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Author Topic: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?  (Read 6934 times)

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Offline Yael

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Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« on: February 27, 2020, 10:00:17 PM »
Hello everyone,

It's been 6 weeks or so that I've had my own sourdough and I made many tests: bread, Neapolitan style pizza, pizza in teglia (80% HR), and also waffles, pancakes, croissants, donuts, pretzel.

I had troubles with it (I talk about it here: https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=60859.0), but in general let's say I succeeded in managing it (meaning 2 tests out of 3 were ok).

The best results I had were when I made bread.

I made pizza, and I have to say I have been a little bit disappointed. Why is that? Well, all of my tests (including my tests in France during Christmas with my friend's 'professional' SD) didn't give the "awesome" result I could have expected.
Pros:
- good taste
Cons:
- little spring oven, not much alveole
- resulting in a dense texture
- it seems that the acidity attacks the gluten more quickly than yeast's (you can still use a yeast's overfermented dough (you can re-ball); but not SD's, as the gluten is totally destroyed and doesn't hold anymore).

Many benefits of SD apply for bread: you can keep the bread longer etc etc.
So then I thought maybe sourdough is overrated when it comes to pizza? Taste is a plus for sure, but would dry SD powder be enough? Or, at the very least, use both SD and yeast? We don't plan to keep the pizza many days as we do for bread, right?..
Of course, as I had troubles, and as I made tests in only 2 months time, I cannot say for sure that I mastered it well.

I know a lot of members use 100% SD in their pizza dough, do you get better results than yeast's? Why would you keep using SD? What are your pros & cons?
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Offline andytiedye

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2020, 10:29:41 PM »
Deep dish sourdough pizza is the best.

Offline amolapizza

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2020, 05:13:09 AM »
Yael, regarding your starter, I think maybe you have to give it some time..  I've read that it can take weeks/months before the culture stabilizes.  Also be aware that keeping it in the fridge vs room temperature will change the acidity and the sorts of bacteria that thrive in the culture.

Another consideration might be the protein/gluten content and the strength of the flour.  I noticed that this local pizza flour with a not very high protein content but a higher W (than given by the protein content) is not very good for the starter.  It kind of melts inside very quickly, meaning that it seems that the gluten gets destroyed much faster than one would expect from the W of the flour.  I get the feeling that the higher the protein content of the flour I use, the better and longer it will keep it's structure/gluten.

FWIW, I've been recommended by my Italian friends to use fresh yeast together with preferments.  They've told me to use sourdough for the taste but to add some CY to get a better oven rise and structure in the cornicione.  Still I've only experimented a few times, and had various problems with my dough/pizza making, so I decided to go back to CY until I've mastered the other aspects of pizza making.
Jack

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Offline HansB

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2020, 07:30:30 AM »
It can be done. These are naturally leavened: http://www.unapizza.com
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Offline tracy

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2020, 07:44:46 AM »
I initially was very disappointed in my starter when I made it in Spring 2014 from flour, water, and pineapple juice.  It didn't work well at all, and after several months I grew frustrated and just put it in the back of the fridge and forgot about it.  I revived it the next year, and it's been working well since then; even survived a cross country move.  I've not succeeded in making as great a loaf of sourdough bread in my own opinion with it like I see on various blogs online, but it's active and works well for NYC style dough.  For whatever reason as well, it seems to have acclimatized to the cold of the fridge as well, as I store it in the fridge and then take what I need each week to make an expanded starter.  It doesn't have the commercial yeast smell or taste that I find instant yeast can impart.  Suffice to say, sourdough starter can work successfully for pizza dough.  I'd echo what others have said and try to let yours mature a while longer before you draw any final opinions.

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Offline amolapizza

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2020, 07:51:55 AM »
Actually let me rectify one thing I said above.  I wasn't recommended by my Italian friends to use a preferment/sourdough for pizza, but the recommendation was that if so to add some CY too.  Just to give it a bit of additional oven spring and airiness.
Jack

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Offline 2ndtimearound

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2020, 08:39:51 AM »
I use my started exclusively for NP style.  I've been using it for years. For me I use 1.5-2% weight of the flour and bulk for 24hrs at 64-65 degrees and ball for another 24 at 64-65 degrees. This produces very consistent results.  tender cornice and slight tang in the crust.

