The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tommy gram's blog

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Tommy gram

Going on year nine of making bread. 2000 grams a week, roughly. One batch. Each time during the week I bake from the batch it has a new flavor.

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Tommy gram

I dont do much but I can bake a loaf of bread. It's because you helped me, and for TFL I am thankful. 

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Tommy gram

In the swing of the bread thing now.  

i Kick these babies out like clockwork.

It's really very simple, so simple that I tended to overthink it.

70% h2O

2% NaCl (salt)

to bring the flour to 100%, depending on what I have in the drawer:

30% semolina -I try never to run out of semolina love it 

40% All Purpose - AP makes a fine loaf if thats all that's around.

10% rye - this is kinda nice when it's available,

20% bread flour- this fluctuates. 

A 20% starter at 100% hydration kicks things off. 

King Arthur is the cream of the crop. I every now and then go for the Gold Medal 50# bag, but I always come back to the King.

 

 

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Tommy gram
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Tommy gram

Natural tearing; let nature do the work --it looks better.

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Tommy gram

I let nature take its course and instead of scoring the dough, I let the dough tear itself during oven spring- something like the Incredible Hulk's shirt. It saves me the shuffling around looking for my razor blade during that critical oven loading time, not scoring the dough saves me so many motions which- in my modis operandi- is performed like a magicians trick, sleight of hand style.

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Tommy gram

 

 

