Author Topic: New here, some basic questions...  (Read 2463 times)

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Offline Tristan

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New here, some basic questions...
« on: May 04, 2005, 05:29:36 PM »
Hello everyone, I just first registered yesterday and am slowly feeling my way around the site.  Looks good so far.

I've been making pizza sporadically for about the last year.  I thought I was on the right track when I got a set of quarry tiles and located grocers that carried fresh mozzarella, and compared to what I've eaten at my favorite New York pizzerias, I've been pretty happy with my home results.  I've noticed here that there's one thing everyone seems occupied with above all else---the dough.  At this stage in the game, I'm not getting any more complicated than Hecker's unbleached flour and Fleischmann's Rapid Rise yeast, used in quick-rising doughs powered by lots of yeast (although, tonight I'm going to try out an overnight refrigerator recipe that was in the New York Times a two weeks ago).  Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed here by the obsessive discussion of hydration percentages, autolyse, 00 flour, and the litany of other mystifying terms.  Hell, I don't even own a kitchen scale.  So, where do I start?  I suppose, like most of you, I'm concerned primarily with achieving consistency.

A final note.  While I appreciate the pleasantly encouraging tone of the forum, it seems to me that there are more than a few photographs of some truly wretched-looking pizza creations that elicit nothing but somewhat disingenuous compliments and forced curiousity.  What's the protocol here?  I'm not looking to knock anyone down or to start up an open season on someone's misguided culinary disasters---of course not.  But if I were posting pictures for review (probably not anytime soon, as I lack a digital camera), I'd appreciate some honest criticism from what sounds like a group of knowledegable and dedicated pizza-makers.  At any rate, I'm looking forward to learning here.



Offline bakerboy

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2005, 05:49:34 PM »
To be honest, this forum IS very encouraging.  I really can't say that i've seen a  picture of a pizza posted on this forum that i woudn't eat!!.  It seems to me that the people making the pizza and posting the pics are their own worst critic.  I've seen great pizza pics posted with the poster going on to say "next time i'm going to try..."  or "I liked crust but i wasn't happy with the sauce".  And from there, other members offer suggestions on how to accomplish whatever it is their not pleased with.   you can't just completely bag on a person and tell them their pizza looks like crap, that wouldn't be nice.....funny, yes  nice..no.   ;D 

Offline Tristan

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2005, 06:06:02 PM »
I understand what you mean, of course.  I was just hoping, when my time comes, for a fair amount of constructive criticism from a group of pizza afficionados, which is not what I get from the people who actually eat my pies.  There are some pies I've seen on this site I doubt I'd enjoy.  When I said 'wretched-looking', I was usually referring to the topping (I'm usually appalled by over-cheesing), but I understand that everyone has their own tastes and ideas of what a pizza 'should' be.  I'm sure I'll find that out here, more than anywhere. 

Online Pete-zza

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2005, 08:50:30 PM »
Tristan,

Welcome to the forum.

It's inevitable that a virtual forum that is open to all comers, from beginning pizza makers to professionals, cannot be all things to all people. More than once I have wondered whether it would be better if the site were divided into different sections, from amateur to professional, just as the ski slopes assign skiers of different skill levels to different slopes. Even if that could be done, I am sure that I would personally read all the posts, as I now do, because I get "aha" moments from beginning pizza makers as often as from professionals. I also like to help beginners because I might offer up advice or information to correct an obvious problem or that will prevent someone from going down a path that we have learned from experience is likely to lead to a dead end. A more egalitarian approach also makes the collective expertise and experiences of our members, including some highly skilled and highly regarded professionals, available to everyone. And it's all for free (although some of us pay for the privilege by financially supporting the site.)

But, however you look at it, the underlying purpose of this forum is to teach and help people make the best possible pizzas at home with tools and equipment that are no match for what professional pizza operators have at their disposal. And to do this, all we have is words and photos. We don't hold pizza making events and we don't make house calls. We are pretty much on our own, left to fend for ourselves with the written word and photos, both good ones and bad ones. And I have learned that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm sure that the first pizza I made was ugly, but to me it was a thing of beauty, an accomplishment to behold. 

