Author Topic: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!  (Read 4156 times)

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Offline wucactus1

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Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« on: May 23, 2011, 02:50:48 PM »
So over the weekend I traveled home, made some pizzas(overfermented in the car en route to home) and through the rushed process of repacking for my journey back to Home #2 I forgot the scale...Well I want pizza and am not letting that stop me, so I fed my starters waited and made the dough...I estimated the water amount for two 270 balls and from there just began adding in flour until it resembled what I roughly remember a 65ish% HR dough being...I added in the HG and 00 flour at a 3-1 volume ratio(which I know means squat) and the dough came together nicely...Its bulk rising now and then Ill divide and ball and bake at around 8...Ill take pictures of everything and hopefully things work out.  Has anyone ever done this?


Online Tscarborough

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 03:06:23 PM »
Is there any other way?

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 05:06:49 PM »
For me right now...I guess not, but when I get my scale back will I return back to using...most likely yes...  The scale affords me an accurate way to measure out and quantify my experiments.  This little incident has challenged me to be slightly more intune with the dough and how it is feeling with each stage, taking this info and comparing it past experiences, all in all it has been a good learning experience, hopefully it will end as a good one.

The dough is slightly more hydrated then I usually work with probably 68-70, but is handling nicely...I had a little bit of dough left over, roughly an 8" pie so Im going to garnish it with some oo, sea salt, basil and rosemary and use it as a tester dough for the heat using the broiler method, only if I had an infrared therm, but all in all it should be good...its fermenting right on schedule, now just got to wait until the big show...

Offline c0mpl3x

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 05:33:37 PM »
its not hard to eyeball an entire recipe, if you've worked with it on a percentage level at one point.

you know the salt/sugar/oil/hyd%/yeast etc that you remember going in, and remember it visually.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 05:50:05 PM »
I agree with c0mpl3x but I think it is easier to do if you make pretty much one kind of dough most of the time. If you make several different kinds of dough, it can be harder to do without aids. However, if there is Internet access and there is a recipe with baker's percents, either one that has been committed to memory or has been posted on the forum, it is fairly easy to use one of the dough calculating tools to come up with the numbers, in this case, the preferment dough calculating tool at http://www.pizzamaking.com/preferment_calculator.html. For conversion of weights of flour and water to volumes, one can use November's Mass-Volume Conversion Calculator at http://foodsim.unclesalmon.com/. If you take these tools away, or if there are no measuring cups or measuring spoons, then the brute force method can still be used but you would need to know the mass-volume conversions for all of the ingredients and, as c0mpl3x says, rely on memory.

Peter

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 06:26:59 PM »
I think it's all well and good that experienced bakers use volume or eyeball measurements and know how their dough should feel. However I've lost count of all the times new to baking persons post their frustration with volume recipes they have found who knows where: " My dough doesn't do this or that like I see people's here do but I don't want to buy a $20 scale and I don't want to change the recipe much as I found it on (insert generic volume blog recipe here). So Peter or some one else trying to help them must decipher through multiple exchanges what method they use for volume measurement. Eyeballing is great for those with a trained eye, for beginners, not so much.
Don

Online Tscarborough

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 07:27:07 PM »
The key is to use the desired amount of flour, then add water until it feels right.  Even inexperienced cooks should be able to tell when it is a workable dough.

The problem with using a scale is that a recipe designed for sea level at 77 degrees ambient and 70% humidity will not work at 2000 foot, 60 degrees and 30% humidity.  And that is to say nothing of the actual oven  characteristics and differences in flours.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2011, 07:29:56 PM by Tscarborough »

