NY "Elite" dough + baking help

I wonder if I can get some assistance. I am trying to make a sort of non standard pizza, something similar to what you might call a “NY Elite” pizza that is baked at higher temps to yield a crispy, but not dried-out-crunchy crust.

I’ve been using a 12.7% protein bread flour with 60% water, 2.6% salt and 0.47% IDY. I am running a higher % of salt to give some strength to the weaker dough. The high IDY % is due to increased salt, and also due to the fact that in testing I know this is only going to be a 24 hour dough (not stretching it out to 48 hours). I am using bread flour in hopes of some tenderness but am not opposed to trying unbromated high gluten flour (like Sir Lancelot for example). The 18" doughball is 24oz, perhaps a little large (.095 thickness factor).

I mix all the water with 60% of the flour and combine it and let it sit for 20-25 minutes (also done for strength), then continue with rest of ingredients for about 10 minutes on a small scale KitchenAid with a spiral dough hook (for now).

After that it gets balled and goes into the fridge for 24 hours, covered (at the moment on a plate covered in aluminum foil, I do not think that is keeping much heat in so I don’t think 1 hour uncovered is necessary–aluminum transfers heat/cold very easily) and comes out about 2 hours before baking, also covered. The finished dough temp is around 78F. Overnight I see the dough has spread out nicely, and there are very small bubbles on the underside of the dough.

Dough put on wooden peel and baked directly on the stone. The dough is easily extensible and does not tear or rip.

I have what is for all purposes a Baker’s Pride (it’s an Attias) gas deck oven, with the side air slides all the way open for top heat. I have the oven set to 600F, and wait until the burner goes into bypass mode (flame goes low) to bake the pizza. Deck temp is 600F at the hottest point as measured by infrared thermometer. As soon as I put the pizza in, I confirmed that the burner flame goes back up to full output.

The bottom is done in 4 minutes, and at this point the top is not nearly done. It is edible and cooked through, but certainly cannot be served due to the paleness of the top.

I’m happy to try slightly lower temps as well but not convinced this is the issue?

Could this be an under fermentation issue or do I need to just keep going lower on the oven temp? I had actually read that pale could be a sign of OVER fermentation which I am doubting, with the level of salt and what I believe is slight under-kneading, not to mention, the IDY yeast I am using is quite old, over a year, stored in the fridge, so probably slightly weak to begin with.

I have also read a suggestion of adding non-fat dry milk at 3% (as opposed to sugar, I guess).

For what it’s worth I tried at 700F and 650F, and did NOT notice the bottom:top finished factor to be any worse at the higher temperatures.

Sorry to be so lengthy, I tried to include as many details as possible!!!

Welcome to the Think Tank.
In looking over your procedure, I see where you can save some time and clean-up your procedure. There is no need to hydrate 60% of the flour when you are going to manage the dough through the cooler overnight. Just put the water into the mixing bowl, followed by the flour and the remainder of dry ingredients, then begin mixing at low speed for about 2-minutes, then add any oil, and mix for another minute at low speed. Finish the dough by mixing at medium speed for 8 to 10-minutes, but with the K-5A mixer, you will most likely need to do all of the mixing at low speed. In that case, mix for another 12-minutes at low speed after adding the oil, and you will be just fine. After mixing, check the finished dough temperature. It should be in the 80 to 85F range, then scale and ball the dough. For home use, lightly oil the dough balls and drop them into individual plastic bags (bread bags work well) twist the open end of the bag to close, and tuck the pony tail under the dough ball as you place it into the refrigerator. DO NOT TIGHTLY SEAL THE BAGS. Remove the dough from the fridge about 2-hours before you plan on using it (sounds like this is what you are already going), and allow it to temper at room temperature for those two hours. Then, turn the dough ball(s) out of the bag(s) into a bowl of flour and open to the desired size. Your baking temperature of 600F for this type of pizza is OK, but the type of oven is wrong, this is why you don’t get the desired top color. Check with somebody like Marsal Ovens <www.marsalsons.com> to see their brick lined oven with a domed, brick interior. This is the type of oven that you will need to bake the type of pizza you have described. For now, you might experiment with holding the pizza high up in the oven before you take it out to get a better top color/bake. The idea to add milk will only worasen the problem as it will cause the bottom to brown faster, then the top will be even lighter. The peel that you use to remove the pizza from the oven with should be a metal blade peel. The wood peel is only used as a prep peel to prepare the pizza on and to get it into the oven with.
I hope this sheds a little light on your problem.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank you for the reply. So it sounds like may be just a top heat issue?

