mixing

is 30 minutes mixing time in a spiral mixer too long?
my mixer has only one speed, and that’s how long it takes to get a smooth
dough. the only problem i find is too much snap back.
has anyone the same problem?
thanks to all for your input

I understand that spiral mixers are fastwer than planetary mixers.
I would check with the manufacturer. Maybe get a more appropriate hook.
Otis

Hi Joede

I don’t know about spiral mixers being faster in speed than planetary, I do know that they are more effecient at mixing and the action is more gentle on the dough. That being said, 30 minutes sounds way too long, and the fact that you dough snaps back as you described, is a usual indication that the dough has been over-mixed.

Spiral mixers work particularly well with high hydration formulas. If you could share what kind of flour you are using (protein content and brand) and what percentage of moisture you are using (include water and oil–if you are using oil or any other liquid). I could give you a some more pointers.

You could also try the autolyse method which is to combine all of the water, flour, yeast and salt (and sugar is that is what you use) in the mixer and let it go until the dough is hydrated–that is to say that there is no raw white flour visible. The dough will not be smooth at all–that is fine. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes and then finish mixing–(you can add the oil–if you use it, at this point).

Autolyse is a artisan bread baking technique used in Europe and by some pizza makers in the US (I’m a big fan of this technique). Here’s what happens: During the rest time, the water is allowed to more fully hydrate into the flour without agitation which tends to toughen the gluten. When you finish mixing the dough will come together much quicker as a result.

Evelyne,

I once did substantial online research to try to find evidence of pizza operators using autolyse, either the classic autolyse as devised by French Professor Raymond Calvel in the 70s (water and flour only, and then yeast and salt after the autoylse rest) or a variation of the classic autolyse. I couldn’t find any evidence of its commercial use in pizza making, only for bread dough making for which Professor Calvel introduced it. From your field experience, what kind of pizza operators would be using autolyse? Artisanal pizza operators maybe? It would seem to me that autolyse would be a practical inconvenience for most pizza operators because they are not really set up to do it.

Peter

Hi Peter,

I would say that the percentage of commercial pizza makers who utilze autolyse are mighty small–but growing. The number of pizzamakers who are interested in artisan methods is a rather new segment in the industry. Some Italian pizza makers have been using this method for years.

Nearly 30 years ago, when I first learned how to make authentic traditional pizza from Gerry Lombardi and Jerry Pero of Totonno’s, the technique was about to go extinct. No one except a few of the old timers was still making pizza that way. I had the unique opportunity to watch, ask and learn. For many years I was the only voice in the industry who supported the age old methods. Becasue the 80’s and part of the early 90’s were so caught up in the topping centric “gourmet” trend, commercial pizza makers weren’t interested in spending time on their dough becuase the crust had a secondary role–in their opinion.

in my seminars and articles, I would talk about deveoping crust flavor, color and texture through natural fermentation rather than using enhancers, dough conditioners and additives. Only a very few took my advice to heart, the rest viewed me as an eccentric because, my views on dough were just too time consuming.

Just to give you an idea of how forgotten the old methods had become, my good friend Tom Lehmann from AIB told me a great story about how he had been paid 100,000.00 to reverse engineer the recipe I was using at Pizzico in New York City back around 1986 or 87. They went through the garbage for the flour–the whole nine yards, but he came up empty handed–he could not for the life of him, figure it out. He was completely stumped.

In the early 90’s, I was invited to teach at AIB and to take their Pizza Technology class. This is where Tom and I began our long-time friendship. Tom came right out with it and told me of his story about how he tried and tried to replicate my dough, but couldn’t come up with the formula on how to achieve that open holed crumb structure, texture and flavor. Hell, if he had only asked me, I would have split the money with him and given him the recipe!

What I told him was this: It is not what I do, but what I don’t do. My dough only contains flour, water, yeast and salt–nothing more, and long, slow fermentation does the rest. Then I gave him a recipe that achieves those results for the masses. I use it whenever I teach at AIB and I Iknow they still use it as the basis for their New York Style dough formula at the Institute. Tom found the answers he was looking for and he taught me the science behind the age old techniques.

What I am gettng at, is that the formula and techniques that I was trying to preserve almost dropped off of the face of the industry. When I wrote The Pizza Book; Everything There Is To Know About The World’s Greatest Pie, I attempted to distill some of these techniques to the home cook because they were the only ones interested in it. No one in the commercial pizza world was. Even the masters I learned from couldn’t understand why I wanted to carry it on. I quote: “It’s just pig food, people think pizza is junk fast food” Gerry Lombardi. “You’ve gotta be kidding, no one cares about this, no one knows any better…no one knows what pizza is anymore” Jerry Pero.