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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2020, 08:44:34 AM »
Some cultures are harder on the gluten than others. You may need to start over and make a new culture.

After 48 hours of RT fermentation, my dough is strong enough to open into 4' diameter windowpane.
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Offline DoouBall

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2020, 10:26:34 PM »
After years of making great sourdough pizzas, I have switched to making pizzas using biga based on dry yeast and strong flour (Caputo Nuvola Super). I've never been able to achieve such an awesome, fluffy crust with an irregular hole structure using any of the multiple sourdough starters I've cultivated over the years. Yael, like you, I still love using sourdough for bread, but I prefer the biga based pizzas. Another major reason for me is that even a hint of sourdough tang in the crust tastes great with traditional Neapolitan pizzas (Margherita, Marinara), but as soon as you start going beyond that and using cured meats and sausages, olives, pistachios, strong cheese blends, honey, etc, then the flavor of your crust can start to compete with your toppings and the synergy just isn't there anymore. A flavorful commercial yeast-based dough allows your high-quality toppings to take the spotlight for a change.
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Offline Yael

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2020, 02:19:48 AM »
Thank you all for your inputs.

I always was told that we could refresh our SD with any flour, but according to my own test (link in my first message), the flour you refresh the SD with will impact it.
Is a high protein flour better? What do you guys use?

Craig, I could start another SD, but if I use the same flours and the same water (in other words, the same environment), wouldn't the result likely be the same?
I have bags of this Russian flour that I won't need otherwise, that's why I planned to use it for my SD.

I will try more tests then. 2 weeks ago I tried 48H RTF, but after 24H the dough was bursting (60% HR, Pivetti 12.5% protein flour, 2% SD of the total weight ->
99% flour,
59% HR,
2% SD (1% flour and 1% water),
2.5% salt). I balled it a put in a colder place overnight (15°C), but the morning the balls were still bursting. The afternoon, they almost looked like a volcano with lava.

If I want to try again I will obviously add less SD. Maybe 0.5%.
I guess with such a low amount, the flour used for refreshing is not relevant, is it?

If I don't succeed but I still decide to keep the SD, I will go for SD + yeast as Jack mentioned...

Regardless of using a successful SD or not, I agree on what Doouball says about the flavors. Of course, it would depend on the acidity of the SD.
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Offline sk

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2020, 08:34:46 AM »
Thanks for this topic Yael.  A good read.

I have been using 4% SD for a 26 hour dough.  20 in bulk, 6 in balls.  68 degrees f (20c).  It produces a soft, easy to open dough ball.  It would never produce a 4' windowpane as described by Craig.  A bit less oven spring than IDY but acceptable and that could even be due to my skills or lack thereof.

My starter is very mild.  As to taste, which is my big question to all.  I think it tastes very good but it has no "tang".  In fact, very similar to the taste of IDY dough.

I use Caputo Blue for my pizzas and the same flour to refresh the starter.  My starter is Ischia and  about 6 months old.  I have another starter of about two years old that is the Camalodi and it produces about the same results.

Any thoughts, constructive criticism or observations on how to better my process is welcome. 
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Offline amolapizza

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #11 on: February 29, 2020, 09:24:58 AM »
I guess you could use up the russian flour to feed your starter while it ages, even if it's not what you'd like to use for baking..?  Like that you get rid of the flour and the starter ages.  On the other hand maybe it does have an impact of the development of the starter..

Personally I don't know enough on the subject to give advice, but I think the name of the game is to keep refreshing it and hope to get a good culture out of it for the long term.  In any case based on my own limited experience cultures do change over time, I think depending on how you refresh them, with what you refresh them, and also depending on the temperature and the rest of the environment.
Jack

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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #12 on: February 29, 2020, 09:27:43 AM »
It produces a soft, easy to open dough ball.  It would never produce a 4' windowpane as described by Craig.