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2011, 08:22:45 AM »
Baked the pies off last night...One for the gf, one for me, and then an appetizer.  I preheated the oven at 550 with the stone on the highest shelf for 50 minutes slipped on the frozen towel then kicked over the broiler on high for 10.  I stretched out the mini app pizza and immediately was shocked.  The dough handled beautifully.  It was extensible and slack, but had good gluten development despite the minimal mechanical kneading I did.  I spread some olive oil thin, sprinkled it with sea salt, basil, and oregano and launched it into the oven.  To my surprise the bottom didnt overly burn(the first pizza usually burns...) and it turned out great..."Tonight is going to be a good bake!"
I let the broiler run for 5 minutes as I prepared for the next pie my girlfriends...I stretched the skin and topped the pie, threw it in the oven a watched attentively to assure it would not burn, to no avail it turned out slightly more charred than her liking and I think two things caused this: Excess flour and poor stretching, her pizzas rim was slightly thicker than it should be which yielded more weight and more char as well as a slight doughyness.  My pie was next so I took everything I learned and tried applying it, paid close attention to stretching and the amount of bench flour, but my problems also occured in the oven.  When cooking these pies using the broiler method you need to turn, lift, and juggle the pies throughout the process in order to assure even cooking, well this is easier said than done with a wooden peel, because of this the pie ended up cooking a bit too much on one side, but overall it was good(I think im actually a char-oholic).  One thing that did puzzle me was these very small blistering bumps one my pizza...It was essentially a marinara with maybe a tbsp of mozz sprinkled over it...was it the shredded cheese that burned or the dough blisters?  I made close attention the the patting and flattening of it, oh well, it was delicious and very good, not the best, but good.

I really like the way the  dough felt slightly more hydrated(70%) than normal doughs which hover at 65/66 and didnt have an extreme sourness just a slight tang...my doughs sourness levels are not really consistent, sometimes their really sour which I like and sometimes there mild, and usually when their really sour the dough is harder to stretch...is this from the acids?

any way here are some pics didnt really get any good shots because the camera was acting goofy. comments more than welcomed!

Offline ponzu

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2011, 07:18:17 PM »
Those look really great.  kind of a new haven neapolitan hybrid visually.

The crumb looks outstanding as does the leoparding.

AZ

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2011, 12:29:53 AM »
Thanks Ponzu, I appreciate the comments!
I just finished up the reheated pie a few hours ago and it was just as good, if not better reheated...It re-crisped up nicely and the garlicy spice remained potent along with the basil and OO, very much pleased with it.  I took some more crumb shots as I was eating, it seemed that each bite lead to a better look crumb, revealing to me that the quality of crumb is completely subjective to the point in which you cut the pie, but perhaps this subjectivity could be solved through consistent shaping?  Either way I may post the pics, idk...dont want to flood the thread.


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2011, 07:04:13 AM »
Wu I agree.  A pie can produce a myriad of different looking crumb shots and eating quality is more important.  But for me, the different looks of the crumb are associated with certain textures and some crust and crumb textures just are more desireable.  IMO, the consistency of the crumb is related to how the dough is kneaded and when it is divided and balled.

Wu, the difference in sourness could be due to using the starter at different maturity levels and/or a difference in how far you ferment the dough out.  Yes, you will notice an increase in elasticity in the dough from the acids and maybe even slight drying or toughness in the crumb.  You'll have to balance it out by developing the gluten less.

Btw, good work with the pizza given that you eyeballed the ingredients.  Making dough this way has always been an ultimate goal of mine.

Chau

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2011, 10:00:54 AM »
Yeah I feel like those are all valid points regarding crumb, but besides dividing and balling, just the general handling of the dough as we all know im sure impacts the crumb just as much...its the last step.  You could have an amazing dough and pound it out with aggression and end up with a lifeless pizza.  Handling skills very from dough to dough as well, mainly in respect to hydration.  It is a goal of mine to be able to handle various forms of dough, HG to 00 and anywhere from 63-75/80 HR, the more versed you are the better I feel you will be able to adapt.
As for the starter, I think ill begin experimenting with multiple feedings, ferm. times, kneading amounts, etc.  Make several 8" marinara pies as sauce and garlic are cheap and I have plenty of flour to spare, perhaps this weekend, but until then Ill be thinking of the formalities for the experiment...any ideas on where to start?