Tom Lehmann, was and is the top authority on pizza dough production–but the key word here is production. This formula, this age old method represented pizza when it was craft and not an industry. Up until recently, commercial pizza was about how to handle dough so that it would fit into what ever constraints the producer desired: if speed was desired, more yeast was used, sugar speeded things up and was added to promote color and texture. Conditioners sped up the usability and preservatives increased shelf life. Time was a commodity pizza makers were unwilling to give. Tom didn’t have any experience with these methods because they were outside of the current commercial realm of pizza production. These methods, though gaining in popularity, are still but a tiny segment of the pizza industry as a whole.

Back to why I suggested autolyse. Since I do not know the dough formulation: hydration ratio, type of flour, etc, I do know that improved mixing can be attained through autolyse, and if a lot of pizza makers don’t yet know about this technique, they will be learning about it–and others like it, from me, here in the pages of PMQ.

Tom and I have been teaching dough seminars together for some time and we both agree that when it comes to mixing, the keys are proper hydration of the flour and minimal kneading time for the dough to come together.

Less is more.

hi Evelyne
thanks for yiur input,
the flour that i use is about 12% protein content,
i use 62% water
5%oil of wich 90% percent is used after 2/3 minutes of mixing
and the rest at end of mixing
i add flour yeast and salt, mixit for a minute then add water.
most of the flour comes togheter around 15/20 minutes, but the last
bit of flour sitting on the bottom of the bowl want be picked up for at least
another 10 minutes.
hope this help, and wait for your toughts.
regards joede

Evelyne, I must admit your article has really piqued my interest! Could you share a recipe and/or some steps for this process? I’d like to give it a try to see what you’re talking about.

Joede,

Here are a few tips that may improve your mixing technique:

Add the water first, use a cool temperature of around 65 degrees–cooler if your kitchen is hot.

Add your flour, salt and yeast next. (If you are using ADY, dissolve it in about 1/2 pound of your total water weight at a warm temperature of 105 degrees. If you are using ADY, pour the salt in first and then the flour and then the yeast. IDY doesn’t require pre-hydration and can be added right to the flour. If you feel uncomfortable about adding it on top of the salt, add the salt first, or let the ingredients mix a few seconds before adding. (if you add sugar to your dough, add it with the flour)

Continue mixing until there is no dry flour visible. This step is crucial to hydrating the dough evenly.

Next, add your oil. It is really, really important to make sure the dough is properly hydrated–with no raw flour showing–before adding the oil. Why? Because the oil will coat the raw flour and prevent it from hydrating properlyand that is what will lead to the unmixed dough at the bottom of your mixer. So, just make sure that there is no trace of raw flour before adding the oil. Don’t time the process–use your eyes to make sure it has been hydrated–the time could vary depending upon your kitchen temperatures and humidity factors–but the end product will always look the same, so go for that.

You can add all of the oil, or part, it’s up to you. I would add it all and continue mixing only until the dough is thoroughly mixed and cleans the bowl. (you could reserve a bit of the olive oil and pour it down the sides of the bowl to finish off the process. Old timers are partial to that technique)

Finished dough does not have to be mixed until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom, it only needs to be mixed as far as cleaning the sides of the bowl and coming together. You can test a piece by stretching it over your knuckles, if it is elastic and stretches into a thin “veil” it is mixed enough, if it tears, it needs a bit more mixing time.

If you form and stretch your dough by hand, your pizza maker will appreciate how much easier this dough handles than an over-mixed dough that snaps back and is difficult to open during service.

OK, so where is the autolyse method?

Try this mixing method first and see if it solves your problem. I think it will.

Without giving you another whole seminar on autolyse, if you want to try it, start by giving your dough a 10-15 minute rest. You can have all of your ingredients already incorporated in the dough. If you plan on giving it a longer rest, say 30-45 minutes, do not add the yeast, or use a very cold, cold water in the mix (around 35 degrees). Or, if your kitchen is particularly hot, don’t add the yeast until after the rest. I would also prefer to add the oil after the rest, when the flour is really well hydrated.

This technique which was developed by Raymond Calvel back in the 70’s, is usually applied to baking bread. I first came upon Calvel’s work when I was working on The Pizza Book in the late 70’s or early 80’s, but my publishers didn’t want me to get so complicated with my recipes, so I did not mention it in my book. Unfortunately, they didn’t think that the home cook was ready for most of the information I had aquired, and consequently had to leave out.

