The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Heavy Topped Pizzas

dwfender's picture
dwfender

Heavy Topped Pizzas

I use the pizza recipe from BBA. The dough itself is excellent, easy to work with and pretty solid flavor. The other day however, I ran into some problems.


 


I made a buffalo chicken pizza. Obviously, this is a topping with a good deal of weight and moisture. I tried to spread the crust as thin as possible in hopes of getting a crunch out of it. It backfired and all I got was a crust that couldn't hold the weight of the toppings. So, I remade the dough recipe and tried it again, leaving the dough a little thicker and allowing it to cook slightly longer and I replace the heavy toppings with a simple tomato sauce and mozzarella. When the pizza came out of the oven it looked great. Nice dark bubbles on the crust, crisp and sturdy. I put it down on my wooden cutting board to cut it and before I knew it the center of the pie was already soggy. I cut it and ate it and I noticed that the flavor of the crust was pretty good but the texture wasn't. It was too chewy although it did have a nice crunch. 


So, to recap...My problems are, the center of the pie won't keep the crunch, or is too soggy, and the crust is slightly over chewy. 


 


My next try, I'm going to up my dough weight from 6 ounces to 9 ounces and stretch it to the same size. Hoping the extra dough will sit in the center and give it some structure. 


 


I've tried this dough with and without any fat in the recipe. I tend to leave it out for more crunch but haven't seen a difference in the way it changes the structure. Hoping someone might be able to shed some light on what I'm doing wrong. 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

It sounds like your toppings are to heavy and wet..try all the toppings you like just use less of each and smaller pieces.  The stone needs to be pre-heated very, very hot.  I try to have my toppings on and the pizza in the oven in less than a minute..the longer the topping sits on the pizza it tends to soften the crust.  Some crusts are meant to be chewier or crispier, your choice of flours or adding oil can make a big difference.  I place my pizza's either on a perforated pizza pan to slice or on a large clean grocery bag on top of a wooden block, even serving it on paper plates help to keep the bottom from becoming soggy..I think it makes a big difference in keeping the crust crisp.  I don't think extra dough in center will help...may make matters worse.  Good luck on your pizza's, practice makes perfect.


Sylvia 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Ditto ...  and make sure that stone has a very long preheat cycle at the highest temperature your oven can achieve  before you load the pizza.

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I read about par-baking the dough first. Bake the shapen dough for 5 minutes to form a crust on the top. Remove it from the oven and add the toppings. Return it to the oven again to bake.

dlt123's picture
dlt123

I have been having the same problem.  My last 3 pizzas have been horrible.  I'm starting from scratch again and will be listening into this thread for help.


I do know I have to use a thicker sauce, my sauces have been too wet.  Also, I like the idea of par-baking my crust a little.  I think I'll try this next.


Good luck,
Dennis
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dwfender's picture
dwfender

My stone is definitely hot. I use a bottom broiler to heat up the chamber and it gets to around 625. I always heat up for a minimum of 30 minutes...usually closer to an hour if I know I'm making pizza ahead of time. My dough comes to room temperature before being work. I know the toppings on the buffalo chicken pie were definitely heavy. A regular cheese pie, I'm not so sure. I worked in a pizza place for a while and I know how to build a pie, don't know their dough recipe however. But we used very thin sauce and a very thin layer of it topped with just enough cheese to cover. I think the problem may be my cheese releasing it's oils, but, I use the same brand that we used to at the shop. At this point I'm confident that it's either the technique I use to cool the pie down to eating temp, the dough recipe itself, or the thickness of the dough I use. I definitely build the pie and have it in the oven in under 30 seconds. 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

The most recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated (Jan-Feb 2011) suggests moving the stone to the top of the oven, about four inches from the ceiling, and preheating at the highest temp for an hour.  They claim this produces an excellent pizza with a crispy crust.

Can’t confirm whether it works as I haven’t tried it yet.  Might tonight, though.

GENE FOSTER's picture
GENE FOSTER

I find that drier ingredients help.  Also, preheating the stone for as long as you can will help.  I place my pizzas dough on parchment paper and pre-cook on the heated stone for about 3-5 mins.  (depends on temperature and thickness).  Then put on the topping and cook until bubbly.


