Author Topic: Sour dough starters  (Read 30663 times)

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Offline Giovanni

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Sour dough starters
« on: February 09, 2005, 09:33:12 AM »
I've been reading a lot lately on this sourdough starter method and decided to order the book and the sample starters from sourdo.com. I really think this is going to put our pies on another level and I want to thank whoever brought up this topic. Whenever i eat at my favorite local pizza shop i think to myself 'what are they doing to get this great yeast flavor in the dough'. The smell and flavor is something i have not been able to re-create. I've tried all the flavor add-ins and even used beer at one point. The result was always the same... great texture, color, some flavor, but not enough flavor to make it great and make people say 'wow this is the best pizza i've ever had'.

Anyway's, i couldn't wait for my italian starters to come so i have started 2 different ones just to experiment. The first is 1 cup water, 1 cup ap flour, and 1/2 tbl ADY. The second was 1 cup water, 1 cup ap flour with no yeast. It's been 36 hours and when i came home from work last night my house smelled of yeast. I took the towel off of the second starter batch and sure enough it had picked up some wild yeast and was becoming soured. After 3 days is up I will try a small batch of dough and see what it does for the flavor.

The one question that is still lingering for me is about the 'taking over' of other yeasts. If i use my italian starter what is stopping other wild yeasts from killing it off and taking over the starter? Are there methods to prevent this? Maybe the book with answer those questions.


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2005, 09:17:07 PM »
Giovanni,

The question you ask has been the subject of much debate and discussion for many years. Ed Wood, in his book Classic Sourdoughs tries to make out a case that certain dominant sourdough starters are not overtaken by other natural yeasts. At page 195 of his book, for example, in discussing the famous San Francisco sourdough culture, he says "...the two organisms thrive in a symbiotic relationship that has protected the culture from other yeasts and bacteria for over a century of baking. It is this symbiosis that, contrary to widespread mythology, will prevent contamination from organisms from your environment." I think what he is saying, in effect, is that a culture that has survived for over a century of baking is too strong to be overtaken by some other natural yeast. Whether that will also be true as to your particular Italian cultures remains to be seen. You will have to tell us. Maybe a telephone call to Sourdough International, at 208-382-4828 (the number given in the Wood book) may dispel some of your concerns.

Peter
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 03:01:51 PM by Pete-zza »

Offline Giovanni

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2005, 11:34:26 PM »
That's interesting, i can't wait to try it out with the italian cultures. Unfortunatley i had to dispose of my flour and water starter that i had going. I came home today and my house smelled horrible. I guess whatever strain of yeast that was growing was a bad one. The other starter i made using using regular yeast is still going strong and smells quite good, like a nice dark beer. If it stays good i'm going to make a pie with it this friday.

Offline Giovanni

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2005, 07:22:40 PM »
Well, i made a pie tonight using my test sourdough starter. I was impressed with the results. There were a lot more 'bubbles' than i normally get and the finished crust did have more flavor and a different smell. It was an improvement for sure. Now i just have to wait for my italian cultures to be delivered so i can try this again.

Offline snowdy

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2005, 03:42:44 AM »
Giovanni,
I have been wanting to try a starter myself. I cant seem to find any directions on to actually use it for my dough.

Can you post step by step instructions of how you did it? What and how much of each ingredient... how long did you let it set out?

and most of all... how do you work it into your dough recipe? If its 1 whole cup of flour in the starter do you leave out that much flour from your regular dough recipe when you mix in the starter?

im just pretty clueless at this point about how to use a starter at all.

thanks  ;D

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2005, 07:48:38 PM »
Hi Giovanni

Yes I have been using natural leavening (which I will call CRISCETO in my following post, as well as it is known in Naples) for a long while now in both pizza and breads.

Ye,s contamination may occur and there are several ways you can minimize the risk.
The risk is even higher when you have different cultures activated, as they can cross contaminated each other.

If I were you, I would just use the two Italian ones (which I happily use together with one more which is believed to be passed on from generation since 1780 in one of the oldest pizzerias in Naples and I am the only other person to own it ;-p) and discard any self made one. Also avoid using yeast at the same time as when you use the starter, actually if I were you, I woould just stop using any commercial yeast all together.

Firstly you have to make sure you activate one culture at the time (you can leave an unopen bag of starter up to 6-7 months in the fridge) and make sure it gets to a good level of acidity.

Secondly you have to avoid to much exposure to the air of the starter, and also the  flour and water you use  for the refreshment (by the way, I strongly reccomend you avoid bromated flour).

Secondly you need to use always very clean tools and if is needed disinfect all the  working surfaces with something like Dectol (sorry I live in UK, I am not sure it is found in US).

If you use a wooden spoon as often suggested, try to have a different one for each starter.

The flavours the starters develop in the final dough are wonderful and intense, but make no mistake, do not have nothing to do with a yeasty flavour. That type of flavour is usually developed using large quantities of yeast or inderect methods like poolish or biga.

The last , probably most important thing, is not to follow the pizza recipe in the instruction booklet. It contain some mistkes, which I was assured will be corrected with the next edition.

