Author Topic: Naples crust with sourdough  (Read 4105 times)

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Offline 3.1416

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Naples crust with sourdough
« on: January 16, 2013, 07:04:55 PM »
Being new to pizza making but experienced in sourdough breads, I would like to know the general profile of textures and flavors associated with Naples style pizza crust. If I use my homegrown culture, I will have a crust that will be quite sour for proofs longer than 3 or 4 hours. What is generally acceptable?

I notice that many members here use a sourdough culture from Ischia. How do you prevent it from being overtaken by your native regional yeasts? Where I live, I have captured many cultures from diverse regions and have noticed that hardy native cultures eventually dominate after a few months of activity.


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 07:14:41 PM »
The contamination of cultures has been debated many times here. My position has always been that old cultures like Ischia have been selected not just for the flavors they contribute, but also for their strength in resisting contamination. The organisms in a properly maintained Ischia culture will reproduce at high enough rates to easily prevent any invaders from gaining a foothold. The wild cultures you captured simply did not have the ability in the conditions you provided to overcome contamination.       

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 07:19:30 PM »
I've had the Ischia culture living continuously on my counter for almost a year now (after living in my fridge for several years) and it has not changed at all. None what-so-ever.
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Offline 3.1416

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 07:39:23 PM »
Very interesting that it is that hardy. On the other hand, I suppose brewers yeast had to start somewhere. I have read that San Francisco sourdough culture won't survive outside the Bay area and that coupled with my own experience brought me to my apparently wrong conclusion. So, okay.

So, you guys tell me, am I looking for a sour taste from my crust if I am building Naples style? Craig, if I use your times with my sourdough, it will catch me right in the jaw. I like that sort of thing, but I am not just pleasing myself. Educate me on flavor profiles.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 08:01:24 PM »
Very interesting that it is that hardy. On the other hand, I suppose brewers yeast had to start somewhere. I have read that San Francisco sourdough culture won't survive outside the Bay area and that coupled with my own experience brought me to my apparently wrong conclusion. So, okay.

So, you guys tell me, am I looking for a sour taste from my crust if I am building Naples style? Craig, if I use your times with my sourdough, it will catch me right in the jaw. I like that sort of thing, but I am not just pleasing myself. Educate me on flavor profiles.

I have an SF culture that has been living in my fridge for 4 years, and I've never noticed a change in it either. I believe very little of what I read or hear when it comes to SD cultures.

Neapolitan style is all about balance, IMO. For me, a readily detectable sour flavor crosses the line. I like sour in bread, but not pizza.

CL
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Offline Jet_deck

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2013, 10:24:45 PM »
..I have read that San Francisco sourdough culture won't survive outside the Bay area ...

I do not doubt that you have read that, I would be interested to read it also, if you can remember where it was.
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2013, 11:21:21 PM »
I do not doubt that you have read that, I would be interested to read it also, if you can remember where it was.

National Enquirer   ;)
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Offline dellavecchia

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 07:48:44 AM »
So, you guys tell me, am I looking for a sour taste from my crust if I am building Naples style? Craig, if I use your times with my sourdough, it will catch me right in the jaw. I like that sort of thing, but I am not just pleasing myself. Educate me on flavor profiles.

Pizza in Naples has little-to-no detectable sourness. Then again, there are very few operators using natural leavening. But in general, the pizza in Naples has a slightly complex. wheat-forward flavor that is light in texture. The leavening is more about rendering the dough "digestible", and sourness is actually considered a sort of defect. Obviously not every Italian feels that way, but that is the general flavor profile.

John

Offline gobseulmuhri

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 03:43:26 PM »
The question that I'd like to pose is, if the flavor profile of good Neapolitan pizza is "slightly complex, wheat-forward", why is there such a big preference for natural leavening vs. commercial yeast?  

If the flour is good and the fermentation process properly managed, I feel pizza made with commercial yeast will sufficiently provide a "slightly complex, wheat-forward" flavor profile.  Does SD culture provide flavor and textural characteristics other than sourness that commercial yeast cannot produce?  
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 03:48:03 PM by gobseulmuhri »


Offline shuboyje

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 03:49:42 PM »
Contrary to what you will see here 99.9% of the worlds Neapolitan pizza is made with cake yeast, including pretty much all of it's most famous examples.  That said we have some VERY talented people here working with natural starters.  In the world of pizza as an art form a natural starter is a logical evolution, as it is the original way all breads were made including pizza.   
-Jeff

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2013, 04:35:45 PM »
The question that I'd like to pose is, if the flavor profile of good Neapolitan pizza is "slightly complex, wheat-forward", why is there such a big preference for natural leavening vs. commercial yeast? 