Many of us have tried to bridge the gap between beginners and professionals by specifying recipes by volumes and weights, and by the use of baker's percents where available, so that everyone has a chance at practicing a given recipe without having a scale of any sort. Converting weights to volumes is not only imprecise, but it is time consuming, tedious, and it is boring--one of my least favorite chores. But I do it anyway so that no one has an excuse for not trying a recipe. Many of the recipes available to our members also would not have been possible if someone had not used baker's percents (including hydration percents) and other information to downsize industrial-sized recipes to individual size pizza doughs, from toaster-oven size all the way up to 18 inches. This has allowed many of our members to try such scaled-down recipes for the very first time and, in many cases, to improve them. Doing this has also taken a lot of guesswork out of the equation, allowing our members to achieve greater consistency and reproducibility in their pizzas, just as professionals do.

So, my best advice is to read and learn. Take it slowly if you wish. But I think in the end you will come to understand better what this forum is all about and that the only motivations are to help each other make the very best pizzas possible.

Peter


Offline varasano

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2005, 09:30:14 PM »
Tristan, I agree, I've seen too many mediocre pies praised out of politeness and I've wondered if newbies just get confused. 

Click the globe under my name for a complete guide to making a good pie. Sometimes it's hard to piece together from different posts, so I've decided instead to make a single page which I update with a single procedure.

The terminology is daunting at first. But that's true of anything carried to a fine degree of perfection. The steps are hard to figure out on  your own, so you are in the right place. Overall, technique like autolyse, are much more important that 00 flour. You can make a great pie from easily available ingredients, but it does take knowledge and technique.

Good luck,

Jeff

Offline DKM

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2005, 03:01:46 PM »
A final note.  While I appreciate the pleasantly encouraging tone of the forum, it seems to me that there are more than a few photographs of some truly wretched-looking pizza creations that elicit nothing but somewhat disingenuous compliments and forced curiousity.  What's the protocol here?  I'm not looking to knock anyone down or to start up an open season on someone's misguided culinary disasters---of course not.  But if I were posting pictures for review (probably not anytime soon, as I lack a digital camera), I'd appreciate some honest criticism from what sounds like a group of knowledegable and dedicated pizza-makers.  At any rate, I'm looking forward to learning here.

Some of it depends on what they were going for. 

Take a look at the pictures at this site.

http://www.sliceny.com/archives/2004/08/new_haven_pizza_1.php

I guess if one at home looked like that the average person might think "Yuck"

But these are considered some of the best in the country.

DKM
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Offline Tristan

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2005, 03:13:06 PM »
I saw those ones and they look great to me.  I'm in NYC and I visit sliceny.com pretty frequently, and their orthodox campaign for real New York pizza has rubbed off on me a bit---that's why taco-topped pizzas and BBQ chicken pies make me cringe (there was an horrifying article in the Business section of The Times yesterday about Domino's expansion into India---I think they mentioned chicken tikka pizza).  I'm a bit of a purist, I suppose.

Offline varasano

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2005, 03:23:08 PM »
Sally's and Pepe's look great to me too.  I went to college in New Haven. Those look awesome

Offline Madmax

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2005, 04:32:52 PM »


Click the globe under my name for a complete guide to making a good pie. Sometimes it's hard to piece together from different posts, so I've decided instead to make a single page which I update with a single procedure.



Great site Varasano.  How would I adjust the dough prep if I do not have a starter?

Thanks.  It's good to know there are some other southerners out there that enjoy a great pie.


Offline DKM

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2005, 09:10:21 AM »
I like them as well, hell outside of those California style pizza toppings, I like all pizza.

I just think if something that looked liked that came out of the average home kitchen, most people would wonder if they are any good.

DKM
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Offline apizza

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2005, 11:47:36 AM »
As someone still trying to achieve the top personal pizza I must suggest a scale since you stated you mainly wanted consistancy. It was a great help when I went to using a scale. The quest is part of the fun, and then there's the eating.

Offline abatardi

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2005, 01:59:37 PM »
I agree that you need a scale..  You really can't rely on volume measurements and you will notice a big difference in consistency when you switch to measuring everything in grams/ounces and using bakers' percents (or at least I did).

- Aaron
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Offline DKM

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Re: New here, some basic questions...
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2005, 05:21:35 PM »
Scales are great for beginners and those who like them.

I'll use a scale if I'm going to post a recipe here for the benefit of those who like like them.

However, I'm actually a look and feel person.

DKM
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