doughs are usally high-hydration doughs which work really well in an extremely hot oven. The problem with this for me is that my oven only taps out at 555 degrees, a good 350 degrees cooler than a traditional pizza oven. What results is a dough that doesn't stay crispy, takes too long to color and doesn't rise all that well.

What I've discovered with pizza dough is that there is not one dough that will work with all ovens. Rather, the best pizza dough is the one that works best in your oven. In my case that calls for backing off the hydration significantly. I've found that, in general, the hotter your oven the higher you can push the hydration.

For my oven at 555 degrees the best results I've gotten have come from using a 68% hydration dough. The resulting crust has just the right amount of crispiness with a soft open crumb.

This brings me to my dough formula. I have tried using a purely commercial yeast dough, either straight or with preferments and the results have been good but not quite as complex a flavor as I would like. I've also tried using pure sourdough leavening and have gotten good flavor but the texture is off. The crust is not light and airy enough.

I've finally settled on what, for me, is the perfect pizza dough. It's a hybrid of commercial yeast and sourdough. With this dough you get the best of all worlds. Light,  soft and flavorful with a thin, crispy crust.

What makes it even better is that the process is very easy and does not take much work. Simply combine all ingredients and let ferment 2 hours  at 76 degrees with 2 folds. After that you can let it sit in the fridge until you are ready to use it. The minimal mixing time results in the most flavor possible and an open crumb. You may want to autolyse this dough if you make it yourself as I did encounter a little bit of elasticity when I attempted to stretch out the doughs for pizza making. Poolish instead of sponge might also help with this.

Here is the formula:

IngredientsBaker's %
Instant Yeast0.39
Liquid Starter15


I also figured out a new way of baking the pizza that more closely simulates a pizza oven. With the oven at 555 degrees it takes way too long to get a nicely crisp crust. So what I do is bake the pizza on a stone as normal until the crust has fully risen and the cheese is melted, about 3 -4 minutes. At this point, I put the pizza directly under the broiler and char it for maybe 10-15 seconds. This is enough to get a perfectly charred crust. The best part was that the family loved it!

All the ingredients in the bowl ready to be mixed:


Anaheim pepper and mascarpone cheese:


Brussel Sprout:

breaducation's picture

Hi TFL. I'm a long time lurker on here. I've been baking bread for about 3 years now. First as a home baker and now professionally. I owe much of what I know to the fresh loaf(I've been using it as a resource almost the entire time I've baked!). I figure it's about time I contribute to the site.

I'm planning on posting about my home baked experiments  in the future but in the meantime I'll share what I think is the best way to learn about baking bread.

For my first proffessional baking job I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to start a bread program at a local restaurant. I made essentially the same kind of bread everyday but I also made sure to experiment nearly every single time I made it. A little longer bulk one day, a slightly higher oven temperature the next, maybe try a new steaming method for a week. I tried everything I could think of to improve my bread. I learned more about bread doing this than any other experience I've had. Experimenting with one kind of bread over and over to see what effect small changes make on the end result is invaluable to a baker. I cannot think of a better way to learn.

To illustrate this point, here are my first loaves I baked at the restuarant:

And after one year of baking the same bread and experimenting everyday:

I'm not saying you have to go out and bake the same loaf for a year but do try baking the same formula a few times in a row. If you haven't already done this I'm positive you will learn something valuable from the experience.


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