Thanks for your thoughts Montoya! If I can send you some dried starter via post, lemme know, I'd be happy to help.
There isn't anything really "bad" about my pizza. It's actually quite good and people seem to love it. I'm wondering if there isn't a way to make it a little more tender. I've been reading that the sourdough starter might actually make the dough tougher... I need to start doing more experimenting and like you said, get my starter dialed in, down to the gram.
Thanks for offer! I just may take you up on that one day.
As far as tenderness is concerned, five things affect it, in my experience...
1. A sufficiently relaxed doughball. If you try to open a doughball too soon, it will resist you as you are pulling. What you end up doing is slapping and pulling just to get it stretched out. It may look cool and impressive to your guests but the truth is that the dough is not ready to be baked. The softer and more relaxed the dough is, the more tender it will be after baking. Depending on the season, humidity and temperature, a doughball needs anywhere from 3 or 4 hours to maybe even 12 hours sitting around so it can fully relax.
2. Oven temperature. I would normally echo that a certain recommended temperature is needed, but all wood fired ovens are not created equal. The rule is basically to get your oven as hot as possible while maintaining the ability to get an even bake. My oven works best when the floor is between 780f to 840f, the walls are 900f to 950f and the dome is 1000f+. In contrast, I think Craig mentioned his sweetspot for his Acunto oven floor is 850f or a bit higher. Materials behave differently when it comes to absorbing heat, reflecting, and radiating it so you just have to keep testing to see how hot you can get it, without compromising your ability to manage an even bake. But the main point is a hotter, faster bake equals a more tender crust because moisture is trapped and retained as the outer crust solidifies and the extreme heat causes better oven spring in the cornice, all resulting in increased tenderness.
3. Opening of the doughball and forming the disc. Technique here seems to matter as well. The more air you can push out toward the edges, the better, as this air will create more bubbles on the cornice. More bubbles on the cornice will give you less chewiness because the air pockets will expand during oven spring. Maybe we can get Craig to demonstrate in a video (*wink*)
4. Don't use High Gluten flours of 14% or so. Caputo 00 is around 11.5% and, while others are having great results with other flours, Caputo gives us new guys a built in advantage of getting a tender finished pie due to the lessened gluten content, without compromising the ease of making and working with the dough. You can hydrate Caputo 00 a little more than some other flours because it is a little more absorbent, while remaining easy to work with. This added moisture will contribute to tenderness of the finished crust. But you know what? This will probably be unnoticeable to your guests. I find that I am the biggest critic of my pizza making. It seems that nobody ever notices the difference, even when I tell them something is different.
5. Finally...eat it HOT. The longer any pizza sits uneaten, the chewier it will become. Fresh out of a 900 degree oven will be as tender as tender can be!