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Started by wcwilson, January 23, 2019, 07:46:40 PM

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I've been trying to develop a good crust using my sourdough starter.  I started by taking 50g of whole wheat starter and over a period of three days, converted it to a double zero starter at 85% hydration.  I took about 70g of this starter, 4g salt, 4g sugar and flour and water to end up with a 250g ball at 67% hydration. I allowed the ball to ferment on the counter for 30 minutes, then into the refrigerator overnight.  I took it out 3 hours before cooking and allowed it to rise.

I put it on a baking stone in a 500 degree oven.  Only topping was Parmesan cheese.  Bottom line, the middle part of the pizza bubbled up nicely, and tasted fine but the cornice was flat, with no bubbles and the pizza was extremely chewy.

So, I'm a little bit at a loss as to what I should possibly do to improve the process.  Any help is appreciated.


Every culture is different, but I'm usually fermenting 24-48 hours at room temp before proofing for a few hours. I'd suggesting fermenting for much longer to see if that moves your crust in the right direction.


Thanks Bill, just so I'm clear with the nomenclature, after you form your ball, you let it rise at room temperature for 24-48 hours.  Then, do you 1) put it in the refrigerator until ready to use, take it out and allow it to rise for 3 hours before forming the pie, or 2) do you go ahead from there and form your pie, and allow it to rise as a formed pie for a few hours?


No. I bulk ferment the entire mass for several pizzas for 24-48 hours. Then I divide and shape into individual balls and allow to proof for a few hours. Stretched and topped right before baking. My sourdoughs never see the inside of a fridge (unless there is some kind of scheduling issue), but dough management workflow is controversial and dependent on pizza type and personal taste But I think most of us that use starter cultures use a much longer fermentation period. Also, I tend to use less starter - 4% - 8%. 

Bottom line: unless you're using some kind of super-active starter, 30-minute room-temp fermentation + 12 hour cold-fermentation + 3-hour room-temp proof just not enough. Have you amended your starter with commercial yeast?


I have experimented with breads and pizza adding various amounts of instant yeast and that helps, but I'm trying to succeed without doing that.  So, you go ahead and add your salt and sugar to your bulk ferment?

I've have been successful using the same starter to make focaccia.  It makes wonderful sandwich bread.



If you seem generally pleased with your process, why not just experiment with a (much) longer bulk fermentation time? For me, all ingredients are combined before the bulk fermentation.


My dough and workflow is similar to Bill's 2%+/- starter, 62% hydration, 2.8% salt, no sugar. 48 hours @ 62-64F+/-. Occasionally, I'll do 24 hours at a similar temp and for that I use 10-12%. starter.

This table has proven to be pretty good at finding a starting point of the amount of culture to use with various fermentation time/temperature combinations: of course, all cultures and workflows are different, so some (or a lot of) testing and tweaking will likely be necessary to get to the pizza you want to make.
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
Craig's Neapolitan Garage


70g starter in a 260g dough is quite a lot. Going by the usual way to calculate things here and the info you've given, it's maybe around 40% (based off the flour amount). I usually use around 4% for doughs sitting in 15C for 48 hours and 10-15% for doughs sitting in 15C for 2 hours. 40% is something I'd maybe use for a dough being used within a few hours. Another thing to keep in mind is that the flour from the starter doesn't contribute to the dough very much. The job of the starter is to share all it's bacteria with the rest of the dough so they can start working on fresh flour. When you use the starter it has already peaked and most of the nutrients in the starter are spent. You can see that if you stir a starter that has peaked and let it alone again, that it will start rising anew, but not reach the same heights as the first time. By stirring you re-distribute the nutrients and some bacteria get access to nutrients that haven't been eaten and you get some new activity. When a large part of the dough is starter, that is flour that won't be as helpful during bake. By keeping the starter amount lower, you might get a better result.

I don't have much experience with doughs using starter in the fridge. I put my bread doughs in there for 12-36 hours, but my impression is that the activity pretty much comes to a complete halt. It might develop some flavor, but I use the fridge for bread mostly for convenience and being able to bake a cold dough.

If you have the chance, try some room temperature doughs using the chart Craig posted. Your starter is unique and everything about your process is a bit different from what everyone else does. Even buying the same flour, each batch can be a little different. The key to making better pizza is experience, using measured and repeatable methods and small changes from each time.

Welcome to the forum and good luck. :) You'll be hard pressed to find a better place for everything pizza.
Oven: Effeuno P134H


Thanks everyone for the great comments.  I'll try again over the next few days.