In Reply 110 in this thread, at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3985.msg42160.html#msg42160
, I presented a status report on two test doughs that I had made to see if I could recreate the spotting phenomenon that I had experienced in earlier doughs using the new KitchenAid method described in this thread. One of the dough balls included vinegar which, according to John Correll in his tome, Encyclopizza
, eliminates or delays spotting (which he says is due to the harmless oxidation of bran specks in the dough). The second dough ball was essentially identical to the first dough ball but included no vinegar. When I did not detect any significant spotting after both dough balls were 15 days old, I ended the test as to the dough ball without the vinegar. I decided at that time to make a pizza out of that dough (as reported in the above post), and to let the dough with the vinegar develop more age and to monitor whether any spotting would occur as it further aged.
Yesterday, after 23 days, I decided to use the “vinegar” dough even though it did not show any outward signs of imminent decline, like substantial softening of the dough, excessive wetness, or the appearance of bubbles at the outer surface. As shown in the first photo below, there was an increase in spotting in the “vinegar” dough between days 15 and 23, but it was still not at the level that I had experienced with much younger doughs.
I was certainly curious to know what the crust made from the “vinegar” dough would taste like after 23 days of cold fermentation. My initial observations were that the dough was still firm to the touch, and I detected the odors of fermentation as soon as I opened the metal container in which the dough was stored. Also, the bottom of the dough that was in direct contact with the metal bottom of the container had a profusion of small holes throughout the entire bottom surface that created a porous overall effect that was unlike anything I had seen before. Yet, after further flattening the dough and dusting top and bottom with bench flour, I was still able to shape and stretch the dough out to its final size of 14”. The dough was quite extensible but I had no problem handling it, and it did not exhibit any tendency to want to stick to the peel.
The dough skin was dressed with a standard 6-in-1 pizza sauce, a Grande whole-milk mozzarella/Provolone shredded cheese blend, sautéed and raw sliced mushrooms, sautéed green pepper slices, and pepperoni slices. The pizza was baked for about 6 minutes on a pizza stone (at the bottom oven rack position) that had been preheated for about an hour at about 500-550 degrees F. The pizza was then moved to the second-from-the-top oven rack position for an additional 1-2 minutes to get additional top crust browning and to help finish cooking the toppings, especially the vegetable toppings.
The second and third photos below show the finished pizza. The top crust had decent browning even though no sugar had been added to the dough. So, even after 23 days, there was adequate residual sugar in the dough to support crust browning. Unlike past doughs, however, I did not detect sweetness in the crust. By contrast, the 15-day crust still had sweetness in the crust, although it too was less than I have achieved with younger doughs up to about 8 days of cold fermentation. There was also good oven spring and a normal rim size, a “stretchy” crumb reminiscent of a sourdough crumb, and the pizza had a distinctive overall artisanal appearance with a profusion of small blisters in the rim. The biggest difference between the crust of this pizza and the last one I made after 15 days was in the flavor of the crust. It was potent and quite distinctive. Whether it was the vinegar or copious amounts of flavor-contributing byproducts of fermentation, or a combination of both, is hard to say since I had never before made a pizza dough using vinegar and this was the first 23-day old dough I have ever made and used.
In assessing the results, it seems clear that November was correct to question the efficacy of vinegar in the dough to prevent or delay spotting. Maybe the vinegar did have the effect of slowing down the fermentation, as noted by John Correll, but after 23 days it was hard to tell whether the vinegar contributed to or inhibited the coloration of the crust. The crust did appear to be a bit lighter than the last one but it is possible that there was less residual sugar at this point to separately contribute to crust coloration. Also, I had more toppings on the pizza this time (substantially more than I normally use) and that may have affected the bake and the final top crust coloration.