Author Topic: new to pizza making, whats the next step?  (Read 2045 times)

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Offline barryspie

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new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« on: August 28, 2007, 06:14:46 PM »
Hello, great to be a new member of this site!! I just started making (if you want to call it that) pizza at home two weeks ago and got hooked.  However, its not really 'making' the pizza because I just get the Pillsbury crust, off-the-shelf spaghetti sauce and cheese, and cut up some toppings and bake the pie.  This is my frist taste of 'my own' not-from-delivery pizza and feel like I'm on to something.
My question is:
-What is the next step for me to make a somewhat authentic pizza at home? I want to know what ingredients are essential (spices, types of cheese, etc.) but also affordable on my college-student budget.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 06:18:20 PM by barryspie »


Offline pcampbell

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2007, 07:11:43 PM »
The next step, I would say is making your own dough...  I would say the investment required is a digital scale, instant dry yeast and quality flour, and some Kosher or sea salt.  You may also look into unglazed quarry tiles and a peel. 
Patrick

Online Pete-zza

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2007, 08:22:11 PM »
barryspie,

pcampbell offers you good advice. However, if you want to simply matters even further, you can use a pizza screen. I think a good basic size for your purposes would be a 14” screen, which should cost you less than $5. To see what such a screen looks like, go to http://www.suitesupply.com/american-metalcraft.18714am.01.htm. If there is a restaurant supply store near you, you can save on shipping costs, which are likely to be more than the price of the screen if you buy it online (where there are many choices of vendors).

By using a screen, you won’t need a pizza peel or pizza stone/tiles. If you get hooked on pizza making as a hobby, you can always move up a notch equipment-wise and try using a stone or tiles (tiles are much cheaper than stones), along with a pizza peel. We have many members who are perfectly satisfied with using pizza screens only, and some have retired their stones and peels.

For flour, I would start with all-purpose flour, which is available in every supermarket and, unless you happen to have a bread machine, I would use hand kneading, which will cost you just about nothing but the price of a bowl and a sturdy spoon. All-purpose flour is one of the easiest to use if you will be kneading the dough by hand. A step up flourwise, yet still be amenable to hand kneading, would be bread flour, which is also readily available. If you decide that hand kneading will be the approach you want to use, I am sure we can link you to posts describing hand kneading or else tell you how to do it for the particular dough recipe you decide upon for your maiden voyage into pizza making.

There are many dough recipes on the forum that you should be able to use, with the exception of recipes for doughs for making cracker-type crusts. Such doughs are virtually impossible to knead by hand. One recipe that you might consider is for a “thin” American style pizza, and is described and shown at
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1707.msg20711.html#msg20711 (Reply 20). For instructions, you should look at Reply 8 in the same thread. The recipe given at Reply 20 is for a 16” size pizza, but I can help you with the recipe for a 14” size (or any other size and related screen) if the recipe looks like it has appeal to you. Other members might also offer up their favorite dough recipes for you to consider. If you tell us what your favorite pizza style is, that should help narrow the possibilities.

Once you have a good idea of how you would like to proceed, I am sure that someone should be able to help you with matters like tomatoes, cheeses, yeast, etc. Depending on where you live, there should be many choices available to you.

Peter
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 08:38:46 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline DWChun

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 12:18:51 AM »
Welcome to the forum and this fantastic voyage that is the pursuit of making your own pizza!

One of the next steps I suggest is to decide what kind of pizza you want to make. There are many varieties, which have different standards and requirements, so a good place to start is finding out what you want to aim for. For example, if your interest in pizza lies in the "New York" style then head over to the New York section of forum for all the appropriate info. The General and Newbie sections offer a lot of valuable info as well. There's a lot to learn but if you love pizza, you'll thirst for the knowledge.


DW

Offline barryspie

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2007, 01:44:38 AM »
Thanks for the advice all around. 
I generally like a pizza with big slices, either soft & floppy or stiff & crispy;   the California style sounds like a type to try out because I want to experiment with toppings to ultimately one day make "Barry's Pie".  From the info I've come across so far, the pizza stones sound like they would help achieve the texture of the crust I want. However, I didn't even know that pizza stones existed until today.  :-[

Are pizza stones a one-time purchase or do they repeatedly need to be purchased?

What is the simplest dough recipe (better than average taste with minimal ingredients) a newbie like me can make without a mixer?

Online Pete-zza

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2007, 04:40:08 AM »
barryspie,

There is a ton of information on pizza stones (and tiles) on the forum, but I think one of the better threads on the subject, with a lot of links to other threads and posts on the subject, is this one: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1488.0.html. As you will note from this thread, pizza stones can crack or break but, absent a mishap and with proper care, a pizza stone should last for years.

If you are interested in the California pizza style, you might want to take a look at the dough recipe that the founders of the California Pizza Kitchen chain, which specializes in the California style, put in their book on pizza. I found a copy of the dough recipe at http://www.recipegoldmine.com/ccc/c301.html. I have the book and the recipe is the one in the book. You might also take a look at the pizza dough recipe posted by Wolfgang Puck, one of the early adopters of the California pizza style, at his website at http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/recipedetail.php?Alias=RE_WP0096. The Puck recipe calls for use of a mixer or food processor, but I don’t see any reason why the dough can’t be kneaded by hand. I wouldn’t describe the California style pizzas as having “big slices” or as being “soft and floppy” (in fact, they are small pizzas and on the thin side), but the California style dough recipes may be a good starting point for you to get your feet wet. I have used both recipes before and they are basic and easy to make and with only a few basic ingredients. If those recipes don’t fit the bill or if you have some other pizza style in mind, if you can describe it in some detail, possibly with reference to a particular chain style pizza, I am sure there will be a dough recipe on the forum somewhere. As mentioned before, you are unlikely to find a recipe for a dough that can be hand kneaded to make a “stiff and crispy” pizza. For that style, you would need a machine for best results.

