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### Author Topic: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????  (Read 3480 times)

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#### JerryMac

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##### Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« on: November 24, 2007, 10:37:15 PM »
Hey Guys,

You know me and how my method of making dough differs from yours

I have a question and I think I know the answer, but I really need your help to let me know if I am
rite or wrong

You know how I make my dough and how I say I have to vary the amount of flour based on variables
such as Outside temp, humidity, what bag of flour I got at the store, time or year, etc, etc, etc.

You guys seem to get the same consistant results in your dough regardless of these variables and I think I know why, when you base everything on weight, but, I'm not really sure

Please let me know if I'm rite or wrong

Is it due to the fact that different volumes of flour weigh different amounts on any given day based on the variables I have mentioned above

If so I guess we all achieve the same results using different methods, Weight VS Volume

Am I dreaming, or might a scale ( ) ) be easier

Thanks Guys,
Mangia Bene,
Jerry

#### Bill/SFNM

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2007, 10:49:42 PM »
Jerry,

Get a scale. Even a cheap one will give you more consistent results.

Every batch of dough for me is different - too many variables to control beyond just the ratios of the ingredients. And within a batch, every pie will vary a little. With experience comes the ability to sense those differences and compensate for them to get the most out of each pie. Differences will still exist, but all can be delicious.

Just keep practicing.

Bill/SFNM

#### JerryMac

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2007, 12:01:49 AM »
Bill,

Thanks for the input, but is the real explaination as I explained

Us old farts just die hard

Mangia Bene,
Jerry

#### Bill/SFNM

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2007, 02:28:06 AM »
The well-known lack of precision when measuring flour by volume could explain inconsistent results, but so can a large number of other factors, even if you have carefully weighed out the ingredients:

- Mixing procedure
- Proofing/fermenting times/temperatures
- Shaping/Topping
- Baking

I'd even add "eating" to the list because the experience of eating is influenced by all kinds of factors: how hungry we are, what we have eaten just before the pizza, state of health, background music, lighting, etc.

Bill/SFNM

#### sourdough girl

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2007, 02:19:41 PM »
Bill,
You are so right with your assessment of ALL the factors that influence the outcome... and I'd like to be so bold as to add with "whom" you are eating ... and the location, as well.  Sometimes, a dish eaten with that special person in a special place tastes SO much better that, I believe, you may never be able to duplicate it, only because it is so romanticized, not because it is difficult to make.  It may never taste as good a second time because the human brain is such a mysterious and wonderful thing.

That said, I also believe that for things like bread and pizza dough, it's important to be very accurate with ingredients because, even considering the other factors, you're more likely to recapture what you're after, time after time.  If you were making a casserole, a little more or less of one ingredient wouldn't make a big difference; not so with dough.

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

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#### Bill/SFNM

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2007, 07:39:33 PM »
I also believe that for things like bread and pizza dough, it's important to be very accurate with ingredients because, even considering the other factors, you're more likely to recapture what you're after, time after time.  If you were making a casserole, a little more or less of one ingredient wouldn't make a big difference; not so with dough.

Don't you think there is also something to be said for letting factors drift naturally in order to learn more about their influence? Trying to precisely reproduce previous attempts reduces the possibility of creating something even better. And when it comes to doughs leavened with natural starter cultures, fermented and proofed over many hours, and baked in a wood-burning oven, precision and reproducibility are an illusion.

Bill/SFNM

#### sourdough girl

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2007, 05:13:17 PM »
Yes, I agree... if you are wanting to experiment, and especially with natural starters, which march to a drummer we can't even hear!  Jerry seems more headed in the direction of reproducing something he likes and wants to make again, or at least that's how I read it.  In that case, I really think that a scale is the way for him to go... to say nothing of the fact that it would make it much easier to use recipes here that are (mostly) presented in baker's percents, not cup measures.  Before I came to this forum, I never weighed any ingredients, but am glad that I had a 5# postal scale so I could make the transition.  Now, when I want to experiment, I use the dough tools make changes... and take careful notes.  I DID get A+ in all my chem labs!

