Friday, September 21, 2012

Ryan's New York style (baked in a grill)

I'm still drafting this post. I have plenty to add, and a ton of revising to do, so check out what I've already drafted and come back later to see what I've added.

Pizza after a 5-minute bake on the grill. This is not my favorite pic, but other
people seem to think it looks good.
Beautiful color on this one. Nice texture, too, which wouldn't
have been there if I had used this dough a day earlier.

If you want to make NY style pizza the same day you make the dough, this post will not guide you there. I will eventually write another post for same-day NY style dough, but I want you to know right now that same-day NY style dough isn't nearly as good as a 48-hour or 72-hour dough.

This post is about NY style pizza baked in a grill (on a stone) 2 or 3 days after you mix the dough. This pizza can also be done in a home oven, but I usually make them on the grill because real NY style pizza is supposed to be baked in a deck oven at about 650 degrees, and the grill gives me similar conditions as a 650-degree oven. (Plus my oven sucks in just about every way possible.)

Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks when baking in a grill instead of an oven. First of all, the heat distribution is very uneven between the top and the bottom; there is a ton of bottom heat, but not enough top heat. Consequently, the bottom of the pizza almost always finishes well before the top of the pizza. If you allow the top to finish completely, you'll end up with a very overbaked (or burned) crust. Also, you lose a whole bunch of top heat every time you open the grill, and it takes a while for the grill to recover that heat. That means it's best not to open the grill while the pizza is baking, which is kind of impossible if you need to rotate, adjust, or check the pizza. Fortunately I've learned some tricks that help me get around this, and I'll share these tricks with you later in the post.

The grill does not forgive. If you're not an extremely experienced pizzamaker, it's really easy to mangle pizza on the grill. But even if you are an experienced pizzamaker, it's still easy to mangle pizza on the grill. This is evident in some of the pictures I've included in this post, as some of my pictured pizzas have very dark (burned) spots on the bottom of the crust and/or the outer edges.

I'm telling you this stuff because I don't want to mislead you into thinking you're gonna crank out a bunch of beautiful pies as soon as you start baking on the grill, because you probably won't. Still, I don't want you to be afraid to make pizza on the grill, because with a little practice you can make some of the most amazing pizzas you could ever imagine.

The great thing about screwing up is that mistakes always present wonderful learning opportunities. Before you will be able to make beautiful, delicious pizzas, you'll make dozens of pizzas that you won't really want people to see or eat. Don't worry about it, though, because even bad pizza is usually pretty good.

Here's the formula for this dough:

100% All Trumps bleached & bromated high gluten flour (General Mills)
58% Water
0.63% ADY
1.5% Salt
1.58% Oil

You can substitute all-purpose flour, bread flour, or any other high gluten flour to make this dough, but doing so will likely sacrifice almost everything that is great about this pizza. Needless to say, I highly recommend using All Trumps bleached and bromated flour if you're not afraid to buy a 50-pound bag from your local foodservice distributor (for less than $25). If you can't get All Trumps, at least try to find a bromated flour. (Actually, I think ships 5-pound bags of All Trumps flour, in addition to many other pizzamaking ingredients and tools.)

To make enough dough for two 14" pizzas, here's a recipe based on the formula above:

15.46 oz HG flour
8.97 oz Water
0.93 tsp ADY
1.35 tsp Salt
1.54 tsp Oil

Even though you normally want to keep your measurements as precise as possible, it's OK if you round these measurements to 15.5 oz, 9 oz, 1 tsp, 1.5 tsp, and 1.5 tsp. This recipe will make 25 oz of dough, which you will divide into two dough balls of about 12.3 oz. If 25 oz of dough is not the right amount of dough for you, use the formula above to come up with a batch size that's most appropriate for your needs.

Specialized tools you will need to make this pizza:
  • A wooden pizza peel.
  • A baking stone (cordierite) at least 1/2" thick. If you have a thin stone that came from a cook store or department store, it will probably break. Plus it's not very useful because it doesn't have much thermal mass.