In a gas deck oven lined with bricks, do you know if the ceiling bricks will actually reach a higher temperature than the deck. It may be that I need a hotter top temp than deck temperature.

It’s not that the tob bricks get hotter, they just effectively radiate more heat back down onto the top of the pizza. If your oven has top dampers, you might want to close them, if it has top heat capability, by all means use it. Like I said though, start by raising the pizza up to the top of the ove for a minute or so before you take it out of the oven to see if it has any improving affect upon the top of the pizza. An air impingement over can accomodate this quite easily by just making adjustments to the top finger profile, but as you can see, it’s a whole different story with a deck oven. Did you see my story about oven selection in the last issue of PMQ? There is a whole lot more to ovens than first meets the eye.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor


It appears that pjcampbell is incorporating autolyse into his dough making process, which is a method used by some artisan bakers but rarely used in commercial pizza operations.

Also, since pjcampbell is using a standard home stand mixer with limited dough capacity, should he reduce the final knead time to something less than 12 minutes? And since he will be using a standard home refrigerator rather than a commercial cooler, would it make sense to shoot for a somewhat lower finished dough temperature–like 75-80 degrees F?


All good points. I don’t thing the mixing time is too far off, as the K5-A isn’t that much of a mixer to begin with. As long as the dough resembles something smooth, the overnight fermentation time in the refrigerator should allow the yeast to provide sufficient bio-chemical gluten development.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

i know there are people more qualified to give answers on this topic but heres my two cents,no offense…attias is known garbage…they make them in nyc and basically it came from a guy who worked for bakers pride, stole the blueprints and makes them himself…This issue could be coming from cracked stones in your oven…if the stones are cracked the heat comes from the wrong place causing the bottom to blacken before the top gets to cook. good luck

Tom,I sure did check out the article on the ovens. It was a good one. It does sound like something like the Marsal MB series is more like it.

Pakula,No offense taken on the Attias. I got it for $700 and figured I would practice on it at home.

When I asked (Mr. Attias himself) the difference between his oven and a Baker’s Pride, he said his decks were better. I know Cordierite is decent stuff, and that he told me that the reason his were better, was because he used Transite, which to my knowledge contains asbestos… :roll: I could tell that basically Attias was a Baker’s Pride copy cat. I just did not find any single deck Baker’s Pride ovens around. Finally I am not sure where or how Baker’s Pride ovens are actually better, though and would be curious to know.

The stones are not cracked (took them out and put them back in myself… ouch!), but I’m not sure if there could not still be some sort of issue with the oven aside frmo the fact that this type of pizza may just not be suited for a standard deck oven.

I do plan on trying to retrofit a split fire brick ceiling and this will also effectively, as the same time lower the deck height, which could be another issue.

try baking on a screen? i worked at a place that used bread ovens at 600 degrees…on a screen it was golden brown. had i not made 1000 pies a week i’d use em.

I did a little experiment, and lifted half of the deck (1 stone) up 2" higher. This brought the deck height down to 7" on one side. I thought that this might work, but actually thought the reason it would work would be because the stone would be further away from the flame, and therefore would be cooler when the probe reached temperature.

It did end up working a LOT better, and had a great pizza with fairly even baking, but in the end, I believe the difference is less due to the further distance from the flame, than the decreased deck height.

I have the slides all the way open, that is the holes in the side of the baking chamber are as large as I can make them.

When I open this up, this does not force all of the burner heat through the bake chamber to exhaust, right? Only some of it? Never seen the inside of an oven from a top view…

Just a quick question here.

Do you think that the BTUs of an oven will have a significant impact on the top heat? For example if I open the door , put in a pizza and immediately the burner goes on, on a 60k btu oven vs 90k btu oven (in the same deck height and surface size)… theoretically the 90k btu oven will have a lot more heat going to the top??? does this sound like a reasonable assumption…