Hi Tom,I hope you're well. Margerita and me have been talking about trying to make a great thin crust pizza and you're the man who can guide us as how to do it. Keep in mind that we have been very unlucky making this before.  Please guide us through this,Regards Cesar  Cesar! My way is the wild yeast way so I am going back to my books to get you a recipe that uses packaged yeast and that should get you something going, something good and tasty to build on. The wild yeast even though it is the most simple the most primitive it can take a while to get the hang of it in the beginning. Start with this one and if you like it and are still curious I will fly to San Juan and show you the wild yeast way. Every book will tell you the amount of flour salt and water but what I find they dont put enough emphasis on is temperature. Temperature of the water temp of the room. The refrigerator (cold) stops the process. In a warm (25C) place is where the action is. I usually mix the dough, let it be warm for a couple hours, and when it starts showing signs of life then I put it in the refrigerator overnight or for a day or two until Im ready. The dough has a wide latitude as to when it can be used-as long as you control the temperature.  But wild yeast or packaged yeast I would never cook a pizza from dough that is younger than 24 hours and that is pushing it as 48 hours is what I like to call my minimum age. But is that all 24 hours at 25 degrees or is that 6 hours at 25 and 12at 5deg and then 6 more at 25deg? Temperature is a huge variable. In Chicago Winter it took me forever to figure out why my dough was not doing anything. Then I started to use warm water and really keep it warm.  The pizzeria near my house uses 290 grams as the weight of a dough ball, a single pizza crust. In the beginning you will see 290 seems cheap and skinny and you will want to go bigger but later on you will see 290-320 grams is a good amount. I will assume you have a kitchen scale. All Purpose flour does fine but there is pizza flour (high gluten) that is easier to keep together without tearing as you work it but All purpose will work fine thats what I use, Bread Flour is a little better suited, an in between All purpose and pizza flour. Im going to bed now thats it for the first installment more soon. Im glad you asked. #2The weight of the Flour is 100% of the recipe.  Accept this rule for math purposes, don't argue.  The weight of the flour times between 59% and 74% water depending on how fine the flour is ground and how humid the kitchen is.  Pizza dough can be a little tighter, a little dryer compared to bread doughSo say you start with 1000 grams of flour you know to add between 590 and 740 grams of water. I say you would weigh out 740 pour in 590 and keep adding until you see how your flour behaves.At that pizzeria the guy has spent many years traveling back and forth to Naples making friends at the local pizzerie researching and taking notes. He had a crew of oven builders come over from Naples,  little italian guys who surrounded the oven like muskox when I tried to have a close look at what they were doing. The recipe he uses is by volume but converts to 59% water He is using the talcum powder flour and 3% salt. Questi sono i proporzione napolitana. No olive oil in Neapolitan dough, only as a topping. So measure out a day or two before you want pizza: 500 grams flour (not a lot but if you do it right you will have them saying why did you make so little) if you can get the "00" so finely ground this stuff is like talcum powder.  You will be cooking like a Napolitano, otherwise the coarser the grain the more you will need to pump up your percentage of water. If you are not sure what flour you have hold back some of the water from the 74% and add more as you need to get a pliable dough, you've seen how good pizza dough handles, you are shooting for that.370 grams warm water 26C  (74%) Water is the great variable depending on: the type of flour & the ambient humidity, if you find pizza flour you will not need as much water as All purpose flour. Not sure what you have on the shelves in old San Juan.10 grams salt equals 2%. The pizzeria goes 3% and thats ok If you are going only tomatoes and basil and mozzarella then use 3% but if you are going sausage and or olives or some salty cheese like parmagiana then back off and do 2%. 2-3 grams yeast.  Go three the first time make sure this one works pour some of the 370 grams h20 into a side thing mix the yeast break it up and dissolve it with a spoon then add the yeast and the water to the flour. Little by little or what the heck throw it all in and add flour if you find the dough is too loose. Mix with a spoon & then use your hands. kneed it till it feels good it should feel warm to your touch, you will know it has enough water because you will hold it up by the top and the part you dont grab will start stretching away falling to the bench, not staying stiff like something dead no, it will be soft and pliable. This job is a lot more fun if you have a bench scraper, a plastic stiff thing like a credit card only bigger that scrapes and helps you fold the dough Mix that put it in a container with a loose lid on an 26C counter and watch it for a couple few hours till you see signs of life, bubbles, the whole thing getting bigger,then let it go a couple more hours, fold the dough, and put it in the refridgerator till a couple a few hours before you want to make pizza, I like to work with the dough when its a little on the cool side it is easier to handle and shape. You have a pizza stone? I have a 1/4" thick pc of steel that is doing just fine, the stones kept cracking I think they are bullshit. Thats all for #2, Im making this recipe now, will let you know how long I had to leave it on the counter till I decided to put it in the fridgerator. fun stuff, it comes at a good time.  #3Another thing I have not found in a book so good is the transfer of the dough from the counter to the oven. Form the pizza crust in the usual manner, ha push flat and stretch round and round she goes what she looks like in the end nobody knows. standard operating procedure is to Push the dough into some dry flour to create a thin breading of flour,  so what, why work the dough ball into dry flour? So the dough ball does not stick to every fucking thing that it touches the shit is like glue so if you provide a buffer of flour then it will slide around and you will appear to be an all star whipping that dough around arent you amazing but after you cook it after you take it out of the oven the buffer will release onto your tongue and have the toungue feel of sawdust and believe me brother thats what it tastes like that dry as sand buffer sticks to your tongue and interferes with the taste of the aged dough that took you so long to get. the trick is to use as little flour as possible for buffer material. but just keep that in mind as you go. some bakeries use semolina, sunflower seeds, oatmeal or corn meal or poppy seeds or all kinds of thick granis on the bottom of the dough to aid the transfer of the shaped loaves into the oven, the pizzeria over here they use the doppio, the "00", the talcum powder flour, I  took the entire dough ball (which I had folded two times) from the container and had to snip off with sissors a dry ring about 3/8 of an inch wide that had formed cause the dough pushed up the plate i had covering the bowl and left a dry tan line on the dough ball that i excise snipped and tossed aside. then I split the ball into four peices two of which I burned to infinity on the grille because I made the fire too hot and just plain fucked it up, black crust way too thick only an ex sailor could gnaw his way through that, ended up sawing the black part off with my bread knife cause the cheese and tomatoe were done to perfection and worth the risk of cutting my fingers off to eat. I have had many successes on the barbeque with pizza but not this time the fire was just too hot, next time I will know. As for time I set my alarm for 5 minute increments and check the product as soon as alarm goes off. tonight I should have used 3 minutes. Watch the oven like a cave man, it must be heated leave it on for 15 minutes minumum heat that thing up till its hot as hell, so what I did was start up the oven on top heat (260C) and cooked on the barbeque until th crust was crispy not burned then transferrred into the oven to finish off the top, pain in the ass but thats what I did to feed the people tonight. For toppings on the bare dough ready to go into the oven we put fresh cut tomatoes then a slice of mozzarella over each tomato and when it comes out we put fresh basil and already cooked bacon on it. I also like to use figs on the pizza priocscutto and olives and sun dried tomatoes, and garlic and you name it. Broccoli is good, pineapple I have tasted and liked, I like to mix up the cheeses, put  a salty cheese on there What else? tell me Cesar, how you did how did it taste I been doing all the talking you have to say something back

 

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Tommy gram

Did a 20 loaf batch last month, hand kneaded 10.4 kilograms (23#), lot of fun. Looking for my baker's sheet from that job to post more details.

Tommy gram's picture
Tommy gram

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