Peter

Offline Bryan S

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2007, 09:32:40 PM »
  From the info I've come across so far, the pizza stones sound like they would help achieve the texture of the crust I want. However, I didn't even know that pizza stones existed until today.  :-[

Are pizza stones a one-time purchase or do they repeatedly need to be purchased?

What is the simplest dough recipe (better than average taste with minimal ingredients) a newbie like me can make without a mixer?
barryspie, Welcome to the obsession.  :pizza: As Peter mentions the screen is cheap and to be honest with you I have one of them fancy Fibrament stones that costs $50+ with shipping and I don't use it, I prefer the screen for my pies. Peter also mentions all purpose flour and that's what I use for my NY Style pies. I find the AP flour gives me the texture i prefer in a pizza crust. The good thing is pizza dough is cheap to make so you can have fun trying out different recipes.   :)

EDIT: I was rushed and forgot to say I agree with pcampbell  about a scale. IMO the single most important tool for consistant pizza dough is a digital scale. I think that for you to make a crust the same way each and every time the flour and water must be weighed out.  ;)
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 11:59:22 PM by Bryan S »
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

Offline dms

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2007, 05:38:13 AM »

EDIT: I was rushed and forgot to say I agree with pcampbell  about a scale. IMO the single most important tool for consistant pizza dough is a digital scale. I think that for you to make a crust the same way each and every time the flour and water must be weighed out.  ;)

A scale is very useful in baking anything, and well worth the money (you can get a fabulous one for $50, ), but don't let the lack of a scale scare you off from making your own dough.  With some care and effort, you can get repeatable  results with volume measures.  The problem is that your methods won't translate easily to anyone else, and when trying someone else's recipe, you may have problems.  Don't be afraid to experiment!

Online Pete-zza

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2007, 11:47:08 AM »
A scale is very useful in baking anything, and well worth the money (you can get a fabulous one for $50, ), but don't let the lack of a scale scare you off from making your own dough.  With some care and effort, you can get repeatable results with volume measures.  The problem is that your methods won't translate easily to anyone else, and when trying someone else's recipe, you may have problems.  Don't be afraid to experiment!

I am in Bryan's corner on this one, but given that more than 95% of all cookbooks in the U.S. use volume measurements in the recipes, I would be hard pressed to tell someone not to use volume measurements. However, dms has correctly stated the drawbacks to using volume measurements, especially the difficulty in teaching someone else (except perhaps in person) how to practice a recipe recited in volumes--which is a core purpose of this forum. In my case, given a choice between buying a pizza stone (or even tiles) and a peel, but no scale (i.e., volume measurements will be used), and buying a pizza screen and a scale, I would personally go with the pizza screen and scale combo. I would do this not only as a possible cost savings measure (at least compared with a stone and peel combination) but principally because of the benefits of using the scale to achieve more uniform, consistent, reproducible results in those cases where weight measurements are available (which is the case with many of the recipes posted on this forum). If after trying my hand at pizza making I decided not to pursue the hobby any further, for whatever reason, I could always give the screen and scale away to someone else who likes cooking and baking, or to another pizza maker, or keep the scale for some other application, such as a postal scale or for the occasional cookbook recipe that is recited in weights. I could even keep the screen and use it as a bacon shield, or to drain French fries, onion rings and donuts, as forum member Randy does.

Peter

Offline dms

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Re: new to pizza making, whats the next step?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2007, 08:22:47 PM »
I am in Bryan's corner on this one, but given that more than 95% of all cookbooks in the U.S. use volume measurements in the recipes, I would be hard pressed to tell someone not to use volume measurements. However, dms has correctly stated the drawbacks to using volume measurements, especially the difficulty in teaching someone else (except perhaps in person) how to practice a recipe recited in volumes--which is a core purpose of this forum. In my case, given a choice between buying a pizza stone (or even tiles) and a peel, but no scale (i.e., volume measurements will be used), and buying a pizza screen and a scale, I would personally go with the pizza screen and scale combo.

I don't disagree about the scale.  It's not only more accurate and more consistant, it's easier, faster, and easier to clean up.  Most of the time when I make bread or pizza dough, I just put the mixer bowl on the scale, hit tare, and add flour, hit tare, add the next dry ingredient, tare, and so on.   Only things like salt and yeast get measured by volume.  Liquids get the same treatment.  I dirty just the bowl, a couple measuring spoons, and one liquid measuring cup. 

That said, I don't think it's the necessary first step for making pizza, especially if you don't cook much otherwise.  A stone makes such a big difference to the quality of the baked pizza, it's truely amazing.  It would greatly improve the pre-made stuff he's been using.  And a stone is cheap, too.  The last time I looked at them, linens 'n' things, or maybe bed, bath, had a reasonably large stone for less than $10.


 

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