Author Topic: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?  (Read 1239 times)

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Offline PizzaAlaJoey

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Obviously pizzamaking.com has, but what else? I personally have gotten better by making pizzas for family and also sharing photos online. I've also gotten a few books on different styles. Being into health food has also helped me as well.


Offline andyt

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2014, 05:51:32 PM »
In Dec 2013, I bought a 16" X 16"perforated pizza peel.  Cost was about $105.00.  The first time I used it, none of the regular family diners knew I was using it.  As the first pizza hit, the comments began, "Wow, this crust is better than usual". 

These comments continued and then they asked, "What's different here?"  I showed them the new peel and explained that all the holes in the peel allow the flour to fall off the crust before launching on the stone @ 550F.  I now get much better contact between the crust and the stone, yielding better flavors and texture.

Not cheap but I find it worthwhile.

andyt

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2014, 05:55:24 PM »
Higher heat   >:D
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline PizzaAlaJoey

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2014, 05:59:39 PM »
Andy that's great. I'm impressed that that piece of equipment helped so greatly. It makes sense, but most people think it's just a vehicle for the pizza. I'm trading a dutch oven for one from my friend soon. Hope it works as good as yours.  ;)

Offline andyt

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2014, 06:45:51 PM »
Joey

When the family was served the pizzas, blind, without any knowledge of any change and they picked up on the difference, that convinced me of the improvement.  I do a cracker style crust, 260g ball for a 14' X 16", 224 sq inch pie.  Thickness factor 0.41. 

Please let me know how it works for you.  You can even pm me.

Good Luck
andyt

Offline jeff v

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2014, 11:02:57 PM »
Higher hydration and heat. Pushing (sometimes passing) the limits of fermentation.
Back to being a civilian pizza maker only.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2014, 09:56:37 AM »
Joe,

For me, I would say that the major epiphany was gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the relationship of yeast, and especially yeast quantity, and temperatures, and especially temperatures of fermentation. If you think about it, these two factors are involved in just about any yeast-based pizza dough on the planet. And, the yeast need not be commercial yeast; it can include wild/natural yeast also.

I remember back many years when I started to ponder the above relationships, and I even remember an early post where I raised the subject. That post is at Reply 69 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,524.msg4967.html#msg4967. That was over nine years ago. And I have pondered the yeast/temperature conundrum ever since. These days, when I read the posts of other members, I see that many, maybe even most, and especially new members, have failed to fully comprehend, appreciate and internalize the relationship between yeast and temperatures in the context of a dough. And that has been the source of many of the problems that members have experienced. This is not an indictment of those members. There are just too many temperature variations in the typical home setting, and there are often limits on our ability to control them. These variations can include room temperature, flour temperature, water temperature, mix/knead and machine frictional temperatures (related to the agitators/attachments used and mix/knead speeds and times), use of punchdowns and stretch and folds, delays (intentional or unintentional) during preparation of the dough (including autolyse and riposo), jump starting fermentation before refrigerating, the temperatures of refrigerators during cold fermentation and the location of stored doughs in the refrigerators, the room temperature and the duration of any tempering of the dough before using to make pizzas, and any subsequent proofing of the skins made from the dough. And in relationship to all of these factors, there is always the question of how much yeast (or starter) to use.

To be sure, there have been some members who have comprehended many of the above factors and relationships better than most. Craig is one of those members, with his thread at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,26831.msg271398.html#msg271398. Member November is another such member, as evidenced by the thread he started at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,5028.msg42558.html#msg42558. What these two extraordinary guys have been trying to do is to master the yeast/temperature relationship. And their message is one of the most powerful of the forum. Everything else is secondary in my opinion.

Peter

Offline Mmmph

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2014, 10:12:41 AM »
I, and countless people, owe a great deal to Mr. Jeff Varasano and his diligence.

http://www.varasanos.com/PizzaRecipe.htm
Sono venuto, ho visto, ho mangiato

Offline waltertore

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2014, 10:35:58 AM »
I agree with Peter.  Any dough product is rooted in the yeast/temp/quanity.  I looked at Craigs chart on this and was amazed at how deep it was.  I came to this more from an instictive/experiment/learning from elders way over the past 50 years and when I compared my different dough formulas they were darn close to Craigs.  Also less is best.  A pizza by definition should be simple IMO and to make a very simple pie is a difficult thing. Todays buzz is more is better.  A simple cheese pie should stand up to any of todays mega topped/fancy sauce/cheeses ones.  To be honest to make a simple french baquette that tastes great is not easy.  It is a lot easier to add some sourdough starter for flavor or add roasted garlic, herbs, etc.   I think the best dough based products are the simple ones because if there is an error in any of the components it sticks out like a sore thumb and conversely one that is dressed to the 9's burries the root of it - the dough.  Walter
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 10:38:27 AM by waltertore »

Offline mkevenson

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2014, 10:40:24 AM »
Well, for me, slotted metal peal, 2 Stone oven, but most important is gluten developement prior to opening dough.

Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2014, 10:59:09 AM »
For me, in this order:

1) Experience (experimentation + practice)
2) Higher and higher heat (550 --> 750 --> 950F)
3) Long (24h+), cool (64F +/-) fermentation
4) Caputo Pizzeria flour (only relevant at the highest temps)
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Jackitup

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 11:04:43 AM »
Pizza Making Forum and everyone in it!!

jon
Save A Cow, Eat A Vegan....Totally Organic And Hormone Free!!

Offline wheelman

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2014, 02:12:47 PM »
critical advise to beginners, as I was when I came here: realize that baking is science, it requires a disciplined approach with controlled variables that are managed in an organized manner.  rule #1 has to be accurately measuring ingredients by weight and keeping good records.  repeatable results lead to a process where incremental improvements add up over time.  if it keeps getting better, you'll be in the gravy before too long! 
bill

Offline norma427

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2014, 04:09:06 PM »
Weighing ingredients that go into making pizza dough, experimenting, learning how different ovens work, trying different styles of pizzas, trying different methods to make the same dough, trying different flours, learning how yeasts work in combination with different temperatures, trying different cheeses and sauces, watching what other member post and help from the forum members.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Davydd

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2014, 07:32:14 PM »
I think I got off to a bad start in high school 50 plus years ago when we gathered together to make pizzas from Chef Boyardee pizza kits and thought you had to empty all the refrigerator ingredients on the pizza and shake red pepper on it to feel the heat.

One thing I eventually learned was more was not always better. You can have too many toppings on a pizza in quantity and variety. You can have too much seasoning and too many kinds. You can have too much cheese. I think understanding how to make a simple classic Margherita pizza using the best and freshest ingredients you can gather is probably the best practice to understand this.
Davydd

Offline PizzaAlaJoey

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2014, 02:28:14 AM »
Davy, I think you are right. Less is more. That has been my experience with this. We used to make a thick style pizza growing up, and you kinda had to put more cheese on there. Cheese, sauce, toppings all seem to do best when kept simple and not overloading a great crumb.

Offline mbrulato

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2014, 08:52:29 AM »
For me, the things that took my pizza to the next level were understanding the importance of proper gluten development, practicing dough stretching technique for different styles of pizza, switching to bleached/bromated flour for NY style and upgrading my heat transfer source from a pizza stone to 1/2" steel plates.  But of course, all of this knowledge wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for all the dedicated, passionate members on this forum who are willing to help each other get to pizza nirvana  :D
Mary Ann

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2014, 10:56:04 AM »
For me, in no particular order of importance:
  • Making pizza over and over and over for years.
  • Realizing that celebrity chefs are clueless and Food Network is useless (back when Food Network actually had instructional shows).
  • Being an analytical, obsessive-compulsive freak.
  • Pizzamaking.com, but mostly in a different way than one might expect. I've learned a lot from reading, but mostly I've learned from looking at pictures of pizza, thinking about pizza all the time, and being prompted to try making different styles of pizza that I didn't (and couldn't) make before I began participating on pizzamaking.com. (I've probably learned plenty from arguing, too.)
  • Always trying new things and making changes based on what I've learned from my most recent pizzas. Usually single, small changes from one dough batch to the next (like only changing one ingredient percentage), but sometimes several drastic changes at a time.
  • Not making pizza or eating pizza between January 2013 and July 2013, and mostly not even thinking about pizza during that time. This was weird because it just doesn't seem to make sense. But I think this happened because not thinking about pizza gave me a chance to zoom out and get a better look at the big picture. But when I finally made pizza in July or August, I somehow knew the right changes to make with my Tommy's style laminated cracker crust to make it almost perfect, which I hadn't figured out in the previous 2-1/2 years of making these pizzas over and over. And I made some huge changes, too, which led directly to this unexpected breakthrough. And I made these huge changes all at the same time.
  • Getting a chance last summer to use several different foodservice-quality flours that I normally wouldn't have been able to use. Especially because I was able to make many pizzas on the same day (a few times, for parties) using these different flours, all using the same dough formula. Being able to try identically-prepared pizzas made from different flours side by side is much more educational than trying one flour this week then another flour next week.
  • Being wrong.
  • Photographing and documenting my pizzas here on the boards.
  • Peter.
I could probably list some other good stuff, but I'll chill for now.

Offline Gags

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2014, 12:21:10 PM »
- PizzaMaking.com and the encouragement & guidance of y'all!
- Getting a scale and switching to weight measurements
- Understanding flours better
- Experience of working with different home oven deck materials: pizza stones, soapstone, firebrick
- Experience of working with different ingredients and deciding which are the go-to brands for the intended product
- Experience through repetition:  learning the feel of dough (After years of pizza making at home, I still don't have a mixer)
- Finally, over the holidays, I went to AVPN in Marina del Rey, CA (30 mins away) and took their professional pizzaiolo course - awesome experience!  Here's a quick video I made of my time there:

« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 12:26:22 PM by Gags »
"I'd trade it all for just a little bit more"

Offline PizzaAlaJoey

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Re: What are some things that took your "pizza game" to the next level?
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2014, 04:44:02 PM »
That's amazing Gags. Looks like it helped.