Author Topic: "00" Flour fermentation  (Read 2771 times)

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Offline giotto

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"00" Flour fermentation
« on: August 08, 2004, 08:10:12 PM »

I'll have to check with the cheese guy at my Whole Foods to determine why the difference.  

It takes 6 - 8 hours before the enzymes can release the primary amount of sugars from the flour's starches.  So by the end of a day, it is understandable that we can get some good crusts over this time period.  I prefer delayed fermentation for reasons stated earlier.  As for Italian flours, for very good reasons that you point out, Italians can expect it in just 2 or so hours.

What did you find in the texture of your Italian 00 flour when you cooked it in the right time frame, without the use of sugar/oils, compared to your other normal processing with American flours?

I think this topic should be formed under a 00 forum-- it's unlikely to be sought under mozzarella.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2004, 03:11:23 PM by giotto »

Offline Pete-zza

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"00" Flour fermentation
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2004, 10:08:02 PM »

I'll answer here and maybe Steve can move the topic over to a more suitable location.

To the best of my knowledge, enzymatic performance and the concomitant production of carbon dioxide and dough expansion commence long before 6-8 hours.  You know this when you see a kneaded dough ball start to rise.  The longer version of this explanation, if you will bear with me, is as follows: certain starch-hydrolyzing enzymes in flour, called alpha-amylase, attack starch molecules or granules in the flour that are ruptured, or "damaged" during routine milling to produce dextrin, a translucent gummy substance.  Then, a second class of starch-hydrolyzing enzymes, called beta-amylase, attack the dextrin to produce maltose, a form of sugar.  The maltose, in turn, feeds the yeast (with about a 15-20 minute lag time as the yeast acclimates to its environment) to produce carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide presses against the millions of cell walls of the dough and is trapped by the cells, forming gas pockets and forcing the cell walls to stretch, or extend, without breaking, thereby causing the dough to rise into a honeycomb-like structure.  As all of this activity takes place, other naturally occurring enzymes in the flour, called protease, attack the gluten (following kneading) to soften it further, gradually reducing the elasticity of the dough as it rises.  This facilitates shaping of the dough at a later stage without exhibiting excessive springback.  Simple, no?

It make take hours or days for the process to be fully completed, but it starts fairly shortly after the dough had been kneaded.  The rate of the activity can be accelerated or slowed down depending on the amount of yeast used, fermentation temperature, water temperature, retardation temperature, any added sweeteners, the amount of salt used (which acts as a regulator and keeps the yeast from growing out of control) and, quite likely, other factors.  All other things being equal, I suspect that a higher gluten flour will rise more slowly than a lower-gluten flour, such as 00, because of its greater density.

A dough properly made from 00 flour will be markedly different from a dough made with higher gluten flours, and their respective crusts will also be different.  In answer to your specific question about the nature of a crust properly made with the 00 flour, the crust will be thin in the center, with a slightly puffy rim (which the Italians call the cornicione, or cornice), chewy, tender, with some crispiness on the bottom, and very flexible.  This flexibility is highly characteristic of a Neapolitan pizza, and it is said that to qualify as a Neapolitan pizza one has to be able to fold a slice in half at least once without cracking, a process referred to as "a libretto", or like a "book", or "portafoglio", or like a "wallet".  The crust will also have an almost white color or light-tan color when baked.  This is partly because no sweetener or oil (except perhaps to lightly oil a bowl) is used and also because of the lower protein content of the 00 flour, which results in less browning during baking than crusts made from flours with much higher protein content.  The browning that will occur will, to a significant degree, be due to the so-called "Maillard" reactions, which are reactions during baking between protein and any reducing sugars (mainly glucose, fructose and lactose) in the dough.

The 00 crust of the pizza I made recently satisfied all of the above characteristics.  The only way I might have improved it to any significant degree would have been to bake the pizza in a wood-fired oven or coal-fired oven with bake temperatures in excess of 700 degrees F.  This would have produced a charring effect, through carbonization, that is characteristic of Neapolitan pizzas baked in a high temperature oven.

By contrast, a dough made with a higher gluten flour, including bread flour, will generally yield a crust that is somewhat heavier, puffier and with a coarser crust and texture (due to the coagulation of gluten and gelatinization of the starch molecules during baking), with small crunchy bubbles (and sometimes large bubbles), a slightly charred rim, chewier and with a somewhat tougher texture than most crusts, and with a somewhat more "bready" flavor.   The color will be darker, because of the more intensive Maillard reactions, and especially if oils are used (which contribute to color through oxidation) and added sweeteners are used (which add to color because of caramelization).  Of course, there will be some variations depending on the style of pizza dough made and formula variations.

Doughs made with 00 flour and high-gluten flours are on the opposite ends of the protein spectrum, and it is primarily the gluten content that will dictate the fundamental characteristics of the final product.   Along with chemistry and physics and a healthy dose of art.


« Last Edit: August 09, 2004, 11:55:36 AM by Steve »