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Author Topic: A good starter for pronounced sourness?  (Read 1409 times)

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Offline paulraphael

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A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« on: April 03, 2016, 11:52:10 AM »
Hi everyone,

I'm new here and new to natural yeast starters. I've been making pizza for several years, mostly using commercial yeast and long delayed fermentations, with 65-70% hydration doughs. I get great flavors from the flour doing this, but not the sour flavors that I taste at my favorite pizza places in NYC. The holy grail for me is Roberta's, where the Neapolitan hybrid crusts are distinctly sourónot like a San Francisco sourdough where there's no other flavor, but where the tartness adds a layer of richness over the developed grain flavors.

Any thoughts on a starting place? I realize I have a lot of research and experimentation to do, but at some point I have to buy a starter.

Ischia seems like the choice among the cool kids here. Would it be suitable for the results I'm looking for? Would it require any unusual treatment to coax the sour flavors?

Thanks for any advice.

Offline chrisf

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2016, 09:34:49 PM »
Paul,

I don't have a handle on all the different types of natural starters to tell you which has a more pronounced sourness but I recommend making one yourself. In large part, the temperature has an impact on how sour a starter gets or in other words it affects the balance of the different acids produced. Cooler, longer ferments makes for a more sour starter. Warm short refreshments yield a less sour starter. Also playing with the percentages of starter in your recipe will make a difference.

I've been playing with the no muss no fuss method of keeping a starter and it works very well. I made pizza recently using my starter and I can't tell if it has much sourness but my niece did notice and said something to me.

Offline paulraphael

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2016, 02:01:47 PM »
Thanks Chris.

Those are the kinds of details I'm hoping to pin down.

After reading some other forum threads, I'm questioning if I taste "sour" the same way everyone else does. For example, there was some debate on whether or not Robertas uses a starter. Which perplexes me... Any more sour, in my opinion, and it would be a San Francisco boule.

Motorino's dough tastes sour to me too (less so). Same with Wheated.

My own current dough (made with idy) is not sour. All the flavor comes from delayed fermentation.

I want to aim for something closer to Robertas, within all the limits imposed by a crappy home oven.

Offline chrisf

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2016, 08:52:51 AM »
Paul,

I also recommend using this: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=22649.0
It is a great tool Craig made that will help with scheduling. I've found it invaluable for making my weekly bread.

Depending on your schedule you can make a liquid starter over a day and night and the next morning mix 30% for a same day dough. Or you could add <5% for a much longer ferment. Many possibilities....good luck.


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2016, 09:27:48 AM »
If I remember right, Wheated uses sourdough (not sure if they add baker's yeast or not), Roberta's uses SD+baker's yeast, and Motorino is baker's yeast only. To my taste, Roberta's is not anything close to SF sourness. Are you sure you are not mistaking bitterness from bottom char for sourness? It's really hard to realize charring in a home oven. About the only way is with a thick steel plate.

Personally, I don't want to taste sourness in my dough. I find I can go to ~48 hours @ 64F (Ischia) without developing a sour note. A few years ago, I did some tests that went out 60-72 hours at similar temps and they were all quite sour. Sourdough.com has a SF starter that is more acidic than the Italian starters. You might give it a try.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Offline paulraphael

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2016, 10:36:13 AM »
To my taste, Roberta's is not anything close to SF sourness. Are you sure you are not mistaking bitterness from bottom char for sourness? It's really hard to realize charring in a home oven. About the only way is with a thick steel plate.

Well, I exaggerate, but it's on that spectrum (to my taste buds). For perspective, I buy boules of S.F. sourdough-style bread and French levain-style bread from a local bakery. The former, to me is quite a bit more sour than Roberta's crust; the latter has no sourness at all (although they say it's a sourdough).

Pretty sure I'm not mistaking bitter for sour. I eat a lot of well-charred pizza in the city that doesn't taste sour. My own pizza is actually pretty well charred. It can look like it came out of a very hot oven (although the taste and texture reveal that it didn't).

Quote
A few years ago, I did some tests that went out 60-72 hours at similar temps and they were all quite sour. Sourdough.com has a SF starter that is more acidic than the Italian starters. You might give it a try.

Great, thank you.

That temperature range would be challenging for me to hold most of the year in my climate (and barely climate controlled apartment). I'd easily be able to cold-ferment in the fridge, or go much warmer with the help of an immersion circulator. If going for a more sour profile at <50F or >80F, how would you tweak the time and proportions?

Is anyone else here using a circulator to proof or age dough? It seems like such an easy and reliable solution when paired with a beer cooler.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2016, 11:58:42 AM »
If going for a more sour profile at <50F or >80F, how would you tweak the time and proportions?

I think you will need to test it and see what happens. I suspect both will be challenging. Below 50F, the activity of the lactics is going to be really slow not to mention that yeast strains found in SD seem to struggle at temps below 50F - particularly at refrigeration temps. Your specific culture will largely determine what you can and can't do. Some cultures produce enough proteolytic enzymes at cooler temps to break down the gluten and turn the dough during long, colder ferments.  Above 80F, the yeast are going to grow so fast, it's going to be tough to go long enough to acidify the dough much. You will need to use very tiny quantities. You will also get more lactic acid (as opposed to acetic) as a proportion of the total acids produced, so the dough will have less of the sour taste and more of the creamy lactic taste.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

Offline paulraphael

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2016, 12:19:13 PM »
Great information, thank Craig.

Is there any resource on starters whose yeast strains are active at refrigerator temps?

I'd also be interested in experimenting with a short ferment at high temperature followed by longer aging at low.
Or vice versa.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: A good starter for pronounced sourness?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2016, 12:54:04 PM »
Is there any resource on starters whose yeast strains are active at refrigerator temps?

I don't think there are any that do well in the cold. There isn't a lot of information about starters to start with, and much of it conflicts, is wives tales, and is just flat out BS. 

Here is a primer on room vs. refrigerator temp fermentation: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=41039.0
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage

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