Author Topic: Preferment Course 101  (Read 10324 times)

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Offline Wazza McG

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Preferment Course 101
« on: October 20, 2005, 02:21:27 PM »
Hi all,

I have become an avid fan of this site and already my pizza's have improved immensely since trying some of the suggestions - well, so the fans say (the wife and kids).

I am curious on how to make a Preferment  - step by step - once I have obtained my favourite pizza dough from the local "best pizza crust"? 

I just think making a Preferment is the next big leap for me in making a really great pizza and hope someone can point me in the right direction in the following area's. 

1. Creating it.
2. Storing it.
3. Feeding it.
4. Using it properly.
5. Containers
6. Did I leave anything out?  :o

Thanks in advance, and hats off for a really great site!  ;D

Wazza McG



« Last Edit: October 21, 2005, 12:14:03 AM by Wazza McG »
Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2005, 02:59:30 PM »
Wazza McG,

Welcome to the forum. I'm glad to hear that you have made great strides in your pizza making as a result of information from this site.

It sounds from your post that you would like to try to make a preferment using dough from your favorite pizza place. I don't personally know how to do that, although one of our members, Jeff Varasano, apparently did "culture" a dough from a favorite pizza establishment. I can speculate on how he might have done this but it may be better if he, or some other one of our preferment experts on this forum, were to provide some insights on the techniques he used.

Some of our members have chosen to buy preferments from places like sourdo.com rather than making their own using local wild yeast. Several of our members who have used the sourdo starters swear by them. There is also a good book on sourdough starters by Ed Wood, who is the fellow behind sourdo.com. The book is called Classic Dourdoughs, A Home Baker's Handbook. That would be a good place to start to get you quickly onto the learning curve.

There are also some threads on this forum that might also be useful. Some of these are:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1147.0.html
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,861.0.html, http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,796.0.html, and
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2025.new.html#new.

Off of the forum, one of my favorite places where I spent a fair amount of reading about starters is http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/sourdoughfaqs.html. There are many other sources of information, but they can overwhelm you and there is undoubtedly a lot of information that is not correct or misleading.

Good luck.

Peter
« Last Edit: October 20, 2005, 03:08:22 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Wazza McG

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2005, 01:27:28 PM »
Pete-zza,

Wow, there is a lot of "love" out there when it comes to making pizza's - it amazes me! ~ really!!,   (this site is up there) and good on you all for the love of it.

I read the links you posted (great links by the way - most I had not read before) and there is a lot of diversity on suggestions for preferment or starters from the links. 

Regardless of the yeast source initially, I think there should be a standard suggested guide line for the novices on making a preferment. Yes, the yeast may be complacated in it's strain from where-ever, but, replicating a strain or using local strains should follow some standard steps -  storing it (the fridge after it peaks?),  feeding it, suitable containers and other atttention to detail that I may of missed.

 I live in Australia and there is no chance, I believe, I can get Patsy's original starter here?

 Do you think a step-by-step guide may be possible for the novices, regardless where they live? eg. get the dough from the great local pizza maker?

I am trying to avoid a great deal of trial and error - but it appears I may have to go through this stage - I am just trying to minimise poor results ~ good cheese is expensive.

Regards,

Wazza McG
 

     
Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!

Offline scott r

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2005, 02:18:47 PM »
I know I am echoing statements from many others on this subject, but I think you should really consider buying the Italian starters from sourdo.com.  I have nothing against catching yeast yourself, and I plan to do it some day, but you mentioned that you were trying to avoid a great deal of trial and error if possible.  These starters are only 16.00 American, and will certainly guarantee that you are using one of the best, if not the best starters you could ever find.  Although I personally love Patsy's, to my palate the flavor of the dough was no where near what I had in Naples.  The sourdo.com starters taste to me just like what I found there.  Either way you go, this is certainly a road worth travelling.

Offline davtrent

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2005, 02:21:26 PM »
Wazza McG,

Please check your personal messages on this site. Thanks.

David

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2005, 04:27:58 PM »
Wazza McG,

I tend to agree with scott r, although I have made my own starters quite successfully, using Texas wild yeast. Were I to start all over again from scratch, particularly for use in making 00 doughs, I would most likely go to sourdo.com to get the real thing. You may have already noted from one of the links I gave you that JF_Aidan_Pride (James), who is also an Australian, recently took delivery of a starter kit from sourdo.com. Since the Caputo 00 flour is apparently not available in Australia, James may well use it with either the 00 flour that is available in Australia or with some other flour. I have used my preferment with 00 flours, all-purpose flour, and high-gluten flour.