To make this batch of dough, follow these instructions:
  1. Measure 8.97 oz of 110-degree water, and pour about 2 oz of the water into your mixer bowl.
  2. Measure 0.93 tsp ADY and add to the water in mixer bowl.
  3. Stir the yeast water if you feel so inclined.
  4. Measure 15.46 oz of flour.
  5. Measure 1.35 tsp of salt and add to flour. Stir the flour to incorporate salt.
  6. Check the yeast water. If it is foamy, add the rest of the water to the mixer bowl and move on to the next step. If it is not foamy, wait about five minutes. It should be foamy by then. If so, add the rest of the water and move on to the next step. If not, consider buying new yeast, but move on to the next step anyway because everything will probably work out.
  7. Add the flour and salt to the mixer bowl.
  8. Place the mixer bowl on the mixer and start mixing on speed 2 with the dough hook.
  9. After the dough comes together into a shaggy mass (less than a minute), add 1.54 tsp of oil to the dough (without turning off the mixer).
  10. Mix until the dough has a texture similar to cottage cheese. (With my mixer, this takes about 3 minutes.)

  11. Dough after mixing for 3 minutes. Notice that it is not smooth like most cookbooks say
    it should be. 3 minutes is an appropriate mix time for a dough that will be used at least
    two days after mixing.

  12. After mixing, let the dough rest for about half an hour. This is not a rise; it's just a rest.

  13. Same dough after resting for half an hour.

  14. Divide the dough into two pieces of about 12.3 oz each.

  15. Dividing the dough into two pieces of equal weight (about 12.3 oz).

  16. Give each piece of dough a few kneads and round into tight dough balls. (I know this instruction doesn't help you much, so I'll try to find a better way to explain this procedure.) Place each dough ball on the counter, seam-side down.

  17. Two dough balls, rounded and ready to refrigerate. Notice how smooth this
    dough looks compared to the dough in previous pics. It's the same dough.

  18. Put the dough balls in some kind of air-tight setup, like plastic wrap, a bag, or a bowl. There are many different ways you can store your dough balls. I use plastic wrap to make sort of a book-like setup, as demonstrated in the next two pictures. Another way you could store the dough is in a very-lightly-oiled plastic bowl, covered.

  19. This pic shows the first step of my wrapping method. At this point I spray a light mist of
    nonstick spray on the top of the dough ball to make it easier to remove the plastic wrap later.

    Dough ball with the plastic wrap folded over it, before refrigeration.

  20. Once you've figured out how you prefer to store your dough, immediately put the dough in the refrigerator and leave it there for at least two days.

How to bake the pizza:
  1. Remove dough ball(s) from fridge two hours before you intend to make pizza, and allow the dough to warm up at room temperature. (The dough will not warm up all the way to room temperature.) Since it's easier to remove cold dough from bowls or plastic surfaces, remove the dough and place it on a pan, as pictured below. Then cover with a bowl.

  2. Dough ball after being removed from the refrigerator.

    Dough ball on the pan, with a bowl covering it to keep it from drying out.

    Dough ball after rising & warming at room temperature for about an hour and a half.

  3. Make sure there is a baking stone in your oven or grill.
  4. Important: If you'll be baking in the grill, line the bottom of your stone with aluminum foil. This will reflect some of the intense heat from the burner instead of allowing the stone to absorb all the heat. If you don't do this, your crust will be black within a couple minutes of baking, but the top of the pizza will not be anywhere near finished. (I can't say for sure whether it's better to keep the shiny side or the dull side of the foil exposed because I've never paid attention or thought about it.)
  5. If you'll be baking in your oven, make sure there's a stone inside it, then preheat the oven at its max temperature beginning an hour before you intend to bake the pizza. If baking on the grill, insert your stone, then set the burners to high and pre-heat the grill and stone for about 45 minutes before you begin baking.
  6. Before you begin assembling the pizza, remove your dough ball from its proofing pan, and coat the dough ball with flour.
  7. Set the dough ball on your work surface (counter) and use your fingertips to flatten the dough.
  8. There are many different ways to stretch NY style pizza dough. Since it's difficult to explain how to do this with text, I suggest that you watch a dough-stretching video on YouTube to learn. [Insert dough stretching pic (from bottom of this page) here.]
  9. Once you've stretched the dough to the desired size, set the dough on your counter and add a large pinch of flour to the top surface of your wooden peel. Use your palm and fingers to distribute the flour evenly across the entire surface of the peel.
  10. Place the dough skin on the floured peel.

