The Fresh Loaf

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Hard Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Crust

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nicolesue's picture
nicolesue

Hard Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Crust

Hi,

I've tried making the Neo-Neopolitan Pizza from ABED (Artisan Bread Everyday) page 67 a couple of times. I usually make a thin crust version. Each time the pizza comes out, the sides of the crust are slightly hard and difficult to chew. They taste like water crackers. At the same time, the middle portion of the crust looks "raw" underneath. The texture of the middle portion was somewhat softer.

Anyone has any idea why this is so? How should a really good pizza crust taste like, and more importantly, how is the texture? Am I doing something wrong here?

Many thanks.
Sue

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

Hi, sometimes giving a little more info helps the experts here (among which I do not include myself) diagnose the problem better.


Did you follow the recipe exactly? Did you ensure your yeast is fresh and active? How long did you age the dough in the fridge? Did you let the dough warm up well before using it on baking day? How long passed from removing the dough from the fridge to shaping the dough?  And how long from that until baking? Did the dough puff up even a little before baking? Did you use a preheated pizza stone? What oven shelf did you use, high, middle or low?  How long did you preheat your oven and stone? Did the edges puff up as they baked, or did they stay the same size? Did you load the pizza with a lot of sauce, a lot of cheese and other toppings, or just very sparingly? Were the edges of the crust pale, or deep golden brown?

nicolesue's picture
nicolesue

Hi Dragonbones,


My answer to your above questions are almost all 'yes'. But I suspect that the dough may not have a chance to puff up a little after stretching. Perhaps, that might be the reason for the hard crust. The edges also did not puff up after baking, but stayed the same 'flat' shape.


Thanks for your help!


Sue


 

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

The edge dries out faster simply because there's no topping on it to keep moisture in, especially in a very thin crust.  A beaded edge can get very hard and/or crackly.  Same thing happens to my thin crust pizzas, and I've long wanted to find a solution.  Still.. my friends have come to prefer the crunchiness of the toasted edge.. I had to find a compromise solution.


So what I do now is.. keep the edge at even thickness with the center (a beaded edge may toast rock hard solid if it doesn't puff up).. dock the crust except to an inch of the edge (this allows the edge to puff up during oven spring).. and par bake the crust till air pockets form.  The crust having half-cooked all around, its much easier to top all the way to the edge (this helps keep the edge moist while the rest of the pizza finishes cooking, top and bottom).  Seems to work, and I don't get any complaints from family and friends - no uneaten edges ever left on the plates.


I've been considering wrapping a strip of foil around the edges to shield from radiant heat and keep moisture in.. but I'm not inclined to add fussiness to the preparation.. and besides, nobody's complaining about the little extra topping put on to cover the edges.

nicolesue's picture
nicolesue

Hi Don,


Unfortunately, my crust is classified as 'hard' more than 'crunchy'. They were tough to say the least. Other than some common mistakes I may have made, I will also ensure the baking stone is heated through and through before placing my pizza. But the idea of pre-baking the crust prior to filling sounds like a breakthrough idea - I must give it a try!


Cheers,


Sue  

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

One thing you can try is brushing it with olive oil (to avoid drying out) after shaping it, then cover it so it won't dry out, and let it rise for 45 minutes before baking it right on a very hot stone (having preheated the oven at max for 1 hour) until it puffs up and barely starts to brown, then remove it, brush it with olive oil again, and top more sparingly. The prebaking, olive oil and spare topping (especially less sauce in the center) should help avoid sogginess in the crust center, while the olive oil and extra proofing time should help get an airier (puffier), crunchy edge instead of a dense hard one.