In my case, I made my natural preferment using just Caputo 00 flour and bottled water. I simply combined them in a jar, which I left lightly covered at room temperature on my kitchen countertop for the most part. Sometimes I took it outside for a while in the hopes of capturing even more wild yeast. Little happened over the first few days, but eventually the bubbling started. My regimen was to discard part of the mixture and replace it with new flour and warm water. I did this several times over a period of several days until the mixture was much more active from a bubbling standpoint and looked like it might make it on its own at some point. Even after it became usable, it was not wildly active. Even today it doesn't go crazy like some other preferments I have seen and read about.

For storage purposes, I put the preferment in the refrigerator once it became clear that it was viable and reliable. Periodically, I replenish the preferment by discarding about half of it and replacing with new flour and bottled water. It isn't necessary to stick with the same flour. I now use an unbleached, unbromated all-purpose flour. When I replenish the preferment, I let it set at room temperature until the bubbling activity becomes pronounced. I then return it to the refrigerator. When I plan to use some of the preferment to make dough, I remove it from the refrigerator, replenish it, and let it become bubbly before using, which can take a few hours. Whatever I don't use goes back in the refrigerator. It is said that the time to use the preferment is when it peaks and then starts to fall back. That is the indicator I generally use. Every couple of weeks I replenish the preferment, along the lines described above, if I haven't used it during that period of time.

I suspect that each person who maintains a preferment has his or her own approach. And not all home-made preferments are successful. Some just don't work from the beginning, and many get contaminated and fail. And some get weaker with time and are no longer reliable. There are just too many varilables to be guaranteed success. Apparently, luck has been on my side so far.

I see that fellow member davtrent has caught your attention. He is a seasoned veteran, so you are in good hands. He has written some useful tips on preferments on one of the threads I linked you to.

Peter

Offline Wazza McG

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2005, 04:05:24 AM »
Okay, I have convinced myself that I will be making a starter soon ~ a known one to avoid troubles.  How do you make a "dried starter culture".  Thanks to everyone, great stuff. 


By the way - no Caputo here in Oz, the closest I can get is Colavita Farina Di Grano Tenero Tipo "00".  The only local producer of water buffalo mozzarella is from Shaw River Buffalo Cheese http://www.dmi.com.au/manufacturers/shaw_river.php which I am anxious to try it, even at $60.00A for 1.5 kg whoa.  Luckily, it  looks like I will be able to purchase some San Marzano Tomatoes seed from  http://www.vilmorin.com.au/

Regards,

Wazza McG
Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!

Offline OzPizza

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2005, 02:30:13 AM »
I too have just jumped on the Sourdo.com starter bandwagon to take my crust to the next level in 'flava' :). I'll report back on the results soon as I get it all happening.


By the way - no Caputo here in Oz, the closest I can get is Colavita Farina Di Grano Tenero Tipo "00". The only local producer of water buffalo mozzarella is from Shaw River Buffalo Cheese http://www.dmi.com.au/manufacturers/shaw_river.php which I am anxious to try it, even at $60.00A for 1.5 kg whoa. Luckily, it looks like I will be able to purchase some San Marzano Tomatoes seed from http://www.vilmorin.com.au/

Regards,

Wazza McG


Wazza, The other reasonably easy to find Italian Flour brand here in Oz is Molini-Pizzuti : http://www.molinipizzuti.it/public_html/farina_eng.html(click on retail line). They produce a 'Farina Tipo 00", which should do the job. For the pizza itself are you following a NY style recipe (unless you are going for full traditional neopolitan @ hi-temp), ie high gluten flour? It can be hard to get but it's essential for the right result, regardless of whether you use a natural preferment. Dude, you're not going to grow your own San Marzano variety Tomatos just to make sauce are you, remembering there's something in the soil & climate where they are grown that affects the taste? There are many italian food distributors across the country, so I'd exhaust as many avenues as possible before hitting the garden.

