• #1 by charbo on 13 Sep 2014
  • Seeing an excess of extensibility, I recently lowered the hydration of my dough from 81% to 78%.  As expected, the dough was more easily handled, but required more patience to stretch.  On the third try, I got the most rise ever, including a little more rise under the toppings.  I’m not sure why.   It might be the pan rise temp, which I don’t carefully control.   The slice photo doesn’t do it justice.  Here’s the recipe:


    80% whole hard white winter wheat (home milled)
    20% all-purpose flour
    78% water
    1.4% salt
    2.8% oil
    30% prefermented flour (mostly whole wheat)


    The night before, mix the levain.  (Starter is about 15% of levain.)  With the remaining flour and all the salt, mix the soaker.  Let sit at room temp overnight. 

    In the morning, cut the levain and soaker into pieces and place in the mixing bowl along with the oil.  I’m using an old KA with a C-hook.  Mix a minute at speed 1, a minute at speed 2, and 1.5 minutes at speed 4.  On floured board, knead until tight.  Rest for 45 minutes.  Execute a stretch-and-fold, round, put in a greased bowl, and refrigerate. 

    Remove from cooler about 3 – 3.5 hours before baking.  An hour before baking, stretch dough onto perforated pan.  Let rise in a warm, moist oven for 45 minutes.  Remove and top.  Bake at 450°.

    This crust is very flavorful, has moderate chew, and a slightly crisp exterior.
  • #2 by tomz on 18 Sep 2014
  • I just spent the afternoon reviewing all the whole wheat recipes posted here and I liked yours because they use a starter.  Using your weights and percentages I've tried to formulate a recipe for a 14 inch pie.  The starter is 15% of the levain, which makes it about 6% of the total flour weight, according to my calculations based on the recipe you posted here: in reply #2.  In your most recent post, I'm not sure how you come up with 30% prefermented flour or what that means exactly.  In my calculations, about 50% of the total flour (WW & BF) is prefermented in the soaker and the levain.  Your pies look great and I like that you bake them at temps a home oven can handle.  I've been making mediocre pizza at home for a long time and recently have started the process of improving my output by getting a stone and a Deni pizza oven, but my goal is to make a 100% or almost 100% whole wheat pizza that tastes as good as the Lehmann NY pies I see here.  Your creations certainly look like they can be that good.  Thanks.
  • #3 by charbo on 18 Sep 2014
  • The prefermented flour percent is simply the weight of the flour in the starter, plus the weight of the other flour in the levain, the sum being then divided by total flour weight.

    For example, let’s say that a starter was 100% hydration.  30g of starter has 15g flour.  If you added 85g of flour (plus water) to make a levain, you’d have 100g prefermented flour.  At finally dough assembly, you add another 300g of flour (and some water) whether pre-soaked or not.  Total flour is 400g, of which 25% was prefermented.  Soaker flour is not considered prefermented.

    These are high preferment percentages for pizza.  For a while I was using 50%, which I got from Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.  A high prefermented flour percent, especially with a parallel room-temp soaker, tells one that the final dough needs very little additional fermentation time.
  • #4 by tomz on 18 Sep 2014
  • OK.  I think I have it.  I was including the soaker flour as part of the prefermented flour.  Thanks for the clear explanation.   I just started a 100% hydration sourdough starter I got at the cheese factory in Sonoma.  Did you use Carl's?
  • #5 by charbo on 18 Sep 2014
  • I am still with Carl's.

    Good luck.
  • #6 by barryvabeach on 24 Sep 2014
  • Charbro,  I have the Reinhart Whole Grain book for a while, and have used his soaker - biga recipes, and even adapted them to other breads, but primarily using yeast.  I just started using his instructions for making a seed culture, then a mother starter, but am confused about how he maintains a mother starter.  All he says is to take a piece of mother starter and treat it like the seed culture.  With my Ischia starter, I just refresh 1 part starter to 2 parts water and 2 parts flour, and through it right back in the fridge to stay a week,  it that how you maintain your mother, or do you mix it, let it ripen 8 hours, knock it down, then through it in the fridge ?  Thanks for any help. 
  • #7 by charbo on 24 Sep 2014
  • Barry,

    I maintain similar to you, but I feed at a higher rate: 1/3/3.5 (starter/water/flour).  I then leave it on the counter for 30-45 minutes before refrigerating.  After 5.5 days, I bring it out and let it ripen for 24 hours before feeding.  I mainly feed just to generate discard for pancakes. 


  • #8 by barryvabeach on 24 Sep 2014
  • thanks for the reply.  BTW,  we need to get you off the slope and into the deep end of the pool soon, and ditch that AP flour (  :-D

    I see you are using home milled, I find that my red spring WW is a lot stronger than the white winter whole wheat, and have had problems with tearing with the WWWW using certain recipes and high hydration ( 80 to 82%).  For breads, I have started adding a little ground vitamin c to the flour, and that has helped the rise a lot - not sure how much it will help with pizza, but something to consider.
  • #9 by charbo on 24 Sep 2014
  • Sometimes I feel guilty about only 80% WW.  However, I get a lot of other fiber in my diet, and the refined flour provides a little more lift for the pizza.  Ideally, I’d use bread flour for the 20% instead of the AP, but that would mean one more flour to keep.  As it is, I have many pounds of flour and grain in the house and fridge.

    Probably the best-looking slices I’ve made have been with spring wheat, but I think winter tastes a little better.  I rarely make loaves, and spring wheat would be one more grain to keep and mill.  The winter is more of a general–purpose whole wheat.  However, it would be interesting to see a pan-risen pizza using whole spring wheat.

    I tried Vit C a few years back.  It may have made a difference, but it’s hard to be sure with a flat bread.

    When I first started with WW, I was focused on building gluten strength, as in elasticity.  That turns out to be easy.  I now realize that the key to pizza is extensibility, while maintaining the strength to support the toppings. 
  • #10 by charbo on 08 Dec 2014
  • Since the weather is cooler now, I leave the fermenting dough covered on the counter, instead of refrigerating.  This pizza was made using the above recipe, except that the dough sat about 5.5 hours at 60-62°F.  The dough is slightly more extensible.
  • #11 by barryvabeach on 11 Dec 2014
  • 60 to 62 is pretty cold for your house temp -  though I understand that would be a better idea than a fridge.  I have had very little luck with Whole wheat and refrigerators. 
  • #12 by charbo on 12 Dec 2014
  • Prior to final dough assembly, all of the dough has been wet, either in the levain or the soaker, for about 13 hours at temps up to 75°F.  The subsequent period, either in the reefer or on the counter, is mainly a holding period, and I'm not looking for much dough development then.  The final, 45-minute period, when the dough is stretched on the pan, is probably at about 90°F.