You need to use much less starter  and let it rise for at least 12 rise in bulk, then cut a shape the balls, and let it rise 3-4 more hours.

The pizza in the picture attached was made using the Ischia starter and 24 hours fermentation period . It was also made using a very wet dough

Take care everybody, Pizza Napoletana has entered the forum...
« Last Edit: September 16, 2005, 07:10:39 PM by pizzanapoletana »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2005, 08:45:20 PM »
Pizza Napoletana,

Welcome to the forum. As one who has experimented in the past with natural starters, I look forward to your contributions on the subject. Unfortunately, I have experienced some of the problems you mention in your post

In your post, you make reference to a recipe. I recently received several bags of Caputo 00 flour from one of the U.S. importers in the NYC area, along with a recipe. I posted the recipe for the benefit of our members interested in 00 flours at Reply #10 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,783.0.html. Is this the recipe you are referring to? My recollection is that the hydration percentage for that recipe is around 54%, which seems pretty typical from what I have learned. Your recommended hydration percent is almost 63%. Why such a high number?

You might also help me understand the use of old dough to be used to make new dough. I believe the French call it a chef, and if it based completely on wild yeast, a levain. There is a new pizza establishment that opened toward the end of last year in NYC by the name of Una Pizza Napoletana, run by a fellow by the name of Mangieri. He apparently uses old dough based on a natural starter and lets the new dough ferment for a period of around 24 hours, at room temperature, and then for another 12 hours or so, also at room temperature. I am led to believe by the aforementioned importer that Mangieri uses the Caputo 00. I assume it is the 00 in the blue bag. Can you explain the process that Mangieri goes through to make the dough? That is, where does the process start--with a biga or poolish, and from there to the chef from the old dough to make the new dough? Mangieri also makes the dough completely by hand. Is there a special reason for doing this? Would using a mixer produce poorer results?

Thanks, and again, welcome.

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2005, 09:11:49 PM »
Pizza Napoletana,
Like Pete-zza I am interested in your thoughts about biga, poolish, starters, chefs, etc.

In addition, I would also be interested in your general insight and experience with Caputo 00 flour. I have nearly a 50lb bag in my freezer waiting for its secrets to be unlocked. Unfortunately I do not currently possess the skills necessary to do so.

I look forward to learning.
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2005, 09:03:05 AM »
Sorry guys, I wrote a very long post and it got somehow lost... >:(

I have to go now, but I hope to answer your questions tomorrow.

In the main time, here is a link may interest you:

http://ilforno.typepad.com/il_forno/2004/11/an_expert_eye_o.html

Ciao

Pizza Napoletana AKA Marco

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2005, 08:28:56 AM »
Pizza Napoletana AKA Marco,
Am I correct in guessing that you are the same Napoletana as the member from eGullet? I say that because the eGullet Napoletana lives in the UK and I noticed from your post here that you also live in the UK. Also, you mentioned bromate here and the Napoletana on eGullet described bromated flour as having a metallic taste. If so, I have enjoyed your posts.

We all look forward to your contributions about true Italian pizza. Since you've apparently been to Una Pizza Napolentana in NYC, I wonder if you could expand upon your reasoning as to why their pizza is not authentic. The owner certainly seems to adhere to an ancient method of preparing and baking pie.

Actually, my personal interest is in reproducing the most authentic Italian home pizza possible. I have nearly a 50lb bag of Caputo 00 Blue label flour, a Caputo based biga, a grill which achieves 800 degrees of uniform heat and basically no clue how to move forward. Any insight into this goal would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2005, 08:54:03 AM by pftaylor »
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2005, 11:56:54 AM »
Hi Pftyalor

Yes I am the same pizza from egullet ;-), well spotted!

Anyway, I 'll try to explain again as I did yesterday, and hope that this time the post doesn't get lost...


First of all some terminology, which will help understand each other:

In Naples when we speak about dough, we relate all the ingredient against the water, as it is the first ingredient that goes into the mixer or the the mixing bowl.

Secondly, we need to distinguish between the mixing method (direct vs indirect) and levening agents (Commercial yeast vs Natural yeast or "CRISCETO" as it is known in Naples).

Poolish, Biga, Pan at l'ancienne, etc, are all indirect mixing method. They consist of premixing a large quantity of flour, water and fermenting agent, which will the be part of the final dough. This preferment, it is responsible of much of the flavour of the final dough, but also, because of some reaction, of a certain crispiness in the final baked product. Under this aspect we should look at the action of enzymes not only for the resulting flavour (as it is only mention in american baking bibliography), but also at the resulting weakening of the gluten and improve digestibility.

When we talk about Starter, natural leaven, wild yeast, we are talking about a microflora of wild yeast and bacteria which strive in a mix of flour and water. A piece of this mix, can be used only  as starter for the next dough when added in minimum ammount or as a preferment, adding also the test of the acidified mix, when added in large ammount.