I am pretty sure in the end your dough will outstrip your local favorite dough as hardly any of the pizza place I've sampled across the country go to the trouble of properly preparing dough with fridge rises let alone a natural starter. I've had arguments with proprietors on the local PMQ forum about going to the effort of concieving a quality dough using such methods instead of worry how much cheaper the guy down the road is pumping out his cardboard tasting dough for. Good to see another passionate Oz pizza fan like myself and James here in Oz.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2005, 03:16:07 AM by OzPizza »
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Offline Pedro

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2005, 04:50:08 PM »
you can dry and trade them like carls starter.
they show how to do it.

Offline Wazza McG

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2005, 06:08:54 AM »
Hello OZ, Brisbane Queensland here  ::).  I am aiming for a traditional Neapolitan, however, because, I am using a starter with it - it will have a NY or SF twist to it I suppose.  I thought Pieguy's recipe in Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF was simple enough and I was going to add the preferment and reduce the SAF IDY.

Yes, I am going to grow my own San Marzano Tomato's just to make sauce -  the kids have enjoyed this making journey too and they love caring for the plants (basil, parsley, oregano).  So I can chuck in a few tomato seeds and compare the results in 2 months time.

Yikes, I am even going to have a go at making cheese.  If it doesn't work after a couple of times - I will buy it.  Check out this link if you are interested http://www.cheesemaking.com/includes/modules/jWallace/ChsPgs/1Mozz/Index.html.

I haven't given up on getting Caputo pizza flour here yet,  there are a couple of trendy homemade bread supplies stores up here and I am going to pay them a visit and put in a request.  Maybe I should ask Pete-zza's distributor to see if they throw some down under somehow.

Great to here from a fellow Aussie  ;D

Regards,

Wazza McG

Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!


Offline giotto

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2005, 05:30:15 PM »
Before jumping on any band wagons, it's important to first understand what exact taste and texture that one is looking for.  The term preferment can easily be something that is a day old and commercial yeast fermented with a taste complicated by varying degrees of different flours, or it can be a wild yeast starter that is many years old, where a strong degree of sourness is appreciated over at least a 1+ week period.
 
If you look at ACME in San Francisco, or Artisan Bakers in the wine country where the owner represented the USA baking team in their first prize winning speciality-breads category, you'll see that both commerical yeast preferments and wild yeast preferments are employed.  At the Coupe du Monde competition, the weakness of the french flours needed to be offset, and commercial yeast preferment were employed.

The interesting thing is that most people jump into preferments because they are sooo... unhappy with the taste of their flour.  If I were to take a dish and dump habenero peppers all over it, then I would definitely transform the taste; but sometimes, I just want a better tasting dish.

Personally, I love the taste of a little "white" whole wheat flour, a brand that Kansas City expects to displace the bitter taste of red whole wheat in the next few years.  By taking a 1-day-old commercial yeast fermented "white" whole wheat poolish (1/16 tsp instant yeast for 4.5 oz or 1 cup of flour) and combining that with a high quality bread flour and leaving that out for 3 or more hours until it doubles, I get an outstanding tasting result.

So the first thing you want to ask yourself is what taste and texture are you looking for because it will be impacted by a preferment (e.g., sweet vs. sour, wholesome wheat or rye vs. white, soft vs. a pull).  The longer you let your starter sit, the stronger it's role will play. 

If you decide to use a whole wheat or rye in your starter, the color and taste will be impacted as well.  And once you hit a temp of 60F, you will get bubbles in your dough and a stonger acedic acid (vinegar).  Whereas, while leaving it out, it may not be as strong due to lactic acids.  Also, by leaving it out at warmer temps, protein-attacking enzymes will work harder to break down the gluten development, and you'll need to stir to increase its strength.  Also, the more dry the texture of your preferment, the stronger it can make your end texture. So when asked to leave it out vs. colder temps, it really depends on what you want in taste and to some degree, texture.

Also, don't confuse wild yeast that you can easily create yourself or buy in a packet, with bacterial fermentation that is responsible for the taste. The wild yeast has many advantages, including that it handles higher acidic environments over a longer period of time.  But regardless where you buy the wild yeast, the end result is largely impacted by the bacterial fermentation, which is regionally established.  Longer fermentations are certainly not always appreciated even by bakeries in the San Francisco area, where sourdough is only 1 of so many varieties that are offered.
 