When I’ve worked with Italian Pizzaiolos, I found them to use a similar technique in their dough mixing process. They simply allowed the dough to “rest” because they had discovered that it made for a more elastic, easier to handle dough, that would turn into a more tender crust. Also, in Europe, no one uses planetary mixers, they are all spiral.

I’ve never been fortunate enough to have a spiral mixer in my store, so I’ve found that by giving the dough a rest, I can get similar results to the more gentle mixing action of the spiral with my Hobart.

I’ve learned a lot from artisan bread baking techniques and have adapted them to the pizza process which is not the same as bread. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is to treat the dough gently. To mix, let it rest, and use low speeds throughout the process. Most dough is over-mixed.

That being said, I am talking about hand-made pizza, that will be hand formed and hand stretched and that develops the open cell structure of traditional New York style and Neapolitan style pizza.

The overall mixing technique that I supplied earlier (aside from the “rest” period) is standard technique for any kind of dough.

Hope the mixing lesson helps.

Along with all the excellent advice given by E Slomon, I wondered if you had tried making a smaller batch of dough?

John

Hi Evelyne,

Finished dough does not have to be mixed until it is as smooth as a
baby’s bottom, it only needs to be mixed as far as cleaning the sides of
the bowl and coming together. You can test a piece by stretching it over
your knuckles, if it is elastic and stretches into a thin “veil” it is mixed
enough, if it tears, it needs a bit more mixing time.

Just a clarification on “finished dough.”

With the veil test are you testing to see if the dough is mixed enough before letting it rest? Or do you do the veil test after the rest to determine if the dough is mixed/kneaded enough?

I am making dough by hand, and the recipes calls for 15 minutes of kneading. I would like to see if letting my dough rest before the kneading helps.

Thanks and regards,
Tom

Tom,

The veil test takes place after the rest and when the dough seems done–which is as soon as it cleans away from the sides of the bowl and forms relatively smooth surface–Perform the veil test to see if it requires any further mixing. The the dough tears, continue mixing for a few minutes longer.

Most dough is over-mixed because people just let it run in the mixer for 15-20 minutes. Over-mixing leads to snap-back memory problems when working with the dough because the gluten is over-worked. Less is more, you will have to experiment with just how much time your dough requires to reach this point before it becomes over-mixed

Try working in 3-5 minute intervals, testing each time until the dough no longer tears and then you will achieve the proper mixing time for your formula.

What if you use a vcm?

The VCM is a good mixer and it has its place in a pizzeria. For use in dough mixing just make sure you have the correct dough mixing attachment (dull and flat not the curver and sharpened blade). Due to the much higher mixing speed (1750 rpm) your mixing times will be quite short, 60 to 90 seconds). You will want to adjust the mixing time to give you a finished dough that has just taken on a smooth, satiny appearance. The remainder of the gluten development will take place through bio-chemical gluten development during the dough’s overnight fermentation period in the cooler. Keep in mind that it can take several minutes or more to overmix a dough using a planetary type of mixer, but with a VCM (vertical cutter mixer) you can easily overmix a dough in as few as 15 to 30 seconds. Remember, any pizza dough that will be going into the cooler for 12 or more hours should be mixed just to the point where it takes on a smooth and satiny appearance. The rest of the gluten development will take place in the cooler. If you want to see this for yourself, mix a dough, then stretch a piece of the dough in your hands to form a gluten film. You shouldn’t be able to get a very good film at this point. Now, come back to the dough after it has been in the cooler overnight and stretch a piece of it again. This time you will be able to stretch it out so thin that you can read newsprint through it. We have demonstrated this in each of our pizza classes for over 20 years now. The only exception to this is if you will not be allowing the dough to ferment in the cooler overnight, as when making an emergency dough. In this case, you SHOULD mix the dough until you can begin to get a gluten film formed. You then scale and ball, allow the dough to ferment at room temperature for about 30 minutes and you’re ready to begin making dough skins. Not the best dough skins, but they sure beat NO dough skins, remember, this is an emergency dough we’re talking about.
I’m working with PMQ to put together a video strip showing the correct mixing of a dough and hot to judge when a dough is sufficiently mixed. Keep an eye out for it, it should be ready by early this fall.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Be sure and find more information on this topic in the Tom Lehmann and Evelyne Slomon Interviews from pizzaradio.com.

Go to www.pizzaradio.com to find these streaming audio/podcasts.