  11. Dough skin on a wooden peel, ready to be topped and baked. Notice
    that there is not an abundance of flour on the peel.

  12. Top the skin with sauce, cheese, and toppings.

  13. Dough skin with a relatively light application of sauce.

    Dough skin with sauce and cheese.

  14. Give the peel a quick shake to make sure the dough is not sticking to it.
  15. Peel the dough onto the stone in your grill or oven.

  16. Me peeling a 16" pizza onto a 15.5" stone. Don't try this until you've
    made a few thousand pizzas.

    The pizza just after peeling it onto the stone.

  17. If you're baking on the grill, and if you landed the pizza completely on the stone (without any dough hanging over the side), set a timer for 5 minutes.

  18. The same pizza baking on the stone after a few minutes. Take note
    of the foil lining the bottom of the stone.

  19. When the timer hits 4 minutes and 30 seconds, open the grill and use a peel to lift part of the pizza so you can see the bottom. If your grill puts out the same temperatures as mine, the pizza should be just about done. A nice brown color is what I call done. It's your pizza, though, so it's your call.
  20. If you baked in the oven at 500, it should take about 7 minutes for your pizza to finish baking.
  21. When your pizza is done, remove it, cut it, and serve it.

    The same pizza just after baking. Notice that it wouldn't hurt for
    the top to be a little more done.

    Underside of the same pizza. One of my favorite pics.

    This is beautiful to me. That's the color I want my pizza crusts to be.

    Profile of a slice to show its thickness (or, rather, its thinness).
Tips: I like to expose dough balls to air for about an hour before I knock them down and stretch them. By doing this, the top of the dough ball dries a little, causing a light crust to form on the dough ball. The top of the dough ball becomes the bottom of the skin, and the dry bottom of the skin makes it much easier to slide the skin off the peel. The dried dough also creates a nice texture on the bottom of the pizza.

Things you need to know about NY style pizza:
  1. Despite the fact that most "experts" almost always say to let dough rise (or bulk-ferment), then punch down the dough before you divide the dough and form dough balls, New York style dough is not supposed to be allowed to bulk ferment. We're not making bread here; we're making pizza. Instead of allowing the dough to bulk ferment after mixing, the dough should be divided, scaled, and rounded into dough balls immediately after mixing. Allowing the dough to bulk ferment makes a huge difference in the texture (or crumb) of the crust. Bulk fermenting creates a more intricate crumb structure, which many people prefer, but New York style pizza does not have an intricate crumb structure.
  2. Celebrity chefs don't know what they're talking about when it comes to any style of pizza. Don't listen to them. Baking and cooking are two different things, and celebrity chefs are cooks, not bakers. I'd say the same thing about cookbook authors, with one difference: Although some cookbook authors probably do know about pizza, they're usually forced by their publishers to dumb it down, and their books are useless.
  3. Don't even think about using the dough the same day you make it. (The best NY style dough is refrigerated for 2 or 3 days.
  4. When you make dough that will be refrigerated for more than a day, you should undermix the dough. The gluten will develop while the dough ferments. So if you mix the dough to full gluten development, you'll end up with a tough, overdeveloped gluten structure. I mix my dough for 3 minutes. I used to mix it for 15 minutes, like most cookbooks and other resources instruct. But over a span of many years and a few thousand pizzas, I learned not to do that.
  5. Never use a pan or a screen to make NY style pizza. Actually, you can use a pan or a screen if you want. Just realize that if you bake your pizza any way other than by peeling the pizza directly onto a stone, the pizza is not NY style. Instead, it will be a lame copy of NY style.
  6. If you use a rolling pin, it's not NY style.
  7. Window-paning is useless. I know Alton Brown seems like he knows what he's talking about, but when it comes to pizza or baking, he doesn't. He's a chef, not a baker or pizzamaker. If you can window-pane this dough, you have overmixed it.

Still trying to figure out whether to keep any of the following pics in this post.

Nice color, but a little dark in the spot on the left. That's one of the things you have to
deal with when you bake on the grill.

Undercrust shot, or "upskirt."

Topped and ready to be peeled onto the stone.

Ready to be removed from the grill.

Just after baking.

Another baked pizza.
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