Author Topic: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment  (Read 7283 times)

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Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2005, 10:56:04 AM »
I find it fascinating to see how different people approach the same problem! I always excelled at math and science, but don't find it agreeable when applied to pizzamaking (I'm sure I'd feel differently if I owned a pizzeria and had to make huge batches of dough!). That's why I like to go by look and feel--and I get very consistent results. The problem I've found is, as I said in another post, there is an appreciable difference between summer and winter pizzamaking in terms of hydration (due to humidity), which is one reason I like to stick with look and feel as opposed to relying in weighing. Last night Alton Brown (the ultimate weigher!) did a show on cobbler and when it came to adding water to the flour, he kind of threw up his hands and said, "Well, it can take 1 TBS or 3, depending on age, humidity, etc."

That's why I like to do it "by hand". But as long as you make a good pizza, it doesn't make any difference!


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2005, 11:18:29 AM »
elsegundo,

I agree with everything that you say except that I have come to accept the fact that most recipes in the U.S. will recite volume measurements instead of weights and that is not about to change anytime soon, if ever. Unless instructions are given in recipes about how to measure out volumes, such as flour, for example, there will be instances where a recipe may not work out as hoped or require further experimentation or midcourse corrections. But overall people will usually get acceptable results, as we have noted with many recipes posted on this forum with volume measurements. I personally deal with such situations by converting volumes to weights as best I can--as I tried to do in the earlier post with the General Mills cracker-type crust recipe--and introduce the thickness factor to be able to broaden and expand the use of the recipe. Ultimately, the formulation stated in baker's percents should be more malleable in my opinion.

What you say about using very small amounts of ingredients is indeed correct. When dealing with small quantities of ingredients, accuracy and precision are compromised more so than with much larger quantities. For example, how do you accurately measure out 1/16 teaspoon of yeast? Yet, I usually post what I calculate (or my spreadsheet calculates) to be the required quantities (usually by both weight and volume) of ingredients to be used in the formulation in question. In great measure I do this since some of our members (pftaylor comes to mind) have scales that can weigh small amounts of lightweight ingredients like yeast, salt, sugar and oil. Even for those ingredients where conversion data is used, the conversion data (for converting from weights to volumes) can be less that 100% accurate because ingredients change with time, age, environmental conditions, etc., and also because labelling information used to calculate such conversion data may not be entirely accurate.† Yet, with all the imprecision and perceived deficiencies in the "system", the numbers are usually close enough (and in proper proportion in most cases) to allow most of us to make some pretty good pizzas.

Peter

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2005, 11:50:29 AM »
buzz,

The only place where I use weights in my baking is with doughs, either pizza dough or bread dough. Just about everything else is done by feel, or by following recipe instructions. I have many times made pizza dough without weighing flour and water--usually because a scale wasn't available to me. But I have made enough pizza dough to know how to use volumes and make the needed adjustments to get the desired dough consistency and other parameters I am looking for. I think that the greatest value of weights is to a beginning pizza maker--of which there are many on this forum--because it allow him or her to have a good entry point to pizza making and, perhaps more importantly, to minimize the likelihood of failure the first time out. Once the person gains experience and achieves repeated success, he or she has the option of continuing to use weights or to use touch and feel. The differentiating factor is experience.

Peter

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2005, 12:17:50 PM »
Lol! There are people who like a more Alton Brown approach and there are those who prefer Rachael Ray (just eyeball it)-- either way can produce great results. If you watch the Food Network, you will see plenty of pros who use either method, according to their personal styles (I've seen professional chefs making pizza without measuring at all, even by meauring cups). I've never had a problem using cups instead of a scale, but if somebody is more comfortable with weighing, then go for it! My motto is: there's no right or wrong, as long as you wind up with a good pizza!

Offline chiguy

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2005, 12:54:55 PM »
 Hi everyone,
 I was a measurement guy for a long time. I must say once i started using bakers percentages i never looked back. It is just easier in my opinion when making larger quantities. As everyone is aware this is common practice in bakeries and most pizzerias. I am always frusterated when i ask my 87year old grandma how she makes a recipe and she tells me a handful of this or that. As for what the Chefs do on television i am sure it is rehearsed at least a few times before shooting the show. I also am sure that General Mills and other flour millers have fairly consistent moisture levels in thier flour. I know they are very concerned with customer satisfaction(large pizza operators). If someone is overly concerned with the age of thier flour they should not be using it. I am fairly confident with flour millers and have found bakers % easier for making a wide array of baked goods. If anyone is interedted there is a great website www.pastrychef.com that uses bakers percentages and has alot of great recipes.  Chiguy 

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2005, 02:28:49 PM »
For doughs I have been working on for a long time and are pretty much just the way I like them, I no longer need to measure and just go by feel. Though, I always use a scale when it comes time to divide the dough into individual pieces so that each is uniform weight.

But for doughs that I am still tweaking, I like to take careful weight measurements and notes. I just don't have the memory to recall after a few days or weeks the amount of each ingredient and what changes I want to make so I need to refer to my notes, especially since I am baking several days per week a wide range of different kinds of doughs.

Bill/SFNM
Sometimes I use big words that I donít fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis. - @itjenlawrence

Offline buzz

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2005, 04:24:15 PM »
I don't think the shows are rehearsed in the way you mean-- these people just know what they're doing so they don't need scales or even measuring cups. Mario Batali is a great example--he just dumps a quantity of flour from a bigger bowl into a smaller bowl (eyeballs it), then adds what water and yeast he needs and starts to knead. If it needs a little more liquid, he adds it; if he needs a bit more flour, then he adjusts accordingly. That's the way I like to do it because it's fun--but since I still use measuring cups I'm not eyeballing it the way the pros do!

But each to his/her own--as long as you get there!

Offline elsegundo

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2005, 10:51:07 PM »
I have no problem with those who want to use cups for flour or feel for consistency. It works for them. For me, I'm a simple guy and I found that by following a formula exactly and repeatedly I also develop a feel. 

One thing that hasn't been mentioned for a while is that with cracker style you are producing a dry dough. A sense of feel can be misleading for me and some others. The tendency is to add more oil and water.  With weight measurement and autolyse, I resist the temptation and get the consistency I'm looking for. Also weighing and recording your efforts gets you closer to the type of pizza you are going for, with small adjustments. I never use less than a pound of flour. By nearly always using that measurement I get closer to the cracker goal. I believe cracker is the most unforgiving of the styles.


I haven't read it here before, but cracker dough is really good for bagel dough. The leftover pizza dough, if any, becomes bagel dough, so that pound of flour doesn't go to waste.
 
I am an AB fan because he gives the amounts (if not weights)in his recipes as opposed to the other stars.

BTW, I would love to see Peter Reinhart, Rose Berenbaum, Joe Ortiz, or Nancy Silverton with their own show. If the names are unfamiliar, then I wish you pleasant discoveries.

Offline scott r

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Re: Latest Cracker-Style Experiment
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2005, 04:41:46 AM »

BTW, I would love to see Peter Reinhart, Rose Berenbaum, Joe Ortiz, or Nancy Silverton with their own show. If the names are unfamiliar, then I wish you pleasant discoveries.

I second your vote for Reinhart.  Not only for his baking knowledge, but also because I really got a sense that I would like the guy after hearing his seminar

Food Network are you out there?
« Last Edit: December 23, 2005, 04:46:28 AM by scott r »


 

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