Sunday, March 28, 2010

I need a lot of dough

Back to basics. Dough was still my nemesis. How was I going to take my dough from amateur to professional? I Googled "best pizza dough recipe ever". There it was or should I say "there they were". All 7,655,355 best dough recipes ever. I had struck gold! Mitch's dough caught my eye because after comparing dough recipes I learned that they pretty much all had the same ingredients. Flour, yeast, salt, sugar, oil and water. But Mitch's used honey, not sugar. That was enough difference to make me choose his over all the others.
Varying amounts of the 6 ingredients fluctuated and even technique varied as well as the order of combining the big 6. I'm not sure what the mathematical formula would be for the number of possibilities of combining the 6 ingredients in a different order each time would be but I'm sure it would be in the millions, no probably billions.
Then I started reading about flour, spring flour, winter flour, bread flour, wheat flour, northern flour, southern flour, American flour, European flour, rice flour, semolina flour and on and on. I looked in our cupboard and solved that problem real fast. All we had was all purpose flour and a small bag of bread flour. I had read that adding bread flour to the AP flour (that's what we call all purpose flour now) can change the texture and taste. I tried that combination at about 3 to 1 ratio and used honey and a whole bunch more olive oil than I do now had come up with a crust I would call mature and rustic. Many of my friends were liking it and I thought that I was finished with designing a dough recipe that I liked and could live with. But I couldn't stop. Pizza making was filling up every waking moment. When we would go shopping I'm now studying bags of flour in the grocery store and googling them when I get home. Soon I thought I had found what I was looking for. There at Sam's Club next to the AP flour in 50 lb. bags was a 25 lb bag that read bread & pizza flour $6.94! I was ecstatic! How many pizzas could I make with 25 pounds of flour? Apparently not enough because that bag went way too fast before I bought another and the more I read and learned and began to understand all the while adjusting my dough recipes the more flour was beginning to obsess me. I discovered King Arthur flour and Sir Lancelot flour to be the flour of flours. Only problem was, is that it was back east and I'm out west and all I can get here is tiny little bags of this high gluten flour so unless I wanted to fork out the dough (pun intended) to have it shipped out to California I was going to be out of luck since I'm not a Pizzeria ordering huge amounts of it. BUT the key phrase was "High Gluten"...
As my dough journey proceeded I was playing with different things I could do to adjust the flavor or texture. One of the most obvious was to add garlic powder to the recipe. Another was adding beer to the dough. A side journey along the way was an attempt to make beer. A mild success. I bottled it after the brew stage with plenty of carbonation but when I went to serve it to guests the first time it had gone flat. What do I do with 12 quarts of dark Vienna style beer?
What else? Google Pizza beer dough and wouldn't you know there was someone who had done it! A world of possibilities was keeping me awake. Can I generate enough interest in my pizza that others won't get bored with it? Where do I take it from here? Is High Gluten flour going to make a difference that I will notice or just the pizza snobs will notice? Am I becoming a pizza snob? I've got to know.

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