Don't confuse extensible with weak. My dough is extremly soft and easy to open as well. If fact, I've significantly shortened the time in balls (24h -> 12h) to make it less easy to open which was leading to thins spots.
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Offline tracy

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #13 on: February 29, 2020, 09:46:12 AM »
My starter was originally made with I think Bob's Red Mill bread flour.  I've since used King Arthur bread flour, Caputo Blue, Caputo Chef's, and now Caputo Americana to refresh it.  I basically just use whatever flour I happen to be using for pizza at that time.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #14 on: February 29, 2020, 10:01:44 AM »
Quote
Craig, I could start another SD, but if I use the same flours and the same water (in other words, the same environment), wouldn't the result likely be the same?

Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't cost much to find out.

Try this: https://ruhlman.com/2009/07/21/simple-sourdough-starter/
"We make great pizza, with sourdough when we can, baker's yeast when we must, but always great pizza."  
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Offline Yael

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #15 on: February 29, 2020, 08:46:53 PM »
sk: good to know I'm not the only one!! Hope we'll understand more soon...  :-[

Jack: yes that's what I thought. I'm going to keep on using this flour, no matter if I try a new SD or not, and making some tests along. Just to be clear (even if it's not very interesting) I have 2, well no, 3 different Russian flours. I was given six 2kg-bags of the ones I refer to as the "orange" and the "green" ones (24kg flour in total). I tried both for pizza a couple of times and despite high protein content (13 and 12.6%), they behave like low gluten flour, or old flours. That's why I want to use them in the SD, I can't really really do anything else.
The 3rd Russian flour, the yellow bag, is the one that I've been using for a couple of years now and which gives me fair results (https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=50472.0). It's cheaper and better than local flour, I use it in most of my testings.
I started refreshing the SD with the orange flour, but then went with the green one as explained I my first link.
So we'll see..

Tracy: one thing that would make sense... is that it works with any flour, as long as they're "good" flours, and not the crappy things I use in China  :-D :-D

Craig: thank you for the link. Not sure I can find organic purple cabbage here, but I will try anyway, it's intriguing.
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Offline Yael

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2020, 07:45:39 AM »
My SD seems to be having a good activity recently, and yesterday I made a batch with 67% HR (Pivetti flour)
F 100% (including 2% from SD)
HR 67% (including 2% from SD)
SD 4%
Salt 2.8%

RTF 24H (22.5 to 24°C)
Balling 6H before baking.

The result thanks to the higher hydration is quite better (I used to make 60%). BTW I should have baked a little longer, there was an unwelcomed gum line... (stone wasn't hot enough maybe).
Next time I try to ball earlier, the dough skin had thin spots due to late balling.
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Offline sk

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2020, 11:33:34 AM »
My SD seems to be having a good activity recently, and yesterday I made a batch with 67% HR (Pivetti flour)
F 100% (including 2% from SD)
HR 67% (including 2% from SD)
SD 4%
Salt 2.8%

RTF 24H (22.5 to 24°C)
Balling 6H before baking.


Looks good Yael.  I have had good experience with 4% SD and 24 hour RT with 6 hours in balls.
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Offline Yael

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2020, 10:04:09 PM »
Looks good Yael.  I have had good experience with 4% SD and 24 hour RT with 6 hours in balls.

Thanks sk!

I tried again 48H RTF with SD, it was 0.5% sourdough (from total flour and water), and it failed. The second morning (after 37-38H), the dough started to burst again. When weighing SD, as the amount was very low, I may have put a little bit more, 0.6 or 0.7%. But as the dough was ready 10H before time, even 0.5% was too much. I guess 0.2-0.3% is enough, but that's so little in the bowl  :-D!

I kind of had good results with same day RTF (8~10H) and 20% SD, like in this video I just made: (I had to make a video for the promotion of my book, so...). BTW, the dough in the video is not the one I used for the baking (it was the one above on reply 16), I used it the day after, and the result was very nice too (see pic under).
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Offline Yael

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Re: Is sourdough a good choice for pizza?
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2020, 09:57:27 PM »
After having made these tests above, I realized that I preferred the same day dough (8~10H RTF) than the 24H RTF one. The 24H one was much more acidic, I like ot for bread, but for my pizzas, it was too much. Same day dough, even though the formula had a bigger amount of dough was better, it had just that slight sour touch, I would say it was better. Again, I understand every SD is different, but I guess I'm not the only one experiencing this?
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