In our last episode, the Ischia culture was insufficiently activated causing disappointing results. This week I carefully tended the starter, observing it get a bit stronger with each feeding. When it blew the lid off it's plastic cambro incubator, I figured it was ready.
After the let down from last week, I was prepared for a long period of experimenting to learn about this culture's life cycle. Surely it would be a month or more before I could get an acceptable crust without using commercial yeast. How much culture to use? How long to ferment and proof? Well I got pretty lucky because I stumbled upon what may be one of the best crusts I've made to date. I was stunned that I was able to get a great corniccione with no commercial yeast. The particulars:
100% Caputo 00
67% bottled water
3.5% active Ischia starter
30 minute kneading at lowest speed in KA
20 minute riposo
12 hour ferment at room temp (dough had doubled! Living at 7000' must have helped)
6 hours in the refrigerator
balls formed and 6 hour proof at room temp.
Baked about 90 seconds on 800F deck
Here are some photos:
Early in the kneading process:
Near the end:
After 90 seconds in oven (brushed with a little EVOO):
Side view (sorry for poor quality of photo - I'll try to get better):