Gene

penuchepastries's picture
penuchepastries

You should use a flour that has less protein content, so bread flour should definitely be your flour of choice, Italians use a 00 which has less protein content. Try using all purpose flour only, and use a bit more water in the dough to avoid creating a chewy crust. Prebake your crust on a perforated baking pan, with olive oil for extra crusting, then shift your pan too. Prebake it only to the point where it puffs up but has very little browning, unload, top with sauce and toppings, then bake at the bottom rack first, then put in on top shelf to melt the cheese.

asicign's picture
asicign

00 Italian flour makes a good pizza if you have a pizza oven fired at 800 to 900 degrees F.  For the typical home oven (mine goes up to 550) I think high protein flour (KA Sir Lancelot) is a better choice.  I preheat my oven for an hour, and never have soggy crust. on my NY style pizzas.

light-zone's picture
light-zone

When I use either fresh mozzerella or from the chunck and shred it just prior to baking, it releases a lot of moisture. When I use to work at a pizzeria, we would shred our cheese and it would be stored a day or two in the walk in before using. This dried it out a bit, and prevented this excess moisture from occuring.


Want Xtra Crispy? Pre bake for 2-3 minutes before topping.


I use caputo 00 flour. Pre heat my stone for an hour at 550 degrees and it is crisp, light, but with a great crumb. 800 degress is NOT necessary to get great crust from 00. I would use KA AP flour and the crust was good, but the caputo 00 elevated it to a new level.

jcking's picture
jcking

some like a very thin coating of olive oil applied before other toppings are added. I agree that unless you care get your oven up to 800 degrees avoid fresh mozzerella. Myself I first apply deli sliced provalone to cover, then sauce then shredded mozz.


Jim

G-man's picture
G-man

I tend to like a crisp crust.


 


I'll second most of the advice above. I use a higher protein flour (King Arthur Bread Flour). I par-bake the crust for 5 minutes at 500 F, load the toppings, bake for another 5 minutes at 500. After that I turn on the broiler and crack the oven until the toppings and exposed crust get nice and browned. Never had a soggy crust since I started par-baking.


Luck.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I have a WFO and I match my dough to the pizzas I plan to make. You will never find a thin crust that will support the kind of pizza you describe. You are welcome to try all you want but it won't happen. If you want heavy pizzas go to heavy dough and thick dough - like Chicago deep dish.


Just like a deep dish pizza would not work well with a light, thin pizza Margarita topping, the thin pie with barbecue will not work well either!


 

copyu's picture
copyu

I apologize to everyone, in advance, because this post contributes very little to the discussion...it's just an anecdote...


Where I lived, when I was a young man, we had a large Italian population. One night, I went to a not-so-local pizzeria fairly early in the evening, while the ovens were still heating up for the roaring evening trade. The 'pizza master' of the evening explained that I would have to wait a bit for my order to be baked, so we just rapped for a while. "You like pizza, don't you?" he asked me. [Silly question!] "You wanna see what a 'real Italian' pizza is like?" Of course I assented


He took a ball of dough, thumped it around on the counter until it was about 200mm (8") in diameter, opened the warming oven and flipped the dough onto the bricks of the oven's base. After 3-4 minutes, he pulled it out, by hand, telling me that it was 'illegal' in our state to bake pizzas that way, straight on the bricks...(that could be true...)


He flipped the dough upside-down and crushed 4 cloves of garlic onto the 'baked' side, tore 5 anchovy fillets into little pieces and spread them over the top, filled the empty spaces with halved black olives and sprinkled about a teaspoon of the olive oil from the anchovies onto the pizza toppings. Then he took a fingerful of grated Romano cheese and sprinkled it lightly over the top. Back to the pizza oven it went for about 5 minutes. He sliced it into 6 pieces and offered me one slice, saying that this 'real pizza' was his pre-dinner snack, as he'd had no time for a proper lunch


Now, I'm usually not a huge fan of anchovies on a pizza, but the results were spectacular. What I learned from this was that, sometimes, "less is more"...


Best,


copyu


 

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Thanks for sharing!


I wonder what the logic is for not baking on the bricks? Ash is one possibility but is always present in WFO baking. Other possiblity is probably that they don't think about baking in an 800 degree oven and the level of sterilization inherent in that temp!


Funny!


Jay

copyu's picture
copyu

Sorry...


It's likely that some well-meaning politician noted that a percentage of asbestos was allowed in fire-bricks for imported pizza ovens...or something like that! [There's legislation concerning every aspect of life in that state! Good? Bad? Neutral? I don't know...]


I know that there are state/city 'Health Inspectors' with formidable powers, who can walk, unannounced, into any commercial food-preparation establishment and, after showing their credentials, start taking swabs...from a counter, a wall, a bread-board, a slicer. They could shut you down the next day, if there's even a 'hint' of salmonella, say...They definitely frown on removing un-panned pizzas with one's bare hands, as do the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare people! At least the food in that state is  always (95%?) safe to eat. Heheheh!


