My learnings from making homemade pizza for 15 years sounds silly right? Please let me explain. Making homemade pizza has been one of my passions for the last couple of years. It started out of necessity due to the expensive pricing of food in Switzerland that I started making pizza myself. In the beginning my pizzas were a mess, although tasty but still a mess. Without even realising it, making pizza became a habit that I practice to this day on a regular basis. Here are a few takeaways from journeyman pizza chef to master (actually still newbie) pizza chef.
Keep practicing and you will get better
The most significant progress I made over the years was with the dough. It all started with store bought dough, square shaped, overpriced, flat and looking like a gluey carpet. Making my own dough was always a dreadful thought. Whenever this thought crossed my mind, I pictured an Italian pizzaiolo throwing pizza dough in the air in order to get it to the right shape. At one point I informed myself about the process and realised only a few ingredients are necessary (Water, yeast, flour and salt). Years later I am still searching for the perfect pizza dough. The water temperature, the weather, the time you give the dough to raise all play important parts. Every time I get a slightly different result. At the same time, I get more experience and a better feel for making a good dough. Kneading the dough is a skill on its own and while I am still lightyears away from the pizzaiolo I feel proud of the kneading skill I acquired comparing to my humble beginnings.
The pizza dough experience thought me that no matter at what level you start a skill, you will get better at it if you keep practicing. It might take a while and maybe you will never master the skill but you learn, improve and level up. The main ingredient here is patience and consistency.
Don’t overthink it, just start and see where it takes you
I mentioned my lack of confidence in the beginning of my pizza journey. Had I listened to myself back then I would have given up even before I gave it a try. The result would be missing out on a great learning experience which I can share now with my family and friends. Making pizza together is always a highlight for me of a week. Not only is it fun but in the end, you get to enjoy something so simple yet so delicious that everybody loves.
I often read about how we humans have a tendency to plan things out rather than just start. While planning has its place, if overthinking projects and not being able to start there might be a lesson here. Listen to Nike’s slogan and just do it. It only takes one step at a time to reach your goal, the first step is often the most important one. Reading about something is one thing, experiencing it quiet another. Putting making pizza to practices opened my eyes and gave me confidence to tackle other seemingly difficult tasks.
Few ingredients and endless outcomes
Making pizza requires only a few simple ingredients. On paper it looks quite easy, I mean what can go wrong by just adding some ingredients? While it is true that not a lot is required for a pizza, many more factors play a role. The time you give the dough to rise, the amount of salt you add, do you use fresh or dried basil, how many minutes do you knead the dough, just to name a few. There is an endless possibility of outcomes when it comes to creating a good pizza. The end result might only differ a slight nuance but to the aficionado this can be difference between a good or bad pizza. Adding 2 grams more salt can ruin two 35 cm pizzas easily.
This lesson thought me not to underestimate something just because it looks basic. Getting anywhere on a beginner level is often not a challenge. Keep practicing even when you reach a plateau can make all the difference and open up a completely new world. There are often hidden treasures in simple things that you only discover if you keep working at it. With time and experience you develop a deeper understanding of the topic, which is a rewarding feeling.