I recently joined the forum and can see that there is a wealth of pizza knowledge and baking knowledge here. I am struggling with where to begin, so pardon my somewhat ADHD patterned hopscotch of thoughts and questions. A bit of background and what my "goals" are would help me refine my questions, and maybe help guide me where to look for answers on this forum. I am a bit overwhelmed.
Recently completed a home renovation and had a wood burning pizza oven added amongst other things. It's a Forno bravo Primo. I've been tinkering with making pies but the word lackluster comes to mind. My goal in using this sight is to educate myself to the point that I can make great Neapolitan, and NY style pizza. I think most of my friends and family would prefer the NY style, but I'd like to learn to do both styles. I'd also like to become proficient it "pushing out" the "skins", some new words to me I picked up browsing the forum! I clearly have a long ways to go.
I would also like to come up with a realistic plan so that I can decide early in the week that if I want to make pizza for friends and family on Friday or Saturday, that come the weekend, my dough will be ready. My current solution for this is not working. For one, I work full time+. Prepping dough on a weekend before and making 30 dough balls then freezing is not a sustainable or desirable solution. For one thing, I got it in my mind that sourdough cultures were the way to go. Maybe they are, but I think I'm trying to master the double black diamond before I've even conquered the bunny hill in way. Also, when using the frozen (or even fresh) dough, it just doesnt work well (poor elasticity), at least not in any consistent manner. I think my entire dough making process is flawed as well, since results are so inconsistent. Ideally I would like to have a plan for making 12-15 fresh dough balls at a time but perhaps even a few more, for baking several 12-15" diameter pies. Ideally where I can prep the dough some days before so its ready to go by the weekend. Time saving methods are huge plus. It seems that for now, I should forego using my sourdough cultures until I have a firm grasp on the basics.
After a day or so of perusing the forum, I have noticed several ways I can go about making some improvements. For one I think I need to keep notes and come up with a bakers formula of more precisely weighing the ingredients as opposed to measuring cups of flour and water. It seems that I also need to make a decision on which style of dough and pie I want to master first, since the dough and oven management will be different. That's got to be NY style, since it appeals to more friends and family. Next up I think I need to decide on some ingredients like what flour I should use and what yeast. I bought a 1# brick of IDY lat August and was a while before I opened it, then sealed in a plexiglass storage container in the pantry. Last time I used it (for pretzels) seemed to provide adequate rise. Flour, I have been using KABF, and have tried blending in some KASL (mail order only where I live) and tried using some 00 Capitol, and various blends. Not taking notes I might add. No wonder things are so inconsistent. I would like to one that is easily available and sufficient to fulfill my goal. It seems KABF may be good. I've heard some talk of Bromated flours. I don't think my local grocery store carries any of the mentioned brands. I am NOT opposed to buying a commercial sized sack if needs be, at some point in this journey, but perhaps I should nail down some basics first.
It seems my first objective would then be to turn to the NY style pizza forum threads and search for a recipe, which seems rather daunting. It seems also that some folks advocate extended cold ferment or hybrid cold then warm ferments. Where can I read more about the specifics behind these ferments and what the pros and cons are, and so forth? Also I've heard some discussion of bulk ferments which might seem a little more time friendly. In addition to this, any recommendations on where to look at technique in putting the dough together. Seems there are some do's and don'ts with the mixing process. I know the shaping and pushing out takes time and practice, but I'm wondering about specific. Ill briefly mention I have a KA stand mixer, about 8-9 yrs old in think the "artisan" 5-1/2 Qt bowl I believe, though I am unsure of its watt rating. Plenty of refrigerated space for dough storage and a couple of mini dough trays. Room temp in FL usually mid 70s.
Thanks for any advice.
Here are a couple pics of early semi-successful efforts. Mostly because a good friend who had worked in a NJ pizza shop in his youth was able to work the dough for me. Not entirely sure what "style" these are supposed to be.