Norma and Paul, you 2 and a few others keep pizza making fun and interesting for me.
I'm just ok at making pizza and someday will get there. I try to create situations and challenges for myself to force myself to find solutions. I try to make it a bit harder rather than easier. It seems like an odd approach but it makes you improve faster b/c we naturally adapt to our environments. Its hard but I'm really trying to simplify pizza making. But to get there I have to learn about all the variables that affect it eventhough were just talking about flour, water, salt, and yeast for the dough. Making pizza by feel only seems hard but it's not. With a bit of practice, anyone can do it. It's like pancake batter, you know when to stop adding water or flour base on how thick you like the batter. Same with dough, The water is in there already. You're just simply adding a bit of flour and incorporating it in until you get a certain response from the dough. The dough will give a feeling like "Norma, I'm full and cant eat anymore flour. Please stop feeding me.
Anyone who's made pizza dough consistently for awhile has been doing most of the steps required to make dough by feel. B/c all along you have been watching for ques, taking mental notes of when the dough is done. You touch it, feel it, hold it in your hands and know how moist or dry it is suppose to be. Making dough by feeling can become more consistant than measuring from a recipe. The human brain is a better estimator than a digital scale. Even scales that measure down to the gram can be off especially with flour and dry products.
If you buy a 50 lb sack of flour and take a year to use it up. Flour from for the first batch of dough vs the last will absorb a different amount of water, especially in my environment. That's why I like practicing making dough by feel. Same with fermenting. I use both times and visual cues. But hope to progress to mostly visual cues, smelling the dough, and just ball park time figures.
Anyways, Paul has asked me to bake one pie in the oven and another in the MBE. The MBE shouldn't be hard, but the oven, now there's another challenge. It's been awhile that I've baked in the oven since I made the MBE. My previous oven bakes were always experiments with different set ups and different stones. I had not completely learned about that process and then moved onto the MBE. So revisiting it has been a bit of a challenge. I've only had 2 test bakes in the oven in preparation for this challenge but I think I've got it now.
I can bake any of my old regular pizzas in the oven, but the challenge is to make a good one, or as close to perfect as i can get and do it by feel. To do that I'll have to employ several techniques. Stretch and folds to trap the big air bubbles, stone shuffling in the oven to get the right temps, proofing the dough to double and a bit beyond, etc but I think I can do it.
Another challenge I've set for myself to make this a bit more difficult is that I'll be testing a longer ferment time. I'm pretty sure I can already use Paul's flour to make 3-4 hour emergency pies that would come out pretty good, but I want to revisit a longer room ferment time like 20-24 hours. I may do a quick test before jumping in with the mystery flour. I'm doing this only to see if I can get a bit more leoparding in the crust to come out with a longer room ferment and using starter instead of my preferred ADY.
Anyways, wish me luck. Paul, I'm going to Durango this weekend but will make the pies next Tues or Wed.