Real bakers think I’m a heretic. And, of course, the online pizza people are right there with the real bakers. They’ll jump right in and say, “Don’t listen to him! He’s wrong!” Well, like I say at the very beginning of Free The Pizza!, I have no professional training. I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Here’s what I do know: after 20 years and more than 1,000 pizzas, I’ve figured out some things. And one of those things is that weighing the ingredients isn’t some kind of silver bullet. And I don’t think, as a beginner, you should a) have to buy a kitchen scale, and b) be lulled into complacency by watching the numbers.
This goes hand-in-hand with kneading your dough by hand. The reason I tell you to not use a stand mixer is because you need to experience the dough. You need to know what it feels like. You should have your hands on it when it suddenly transforms from a shaggy ball of glop to a smooth, supple, slightly tacky elastic ball of magical goodness.
And sometimes, regardless of whether you’ve weighed your ingredients, you need to adjust them. Sometimes, the dough’s too sticky and needs more flour. Other times, the dough’s too dry and needs a drop more water. And the best way to determine that is by feeling the dough all the way through the process.
Pizza dough is alive, and it is your friend. You want to be as intimate with it as possible. You want to touch it and experience it and maybe even whisper sweet nothings at it. And here’s another way of looking at it.
If a world-famous pizza professional like Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix can make all of his dough by hand, why can’t we? And he’s serving hundreds of pizzas a night. It’s just flour, water, salt and yeast. It’s just not that difficult to do. It also happens that he crushes his tomatoes by hand. He makes his own house mozzarella by hand as well. And his pizza is fantastic. People flock there and love his pizza.
It’s fine to want to weigh ingredients. I do it frequently for some tasks. But not always. That’s because I don’t always have a scale handy. I make a lot of pizza dough in a lot of places. But by knowing how the dough should feel (slightly tacky and supple), it always works out in the best way possible. It puts the beginning pizza maker on the road to expertise.
Have you freed your pizza? Learn more by checking out www.FreeThePizzaBook.com.
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the new, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, professional-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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