In a previous post on this thread, at Reply #23, I discussed the results of using a very small amount of the Caputo 00 natural starter to make a pizza. Today, I repeated the experiment but varied it by including an autolyse period, and I also baked it on a single pizza stone rather than using two stones as in the previous experiment.
The recipe was exactly the same as recited at Reply #23, and the processing was as previously described. However, this time, I incorporated an autolyse period into the dough processing. I used the classical autolyse of just flour and water. Specifically, I thoroughly mixed together one-half of the flour and the water and let the combination sit for about 30 minutes. I then added the rest of the flour and the Caputo 00 natural starter, followed by the olive oil and, finally, the salt. Because of the small amount of dough involved (a bit over 9 oz.), all of the kneading was done entirely by hand.
The finished dough was allowed to ferment overnight at room temperature for about 12 hours. The dough behaved exactly as before, with the dough spreading somewhat but with no noticeable rising. I reballed the dough and let it sit for another 7 hours at room temperature before using. At the end of that additional 7-hour ripening period, the dough still showed no noticeable rising. This is as I recollect pizzanapoletan indicated the dough would behave under normal circumstances. I shaped the dough without any difficulty into a 12-inch skin. I am certain I could have stretched it even further if I wanted to, since the dough seemed to be able to handle it without difficulty. There were a few more bubbles than before, but not a big departure.
Once the pizza was dressed, it was baked on a pizza stone that had been preheated for about an hour at around 500-550 degrees F. The pizza was baked on the stone for about 6 minutes, whereupon the pizza was moved to the upper oven rack position and baked for about another minute or so under the broiler, which had been turned on about 5 minutes into the baking process.
The photos below show the finished product. The crust and its characteristics were as previously described at Reply #23. As in the previous experiment, the crust had a lot of fermentation flavors and made for an enjoyable pizza eating experience. The biggest difference I noticed from the prior experiment was that the dough was quite a bit drier than the previous dough, even though the hydration percent was around 64%, and it was very easy to handle, without requiring much bench flour or running the risk of overstretching or forming weak or thin spots. It was very extensible. It's quite possible that the improved dough performance was attributable to the autolyse, much as pftaylor has given substantial credit to autolyse for the great success of his Raquel doughs. Consequently, I plan to devote more experimentation in the future to determine the true value of autolyse in a Caputo 00 dough. But autolyse or not, one of the things that keeps coming to the forefront with the doughs/crusts based on the use of natural starters is the intensity of fermentation flavors.