The Human Touch: Learning

This past weekend I made a pizza completely from scratch. Usually I buy the dough pre-made. I’ve been trying different techniques with the pre-made dough for years. Some of the things I’ve adjusted are the length of time to let the dough rise. How I pull and stretch it into the right shape. The pan I use to cook it in, etc. I’m always amazed how so much of pizza making is all in the technique. The dough is simple, but all the details matter.

Homemade Sourdough Pizza margherita

My usual dough supplier stopped making pizza dough leaving me in a lurch. It was time to finally figure out how to make sourdough pizza. I located an old bag of pizza flour in the back of my cupboard that I bought years ago for this reason. I prepped my starter and got ready.

During the pandemic I kept reading about all these procrastibakers. Or people who even started baking so much they ended up opening their own businesses! I suppose with the pandemic, people were home enough to commit to making dough, which requires small amounts of work over a period of days.

I looked up a recipe that didn’t seem too intimidating. As mentioned earlier, it’s not really the recipe that counts. Anybody can get the right ratios of flour, water, starter, and salt. It’s the instructions on technique and details that matter.

Usually I improvise recipes a little, even when making them for the first time. However, this time, I stuck to the script, at least in the beginning. I pulled and stretched my dough at the required intervals. But my dough never seemed to look or react the same way as the one in the recipe. I even watched the video and read some comments to troubleshoot. This also happens when I try to make bread.

Honestly, it’s the kind of thing that could likely be resolved after one conversation with a professional, or an experienced procrastibaker. But searching aimlessly on the internet to figure out why my dough didn’t look or stretch the same, left me short on answers.

Another turning point came when I cooked up the pizza. I strayed from the recipe and took out my dough hours earlier than instructed. Despite my dough difficulties, the pizza came out delicious. I’m tempted to take an in-person course to figure out the small details and gained wisdom.

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