Author Topic: Need a variation on a 24hr room temp no knead fermentation with more strength  (Read 1935 times)

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Offline nicklear

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I'm working at a Children's centre in Mozambique and I'm starting to train some of the older boys to make and sell pizza.

Last week was our first big night - we made 40 pizzas - and I did not realise how much work that would be!

I have been experimenting recently with knead vs no knead, and I decided for our first attempt to go with the Jim Lahey pizza recipe, which I had down from some googling as yeast .2%, salt 2% and water 70%. There is only one flour you can buy in bulk here and it is labelled as bread flour and it's not bad, no idea of the protein % though. It does seem to be quite a thirsty dough.

I mixed up a 5kg+ batch and left it for about 23 hours at room temp - which is pretty hot here, around 85-90F in the day and 70-75F at night. After 23 hours it had almost doubled, had some bubbles on top, but not as many as I have seen in some photos. I thought it might over-rise with the high temp's, maybe because my yeast is pretty old, I don't know. Then balled at 200g and proofed at room temp for 2-5 hours, from the first to last pizza.

Anyway, we fired up the old WFO on the base, which was an adventure, e.g. the wood and bamboo that is in the hearth (!) catching fire, plus the dome cracked... but the pizzas actually came out really great, I was so happy.

The only downside was that the no knead wet dough was too difficult for the boys, who've only had a few lessons so far, to shape into bases. But it tasted great and I think the high hydration worked well - better than a couple of experiments we'd done with lower water %'s.

So is there a way to improve the strength, but keep the flavour and hydration? Cold fermentation is not an option as there's no fridge. What happens if they knead the dough and then leave it for the same 24 hour rise? Everything is by hand, which is why I wanted to get no knead to work if I could.

Many thanks for any input.


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Nick, do you have any kind of basement area or a room with air conditioning?  With the temps you're dealing with, I think it's going to be a bit frustrating to achieve consistent results.

Was the dough too slack or too tight to form? If it's too slack, then you definitely want to dial back the water.  65% is a lot more sensible for your average bread flour.

If it's too tight, you need to ball the dough a lot earlier than 2 hours before forming. You want to give the dough plenty of time to relax after balling- 6 hours minimum.

As you dial in the fermentation, the balling schedule, and the hydration, the dough will naturally become much easier to open.  Also, as the helpers open more dough balls, their skills will improve. How are your dough opening skills?  In order to train them well, your skills should be immaculate.

Offline nicklear

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Thanks for those thoughts Scott. We do have a basement storage room for the main kitchen, maybe that is a bit cooler / consistent, I could try that. No air con though.

The dough was too slack, so I will try cutting the hydration %. My skills unfortunately are intermediate at best, but I'm all they've got!  :) I have been trying to watch as many youtube videos as I can and practicing myself, but I'm a bit isolated out here.

I was thinking this week of trying kneading the dough this time (by hand, but five of us can all do 1kg batches each!), but still using a long bulk fermentation time with a low yeast % like 0.2% again (I forgot to say it's instant yeast that we can get here). Do you think I'd be better doing the long fermentation time at the bulk stage or after balling? We don't have proofing boxes, the best I can do is using zip-lock bags.

I have a new problem, which is that the time we have available is Friday night for prep and then Sunday night to cook. Could I do a 48hr bulk fermentation with half the yeast amount as last time? Could I freeze the bulk dough for 24 hours (we do have a chest freezer available)? This isn't a professional operation, I'm trying to work around my family commitments and ultimately I want to set up a system where they don't need me at all.

Offline The Dough Doctor

  • Tom Lehmann
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I'm thinking that your fermentation is too long for your conditions and flour at hand. You might try this:
Begin with less water, say 65% and make further adjustments as necessary. Suspend the yeast in the water, are you using Engadura yeast or a locally produced fresh yeast? In either case, do suspend it in the water. Then add the flour, salt and sugar if used. Stir the ingredients together until thoroughly whetted, add the oil of shortening and continue stirring for a few more minutes. Cover and set aside to rise for 2-hours, then punch the dough down in the bowl and turn it over. Allow to rise for 30-minutes more, then turn the dough out onto a bench for cutting/scaling and forming into dough balls. Set the dough balls aside, sprinkle with flour and cover with a sheet of plastic to prevent drying. Allow the dough balls to rest/ferment for 30 to 60-minutes, or until they can be easily opened into pizza skins, then dress the skins and bake in your normal manner. I've used this procedure in a number of developing countries and remote areas with very good success.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor