Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful pizzas.....I have a question in regards to your process...I'm always looking to simplify if possible. If you had mixed your dough maybe 2 or 3 minutes after the rest instead of the 1 minute you actually mixed it...and then scaled and balled, could you have eliminated the folding and scaling and balling of the dough later in the process?? I'm just wondering if you might have obtained the same results, with a little less effort....I know I'm lazy!!! Great job!
John, thanks for the compliment. I always say I work hard for them.
To answer your question - absolutely yes. I don't always do the folds. I just find it easier for me to underknead and then make up the strength later by doing folds. But if you can knead the dough to the right place each time, then I would not do any folds, but simply just ball it up quickly. There is not just one way of making pizza. As a matter of fact, it's hard to say this or that is my technique b/c it changes so often. Things are done depending on how the dough feels at a particular moment. I may sometimes decide to do folds or not do folds, depending on how the dough feels, how much gluten is developed already. If I change the hydration ratio, or the flour used, or how long the dough has fermented, or if I'm using a starter, or....then it all changes the way the dough feels. And by the way, I don't always get it right either. Sometimes, I over or under estimate a certain variable. The perfect pizza comes from the perfect dough and perfect bake. The perfect dough comes from a balance of hydration, gluten development (affected by kneading, folding, oil, salt, etc), & fermentation.
Basically I think to myself...how do I make a dough that will bake in 4-5m, fluff up, not be too chewy, not be too wet, not too dry, and still get a nice and crispy skin. I think...what type of flour do I need to use? how wet should the dough be? how much kneading vs folding?, how long to ferment, how much should I proof the dough up? how gentle should I handle the dough? Does it make a difference? Do I need oil? What does it do or not do? If I change the flour or hydration, add oil or not, then how much kneading do I need or not to get the same dough each time. The is the funnest and hardest part about making dough.
I have learned a lot about what good dough should look like from watching videos of the pros. Look at how the dough looks in the mixer, look at how it proofs up, look at how it handles when stretched out, etc. If you can get the dough nice and balanced and then bake it properly, then we have great pizza.
Anyways, yes as a pizza maker you HAVE to understand these things and make necessary and purposeful changes to make good pizza. There is not one way, there is never one way b/c dough changes daily. To get a consistent product, we must adapt and tweak things all the time. A great pizza is hard to come by. If we can make friends with it and find ourselves in good company, then we are fortunate.