The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pizza Newbie with lots of questions!

Highsinger's picture

Pizza Newbie with lots of questions!

I make pizza every Friday. Trying to get a grip on yeast before delving more into bread. I have lots of questions, but here's my most immediate.

Bought Bread Flour for the first time last night. I made up the dough this morning like I usually do (but using the bread flour). It tripled in size in just two hours! I punched it down, but I'm a little concerned. Here's my recipe and process. Maybe somebody can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

1000g Bread Flour

600g Water

30g Salt

20g EVOO

10g Dry Active Yeast

After proofing the yeast, I just combined all the ingredients and put it in the KitchenAid with dough hook for 10 minutes (checking to scrape bowl once or twice). Once that was done, I just remove the hook and cover the bowl with a wet towel. That's pretty much it.

Maybe I should:

Put it in the fridge?

Divide it up?

My other most pressing question is about hydration. As you see, I went with 60%. I tried at 65% the last few times. The first time it just tore a little when transferring, but it was salvageable. The second time, it was a sloppy mess with no strength. I got so upset that I just threw it away. Last week, I got the same sloppy mess, but I just re-kneaded it generously adding more flour and had to delay dinner while it rested until I could form the pies. The only difference I could think is that it was rather warm the last two Fridays. Keep in mind that this was with AP flour as well.

For anyone who is still reading and has the time, some other questions that I haven't quite found in the forum are:

How can you tell the protein content of the flour you're buying? I looked all over the packaging and couldn't tell..

 Convection oven tips. We recently bought a house that has a full convection oven, meaning the heat source is at the back instead of the bottom. This makes it hard to get a brown crust. Pre-heating my 14" cast-iron skillet helps, but I avoid using parchment paper because I need all the heat I can get on the crust (another struggle with high hydration since I have to transfer from the peel to the skillet). I haven't bought a stone (or steel) yet. Is that the only other trick? My best results have been with the skillet on my gas grill. 

When do you divide the dough into balls?

That's enough for now. Here's hoping for success tonight!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Salt is generally 2% or 20g for 1k flour. (Many toppings will add more salt too like cheese, meats and sauces. So it could also be reduced to 1.8%or 1.6% depending on the toppings.

AP flour hydrates with less water than bread flour.  60% may be too dry with bread flour.  I suggest you go with the 65% and just stir up a shaggy dough, then cover and let it just sit and hydrate for 10 to 20 minutes before mixing. Anyway, why not follow a good recipe with good directions?

What do you want the dough to do for you?  Do you want to chill it or use it right away?  Hold it overnight?  You can reduce the yeast to slow fermentation.  Once you know what your plan is, let us know and we can make a better suggestion with the amount of yeast that goes into the dough.  When dough is over fermented it gets all runny and that may have happened in the past.  More detail would help including the dough temps.  

Keep looking for that protein content, should be there broken down and listed with carbohydrates, fat, maybe fiber.

Go through a bulk ferment before dividing into balls. Dividing too early will get you pocket pita type bread.  

That's my 2 cents,  :)


Highsinger's picture

Thanks so much for your reply. This is exactly the kind of input I had hoped for!

I got my recipe from a website (can't remember which one). That site did say that 3% salt content was higher than average.

I have not been letting it sit and hydrate (autolyse?). I will give that a shot.

I don't think that over-fermenting was the issue because I usually mix the dough in the early morning and let it rise on the counter (8-9 hours). Maybe that's too long at room temperature, especially in the summer. I haven't done a longer, slow ferment but plan to give it a try. Would that call for less yeast?

For the protein, do you just mean the nutrition label? I saw that but didn't think it was adequate, because the bread flour was exactly the same as the AP--3g per 1/4 cup. Hmm. I'll have to re-check.

And, sorry, I still need to clarify about dividing. Do I calculate a time for bulk ferment and then just divide? Or should I calculate backwards from cook time?

Thanks again. I love cooking (especially pizza) but have a lot to learn!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The math is easier when posted using 100g instead of odd rounded numbers for portions.  Using 100g, the number would be something like 12g protein (12%) combined with info on fiber amount will tell you where the protein is coming from, roughly.  Usually the more fiber, the higher the protein and the more absorbent the flour. 

albacore's picture

Note, not a different world - a different universe. At it's simplest, four ingredients, but infinite in combinations of time, temperature, proportions and variety.

Sorry, not trying to put you off! You really need to head over to for an in depth take on pizza things.

But meanwhile, a few tips: salt for pizza is always a bit more than bread - I would start at 2.5% in a domestic oven. Hydration: if using bread flour then around 64% should work. Make sure your have developed your gluten OK  - aim for a loose windowpane when kneading, ferment a few hours in bulk and a few in ball.

Lastly, I would download Pizzapp+ to your smartphone - it will work out all the ingredient quantities for you.


Highsinger's picture

Thanks for the link. I'll definitely check that out!

I'll check out the app too, but I'm a math teacher, so baker's math works for me.

I've read about the windowpane, but just couldn't get it there with the 65% the last couple weeks. No amount of kneading seemed to give it that structure. Maybe I just need to practice kneading more.

Thanks again. This is just the kind of advice I was hoping to see!

albacore's picture

Yes, Pizzapp+ and a few other pizza dough apps will do the math for you - useful, but the main use of the app is for it to calculate how much yeast to add for a given weight of flour and user inputted temperature and time. It will even take account of two different temperatures, in case you cold ferment for part of the time.

This yeast quantity is one of the most critical factors in making good pizza.

There is another app, Cal Bal that does a similar job, but is more powerful still. It does have a steep learning curve, though, so not for pizza beginners.


