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  • Dough not cooking in the middle

    I'm new to this forum, I did a search but did not see a similar question so I apologize if this is answered somewhere else.

    I have a new wood fired Forno Bravo oven and I have used it 4 or 5 times to make pizza.

    I make my dough from Caputo 00 flour with 60% hydration. I use a 200 g ball to make a 12 inch pizza stretching the dough pretty thin.

    I have experimented with different floor temperatures ranging from 650 to 800 degrees and cooking times ranging from 2-5 minutes.

    The pizzas come out looking good, the crust is browned, sometimes a slight char which is fine, and the toppings are cooked. The pizza
    has a crispy outer crust and bottom but here is the problem I keep having: the crust is doughy in the middle. It is cooked on the
    bottom but instead of being a raised bread-like finish it is still soft and wet in the middle meaning the crust is not cooked all the way through.

    We have been putting 2-3 ingredients on for the toppings, I like pepperoni and olives with mozzarella cheese and sauce (fairly heavy). I know that
    is more toppings that a traditional Neapolitan pizza so I start the pizza away from the fire as I have seen other wood-fired pizza restaurants do.

    But it seems that no matter what I do, the pizza dough is still "raw" in the middle. It tastes fine and most people probably wouldn't notice it because
    the bottom is crispy it but it bothers me that the dough does not cook all the way through. The dough is very thin and I don't understand
    why it's not cooking. Is in from the moisture of the sauce and toppings I am using?

    I would appreciate some suggestions as to what I am doing wrong.

  • #2
    What happens if you bake the dough without toppings? This would be my first experiment to try. (spritz it with salt and olive oil and it may be an experiment you'd want to repeat often)

    Have you measured the temperature of the bread with an instant-read thermometer? Bread can still be gummy at the recommended 195-210 degree temperature, but if you're not getting that high then you are surely underdone.

    My guess is that with a heavy set of toppings you might never alleviate the gumminess because it relates to the dough being wet from the ingredients rather than being undercooked. I have certainly seen this problem in the regular oven; baking it to near death doesn't help this. If you really like a lot of toppings you might try pre-baking the pie half or 2/3 of the way then putting the toppings on and finishing. Or learn to like less toppings.

    One other possibility is that your thermometer is wrong and you're not nearly as hot as you think you are. (Something my daughter has told me for years )
    My build thread: https://tinyurl.com/y8bx7hbd

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    • #3
      Hi ,

      Cook withput toppings ? See the photos. You can dock it ( lots of small holes ) to stop it. But it does make great pita pockets.

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      • #4
        Every pizza party I have I have to always remind the guests that "less (toppings) is best" but they always pile it on.
        Russell
        Build Link............... Picassa Photo Album Link

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        • #5
          Welcome to the forum Steve! This may sound silly, but did you go through the curing fires before starting to cook pizzas? Also, do you have a IR gun to see the actual temperature of your cooking surface? As pointed out in earlier posts, doing a pizza Bianca (Olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano & salt sprinkle) is certainly an excellent way to give yourself a simple treat and test your dough/cooking surface. I had some of this in Italy a couple years ago and I have to say if I could only have one style of pizza for the rest of my life, this would be a serious contender!

          When I have a wet tomato sauce or ingredients that are wet, I give the stretched pizza skin a light brush with olive oil before putting any toppings on. The oil forms a barrier to keep the toppings from making your pizza skin soggy. As Russell suggested, the push to put everything on a pizza is usually a bad idea when looking for a good crust...and the toppings can slide off the pizza skin when you load the oven. (Here, it's referred to as making a sacrifice to the Pizza Gods )

          I have had much more success at parties, making smaller pizzas. Everybody gets to try lots of different combos on smaller slices and no one ever goes home hungry. Making smaller (6"-7") pizzas has lots of advantages...at least you might want to give it a try. I get 4-5 slices out of the smaller pizza and can have several going in the oven like a production line. Also gets you to use and recognize the different temperature areas of the cooking floor (and you have a little more control over the topping amounts your guests put on the skins). Don't forget, you will need to move the fire/coals around to recharge the cooking surface when doing a pizza party.

          I use 66% hydration dough and a three day process (have used IDY and my levain/sourdough culture...both methods work well). No oil or sweet additives (honey, malt, etc.) in mine, but there are lots of great formulas out there and lots of terrific variations...there's an area off the main Forum page that leads to some videos & blogs from Peter Reinhart worth reviewing. https://www.fornobravo.com/pizzaquest/

          Hope something in this post is of value to you. Good luck and keep posting with comments or findings.
          Last edited by SableSprings; 07-05-2018, 06:45 PM.
          Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
          Roseburg, Oregon

          FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
          Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile
          Blog: http://thetravelingloafer.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            The more I think about the "soggy center" the more I think it's too much tomato sauce on your pizza. When you watch the Italian videos, it's just a small amount of a fairly thick sauce that's spread around. I'm also wondering how long does a "prepared" pizza wait before it goes into the oven? The longer the sauce sits on the dough, the wetter the dough will potentially become (that's where the olive oil layer really makes a difference).

            Since your outer dough is cooked well, I have to believe it's the amount of sauce and/or the time it sits on the skin before it goes in the oven that's causing your "problem". I also find it interesting that in those temperature ranges, that your pizzas are done except in the center. It's probable that the amount of topping is actually preventing (insulating) the middle of the dough from getting cooked. It would be worth your time to take a temp reading on the floor where the last pizza was cooked. It's possible that the surface of the bricks are getting up to temp, but they haven't stored enough heat to retain that level once the dough hits them. Food for thought...
            Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
            Roseburg, Oregon

            FB Forum: The Dragonfly Den build thread
            Available only if you're logged in = FB Photo Albums-Select media tab on profile
            Blog: http://thetravelingloafer.blogspot.com/

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