Last summer, in the middle of August, member widespreadpizza (Marc) and I both made pizzas using room-temperature fermented doughs that comprised only flour, water and salt. No commercial yeast and no starter were used. Marcís dough was leavened by wild New Hampshire yeast and mine was pretty much contemporaneously leavened by wild Texas yeast. It took Marcís dough about 21 hours to double at room temperature and mine took about 30 hours to reach a double. Marcís finished pizza, which was baked in his wood fired oven, can be seen in Reply 82 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7225.msg78756.html#msg78756
. My pizza, which was baked in my standard home oven, is shown in Replies 84 and 85 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7225.msg78779.html#msg78779
. Our success led me to wonder how a winter version of my dough might turn out. So, over the last three days I made another room temperature fermented dough with only flour, water and salt. The dough formulation was the same one that I posted in Reply 84 referenced above, specifically:
|King Arthur Bread Flour (100%):|
|265.5 g | 9.36 oz | 0.59 lbs|
151.33 g | 5.34 oz | 0.33 lbs
3.98 g | 0.14 oz | 0.01 lbs | 0.71 tsp | 0.24 tbsp
420.81 g | 14.84 oz | 0.93 lbs | TF = 0.096425
Note: Nominal thickness factor = 0.095; for 14Ē pizza; bowl residue compensation = 1.5%
I prepared the dough in the same manner as the summer version. I simply placed the formula water in my mixer bowl, added the salt and stirred it to dissolve in the water. The water had been temperature adjusted to 100 degrees F in order to achieve a finished dough temperature of 80 degrees F, which I deemed necessary to start the fermentation process. Using the flat beater attachment and the stir speed of my KitchenAid stand mixer, I gradually added the flour to the water in the bowl and mixed it until the flour could no longer be hydrated, about two minutes. There was some loose flour in the bottom of the bowl, which I simply incorporated into the dough mass by hand, about another minute or so. I then switched to the C-hook, and with the mixer at speed 2, I kneaded the dough for 5-6 minutes. With a hydration of 57%, the dough was a bit on the stiff side but, as previously described, that hydration level was selected to be on the lower side to compensate for the wetness of the dough that I had experienced with the summer version after the long period of room temperature fermentation.
After shaping the dough into a round ball, I lightly oiled it and placed it into a one-quart Pyrex glass bowl and placed two poppy seeds at the top center part of the dough ball, in accordance with the poppy seed method described at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6914.0.html
. After placing the lid on the bowl, I set the bowl aside on a countertop in my kitchen. At the time, the room temperature was around 63 degrees F. As it so happens, that is a temperature that is widely regarded as optimal for a room temperature fermented dough. The actual finished dough temperature was 75 degrees F.
The dough rose very slowly over the next few days. It wasnít until about 72 hours of room temperature fermentation that the spacing of the poppy seeds indicated that the dough had doubled in volume. (As an aside, based on the poppy seed spacing, the dough had increased by 30% after the first day, and by 81% after the second day.) There was no dramatic visible expansion of the dough over the course of the three days of fermentation. It just gradually slumped and spread in the bowl. It also took on a gray cast, with spotting of the type I have observed before with doughs that are cold fermented for several days to a few weeks. The spotting was not particularly severe but it was clearly in evidence. There were very few fermentation bubbles--so few, in fact, that I wondered whether the dough had fermented at all, despite what the poppy seeds were trying to tell me. Over that three-day period, the outdoor temperature ranged from 28 degrees F to 50 degrees F. There was some fluctuation of my room temperature but it remained pretty much in the 63-65 degrees F range. Apparently that range is not conducive to dramatic volume expansion.
As with the summer version, I shaped the dough ball into a 14Ē skin. As I was doing this, I could see that the dough was, in fact, alive and a few bubbles presented themselves to compel me not to give up on the dough and to proceed further. Although the dough was not nearly as damp as the summer version and had little gluten degradation, and was overall of better physical quality, it was extensible. However, with ample dusting of my peel, the skin handled well. The pizza was dressed in pepperoni style and baked on a pizza stone that had been placed on the lowest oven rack position and preheated for an hour at around 525 degrees F. The pizza was baked on the pizza stone for six minutes, whereupon I moved it to the topmost oven rack position for about another minute or so to achieve additional top crust browning.
The photos below show the finished pizza. It was very similar to the summer version, with a fair amount of chewiness and some crispiness at the rim. It had the same artisanal characteristics of the summer version. Like the summer version, there was not a lot of oven spring. The crust flavors, however, were quite good.
I believe that with further experimentation it should be possible to improve upon the results I achieved. This was only my first winter version and, as is usually the case, the results suggest changes that might be made to future versions. For example, for the winter version, I think I would use a higher hydration. I might also make the skin a bit thicker. I also did not see the usual signs of overfermentation of the dough, even after 72 hours of room temperature fermentation. Itís possible that the dough could have held out for at least another day or so. But the latest experiment, taken together with the summer experiment, clearly demonstrates that is possible to make a simple and basic long, room-temperature fermented dough using only flour, water, salt, and whatever wild yeast is floating around when the dough is being prepared.