Sour Jacks,

I have reviewed your calculations but have not been able to determine how you arrived at the baker’s percents for pizza dough recipe from Ed Wood’s book (at page 118). After trying several times last night to come up with numbers that looked like yours, I was about to give up and come back to you for clarification. Then, purely by accident, I stumbled upon pages 200 and 201 of Ed Wood’s book in which he recites the assumptions he uses for converting volumes of the liquid culture, flour and water to weights. While I think his number for flour is too high and his number for water is too low, I nonetheless used his assumptions rather than mine (after all, it is his book and his recipe). The Wood assumptions are as follows:

1 c. liquid culture = approx. 9 oz.

1 c. flour = 5 oz.

1 c. water = 8 oz.

The liquid culture = 48% flour and 52% water

Using the above assumptions and my own conversion data for salt and vegetable oil, plus doing some additional calculations, I get the following:

2 c. liquid culture = 18 oz. = 8.64 oz. flour (48% of 18) and 9.36 oz. water (52% of 18)

4 3/4 c. flour = 23.75 oz. (4 3/4 x 5)

1 c. water = 8 oz.

1 1/2 t. salt = 0.30 oz. (1 1/2 t. x 0.196875 oz./t.)

2 T. (6 t.) vegetable oil = 0.99 oz. (6 t. x 0.0.1645833 oz./t.)

Total dough weight = 51.04 oz. (for four 12-13-inch pizzas)

Individual dough ball weight = 12.76 oz. (51.04/4)

Thickness factor (TF) = 0.10-0.11 (medium thickness)

Combining the flour and water from the basic recipe with the flour and water in the liquid culture leads to the following, including baker’s percents:

100%, Flour, 32.39 oz. (23.75 oz. plus 8.64 oz.)

53.6%, Water, 17.36 oz. (8 oz. plus 9.36 oz.)

0.93%, Salt, 0.30 oz.

3.06%, Vegetable oil, 0.99 oz.

Total dough weight = 51.04 oz.

It will be noted from the above that the hydration for the liquid culture itself is 108.3% (9.36/8.64). The hydration for the basic flour and water in the recipe is 33.7% (8/23.75). However, the combined hydration (total hydration) is 53.6%, as noted above.

Now, if you decide to reduce the amount of liquid culture from 2 cups in the above recipe to 1/4 cup, as you postulated in your post, the net effect of doing that is to reduce the total weight of the dough from 51.04 ounces to 35.29 oz., a difference of 15.75 ounces (18 oz. minus 9 oz./4). The practical implications of doing this is to either reduce the number and/or sizes of the pizzas that can be made from the reduced amount of dough (or to reduce the thicknesses of the pizza crusts). To avoid doing this and distorting the recipe, it is necessary to get the total weight of the dough back up to 51.04 ounces. This is done by adding 7.56 oz. of flour back to the recipe (15.75 oz. times 48%) and by adding 8.19 oz. of water back to the recipe (15.75 oz. times 52%). Doing both of these brings the recipe back to normal--where it started—and all of the baker’s percents as noted above remain unchanged.

The same analysis applies to the Patsy's recipe (and the successor Raquel recipe developed by pftaylor). However, if you decide to increase the amount of preferment (liquid culture) in the Patsy's recipe to 1/4 cup, as you postulated in your post, you will then have to adjust downward the amounts of flour and water recited in the recipe so that the total dough weight remains the same. Without knowing what the hydration percent is for the preferment, you will be unable to determine the precise final hydration percent for the recipe. However, I’m reasonably certain that pftaylor maintains his preferment at a fairly uniform consistency and knows how to use it to achieve consistently good results. Even if he is off a bit, the differences are not likely to be significant.

Turning now to the recipe at the bottom of your post, it appears to be workable from the perspective of the baker’s percents. Your recipe calls for 15% starter, which is reasonable for a pizza dough. The rest of the baker’s percents are also in line. So, you should not have a problem with the recipe itself. However, unless you know the hydration for the starter, you will not be able to accurately determine the total hydration for the recipe. I was recently faced with the same problem. The way I solved it was to make two small dough balls, each about the size of a walnut. The first dough ball was made from combining and kneading a mixture of flour and water that was equal to the hydration percent of my recipe (in that case it was 43%). To make the second dough ball, I took a quantity of my preferment (with an estimated hydration of around 100%) and gradually added and kneaded in an amount of flour that produced the same feel and texture of the dough ball with the known hydration percent. This may seem like a crude approach, but you will be surprised how close you can come to getting the two dough balls to feel almost identical. Once this condition is achieved, then all that remains to be done is to weigh out the amount of the preferment called for in the recipe (15% of the weight of flour in your case) and combine it with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe.

If you would like to see in a bit more detail how I used the preferment in the situation I mentioned, see Reply #22 at

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1585.20.html. You might also find it helpful to look at Reply #5 at

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1593.0.html. In that post you will see a recipe that I developed for fellow member Les to make a 15-ounce version of a Lehmann dough using a poolish (and a bunch of other things) without changing the underlying hydration percent for the Lehmann dough. The part that I think you may find helpful is the way the flour and water in the basic recipe and in the poolish are combined and how the hydration percents are calculated and used.

Peter