Author Topic: Practice Ideas  (Read 907 times)

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Offline hammettjr

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Practice Ideas
« on: May 14, 2011, 11:26:33 AM »
Iím looking for a few ways to practice the physical aspects of making and baking a great pizza. More specifically, I would like repetitive practice of 1) shaping a dough skin and 2) launching it from a peel to a stone.  An easy answer would be to make more pizzas, but assume I can only make one dough ball every two weeks (which I am currently doing).

One thought I have is to buy a few pre-made doughs to practice with. A nice secondary benefit of this is that I would also get to experience the feel of a dough other than my own, allowing me to compare them.

I also may check around my apartment for a household object I can launch off my peel.

I realized that my current pizza making schedule is pretty bad from a practice perspective. I compare it to a golfer who goes to the driving range every two weeks, but only hits one golf ball. Then spends two weeks analyzing that one swing!  Itís amazing that I improve at all, though I attribute that to this forum (and the time I spend reading it).

Thanks,
Matt


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Practice Ideas
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2011, 12:08:50 PM »
Matt, there's no substitute for experience.  Having your hands in the dough.  Your idea of buying different premade doughs to practice opening is a good idea, but you'll also want to bake it up.  Maybe make marinara pies and just taste the crust if you don't want to be eating pies that often.   This is so you can make the connection between how the dough looks, feels, and bakes up. 

I understand the natural tendency to want to improve very quickly.  I have that problem pretty bad.  As long as you enjoy your pizzas, I would just keep making pies when you can and improve from there. 

If you go with premade doughs, then you may want to try many different ones to see the difference in how different doughs feel versus the end product that you get.

Chau

Offline scott123

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Re: Practice Ideas
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2011, 04:20:29 PM »
Matt, for a while I was considering recommending Throw Dough to aspiring pizzamakers as a potential launching dough analog, but the $30 price tag was a bit excessive and there's no way of knowing if it would act at all like regular dough on a peel.

The really nice thing about launching practice is that you can launch the same skin many times (on to the counter).  You can make/buy a single dough ball, stretch it out, put it on the peel, launch it onto the counter, put it back on the peel and then repeat, over and over. Ideally, it might be good to have a well hydrated dough so it doesn't dry out too much as you're practice with it.

You probably don't want to practice with an actual pie that you're going to eat as the sauce might impregnate the skin as you're practicing and make it soggy and weak.  It is important, though, that you mimic the weight of the sauce and the cheese.  I'm leaning towards a pound of dried beans. The beans might have a tendency to fly off, but then, pepperoni has the same tendency as well.

With stretching, unfortunately, you can't stretch a dough ball, pull it together and stretch it again. You only get one stretch per dough ball. It's time consuming to make lots of dough balls, but at least flour is cheap, and even if you stretch the dough but don't bake it, it's not the end of the world. You could bake up a whole bunch of sauce only pies, so, if you do overdo it, you're not getting the caloric import from the cheese. Sauce only pies, without the cheese, should freeze beautifully. 

Videos can help you make sure you're doing it right.

This is NY style (ignore the rolling pin/tossing stuff)

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjYqw1CLZsA" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjYqw1CLZsA</a>


And here are some of the better videos for stretching Neapolitan

http://www.youtube.com/user/pizzaiolopasquale#p/u

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Practice Ideas
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2011, 09:45:41 PM »
Dough is cheap.  Cheese, sauce, and toppings are expensive.  Make lots of thin, round bread.  Feed it to the birds, they will appreciate it.

Offline hammettjr

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Re: Practice Ideas
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2011, 10:11:20 PM »
Thank you Chau, Scott and Tom,

Itís great that I will be able to launch a Ďpracticeí dough multiple times. Maybe Iíll place my floured cutting board into the cool oven so I can practice at the right angle (and going in between the racks). Iíll probably buy a dough ball or two to get the feel of them, and create extra of my own. Thereís no reason I canít make an extra ball or two when I make my actual dough. (My biggest constraint right now is time, though I expect to have a bit more soon.)

I actually practiced launching a magazine today, which I found very helpful. I immediately noticed that I naturally left it short and to the left side, which is where my actual pizzas have been landing. I was able to correct it somewhat and actually made my pizza tonight too. It still didnít land perfect, with just a bit of the rim on the edge, but it wasnít a disaster. (The pizza itself turned out well, Iíll upload pics to the NY Style section tomorrow.)

Thanks for the links, the throw dough is pretty neat, though Iím not ready for that yet.

Matt

Offline scott123

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Re: Practice Ideas
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2011, 01:09:40 PM »
Matt, I wanted to update this thread with a new way to practice stretching. Occasionally you'll see members do extreme stretches with dough, getting it as thin as they can possibly get it without tearing.  This is also how dough stretching competitions work.

Make a small ball, form it like you regularly would, but then keep knuckle stretching it, trying to stretch it as evenly as possible without tearing. It won't help you master stretching as quickly as re-launching the same skin helps you master launching, but it will give you some good hands on time practice with the dough.

Offline hammettjr

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Re: Practice Ideas
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 11:08:03 AM »
Thanks Scott, that's pretty much what I've started doing. Since creating this topic, I've been creating an extra doughball to practice stretching each time I make pizza. I stretch it as thin as I can, until its pretty much destroyed. Though I was able to salvage one of them for a dessert pizza  :)



 

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