If the flour is good and the fermentation process properly managed, I feel pizza made with commercial yeast will sufficiently provide a "slightly complex, wheat-forward" flavor profile.  Does SD culture provide flavor and textural characteristics other than sourness that commercial yeast cannot produce? 

Like Jeff, I don’t believe there is a “big preference” for natural leavening. It’s a tiny minority of people using it. I think there is a lot of interest stemming from the curiosity of those not using it, and that may appear to be a preference.

SD can make a pie with flavor that, to my taste, is superior to commercial yeast. It can create complexity well beyond sour (my crust does not have a detectable sour note) that commercial yeast simply cannot. However, IMO the difference in flavor is not as great as the difference in difficulty.  From a cost-benefit perspective, using SD may not make sense. Notwithstanding, the increased difficulty is probably one of the attractions of SD.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2013, 05:02:31 PM »
However, IMO the difference in flavor is not as great as the difference in difficulty. 

This is a very interesting statement. There is no doubt that you can handle the difficulty and you always generously post your methods.
If I may try to read between the lines here Craig(and please correct me if I'm wrong)....are you suggesting that for us lesser experienced pizza makers, using commercial yeasts can afford a pretty decent flavor for it's lesser skill level use requirements as opposed to the incremental taste advantage one gets with perfecting SD utilization?  Thanks!
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Offline gobseulmuhri

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2013, 05:17:34 PM »
These are very interesting insights I'm learning here.  I think I may have mistakenly concluded that there is a big preference for SD dough having been greatly influenced by the artisan bread making circles and Jeff Varasano's perspective on pizza making.  I haven't had much experience with SD pizza, and so I suppose I'll have to make and taste it myself to see if all the work is worth it - for me. 

I can see how the subtleties in SD flavor benefits may not be worth pursuing for big, retail operations because of the difficulty and cost of managing a SD culture.  But it's good to know that there's no need to knock on pizza made with commercial yeast, in contrary to what I had been thinking because of guys like Varasano and other natural leavening supporters in the bread world. 

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 05:55:58 PM »
This is a very interesting statement. There is no doubt that you can handle the difficulty and you always generously post your methods.
If I may try to read between the lines here Craig(and please correct me if I'm wrong)....are you suggesting that for us lesser experienced pizza makers, using commercial yeasts can afford a pretty decent flavor for it's lesser skill level use requirements as opposed to the incremental taste advantage one gets with perfecting SD utilization?  Thanks!

Bob, my words were not intended to leave room for reading between the lines. It was strictly an observation.  I wasn’t suggesting anything.

I don’t care about decent; I’m only interested in great, and there is no doubt you can make a great pie with commercial yeast. I wouldn’t say it takes any less skill than making a great pie with SD. SD is just more difficult.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2013, 08:17:22 PM »
Gotcha...thanks Craig!
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Offline MrPibbs

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2013, 06:21:13 PM »
I wouldn’t say it takes any less skill than making a great pie with SD. SD is just more difficult.


I finally got my Ischia culture activated, have some Verasano style Caputo pizza dough on day 4 in the frig, but made my first ever SD bread from scratch, namely Ed Wood's Olive & Onion bread on p68 of his book, using KAAP.  For some reason, I didn't plan out all the proofing times (culture, dough, & loaf proofs), and something that I started at 1pm yesterday, just finished coming out of the oven at 8am today.

Admittedly, the bread is spectacular, not really sour much, if at all...but the organizing and extra work gives me new respect for artisan bakers--especially those using a SD culture.

Offline bfguilford

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2013, 07:39:25 PM »
IAdmittedly, the bread is spectacular, not really sour much, if at all...but the organizing and extra work gives me new respect for artisan bakers--especially those using a SD culture.

I use Ischia to bake no-knead bread all the time, and find that it is pretty mild... definitely a hint of sour, but not much.

Barry
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Offline 3.1416

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2013, 09:50:40 PM »
Thanks to those who were able to define Naples Pizza crust for me. I have been off-line for a couple of days building fires, bread, and pizza. To answer where it was that I read that sourdough culture are normally overtaken by native cultures, it was either Peter Reinhart in "Bread Bakers Apprentice" or Daniel Wang MD. in "The Bread Builders". I tend to think that it was in the "The Bread Builders" since the author dissects sourdough chemically and biologically as well as exposing a lot of myths, legends, and wives tales that haunt back-rooms, bakeries, and communes.

As far as SD being difficult to use, it is only difficult until you know your particular culture. Then, just like commercial yeast, it is a function of time and temperature. As far as the flavor goes...It's good if you like it.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2013, 07:41:27 AM »
As far as SD being difficult to use, it is only difficult until you know your particular culture. Then, just like commercial yeast, it is a function of time and temperature. As far as the flavor goes...It's good if you like it.

There are other aspects that make it more difficult than commercial yeast - or more work anyway. You have to keep it alive and healthy. You need to take steps to be sure it's ready when you're ready, etc.
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Offline David Deas

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2013, 01:17:08 AM »
Being new to pizza making but experienced in sourdough breads, I would like to know the general profile of textures and flavors associated with Naples style pizza crust. If I use my homegrown culture, I will have a crust that will be quite sour for proofs longer than 3 or 4 hours. What is generally acceptable?

A hint.

How much is a hint?  I can put it like this.  Many folks don't like sourdough (hard to believe as that is), but the sourness of the crust is subtle enough not to bother folks who don't enjoy sourdough.  In fact, most folks will have to be told that the crust is a sourdough.

A sourdough crust will, generally speaking, have a depth of flavor absent from plain yeast that can be hard to describe exactly but is apparent in a side by side taste test.  A commercial yeast crust will, generally speaking, give a superior texture because you don't have acids attacking the gluten. 

Is sourdough worth it?  Obviously the consensus is that it is not since most of the world uses commercial yeast.  But for some people mastering sourdough has been completely worth it.

Quote
I notice that many members here use a sourdough culture from Ischia. How do you prevent it from being overtaken by your native regional yeasts? Where I live, I have captured many cultures from diverse regions and have noticed that hardy native cultures eventually dominate after a few months of activity.

We had a long thread about this very subject somewhere in the archives, I think about a year ago.  I don't remember the specifics but the takeaway was that if you don't properly care for your culture then different organisms within the culture itself begin to thrive and eventually dominate, changing the characteristics of the culture.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 01:52:11 AM by David Deas »

Offline David Deas

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2013, 01:34:41 AM »
He didn't mention Varasano.  Sorry.  I'm getting my threads confused.  It was Pibb that mentioned Varasano so I'll edit my previous post.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 01:39:05 AM by David Deas »

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2013, 01:47:49 PM »
Is sourdough worth it?  Obviously the consensus is that it is not since most of the world uses commercial yeast. 

Now there is a test I don't think I'll use in decision making...
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, commercial yeast when we must, but always great pizza."
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline Skee

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 02:08:34 PM »
I have an SF culture that has been living in my fridge for 4 years, and I've never noticed a change in it either. I believe very little of what I read or hear when it comes to SD cultures.
+1  I have a SF culture from 1987 that I've carried across the country twice, used many times as a starter for commercial production when I was a baker, and most recently left stranded in the back of my coldest beer fridge for over three years with no feedings at all until a couple months ago when I "found" it and used a couple tablespoons to create a new batch.  Is it the same as it was almost 30 years ago?  Probably not, but it's very nicely lactic and balanced.  I made/make an effort to not expose it to the open air for more time than required to maintain it and it's making some great pizza now.

Offline 3.1416

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Re: Naples crust with sourdough
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2013, 06:11:02 PM »
Spent last week making crusts of varying percentages of inoculation and time. Also spent 3 days firing my oven. Fired it for 8 hours the first day and only got to 550 deck temp. Let it rest 14 hours and fired it for 6 hours and hit 800 degrees on deck. Third day took only one and a half hours to reach 800 degrees. Found that a 4% inoculation at 64% hydration seems to work best for me with KA bread flour. Made 20 pies for our Sunday guests. Two fold-over mistakes. The crusts did not stand out with minimal toppings. Everyone raved. Thanks for the all info I have gleaned on this site. By the way, I stopped firing about 2:00 pm Sunday. Put the door on at 5 pm. Baked biscuits and egg and sausage casserole the next morning at 380 degrees from the residual heat.


 

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