Highsinger's picture

Ah, I see. That is different.Thank you. And thanks for the link. The other sight has more of what I'm looking for. As I get better at pizza, I think I will want to branch out into breads, so I'm going to stay plugged in here as well. 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Hello, Mr. Singer.

Welcome to the bread club. Lance, is right about, you will love it over there. Regarding achieving a windowpane. After a vigorous kneading the gluten strands in your dough are going to be very tight. It's not surprising that you can not pull a windowpane, right after kneading. Once you have your dough in bulk ferment, that is when the windowpane becomes useful. When you think your dough has built up enough strength in the bulk ferment that's when you use the windowpane test. That being said, when your in the shaping mode, if your dough is fighting you back (to elastic) a short rest to relax the gluten strands will help a lot. Even after a short 5-10 minute rest, you will notice the dough ball has less elasticity, and more extendibility. I hope that makes sense. Good luck!


 Will Falzon

idaveindy's picture

@Highsinger, welcome to TFL!  

I'm with Albacore. Pizza is a different universe.  And I, too, am in awe of the pizzaiolos over at   Though, as an online framework, I prefer how TFL is set up. However, to be fair, doing your research over there will yield better information quicker -- pizza is their specialty. And, please.... use their search feature to do your homework so as to see if your questions have already been answered.  (well, same applies here too. Most newbie bread questions have been answered repeatedly over the years.)

What you've left me wondering is.... what is the goal of your questions? Where are you coming from and where do you want to go? (or as Mini Oven asked, what do you want to do with the dough?)

There is no "one" way to make pizza crust/dough. It's not just about ingredients, but timings can vary from 45 minutes to 3 days.  ... There is "kneaded" dough, and there is "no-knead" dough, and plenty of stages in between.

You have left unsaid what the formula and timings of your AP flour dough was. So that makes it hard to suggest how you should handle a transition to bread flour.

And, more importantly, you haven't said the style of pIzza dough/crust that you want. That is crucial to what you do with the ingredients. 

For instance, If you are doing a thick style of pizza crust, bread flour may not be the ideal choice unless mixed approximately 50/50 with AP flour.

In my opinion, King Arthur AP flour would be better for short-rise-time thick crusts than KA bread flour.  Or... at least KA bread flour would need a longer ferment.  It's all intertwined like that.  So you can alter/substitute an ingredient, but you have to compensate elsewhere.

Another for-instance, if you don't have a baking stone, par-baking a crust before loading the toppings may help.  


To look at this from another angle, what pizza cookbooks do you have? Which author is your favorite?  

IMO, Tony Gemignani is the King --  13 time world champ.  But other artisan pizza authors are Peter Reinhart (2 pizza books), Ken Forkish, and Mark Vetri.

Want K.I.S.S., with a 12/24 hr ferment time?  Then maybe Hertzberg/Francois, Jim Lahey, or Chris Bianco.

But there are also low-tech low-cost books such as:

which can be had for under $7 including shipping, for good/very-good condition on Amazon's used market.

Pizza Night! 101, by Oxmoor House is $3 at Ollie's Bargain Outlet (brick and mortar store) has easy recipes for several styles. 


For videos, both pizza and bread, check out Steve Gamelin's channel

his pizza:

for a couple pizza videos along the lines of the Lahey no-knead method, using a standard rise of 8-12 hours, or a turbo rise of 4 hours.  Starting the dough in the morning before/right-after breakfast for baking in the evening, tastes much better than a 1 to 2 hour rise, and you don't have to clean the KitchenAid.

Good luck, and bon appétit !

Highsinger's picture

Thanks for the response. Wow! I'm a little overwhelmed, but grateful. Yesterday's post was after already starting a batch, so I couldn't really change it. That said, it turned out really well, maybe a touch on the fluffy side. I just had to punch ti down a couple times, and I did decide to par bake it.

Until looking at the site, I hadn't found anyone who described the type of pizza I was trying to make, which, I think, has been part of my problem. My target is what they call the "American" Pizza. I like toppings, so I need a little more robust crust to hold it. It looks like a lower hydration rate might be what I'm after too (still reading up on this).

I'm not sure what you mean about formula and timings of the AP flour. I posted the recipe I used. I make the dough in the morning and leave it in a bowl on the counter until about 3 (~8 hours). That's when I divide it, then start making the pizzas at about 5 or so.

Now that I've found the Pizza Americana forum, though, I think that I want to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. I made too many changes yesterday to know which one did what (switched from AP to full bread flour, backed down hydration rate, par baked crusts).

I clearly have a lot to learn. Thanks so much for all your wonderful info!

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Your crust does not necessarily have to be thick, to hold up to toppings. 


kendalm's picture

having worked in a pizzaria (long ago) you soon learn that theres really not a very technical thing.  unlike fancy bread you can produce a really great pie with little effort.  the easiest way is to mix up the dough, immediately divide and form balls.  let then ferment.  when they are 2-3 times the size, shape, sauce then cook on the hottest stone possible.  for a more neopolitan crust use a ciabatta recipe.  of course theres all sorts of little variations such olive oil addition to the dough, deep dish etc etc.  i think if you can swing a high hydration dough its your best bet.  maybe you over mixed you 60+% attempts leading to your mush.  2% salt as mini oven recommends, very little kneading is needed at higher hydration.  juat toss a lot of pies and it will come :) 

kendalm's picture

i go to my garage and pull the propane torch then char the crust a little to minic the wood oven effect on neopolitan pies (plus the kids love it) 

dbazuin's picture

For example if you bake in a home oven (Mine does 250°c /482°f) Bakking  takes ± 8 minutes but In a wood pizza oven It takes 1,5 minuut.
Adding some oil prefent the crust from getting to dry as a result from the longer baking time.  

I add 2% olive oil.  
Also I add 2% honey to get a nicer browning.