I am pleased to report that tonight I achieved what I consider to be a significant step forward in the evolution of the Lehmann NY style dough and pizza. I made a high quality autolyse-based Lehmann NY style dough using only a natural preferment (no commercial yeast). I had been thinking for some time how to do this, and I had been leaning toward using a small amount of preferment, as I had been doing with success in the Caputo 00 dough experiments. But it wasn't until I read a recent post of fellow member Bakerboy, a baker by profession, in which he stated that a lot of preferment would be necessary to achieve satisfactory fermentation in a retarded dough. Thankfully, he said how much--15% to 20% by weight of flour. Armed with that important piece of information (for which I am very grateful to Bakerboy), I decided to see if I could make a retarded Lehmann NY style dough using only a natural preferment. While I was at it, I decided to use an autolyse, and for the autolyse, I chose to use the Prof. Calvel approach as was recently explained to the membership by our good friend DINKS.
To make the dough, I used the basic recipe for a 16-inch skin posted at Reply #85 at this thread, and modified it to use 20% preferment by weight of flour. For the preferment, I used the natural Caputo 00 preferment I originally developed for use with the Caputo 00 flour but which I have been gradually converting to an all-purpose preferment by feeding it with an unbleached, nonbromated all-purpose flour. The final recipe (with baker's percents) was as follows:
100%, Flour, King Arthur Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour, 11.76 oz. (2 1/2 c. plus 2 T.)
63%, Water, 7.16 oz. (7/8 c.) (temp. adjusted to achieve a finished dough temp. of 80 degrees F)
1.75%, Salt, 0.20 oz. (1 t.)
1%, Olive oil, 0.11 oz. (a bit less than 3/4 t.)
20%, Natural Preferment, 2.27 oz. (a bit more than 5 T.)
Total dough weight: 21.11 oz.
TF = 0.105
The dough was processed in a KitchenAid stand mixer using the techniques as previously described at this thread for such a machine. However, as indicated above, this time I interjected the Calvel autolyse into the process. Although the Calvel autolyse has been described before at other threads (and most recently at the DiFara reverse engineering thread), the Calvel autolyse approach entails combining one-third of the flour (3.92 oz.), one-third of the water (2.39 oz.) and the natural preferment, following which the dough is subjected to an autolyse rest period of 30 minutes. Then the rest of the flour and the rest of the water are added to the dough and thoroughly combined, and the process is completed by adding the olive oil and kneading that into the dough (about 2 minutes) and finally the salt. The dough is then kneaded, for about 6-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and without any tears on the outer surface, and the dough is sticky and not wet. At this point, the dough is subjected to another rest period of about 15 minutes.
As I worked through the above process, I used a spatula to facilitate the combining and mixing of the dough by directing the flour into the path of the dough hook and dislodging the dough when it tended to ride high on the dough hook. Since the preferment was like a pancake batter, I found it necessary to make slight adjustments to the flour (reflected in the above recipe) but I tried as much as possible to keep the dough on the sticky side. The finished dough was extremely soft and smooth, and it was clearly evident that the autolyse was largely responsible. The finished dough temperature was around 79 degrees F. The dough was very lightly coated with olive oil, flattened and placed into a plastic storage bag, and put into the refrigerator. It stayed there for about 45 hours.
At the end of the 45-hour retardation period, the dough was brought out to room temperature, placed on a work surface, coated lightly with a small amount of bench flour, and covered with a sheet of plastic wrap. When the dough temperature reached about 63 degrees F, in about two hours, it was shaped into a 16-inch skin. I had no difficulty whatsoever in shaping and stretching the dough. It was a bit more extensible than the most recent doughs I have made, but it showed no signs of tearing or developing weak or thin spots. I placed the skin on a 16-inch pizza screen and dressed the skin in a simple manner with 6-in-1 tomatoes, some LaRegina DOP San Marzano tomatoes, dried oregano, processed mozzarella cheese, some fresh mozzarella cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. The pizza was baked at about 500-550 degrees F on the uppermost oven rack for about 6 minutes, following which it was transferred to a pizza stone (preheated for about an hour at the above temperature) at the lowest oven rack position for a final two minutes or so to achieve additional bottom crust browning.
I thought the finished pizza was exceptionally good, one of the best Lehmann pizzas I have made. The crust was chewy, tender, and crispy at the same time, with an exceptional amount of airiness, both in the rim and the rest of the crust. As readers of this thread may recall, I have used autolyse before for a Lehmann style dough and felt that it created a bread-like crumb, which I did not particularly want, but this time it was quite enjoyable. The crust also had a nice flavor. It wasn't as intense as with the crusts I have made using room temperature fermented dough, but it was clearly more flavorful than the usual Lehmann crust. I suspect that the next step in the evolution of the Lehmann dough may involve a room temperature fermented dough using only a natural preferment.
The photos of today's pizza are shown below.