The old dough method, is a way of using a piece of acidified dough   from the previous batch (thus including salt and usually made with a natural wild yeast starter otherwise doesn't have leavening power). When using a culture strter from another regions, like the Italians one, I strongly reccomend not to use the old dough method, but instead the Mother dough method.
In the mother dough method, a piece of dough made with only water and flour plus the culture starter, is refreshed with a 50% addittin of water and flour, and after is left to ferment for a minimum time of 3-6 hours, a piece is cut off (the dauther) and used as fermenting agent or in large quantity as preferment. This way, thanks to the strong innoculating of the original mother dough into the refreshment, there is a better chance to avoid contaminations.

Having clarified the above, I can now tell you that the main difference in Naples between Pizza dough and Bread dough made both with CRISCETO (WILD YEAST STARTER) is in the ammount of CRISCITO used.
In the pizza dough it has to be minimum, in percentage that vary from 1 to 5% of the water's weight, and it is only needed as fermenting agent, assuring a slow and appropriate fermentation.


When in the previous post, I was talking about the wrong recipe in the booklet, it was because it was developed following the "disciplinare" guideline adapting it from the recipe using commercial yeast. The recipe calls therefore for a large ammount of starter to assure an 8 hrs rise. That is wrong for what I said above and in the previous post.

Now, talking about Una Pizza, I would like to start saying that I admire Mr Mangieri for the passion and effort he is putting in his project. However I have to say that he is a bit still away from the right ancient method of making a neapolitan dough with a natural leavening.

Whilst he is using indeed a starter for his dough, and this is  indeed an ancient method, the process he is using is not right, as it follow some breads technique. I don't like to disclose his methos, as he was kind enough to show it and explain it to me, and on the other hand I also made an effort to explain where it was wrong. It could also be that since my visit in November he has taken my suggestion on board, and have change something in better. However there was a reason for my comment on eGullet.

Pasing on the Caputo flour, I need to know which one are you using. There are several Blue bags made by Caputo, of which one has a pizza picture on it and the label states: "PIZZERIA". Is it this one that you are talking about?

Let me know, and if anybody has any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Ciao

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2005, 12:51:30 PM »
pizzanapoletana,
Thanks for confirming my guess. From your experience we can all learn a tremendous amount. Regarding the specific type of Caputo 00 flour I have, it does indeed have a picture of a pizza on the front with the word "pizzeria."

If I may impose, is there a basic Caputo 00 recipe I could start out with that would produce good results with my 800 degree grill? I have had a very difficult time trying to get a good tasting pizza from the Caputo. Your help would be much appreciated.
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2005, 02:31:27 PM »
Thanks for the respect. This make me more confident that my forthcoming book will be welcome in the US market.

I don't believe there is a standard recipe for the Caputo flour, but there are indeed few things you need to consider.

That flour has a low enzyme amylase activity, which in turn means that it needs both right time and temperature to develop properly. At the same time a very wet dough help both in the development and in the oven baking.

The problem it is not onlt the temperature of your grill, but the way air circulation, direct and indirect heat hit the pizza whilst baking. A coal oven apparently can get very hot, but it will never cook a pizza the way a Neapolitan Wood burning oven does.

To have a good result at home, without using a wood burning oven ( I would consider build one if you are really a pizza fanatic like me...), you may have to add to the dough some olive oil. Bare in mind that in the neapolitan dough olive oil is not needed, but if you bake the same dough at lower temperature and/or for long time, you need a fat that will retain some of the moisture in the dough.

If you don't have them yet, I would also consider buying the Italian starters from Sourdough Internationl. I have managed to achieve the best results using a starter and this was also confirmed by some pizzaioli in Naples that tried my pizza.

Take care


Offline Steve

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2005, 02:35:58 PM »
I just purchased the two Italian starters from sourdo.com and will be activating them soon. I can't wait to try a pizza leavened and fermented with a natrual starter.
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Offline canadave

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2005, 02:40:16 PM »
Really looking forward to hearing your results on this one, Steve! :)

Dave

Offline Giovanni

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2005, 07:49:37 PM »
I've had my italian cultures from sourdo.com for 2 weeks now but I've been too busy to activate them. I'll wait to see what Steve says about it before i try it. The methods described in the book are quite involved and i don't want to mess anything up by jumping the gun.

Offline Steve

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2005, 09:19:26 PM »
It turns out that my lower oven (with the oven light on) holds 90 degrees exactly... perfect for starting a culture.

So, with that said, starter #1 is now brewing!  ;)
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Caputo Recipe
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2005, 07:35:52 AM »
xxx
« Last Edit: September 16, 2005, 07:50:27 PM by pizzanapoletana »

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2005, 07:54:05 AM »
pizzanapoletana,
Thank you so much for your kindness. Both you and DC PM have been gracious enough to provide me with authentic Italian recipes recently. I know what I'm doing this weekend. I can't wait to unlock the secrets of the Caputo flour.

Out of curiosity, could you also provide the history of your recipe? Is it a ancient family recipe or is it from one of the great pizza houses in Italy? Or is it just a solid starter recipe for an aspiring young student?   
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Sour dough starters
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2005, 09:53:19 AM »
Pizza Napoletana,

Would you be so kind as to tell us how much dough the recipe makes, typical dough ball weight, and the size of pizza (diameter) each dough ball makes? With that information I might be able to convert to individual dough balls in U.S. measurements rather than metric.

Thanks.

Peter


 

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