The main thing is that you don't limit yourself to just a long-time starter. And don't limit yourself to a single taste. Think about all those wonderful tastes you've enjoyed at bakeries.  As a starting point, try mixing King Arthur's white whole wheat flour, for example, which has just over 11% gluten developing protein (25% protein is not gluten development due to bran and germ), with a higher protein King Arthur bread flour or a high gluten unbleached flour the next time your playing with a recipe.  The combinations are endless. 
« Last Edit: October 25, 2005, 05:37:55 PM by giotto »

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2005, 06:15:15 PM »
I do agree about the difference between a "preferment" (e.g Biga, poolish, etc) and a wild yeast starter.

However, I believe that there is further clarity needed in this discussion.

When we talk about Wild yeast, we normally intend a Microflora of yeast and lacto-acid bacteria that together contribute to the fermentation and taste.

When we use a starter, we introduce the whole microflora, therefore leaving out the regional bacteria population (that even if present in tiny quantities would not impact on the results as well as amply demonstrated by various research).

Ciao

Offline giotto

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2005, 08:47:04 PM »
Wild yeast generally refers to the yeast itself, which can be easily extracted from flour. Bacterial strains such as Lactobacillus SanFrancisco, is so named after the region itself. The wild yeast can also be purchased by itself in the San Francisco bay area, packaged similar to a commercial yeast packet.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2005, 06:19:35 AM by giotto »

Offline OzPizza

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2005, 11:18:18 PM »
Hello OZ, Brisbane Queensland here ::). I am aiming for a traditional Neapolitan, however, because, I am using a starter with it - it will have a NY or SF twist to it I suppose. I thought Pieguy's recipe in Re-Engineering A16 pizza in SF was simple enough and I was going to add the preferment and reduce the SAF IDY.

Yes, I am going to grow my own San Marzano Tomato's just to make sauce - the kids have enjoyed this making journey too and they love caring for the plants (basil, parsley, oregano). So I can chuck in a few tomato seeds and compare the results in 2 months time.

Yikes, I am even going to have a go at making cheese. If it doesn't work after a couple of times - I will buy it. Check out this link if you are interested http://www.cheesemaking.com/includes/modules/jWallace/ChsPgs/1Mozz/Index.html.

I haven't given up on getting Caputo pizza flour here yet, there are a couple of trendy homemade bread supplies stores up here and I am going to pay them a visit and put in a request. Maybe I should ask Pete-zza's distributor to see if they throw some down under somehow.

Great to here from a fellow Aussie ;D

Regards,

Wazza McG

Sounds good Wazza. You're really taking the 'home made' thing to nth degree eh. I can understand why you'd want to strive for a good neopolitan result in Brissie, I don't envy the average pizza you guys get, apart from perhaps the neopolitan place you like. Plenty of LCD(Lowest Common Denominator) pizza experiences to be had up there no doubt. So do you have an oven that can reach high temps to emulate the woodfire level, which is still quite high? On the caputo 00, I know a way you could probably bring some in, but obviously it's not cheap. To be brutally honest I wouldn't stress about not having Caputo brand 00 to start with. We get some very fine Italian Flours here, some of which wouldn't even make it to the US. The Mollini-Pizzutti also comes in 3 professional italian pizza grades, the "Neapolitan Tradition" sounds like it would be right on the money to me. They also offer "Vesuvio" for long rise times and "Pulcinella" for 'soft tastey' pizzas. I'm sure the Aust. distrib would either have it or could easily order it in.





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Offline giotto

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2005, 11:27:30 PM »
The oven is an important point.  You may want to look at the A16 thread, since there were plenty of problems to deal with when working around the white pizza syndrome and lower hydration levels of this flour, which works well in a 900F oven.  IN general, working with Caputo can be like being handed an NBA leather basketball. Not the greatest on an outside court.  But works well under the right circumstances.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2005, 06:26:22 AM by giotto »

Offline Wazza McG

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2005, 07:39:41 PM »
Ummmm, I was hesitant to post this spiel due to my humble beginnings and not to go off the topic.

When I first started making the dough for pizza's at home, I too, had the white-sh crust pizza experience and overcooked the pizza's many times because I thought I did not cook it enough in the oven - crunched like bricks because I waited for the browning of the crust.  Whilst on holiday's on the coast, I really enjoyed a pizza from the local pizza shop down there (not a chain, like Domino's)  and told him of my dilemma of getting a good looking pizza that was not white-sh and the crunch factor.

