"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > Breads, Pizza & Sandwiches > Pizza & Focaccia
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-14-2004, 08:14 PM   #1
Cook
 
swinchen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Maine
Posts: 98
Send a message via AIM to swinchen Send a message via Skype™ to swinchen
New Baker - Focaccia, Pizza Dough, and Troubles.

So recently I have become infatuated with bread. There is a little restaurant in my home town (Rockland Maine) called Cafe Miranda that makes the most amazing flat bread. I am not sure if it focaccia, or some other type but it is really "tuggy" You need to grab ahold of it and really pull to get a bite. It is amazing when dipped in olive oil and balsamic. Does this sound like focaccia to you? What other really really chewy flat breads are out there? I need to find some way to make something similar! I don't have a wood fired brick oven... so I know I can't get it exact.

So.... I thought to myself "I want to make bread" so I went and bought The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. Well I tried making his pizza dough recipe and everything seemed to be going ok until this step....

I was told to flatten each dough ball into a 5 inch circle and let rest on the counter for two hours.

Well... when I tried to pick the dough up after two hours it was IMPOSSIBLE to form it wasn't elastic enough and sort of ran, or stretched as soon as I picked it up. I couldnt turn it fast enough to make a circle it was just a nightmare. Do you think that perhaps the dough was too wet? I think I really need to get an electric mixer and a digital scale to make really excellent bread, but I am just a poor student.

[/u]

__________________

__________________
swinchen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 08:53 PM   #2
Head Chef
 
Audeo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: USA,Texas
Posts: 1,871
Swinchen, I feel your infatuation. And I've hiked all over Mt. Katadin and have enjoyed your coastal town. Ah, the land of Winslow Homer. Welcome!

I'm not going to be of much help here, as there are SO many here who are, IMO, bread authorities that have taught me much. But I'll offer a link to a site I was recommended to here and have learned much from, as well.

http://www.theartisan.net/

For Focaccia, and I think you're right on about the "tugginess", look for Focaccia di Tre Farine - Per La Casa (Three Flour Foccacia - Home Version) on the index. I've made it and it is SOOO good.
__________________

__________________
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is Optional.
Audeo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 08:55 PM   #3
Senior Cook
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 375
The digital scale is a must. As for an electric (stand) mixer, it is an astonishingly useful tool, but not strictly a necessity for bread, and it is actually easier for the beginner to knead by hand, in any case.

There are two reasons I can think of for your problem. One is that you did not use enough flour. This is, of course, unlikely if you followed the numbers in the recipe, but not impossible. I have actually noticed some brands of flour, pound for pound, just don't provide the same substance as others, and require more to do the same job. If the dough is a sticky paste and does not form a ball, then there is not enough flour.

The second, more probable explanation is that you didn't knead the dough adequately. It needs to be kneaded long enough that it is smooth, elastic, and coherent. If the ball of dough just sort of collapses and spreads out when you put it in the bowl or on the bench to rise, then it is not kneaded properly.
__________________
jasonr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 09:01 PM   #4
Cook
 
swinchen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Maine
Posts: 98
Send a message via AIM to swinchen Send a message via Skype™ to swinchen
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonr
The digital scale is a must. As for an electric (stand) mixer, it is an astonishingly useful tool, but not strictly a necessity for bread, and it is actually easier for the beginner to knead by hand, in any case.

There are two reasons I can think of for your problem. One is that you did not use enough flour. This is, of course, unlikely if you followed the numbers in the recipe, but not impossible. I have actually noticed some brands of flour, pound for pound, just don't provide the same substance as others, and require more to do the same job. If the dough is a sticky paste and does not form a ball, then there is not enough flour.

