Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December PIzza Making Challenge

The Challenge:
Make a pizza that demonstrates the most important thing(s) you have learned on this forum. 

I have been thinking about this since the challenge was posted on the 1st. And then I didn't get the chance to bake. Saturday was the first time I fired up the oven since the November challenge. Coming up with THE most important thing I've learned on this forum is tough. So much valuable information is exchanged at pizzamaking.com. I got help with the design, dimensions and masonry tips for my oven build. From techniques to ingredients to recipes to science. It is all being shared on the forum.

I’m going to go with the stretch and fold technique for one of the most important lessons I learned on the forum. I hand mix my dough and I feel that one (or sometimes a few depending on the hydration) stretch and fold really helps make the dough easy to ball. If I am cold fermenting, most of the gluten development will take place in the fridge anyway (biochemical gluten development...it's a good thing).

More often than not, I’m buying my flour at restaurant depot and it is pretty cheap (about $15 for 50 pounds). So when I make dough, I make a lot of dough. When I fire the oven, I bake 8 to 10 pizzas – depends on who is over and which neighbors are home. Leftover dough typically becomes bread or a Stromboli. When mixing, I make 12 approximately 450 gram doughs. At 63% hydration, there is about 3300g of flour and 2100g of water going into a big stainless steel bowl. I combine the ingredients – flour, water, salt, yeast – until everything is combined and all the flour is incorporated. It’s a lumpy mess.

Cover everything with plastic wrap and wait 20 minutes. I take the lumpy mess and stretch it into a log.

It kind of looks like if I knew what I was doing, I could pull noodles. I fold this up in thirds,..

spin the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the log stretch.

It won’t stretch as easy this time. Do the same folding into thirds and then knead by hand for about 30 seconds. That’s it.

Divide, ball and put them in the fridge. I’ve been using a plastic bag for each dough lately. But with not much effort, a little over 11.5 pounds of dough got mixed.

One other big thing I’ve learned on the forum is to experiment. A good example is the yeast prediction chart. It is an amazing tool that can really get you close to getting the right amount of yeast given a fermentation time and temperature. But you’ve got to try a few things to dial it in on your own. For today’s bale I tried to formalize a sauce recipe instead of eyeing it. I hated it. Not sure what happened. I didn't add sugar but it tasted like I did. Maybe I’ll get closer next time. On the flip side, I listen to a podcast regularly and they had a football player on promoting something with Pizza Hut. He said he didn’t like pizza sauce. His favorite pie was cheese with sausage pepperoni and banana peppers. I tried it. It was good, but not great to my tastes. I tried it again but added a hot honey drizzle post bake. Now it’s one of my favorites. I think I had 3 slices of this one.



  1. Thanks for your input! im looking forward to getting there! I'm BANTAR1000 in the pizza making forum and really appreciate your help!