Best,


copyu

G-man's picture
G-man

The problem with such overzealous food safety inspectors is that they really only curb a very, very small part of the problem, which is cross-contamination. Anyone who has taken a food handler's certification test (read: anyone working in any aspect of food service in a legal capacity) knows how to prevent cross-contamination and nearly everyone does it to the best of their capabilities, because if people get sick it will come back to you one way or another. Small restaurants know this in their bones, in my experience.


It does nothing at all to prevent contamination at the source, which is where the problem originates nine times out of ten. When you hear any stories of major outbreaks, they ALWAYS come from a source on the manufacturing end. Contaminated peanuts and peanut butter were traced to a plant processing rat droppings alongside their peanuts. Contaminated spinach was traced back to a chicken manure manufacturer that didn't properly sterilize their manure. On the major occasion in my memory when it wasn't a manufacturer, it was a major nationwide chain, all of whom pay their employees minimum wage and aren't always on the ball in terms of food safety, to say the least.


Good sanitation practices on the part of those folks who cook your food are absolutely essential, I will agree with that, but the problem is that small restaurants (whose owners lives depend on their customers, and who therefore take care of their customers' concerns the vast majority of the time) tend to get punished for the sins committed by the folks who truly don't care.

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat

And this is why, despite the additional noise, I prefer to eat at establishments that have open kitchens. I like being able to see the food preparation area so I can witness whether proper food safety precautions are in place to avoid cross-contamination. I also feel that most small restaurant owners and food producers are way more mindful and cautious than your average large chain or distributor.

mattie405's picture
mattie405

I too always had my crust get soggy quickly once the pie was removed from the oven. What I do now is to put it on a large draining rack when I first remove it from the oven, I let it sit on the rack for 2-3 minutes and it seems to let the steam disapate instead of remaining in the crust. If I place it on any solid surface I can guarantee it will be soggy in a few short minutes, letting it sit on the rack seems to let the crust and toppings stabilize.

jcking's picture
jcking

I let most of my breads rest on a wire rack to cool, why not pizza?


Jim

mattie405's picture
mattie405

It really does help a lot. That resting on a rack combined with cutting my fresh mozzarella a few hours before using and letting that too dry on towels have made big strides in turning out some great pizzas. I have a small high temp pizza oven and make thin crusted pies that the family and friends love more than what they can get in any pizza places at this point, but it has taken lots of trial and error to get to this point, on the other hand it has been lots of fun too.

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat

I don't like heavy deep dish pizzas, but I really wanted to try a buffalo chicken one. What I ended up doing was shredding the chicken and marinating it the buffalo sauce, draining it, spreading it out on a baking sheet and letting it dry overnight with the pilot light (oven light would work in an electric oven). I rolled out a slightly thicker dough than my normal thin crust (just made a smaller pie with the same amount of dough), spread a light smear of the sauce, added the dried chicken shreds, and crumbled some aged (and dry!) blue cheese. Bake as usual. It turned out wonderfully, no soggy center and no extra chewy crust.


I do the same thing with my barbecue chicken -- marinate, shred, dry overnight, light smear of sauce. I also dry any of the moister fresh cheeses (sliced or shredded), and even partially dehydrate a few of the wetter toppings like olives, marinated artichoke and tomato slices. And any of the oiler meats get pre-cooked and drained really well. So far I haven't found a pie I couldn't recreate as a thin crust by lightening up the amount of sauce and drying out the wetter toppings a bit.

dwfender's picture
dwfender

yesterday I couldn't post because of errors and today I can. 


 


Anyways! 


 


So, I made the perfect, in my eyes, pizza dough the other day (With heavy toppings). I veyr slightly increased the hydration in my dough. I mixed the water and flour, autolyse for 22 minutes, kneaded in the salt and flour for about 3 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Kneaded again for 3 minutes (in a machine)  I turned it out into an owled bowl and let it ferment for 2.5 hours. Then I divided and shaped and let it rest for about 1.5 hours and baked one off. Good, but a little chewy. So I put the rest in the fridge over night and made one about 18 hours later. It was PERFECT. Ridiculously crispy, like a cracker. The crust was chewy but not overly so and not falling apart either. Had a great airy crumb. 


 


This whole time, my biggest problem was my dough portioning. I was portioning a 185g dough and stretching it to about 10-12 inches. Definitely not. I changed to 330g and it was a perfect 13" pie. I could probably have even gone down to 300-310 and it would have been just as good and a little more evenly shaped.  Thanks for everyones suggestions.