The second, more probable explanation is that you didn't knead the dough adequately. It needs to be kneaded long enough that it is smooth, elastic, and coherent. If the ball of dough just sort of collapses and spreads out when you put it in the bowl or on the bench to rise, then it is not kneaded properly.
Ahh thanks for the pointers! I don't think I kneaded it enough. I should have mentioned that I used high gluten flour from a health food dtore (not sure of the brand). I had a really really hard time kneading the bread by hand because it was SO sticky that I couldn't really do anything with it. The author suggested that I dip my hand in cold water repeatedly. Well I did that, and each time I dipped I managed to get one good twist of the dough... but then it would stick again. So I guess it might be a combination of both! If I dipped my hand too many times in the water, that all gets added to the dough... plus I only kneaded for a few minutes (because it was so sticky). I think the mixer would really help me because I wouldnt have to knead such a sticky dough!
__________________
swinchen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 09:59 PM   #5
Cook
 
swinchen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Maine
Posts: 98
Send a message via AIM to swinchen Send a message via Skype™ to swinchen
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audeo
Swinchen, I feel your infatuation. And I've hiked all over Mt. Katadin and have enjoyed your coastal town. Ah, the land of Winslow Homer. Welcome!

I'm not going to be of much help here, as there are SO many here who are, IMO, bread authorities that have taught me much. But I'll offer a link to a site I was recommended to here and have learned much from, as well.

http://www.theartisan.net/

For Focaccia, and I think you're right on about the "tugginess", look for Focaccia di Tre Farine - Per La Casa (Three Flour Foccacia - Home Version) on the index. I've made it and it is SOOO good.
Thanks for the site. It looks quite nice. It is a shame they don't include bakers percentages though. I guess it would be easy enough to form from the mass/weight measure.
__________________
swinchen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 10:13 PM   #6
Master Chef
 
Michael in FtW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 6,592
Swinchen - why not just call up Cafe Miranda and ask them about the bread you enjoyed there? I'm sure they would be happy to tell you what kind it was. I know that sounds like a simplistic approach - but sometimes the simple answer is overlooked.

jasonr is so right - if your recipe gives you weights, use them! Depending on how you scoop out your flour - you can double or halve the weight per volume. I also agree that it sounds like you didn't use enough flour ... perhaps you were not using bench flour ... but a pizza dough (or bread dough in most cases) should be smooth and elastic - not a sticky mess.

Another thing you mentioned was that you got some high gluten flour from the health food store. Bread flour is a high gluten flour and you can get that at the grocery store. But, what did the recipe call for?

Cookery is an art where you can make substitutions and change amounts from the recipe without too much of a problem ... but in baking you are dealing with scientific formulas. Follow the recipe exactly the first few times until you learn the feel of the dough ... then experiment with changing things.

I'm making these suggestions from experience ... trust me, my first loaf of bread was a total disaster! But, I did have a couple of unigue door stops
__________________
Michael in FtW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 10:14 PM   #7
Senior Cook
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 375
"I should have mentioned that I used high gluten flour from a health food dtore (not sure of the brand)."

For pizza dough, this is not such a bad thing, but I would not make high gluten flour your everyday flour. Use a flour with between 10 and 12% protein as your all-purpose bread flour. Also, perhaps you should avoid the health-food stuff for now. These health food stores tend to sell weird and impractical products not appropriate for real baking. Perhaps you should buy your flour at the grocery store, at least for now. Who knows? The health food stuff may be some bizarre specialty flour not appropriate for practical use, and this may even be the source of your problem. These health food guys are more interested in fancy labels and fluff than actual baking.

"I had a really really hard time kneading the bread by hand because it was SO sticky that I couldn't really do anything with it. The author suggested that I dip my hand in cold water repeatedly. Well I did that, and each time I dipped I managed to get one good twist of the dough... but then it would stick again. So I guess it might be a combination of both! If I dipped my hand too many times in the water, that all gets added to the dough... plus I only kneaded for a few minutes (because it was so sticky). I think the mixer would really help me because I wouldnt have to knead such a sticky dough!"

When you mix the flour into the wet mixture, be sure to reserve a few handfuls for kneading. If you mix in all of your flour immediately, you will have none left over for kneading, and the dough will probably be too sticky to knead. You must resist the temptation of throwing on extra flour; If you add more flour than the recipe provides for, then you run the risk of producing a tasteless loaf. I don't know about the cold water method, as I have never seen it mentioned in any of my books. I would think that this would add water to the loaf, which would not be a good thing.