Sometimes, when baking bread, I still throw caution out the door and just play with flour, water, yeast and salt...plus other, more playful ingredients... (but my scientific side still makes me grab my notebook and pen!) to see what I can create.  Sometimes, it's heady delirium and sometimes a heavy doorstop.  But that's the fun... and what the notes are for!

From all my reading on this forum, Jerry... I think you are right in your assessment, HOWEVER, the deviation in volume measurements is affected not only by the nature of the beast but ALSO by the variables you and Bill mentioned, making it even more inaccurate than using a scale.  At least with a scale you are affected by only the more minor fluctuations, not the major ones inherent in the cup method.

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2007, 06:45:29 PM »
Jerry,

What the posters have said in this thread pretty much covers all of the possibilities. However, like sourdough girl, I tend to think that using a scale reduces the effects of the other variables, like flour moisture and room humidity. If you measure out your flour by volume identically every time, you should be able to get fairly consistent results. And, so long as you tell people precisely how you measure out the flour, they should be able to achieve similar results. But, having made literally hundreds of volume/weight measurements of flour, in what I believed to be identical ways, I can tell you that even then there are variations. Different scales can produce different results, and some scales are more accurate than others, but the differences will normally be very slight. So, for all practical purposes, weight is a fixed measurement. Since I conduct many experiments and analyze and compare results, I absolutely have to have a scale.

Since different facets of this subject have been debated before on the forum, you might find the following items of interest to further whet your appetite: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3416.msg28981/topicseen.html#msg28981, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3433.msg29165/topicseen.html#msg29165, and http://www.pmq.com/mag/2006march/lehmann.php. You will also see that protein content, which was not mentioned before as another variable, can vary over the course of a year and have an effect on hydration..

Peter

#### JerryMac

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2007, 09:34:11 PM »
Hey Guys,

My problem is not in reproducing my dough  It is almost identical every time because of the variances I make in the amount of flour

My question was, you guys, using weight do not vary your weight of ingredients every time you make dough. The question was more, why do I have to vary and not you  Is it because my measurements vary each time, or is it more due to the fact that flour changes weight per volume due to environmental conditions, meaning that you ARE actualy using more or less flour by volume (the way I do it) each time you make dough

Thanks for the input,
Mangia Bene,
Jerry

#### sourdough girl

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2007, 10:46:38 PM »
Yes, Jerry, I think you answered your own question.  We who weigh don't vary the flour as much because scaling your flour (and water) is so much more accurate than volume measurements.  Not only is a cup not the same amount every time you measure it, I'm sure that really minor things such as setting the bag or container down on the counter every time you get it out to use it causes it to compact more and more.  Even using the "stir, scoop and sweep" method, you would have to stir MORE over time to make up for the compacting of the flour.

The flour does change weight because of humidity, etc, but when you're weighing it, those variances are much less because the method itself is more accurate.  So, you have to compensate much less.

But, I say if you are happy with the pizza you make, then continue with your method!  I'm sure there was not one Italian nonna who put anything over a scale!  If you are comfortable with your method, stick with it.  The main reason I changed over to the scale side was because I was trying to replicate something from my childhood and discovered that to use all the great info on this site... and to get help from fellas like Peter and Bill... to achieve that end, I needed to change.  I wanted to make sure that what I thought I was doing was what I was REALLY doing!  Does that make sense?

When I sometimes bake bread from Peter Reinhart's books, I use a scale then, too.  But there are lots of recipes on the internet and in other books where I measure the flour with a cup because that's how the recipe is written.  My point is that both ways of measurement have their places... and on this site, since most members are trying to either recreate a memory or reach their own personal nirvana, a scale is the easiest way to remove one variable in the formula.

~sd
« Last Edit: November 26, 2007, 10:54:49 PM by sourdough girl »
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#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2007, 11:19:10 PM »
Jerry,

As you know, I operate principally off of baker’s percents. I do this mainly because I make many different styles and types and variations of pizzas where the baker’s percents can vary quite widely, including the hydration percents. I would have to make an awful lot of pizzas of a given style to be able to make the dough for that style strictly by “feel”. And the dough for each style would feel different. In some cases, such as a low-hydration cracker-style dough, there is almost no “feel”. It is like a bunch of crumbs just barely held together by water. So, I weigh the flour and water for each dough to put order into what I do. I am also after authenticity for each style of dough, so I rely on weights rather than volumes, which may produce varying results. In the final analysis, I am after trying to come up with workable formulations that I and others can use to make any desired size or numbers of pizzas with similar crust characteristics.

