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I'm making pizza from scratch. My goal is to have the least dough possible in terms of grams per square cm/in, but have it as fluffy and bubbly and airy as possible.

My dough is 360g Caputo blue-sack Tipo-00 fine-ground bread flour, 70% hydration (251g bottled water), 6g yeast, 3g salt. (I add a scattering of margerita salt on the bottom when rolling so cut this down.) 10g sunflower oil seems to improve it.

I dissolve the yeast in hot water (as hot as I can bear my finger in) while mixing the salt with the flour.

Knead 10 minutes, folding in half from 12 o'clock, 3, 6, and 9 in a cycle.

Divide into 123g balls (that fit our little baking sheets). Fold each ball in half 4 times (it resists the fifth fold). Let relax for 40 minutes. (Otherwise, when I shape it to the pan, it will contract.)

Then I roll out to the size of the pizza pan, and stretch it to fit perfectly. (I've hand-stretched instead of rolling and not gotten improved results. Indeed, the thickness is slightly uneven and the thinner spots simply don't get any rise at all. Rolling is much superior as even the thinnest parts are thick enough to rise. Yes this might squeeze out some CO2 from the 30-40 minute relax period, but it's going to go on rising for several more hours. In practice the rolled pizza doesn't end up less tall than the hand-shaped pizza's tallest points.)

Now the question is coming! I leave these sit for 3-6 hours and rise. The baking sheet has a 1cm vertical edge, taller than I expect the pizza to rise, so I just put a cutting board on top to keep it from drying out. I'm getting very variable results, in part because I'm letting them sit outside in Tokyo's summer weather which itself is variable. I know I could check it every 20 minutes or make a time-lapse video, but can anyone describe generally what I should expect to happen? For instance will it keep getting taller, or will the air go out of it at some point, or what? Is 35C/95F a better temp than 23C/75F inside? how long should a dough 2-3mm thick take to rise? Sometimes it almost looks like a mattress, nearly uniformly as tall as the sides of the pan, and gives great results. But I can't recall the conditions I got that effect with.

Just in case it's relevant: I then par-bake in the baking sheet in a toaster oven 4:30; put on the toppings; and give a real bake of 6:00 or so. The toaster oven actually does a much better job than the full-size oven in my last flat did at a nominal 250C/480F, which required a 10 min parbake and 10 min bake. (At the moment we don't have an oven.)

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    covered with a cutting board: what kind of cutting board is that? is it a curved cutting board or does it flatten the dough entirely? And sitting outside you mean outside of the fridge or outside of the house? – Luciano Jul 29 at 10:15
  • Which style of pizza are you trying to emulate? Regardless of style, I would avoid rolling, as you are likely pressing out a lot of the trapped CO2. – moscafj Jul 29 at 11:35
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    Unless you are getting a strong whiff of chlorine when you get water out of the tap at your house, skip the bottled water and save some money. I've been making all kinds of bread and pizza for a decade or so using tap water alone. – Rob Jul 29 at 12:25
  • "covered with a cutting board: what kind of cutting board is that? is it a curved cutting board or does it flatten the dough entirely?" Sorry! My baking sheet has an edge taller than the pizza is likely to rise. The baking sheet simply keeps the air from drying the top of the pizza. I'll clarify that. – Swiss Frank Jul 30 at 1:43
  • " And sitting outside you mean outside of the fridge or outside of the house?" Outside the house, on the balcony. – Swiss Frank Jul 30 at 1:44
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The pizzas I make have a resting time to improve flavor in the refrigerator. I then take the balls out and, after warming up, stretch them to the appropriate size and add the sauce and all the toppings. It immediately goes into the oven. It rises and puffs up in the oven due to oven spring.

If you let it rise beforehand, I would think the added toppings would collapse the dough. Also, if it rises before putting in the oven, there may not be enough left to have an additional rise so don't do that and see what happens. Just put it in the oven right after stretching and topping.

  • "If you let it rise beforehand, I would think the added toppings would collapse the dough"--I may not have been clear about this, but I par-bake the naked crust, such that it's gotten its oven spring and become hard even if still under-cooked. – Swiss Frank Jul 30 at 1:42
  • "The pizzas I make have a resting time to improve flavor in the refrigerator" I've done two-day dough for years. Only in the last few months did I realize I could get an excellent smell and taste this way too. I'd like to combine the two: 2-day fridge then my relax-shape-rise-in-the-summer-heat method. – Swiss Frank Jul 31 at 5:12
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Some answers to your direct questions:

I know I could check it every 20 minutes or make a time-lapse video, but can anyone describe generally what I should expect to happen? For instance will it keep getting taller, or will the air go out of it at some point, or what?

A yeasted dough will rise until one of two things happen: (1) the air bubbles in it get large enough to rupture, or (2) the yeast runs out of sugar/starch to eat and dies off. At either point, the dough will collapse back, although it will still be taller than it was when rolled out. If you let the dough exhaust itself like this, you will also lose the rise from "oven spring".

Is 35C/95F a better temp than 23C/75F inside?

The dough will rise faster at 35C than it will at 23C, likely a lot faster. Given that your desire is to have maximum loft, that's probably not good; catching the dough at its maximum rise point before it blows out would involve much more careful timing.

This article discusses both the effect of temperature on rising time and the problems of overproofing.

how long should a dough 2-3mm thick take to rise?

That's harder to answer, because your whole rising cycle is unorthodox and I don't have any experience with one like it. Normally with pizza dough you give it a short to medium rise (30 to 90 min) as one big ball of dough, or even an overnight cold rise. The rise after rolling it out is generally very short, like 10 to 20 minutes; it's not the main rise and is more about relaxing the dough than rising.

Even my standard foccacia recipe, which is more like what you're making, has its main rise at the ball stage and only a 30min rise in the pan.

I will point out that your entire cycle is completely different from what Neapolitan pizza makers do to get maximum crust puff. While individual recipes vary, the general formula is a long, cold rise (like 24 hours) in the ball stage with a tiny amount of yeast (or sometimes none at all), followed by very rapid stretching and dough prep and then 60 to 150 seconds in a very hot (375C+) oven. This results in a crust that can puff up to 4cm from an original 4-5mm thickness. The idea is to maximize oven spring instead of trying to get loft via proofing.

  • "your entire cycle is completely different from what Neapolitan pizza makers do" Sure: I'm not trying to make a Neapolitan pizza here. I'm trying to make something new. Probably closer to "world's thinnest foccacia" than a Neapolitan. I don't just want a bubbly cornichon, I want the whole thing to be bubbles: a nearly weightless mattress of solid fluff with a bit of a crunch to it. – Swiss Frank Jul 31 at 4:58
  • Sure. I still think it might be worth trying for the "maximum oven spring" approach instead of "maximum rise", with a long slow rise instead of a short fast one, which is why Neapolitan pizza is relevant. – FuzzyChef Jul 31 at 17:00

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