He said that they put some red wine in the dough preparation in place of some of the water.  I thought what he said was feasible because the sugar and the yeast in the red wine couldn't hurt - I thought, what the heck, give it a go.  So, I did the same at home the next time I made pizza's  - I think I used a about a 1/3 cup of red wine in the dough to make 2 @ 13 inch pizza's.  I ended up with a browner pizza that had a wholemeal look about it, but there was no brick-like crunch because I cooked it less.

That was before I knew this forum existed.

I still think I may be tempted to use smaller amounts of red wine as a colour device to get "the look".

Ozpizza, I have a standard fan-forced double oven that is 20 years old.  I do not use a pizza stone - yet! and the oven will be under review at some point of time.  I do have those pizza  trays with the holes in it that helps with the browning of the base - they may not be necessary now, but I am still using them.

I really enjoy reading the fanatics go to town - it all makes this site so enjoyable.

Regards,

Wazza McG








 



« Last Edit: October 26, 2005, 07:55:41 PM by Wazza McG »
Fair Dinkum - you want more Pizza!  Crikey ! I've run out out them prawny thingymebobs again!

Offline giotto

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2005, 11:26:47 PM »
Wazza McG

It's when we hesitate that we ALL are prevented from learning. I've certainly heard of beer and all kinds of stuff added to pizza to resolve various issues.  Wine certainly has sugar, and sugar browns, and I've certainly had fun making starters with wine grapes... With Caputo, my concern with whitish is more with that flour than any other.  Even in Naples where they have plenty of heat, they mix with American bread flour as suggested by Reinhart in his travels.  In the A16 thread, some other options when working with Caputo was to use whey and dry buttermilk, since their lactose provides a milk/dairy sugar that is not depleted by yeast and aids in browning.  Any fat by-products also help soften the end result.   

Great to have you on board!

Offline JF_Aidan_Pryde

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2005, 10:50:54 PM »
giotto,

Is dough leavened using a ADY starter (indirect method?) more flavoursome than one with just IDY and overnight retardation?

I tried IDY + overnight fermentation but have not managed to get any extra flavours as a result. My 4 hour counter rise tastes in the same ball park as my 3 day, fridge retarted dough. I'm using a local bread flour, but it has only 12% protein.

You mention that people jump to sour dough because they are fed up with the way their flour tastes. You're quite right. My flour does taste quite bland. The resulting crust tastes very unexciting. I'll currently activating my first starter. Will see how it goes.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2005, 06:54:39 AM »
Wild yeast generally refers to the yeast itself, which can be easily extracted from flour. Bacterial strains such as Lactobacillus SanFrancisco, is so named after the region itself. The wild yeast can also be purchased by itself in the San Francisco bay area, packaged similar to a commercial yeast packet.

Giotto,

 Giotto,

The wild yeast strain itself have almost no effect on the resulting product as most of the effect is due to bacterial activity. I am a bit sceptical about the Wild yeast strain sold in San Francisco.. Are you sure it is not a starter? I know that the starter  identified by Kline and Sugihara, was indeed Trade Marked, and therefore has to contain all the Microflora as well specified by their research.

I would also like to point out that the Strain of Lactobacillus Sanfrancisco was indeed first identified in the Bay area, however it is also found is some area of South Italy (Apulia), making a strong arguement for the theory that the starter may have indeed come from Italy during the Gold rush.

Ciao

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Preferment Course 101
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2005, 06:59:28 AM »
Wazza McG

It's when we hesitate that we ALL are prevented from learning. I've certainly heard of beer and all kinds of stuff added to pizza to resolve various issues.  Wine certainly has sugar, and sugar browns, and I've certainly had fun making starters with wine grapes... With Caputo, my concern with whitish is more with that flour than any other.  Even in Naples where they have plenty of heat, they mix with American bread flour as suggested by Reinhart in his travels.  In the A16 thread, some other options when working with Caputo was to use whey and dry buttermilk, since their lactose provides a milk/dairy sugar that is not depleted by yeast and aids in browning.  Any fat by-products also help soften the end result.   

Great to have you on board!


All the Caputo flours (as most of the flour in Italy) are made with a mix of grain sourced all over the world (including North America, East Europe, Australia etc...)

Mixing stronger flour (Manitoba from Canada)  with Caputo Pizzeria (in percentage around 10-15%) is done to increase the durability of the dough whilst sitting on the counter for very long time at room temperature and NOT for increasing the colour (it has almost no effect).



 

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