You would think that machine kneading would be easier than hand kneading, but in practice, it is the opposite. I don't know exactly why, but for some reason, the machine seems to inevitably turn the dough sticky, even if you add the full amount of flour. By contrast, if you knead by hand, it is more difficult to fully integrate the flour into the dough, and it seems to stay more at the surface, which makes it less sticky and easier to work with.
__________________
jasonr is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 10:38 PM   #8
Cook
 
swinchen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Maine
Posts: 98
Send a message via AIM to swinchen Send a message via Skype™ to swinchen
Wow lots of info here!

Ok...

The recipe said "Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast" So I added all the flour the recipe called for. I assumed that bench flour would be in addition to the flour for the recipe? it goes on... "if you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further." So I did this, or tried to... it was so dang sticky the dough just clung to my hand and when I ripped it off it left little pieces handing onto my skin. I thought I was doing something wrong, but the book says "The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not jsut tacky, and register 50 - 55 degrees F" Well my dough was certainly sticky. The book mentions that the dough should stick the bottom of the bown, but not the sides. Mine might have been sticking to the sides a bit.

I only used high gluten flour because this is what the recipe used. Plus there is something about a bread (focaccia or pizza) that you need to tug on really hard to eat that I just love. My two key goals are flavor, and tugginess.

I would call Cafe Miranda, but the fear of rejection has always bothered me :) That and I am afraid I would ask something stupid like "Can I have the recipe?" Perhaps I should call them though and just see what sort of hints I can get.

Interesting thing about this dough... there is no bench kneading... everything is done in the bowl (until dividing) So I am not sure how I would add the bench flour. When I divided the dough I was instructed to sprinkle flour on the work surface, dump the dough down. Then I had to divide the dough with a dough blade dipped in cold water, and then dust the surface of each piece before rolling into a ball. This part caused me a TON of frustration as well. One I floured the pieces it was almost imposible to form the little buggers into a ball. I rolled and rolled but each ball had a crease where the flour prevented it from forming together. I must admit I got a little frustrated and sort of squished the balls up and then rolled them into a nice sphere. I don't think that is how I was supose to do it though.

Dough sort of makes me angry.... you read a book, it looks easy. You watch a TV show, it looks easy. These perfect little blobs the do exactly what they should. Then you go and try it and the little buggers are a nightmare. I just hope I can get it before I get too frustrated.

I tried my best to follow it exactly. But I didn;t have a scale which I think might be a really bad thing. Maybe I should go pick one up.


Thanks for the help :)
__________________
swinchen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 10:42 PM   #9
Cook
 
swinchen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Maine
Posts: 98
Send a message via AIM to swinchen Send a message via Skype™ to swinchen
Oh by the way...

http://www.cafemiranda.com/

Here is the website for Cafe Miranda. It is without a doubt my favorite place to eat. Fresh made pasta, homemade sausage... oh man!

p.s. if you reload the page enough you will get to see one of the chefs removing what I call "chewy bread" from the oven. It doesnt look like much, but I bet it could win awards.

-- edit --

http://www.cafemiranda.com/images/pht7.jpg

A direct link to the picture of the bread :)
__________________
swinchen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2004, 10:53 PM   #10
Master Chef
 
Michael in FtW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 6,592
jasonr - I have seen the "wet hand" technique mentioned a few times. All I can figure out is that it keeps the surface of the dough slichtly tacky so that you can develop some friction ... especially on a slick surface like glass, marble, stainless steel, formica counter tops or pastry boards. I use a wooden board and the bench flour method without any problems.

Using a stand mixer for kneading depends on the mixer - some will knead and some will not. Mixers (Hobart, KitchenAid, etc.) with a single dough hook and a planitary motion head (the bowl is stationary) will do a good job of kneading the dough. A mixer with double dough-hooks and a revolving bowl, such as a Sunbeam Mixmaster and other brands of that design, will only mix the dough - you have to knead it by hand. I have a KitchenAid and I let it do most of the work .... but I still finish with about a minute of hand kneading on a very slightly floured wooden board to put the finishing touches on it.
__________________

__________________
Michael in FtW is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



» Discuss Cooking on Facebook

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:26 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.