Like pretty much everyone else, I occasionally have to make adjustments in the bowl. I would say that in over ninety percent of the cases, I don’t have to make any adjustments at all. When adjustments are made, they are almost always of water rather than flour, and it is at the teaspoon or less level. I typically add more water by half teaspoon, using a half teaspoon measuring spoon. It would be quite rare for me to make adjustments at the tablespoon level. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had to do that. I almost never think about flour moisture or room humidity, although I am aware of their existence.

If I were to make only a single style, such as the Lehmann NY style, I wouldn't need to use weight measurements because I know how the dough should feel. However, even then, I would determine the proper amounts of flour and water to use by volumes. Otherwise, the relative amounts of the remaining ingredients, by weight of flour, would be thrown off. The larger the dough batch, the more this becomes critical.

Many people make or specialize in only one style of pizza. And with experience, they learn how to make that style well using volume measurements and any needed adjustments. Since I move from style to style, this is not my modus operandi. Fortunately, I keep good notes and post my best formulations so that I can refer back to them when needed. Otherwise, I would have a difficult time remembering what worked best.

Peter

#### JerryMac

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2007, 11:24:47 PM »
Sourdough Girl,

Thanks for your last post it realy helped confirm some of my suspicions

We all do vary to some extent

I've just been doing things "My Way" for so long, and getting such great results that I doubt that there is realy much hope in teachin this way too old dog  too many new tricks

Kudos to all the people on the forum from who I have learned soo much and adapted to "My" method

Mangia Bene,
Jerry

#### JerryMac

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2007, 11:39:32 PM »
Pete,

I think your last post kind of summed it up

I guess I am a "Specialist"    NY Style

The number of Pies I make at any one time very seldom varies from 2 to 4   14" pies

I guess the look and feel of my dough have just become soo second nature to me that the need for really precise measurements is "Moot"

Thanks for your last post, I think you really hit the nail on the head

Mangia Bene,
Jerry

#### Bryan S

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2007, 11:57:48 PM »
OK, with everything that's been said in this thread, great replys by all, I have a question for you seasoned vets. If one keeps their flour in a airtight container, how does humidity come into play when weighing out the flour. Takes me about 30 secs or less to weight out the flour for a batch of dough. Just don't see how humidty could even play a role in the weight of flour in that short amount of time. Just wondering, Thanks, Bryan
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

#### Pete-zza

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2007, 12:35:17 AM »
Bryan,

Whatever moisture there is in the flour while in your sealed container is unlikely to change as you are measuring out the flour. However, depending on the way the flour was handled and stored from the time it left the miller until you bought a bag and stored it at home in your sealed container, it may have lost some of its starting moisture (it is around 14% in the U.S. and around 15% in some countries, like Italy). The change can be a few percent and necessitate adjusting the water when you are making the dough. Room humidity might be a factor as you make the dough, but it does not have a direct and immediate effect on the flour itself. For example, with cold weather upon us and the furnace in operation, the humidity of the room where you are making the dough can go down, causing the air to become drier and dry out the dough. It would take long exposure of the flour to room humidity--both up and down--to alter the moisture content of the flour itself. In a tightly sealed container with impermeable walls, that effect is largely mitigated. To the extent that you sense that your flour has lost some of its moisture, you can always tweak the hydration percent a bit to compensate for the loss in moisture. That's another way that weighing the flour and water gets you closer to the mark.

Peter

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#### Bryan S

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2007, 12:43:19 AM »
Thanks so much Peter, your answer is what I was thinking. You just put it into words and say it way better than I ever could think of, like the true Professional that you are. Thanks again, Bryan
Making great pizza and learning new things everyday.

#### JerryMac

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##### Re: Pete, Bill, Whoever ??????
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2007, 10:29:54 PM »
Sourdough Girl,

Guess I'm just a reincarnation of an old "Nona"

Spent too many years watching my Polish Mom and Babthcha working with their "Hands and Mouth"

Mangia Molte Bene
Jerry

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