The Basic Recipe

All experiments need a point of comparison, to provide a context for whatever effect our manipulation might have. This is best illustrated by considering pharmacological studies. If I, for example, chomped down a fistful of LSD and then stormed onto the stage of Strictly Come Dancing to attempt an audacious Viennese waltz, an observer witnessing the ensuing shambles might conclude that taking LSD makes me a terrible dancer. But unless they’ve seen how I dance normally (that is, my dancing baseline), they can’t really tell what about my dancing is to do with the effects of the drug, and what’s just my own God-given talent. In that case, they’ve just made an assumption. And it’s a well-known fact that when you “ass-ume”, you make a real tit of yourself.

For this blog, I’ll be using the following recipe for the baseline pizza – all changes will be variations around this procedure. It’s a simple recipe that just uses the four basic pizza ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. The recipe was passed on to me by my friend Sarah, though when she showed me how to make it, the quantities involved were less precise (the original amounts are shown in brackets – it’s almost as if Sarah thinks making pizza is not something worth obsessing over minutely. Ha!) We may also infer that Sarah thinks that adding olive oil to pizza dough is for effete buffoons (for more on that topic, see Experiment One).

Control group

Control-group pizza:

  • 500g strong white flour (“some flour”)
  • 325g water (“a mug of water”)
  • 7g instant yeast (“a sachet of yeast”)
  • 10g salt (“some salt if you want”)

Sift together the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water, and mix to a dough. I usually start with a wooden spoon, and as the dough comes together, I switch to mixing by hand. Knead for about five minutes. Leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours, then separate the dough into thirds, and roll each into a pizza shape. Top as you wish, and bake at 250 degrees centigrade for 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.


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