Reference has been made before to a Chris Bianco dough recipe that appeared in Gourmet
magazine in 1999. At the time when I first spoke with Marco Bianco on the telephone, I could not find the recipe. I don’t recall if anyone has posted the recipe or a link to it before, but here it is: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/230788
. Obviously, this recipe is not the one that Chris now uses, but the simplicity of it seems to remain.
In his book American Pie
, Peter Reinhart says, at page 6, that Chris mixes and kneads the dough by hand in a big bowl, using Giusto flour specially flown in from the Giusto’s mill in San Francisco, California. Apparently Chris came to use hand kneading because, from what he said in an interview, when he first entered the business he couldn’t afford a mixer. According to the Reinhart account, Chris combines about 50 pounds of flour with salt, yeast and water. Nothing is said about hydration levels, but from my own experience hand kneading high-gluten doughs, I have discovered that I need to use high hydration and, sometimes, even an occasional autolyse-like rest period. The notion of high hydration seems to be consistent with what other artisan pizza makers do to hand knead their pizza doughs. For example, Brian Spangler, of Apizza Scholls in Oregon, hand kneads his dough, as mentioned at http://www.apizzascholls.com/aboutourpizza.htm
, and, from what I have read elsewhere, he is said to use up to 74% hydration (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8632543/
Chris Bianco has a mixer but apparently it is used mainly to make bread dough. I recall reading somewhere that Chris acknowledges that the time may come when he can no longer effectively knead dough by hand as he now does. I suspect when that time comes, he may use the mixer. But this doesn’t mean that he has to give up hand kneading altogether. My recollection is that A16 in California uses a mixer to bring the ingredients together but the bulk of the kneading is apparently done by hand thereafter.
I might add that I don't believe that Chris Bianco uses several hundred dough balls a night. I would think that something close to 200 might be right, and possibly less. But, even then, that is still a lot of hand kneading.