Offline StrayBullet

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2011, 09:32:56 PM »

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2011, 11:05:17 PM »
So I have made pizza twice this week now using the eyeball method and the bakes have by far been my best...Its down right impressive and shocking...To think that all this time I have enslaved myself to the scale and percentages, take that away from me(unwillingly and upsetting) and Im free to feel and touch the dough, using my fingers and hands to push my understanding of the dough itself as opposed to quantifying it through analog numbers on a screen...It has really changed my views on the actual understanding of the dough...Maybe Ill keep trying this until it lands me somewhere bad or I lose this stride of beginners luck?  Im not saying that the scale is bad, because I believe my time with the scale and tedious experimentation has gotten me to the place I am at not and is the exact thing that enables me to produce the things I am doing.  Its much like art. An activity that revolves around the expression of an idea...one can express this idea in any manner that they wish and this choice and the execution of this choice is what makes the artist an artist, but it is understood that there is both good and bad execution, hence the reason why an artist no matter how skilled most garner some sort of pre-meditation to coax with their intuition and pizza is art and I believe should be handled this way...In the end there is no formula for producing great surrealism, or impressionism, but there are conventions and the mastering of those conventions is what leads to great art work, the same for baking, the scale is a tool used to understand the conventions, once understood it is left up to intuition.
I challenge everyone to try and bake pizza, bread, cookies...well maybe not cookies, but something for atleast two sessions without a scale or measuring cups or a mixer, just your hands a bowl and a spoon.  Take this time to apply your understanding to these old world methods and then measure you success or failure against your past calculated bakes...It is sure to be a fun experiment...

I also have an enormous amount of pictures from both bakes that I will load tomorrow.  My girlfriend accidentally grabbed both ipod cords, so I have no method of direct connection to my laptop and the thought of emailing each pic seems rather tenuous...With that said tonights bake wasnt a total success, on pie three(which still turned out good) the pampered chef stone cracked...pie stock to the peel slightly causing wet dough/sauce touching it and an immediate split releasing about 1/6 of the stone...Its a shame and its my girlfriends moms stone...so we'll see how that goes over. Im assuming the stone is still usuable as both pieces fit together perfectly or am I wrong?  Any Ill post the pics tomorrow when I go to the library and hopefully some of you will start eyeballing more often!

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2011, 11:22:15 PM »
Excellent and well said Wu.  I absolutely agree that pizza is a balance between science and art.   As beginners we must learn the lingo, the equipment, baker's percents, etc as a starting point.  As you noted, to truly improve and excel we must also learn to pay attention to the dough, make intuitive adjustments, and take risks to experiment.  Try new methods and techniques, even if it involves going out of our comfort zones including the scales, measuring cups, etc.   It is not for beginners though, but rather after the basics have been learned.   But something interesting does happen when we are forced into situations where we don't have our tools and must have pizza.  We are force to find alternative methods and pay much more attention to the dough.   Our senses actually become sharper.

I don't think you've seen this thread, but back sometime I asked members to send me a mystery flour inwhich I would attempt to make pizza by feel.  Not the same as your experiment but similar.  I was attempting to make a decent pizza by adjusting the water/flour needed by feel.  I would then attempt to guess the type of flour base on how much water it required.   You can read more about it here if you like.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11476.0.html

Chau

Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2011, 11:43:18 PM »
Thats an awesome thread...Im glad you appreciate and share my insight...It had been a great learning experience, I cant wait to post the pics...the crumb shots are truly the best I have seen on the forum, much like bills from his HD tartine video...but I guess everyone will have to wait, but when posted your feedback and opinion would be awesome...hows the new oven? Is there a thread on the forum, havent seen one yet.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2011, 12:04:56 AM »
I think the transition described in this thread pertains to any skill we have done enough times that the dependence on precision yields to a mastery of improvisation.


Offline wucactus1

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2011, 12:10:40 AM »
exactly...only if i could have said it in such few words...

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2011, 12:53:27 AM »
Thats an awesome thread...Im glad you appreciate and share my insight...It had been a great learning experience, I cant wait to post the pics...the crumb shots are truly the best I have seen on the forum, much like bills from his HD tartine video...but I guess everyone will have to wait, but when posted your feedback and opinion would be awesome...hows the new oven? Is there a thread on the forum, havent seen one yet.



Wu, I'm looking forward to the pictures and will leave my opinion/feedback.   As far as the new oven it's been working out great!  You can read about it here.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11683.400.html

Chau

Offline c0mpl3x

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Re: Forget the scale-Use your eyeball!
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2011, 01:06:43 AM »
this was 100% by eye and hand.
Hotdogs kill more people than sharks do, yearly.


 

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