Hello all, ok I’ll try to explain as best I can :expressionless:

I am doing dry-runs, have cooked 7 nights about 15 pizza per night, and the last 3 nights I have had burnt pizza bottoms/dough problems (I am making Neapolitan pies).

Dough formula:
flour 100% (80-90%pastry-10-20%bread)
water 66, 63, 60, 61%
salt 2.7%
fresh yeast 0.2% (average)

All room temp rise, 2 hour bulk followed by 6-8 hour balled until cooking time. First day was over-proofed but had no burning problems. I hand mix with three 5-min rest periods at the end.

Cooking in a wood fired oven, first night I slid pizza in at a 440ºC hearth temp, steam escaped, turned at 30secs, again at 60 and out at 90. Perfect pizza, leoparding and all (pic attached)

Did that routine happily for 3 more days, then I got burning day 4-5-6, having to cook the pizzas at the oven opening where the floor is around 370ºC.

The best I can describe it is like this. When I have proper dough, you get tiny air bubbles that fill up on the pizza bottom, effectively “raising” the pizza off the cooking floor, sort of like bubble-pack or a waffle grid. This allows only the little bubbles to be in contact with the floor, and you have airflow to reduce burning. You only get black spots where the tiny bubbles are, the rest is golden.

[b]Last three nights, those little bubbles burst and therefore the pizza lay flat on the floor, and had massive burning (burnt halos where the bubbles burst), and burnt where the pizza was flattest on the floor (anyone ever noticed this?). The nice bubbles that don’t burst probably have a tighter gluten structure?!?:confused:)

The gluten development hasn’t been good either; the dough has become watery when stretched out (thin parts will shine), and toppings will wet it and have it stick to the peel or create holes when in the oven (this is a mess).[/b]

Can this all be a mixing problem? I changed my technique ever so slightly (but then again I work by feel usually not being a machine mixer).

We can’t afford a mixer right now, and truth be told, I have never had this problem this persistently. I though first it was yeast freshness, then too little bread flour in my mix (but my first four days were fine with my flour formulation - can’t get caputo here), but now I’m at a loss.

We’re in the final stages of testing, opening in about two weeks and now I’ve gotten nervous.

Any help and/or ideas will be greatly appreciated. Sorry for rambling on, but for the third night I have lived out my nightmares with no way to fix them (and with patrons expecting great pizza).


Hello Tenorio,

I copied your post over in the ask the experts section for Tom Lehmann. He is the dough expert and would be the one you want to answer this for you. What for a private message he is really good at getting back quickly. Best of luck with the new venture. - Michael

You might give this procedure a try:
Put water in mixing bowl (75F), then add the yeasy and suspend the yeast in the water using a hand whisk. Then, add the flour and salt. For flour, try using General Mills All Trumps. Your present flour blend is too weak to support what you are trying to do. Mix the "dough by hand until it looks like wet oatmeal. Stop mixing, and lightly cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic, allowing the dough to ferment for at least 2-hours. Turn the dough out of the bowl and roughly knead the dough on the bench top by folding the dough several times, adding a little dusting flour if necessary. Place the dough back into the bowl and allow to ferment for 1.5-hours, then turn the dough out of the bowl and cut into desired weight pieces, form into balls and place into plastic dough boxes, lightly oil the top of the dough balls, and allow the dough balls to rest at room temperature until they can be easily opened by hand (about 1 to 1.5-hours, depending upon room temperature). We make pizzas by this method quite a bit and it works well for me. You don’t need to mix the dough to development as you will get plenty of bio-chemical gluten development as a result of the fermentation periods. Or, if you want to take the long way around, just try replacing your present flour blend with 100% of either General Mills Full Strength or All Trumps.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

A little off topic… but If you can not afford a mixer can you really afford to open a business?

Well…Actually, yes. A number of years ago I was at a store just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the operator had a long stainless steel trough, about 18-inches high, by maybe 22-inches deep, and about 6 or possibly 7-feet long. He would portion out the water in a bucket, then add the salt, and then the flour. He would then wet his hands and rub them with compressed yeast, then begin hand mixing the dough, then cover with a sheet of plastic to let bio-chemical fermentation do its work. An interesting observation: The guy didn’t have a single hair on either arm all the way up to his elbows. Can’t imagine why LOL.
This store really packed in the people, and it seemed that the main entertainment of the evening for the diners was to watch the guy make his dough.
Maybe some of the readers in the Pittsburgh area will be able to tell me the name of this store, as I remember it, it was located on XXXX Hill. It was a small store, with a long hall way with pallets of ingredients stored on one side of the hall way, and dining tables on the other side, so diners were sitting right across from pallets of ingredients. It was a pretty neat place.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom, thanks so much for your quick and helpful reply (and thanks mike for forwarding my question to where it should have been). I have just had time to check back in, after a busy week or so.

I will try the method you described, and will look for a flour having the same specs as General Mills Full Strength or All Trumps (I am in Peru, and have to use local flour). I will also try kneading as per usual -with the new flour- and compare results between the two procedures (effort and results-wise).

I have, since my last post, lowered my hydration to 58%, which has let me knead properly and mostly resolve the gluten issue. But, I will go back up to 66-67% with your approach (with the new flour), and see if this helps with the burning part also.

We plan on getting a mixer in the (hopefully near) future, but we didn’t want to spend the money up front in case we have a slow start. And I have done large batches of dough without problems before, I’m just not sure where things got a little off track.

Thanks again for your help :slight_smile: