Author Topic: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works  (Read 893 times)

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Offline dylandylan

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Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« on: November 17, 2013, 04:00:20 AM »
So I got to talking with a workmate who amongst other things is a kombucha brewer.  We've had various conversations about sourdough and lacto fermentation, and recently talked about the fact that kombucha coctains lactobacilli much like a sourdough.  In theory this should be an effective leaven for pizza.  I looked online and couldn't really see much evidence that others had used kombucha as a leaven, at least not photographic evidence of great success.

So I thought I'd take matters into my own hands.  Armed with 600ml of fresh kombucha courtesy of my workmate, I made 4 small pizza balls at different dilutions:  25%, 50%, 75% and 100% kombucha (the remaining % is water).   The results were great - I can report that kombucha is a completely effective leavening agent for dough.  After this experiment I think undiluted kombucha is the way to go.   I don't think it is superior to regular sourdough, but it tastes great - nice and sweet, and leavens nicely.

Pics:
1) balls: clockwise from top-right - 75% (accidentally lower overall hydration than others), 50%, 25%, 100%.
2, 3) 25% kombucha > flat leaf parsley
4, 5, 6, 7) 50% kombucha > marinara (a botched launch!)
[didn't get pics of the 75% kombucha]
8, 9, 10, 11) 100% kombucha > kalamata olive
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 01:42:23 PM by dylandylan »


Offline dylandylan

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 04:02:33 AM »
more pics...

Offline arspistorica

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 05:18:11 AM »
Gotta say, that's pretty cool, as it never would have occurred to me.  Kombucha fermentations are characterised by a protobacteria, Acetobacter xylinum, that preferentially metabolises cellulose (that's pretty cool), as well as Brettanomyces and Candida species of yeast (the first is often found in sour beers).  Did you find this dough "sweeter" than normal (i.e., were there more residual sugars) despite the acid load?
"Senza il mio territorio sarei solo un panificatore."
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 08:31:24 AM »
Thanks for posting, your Kombucha based starter gave me an idea - I just made up a starter with some flour, water and Rejuvalac.

Just wondering what kind of flavor will develop - has anyone else tried this?

I have had my old standby sourdough starter in my fridge for years - it seems impossible to hurt (my starter husbandry has been criminal at times).

Wondering what will happen with the Rejuvalac - seems like an interesting idea....

Offline arspistorica

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 09:51:52 AM »
Thanks for posting, your Kombucha based starter gave me an idea - I just made up a starter with some flour, water and Rejuvalac.

Just wondering what kind of flavor will develop - has anyone else tried this?

I have had my old standby sourdough starter in my fridge for years - it seems impossible to hurt (my starter husbandry has been criminal at times).

Wondering what will happen with the Rejuvalac - seems like an interesting idea....

Likely not as a sole leavening agent, if you make your rejuvelac with two or three rinses, as most formulas call for.  You're basically cultivating grain-based lactobacilli in a spontaneous fermentation, which tend to be dominated by homofermentative organisms.  Never hurts to try, though!  However, you could use it to make awesome rye breads and/or pizze doughs, as there should be sufficient acidity to inhibit the rye amylases.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 09:55:28 AM by arspistorica »
"Senza il mio territorio sarei solo un panificatore."
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2013, 10:11:03 AM »
Hi Arspistorica, thanks for the information - I don't really know much about the science behind the processes involved with creating a proper / useful leavening agent. I was planning to use this for pizza, when you said "pizze doughs" was that a typo?

In any case, could you help me understand why you don't think it would work in some situations but might be viable in others - In my mined, the process is the same for any dough - bacteria eat and make the gas - the basic "input - process - output" cycle - but like I said, I'm not really knowledgeable in this area.

Offline arspistorica

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2013, 10:31:02 AM »
Hi Arspistorica, thanks for the information - I don't really know much about the science behind the processes involved with creating a proper / useful leavening agent. I was planning to use this for pizza, when you said "pizze doughs" was that a typo?

In any case, could you help me understand why you don't think it would work in some situations but might be viable in others - In my mined, the process is the same for any dough - bacteria eat and make the gas - the basic "input - process - output" cycle - but like I said, I'm not really knowledgeable in this area.

Not a typo.  I was thinking of scenarios where it could be used as a dough improver, such as in conjunction with commercial yeast or with a viable starter.  Rejuvelac represents a spontaneous fermentation and spontaneous fermentations are characterised by the presence of obligate homofermenters, bacteria that are incapable releasing C02 as a metabolic byproduct.  However, you never know what's lurking in there! (I.e., there may be some yeast present but I find this doubtful.)  Never hurts to try.
"Senza il mio territorio sarei solo un panificatore."
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Offline norcoscia

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 10:41:10 AM »
Thanks, now I understand - looks like I may have a nice 8 oz tub of glue on my counter  :-[

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2013, 12:36:08 PM »
Hey Dylan,  (and others)

Those look very good! I'm a bit hungover right now, so I may be mis-remembering, but our "starters" have both yeast and bacteria.  Kombucha that I buy only talks about bacteria, not yeast. Is this right?

So two questions:

1. Although you say that the Kombucha is a completely effective leavening agent, it does not appear to me that the cornicione is as puffy as your other pies. Do you agree? I'm not saying the pies don't look great --- they do! It's just that they look different. Maybe the same as I've seen with minimally active starter.

2. Why (if bacteria might be able to leaven things effectively on its own) do we even use yeast at all?

Again, I am hung over so please excuse what may be to some a very dense pair of questions.  :)

John K
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Offline dylandylan

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 01:34:11 PM »
Quote
Did you find this dough "sweeter" than normal (i.e., were there more residual sugars) despite the acid load?
Yes it was noticeably sweeter.  Not so much so that it upset the balance of flavour on fairly simple pizzas, but unmistakably there.

Quote
1. Although you say that the Kombucha is a completely effective leavening agent, it does not appear to me that the cornicione is as puffy as your other pies. Do you agree? I'm not saying the pies don't look great --- they do! It's just that they look different. Maybe the same as I've seen with minimally active starter.
I guess what I meant by "completely effective" was: Can you make pizza with it? absolutely without a doubt. You can even make great pizza with it.   But yes in comparison my regular starter produces a crust that I prefer.

Quote
2. Why (if bacteria might be able to leaven things effectively on its own) do we even use yeast at all?
Here's where my lack of knowledge kicks in, and perhaps someone else might chime in with an answer?  I went into this experiment with extremely limited understanding, but enough curiosity to try.  In fact had I known more I might not have bothered to experiment at all.  Ignorance is bliss.  And occasionally fruitful.  Anyway, anyone have thoughts on this?
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 01:38:26 PM by dylandylan »


Offline arspistorica

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2013, 04:36:36 PM »
Yes it was noticeably sweeter.  Not so much so that it upset the balance of flavour on fairly simple pizzas, but unmistakably there.
I guess what I meant by "completely effective" was: Can you make pizza with it? absolutely without a doubt. You can even make great pizza with it.   But yes in comparison my regular starter produces a crust that I prefer.
Here's where my lack of knowledge kicks in, and perhaps someone else might chime in with an answer?  I went into this experiment with extremely limited understanding, but enough curiosity to try.  In fact had I known more I might not have bothered to experiment at all.  Ignorance is bliss.  And occasionally fruitful.  Anyway, anyone have thoughts on this?

The use of yeast owes more to a byproduct of history and modern tastes than anything else, and is borne of the same desire that has also caused millers to disregard 20 - 22% of cereal grains for animal feed or as industrial food filler.  Where once the cycles of food ecology were whole, local and subsistence-based, they are now the inverse, wherein foodstuffs are highly refined and broken down into their constituent parts, and agricultural trade has become global and surplus-driven with a high rate of inefficiency and leftover waste.

The sourdough microbiota has evolved over tens of thousands of years to its external conditions, which includes an enormous set of selective pressures in the human-mediated biome, including but not limited to our physiology and taste; the physiology of those animals commonly associated with the human biome; the other microbiota in this biome; human agricultural preferences and practices; and, lastly, the sourdough matrix itself.  Ever stop to consider why Lb sanfranciscensis has evolved a diurnal metabolism that reaches its late stationary phase bordering on cell death at precisely 24 hours regardless of fermentative conditions?

Yeast, along with most lactobacilli, are not unique to the sourdough niche.  Only Lb SF and a few other closely-related lactobacilli strains lay claim to that title.  As far as solid-state starch fermentations are concerned, yeast are an afterthought in the culture and are defined by the lactic-acid bacteria present (this is not true of other food-based fermentations).  Once, all bread (and beer) was made with natural starters, before the advent of leftover brewer's yeast from Europe's beer industry.  As Thom Leonard, one of North America's premier bakers, writes, "I question whether that what we make when we use baker's yeast instead of natural leavening can be called bread at all."  The same can be said for pizza, if by pizza we mean a hearth-baked flat bread.

Humans have invariably wanted whiter, lighter breadstuffs; this tendency can be seen dating back to Egypt and Rome, running right through the documented history of bread, with the related products become whiter and lighteras they approach the modern era.  The exclusive use of yeast -- an intensively selected and bred monocultural strain, from one of many strains from one of many species in sourdoughs -- parallels this tendency.  So much so, bakeries or pizzerias that use commercial yeast as well as sourdough (if even for different products) tend to contaminate their sourdough with a wild mutagen of S. cerevisiae. (Researchers have now allotted a new "stable" relationship that exists due to this phenomena commonly occurring.)

The simple answer to your question is you can't.

You cannot have a starter without yeast, at least not using normal propagation techniques.  Type II sourdoughs (such as those found in the production of rye breads in Northern Europe) use temperatures for starters above which yeast cannot grow, so none are found, but these methods also select for homofermentative bacteria.  At the same time, you cannot have a type-I sourdough starter without lactic-acid bacteria, either, much to the chagrin of many Italian bakers!
"Senza il mio territorio sarei solo un panificatore."
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Online PizzaAlaJoey

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2014, 02:20:48 AM »
Those kalamata olives look way bigger. Is it just the photo? I'm curious where you got those.

Offline dylandylan

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Re: Kombucha as a pizza leaven - it works
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2014, 02:33:34 AM »
This was a while ago so I don't recall specifically, they may have been what get sold as "giant kalamata" down here.  I'm afraid that's as much as I can tell you about them. Plus the pies are only about 10", so the pics may be a bit deceiving too.