Last night I made another experimental Caputo 00 pie. The main purpose of the pie was to see if I could increase the coloration of the crust, a common problem with baking Caputo 00 crusts in a home oven. I had previously experimented with using dry dairy whey, and reported (favorably) on the results of those experiments--both at this thread and the A16 thread--but yesterday’s experiment tested an entirely different approach. This approach was based on the conversion of damaged starch in the Caputo 00 flour to sugar.
For those who are unfamiliar with damaged starch, it is starch that is primarily damaged during milling. But it is important to the overall success of a dough because it is this damaged starch that is attacked by enzymes (principally alpha amylase) to produce sugar to feed the yeast during fermentation and to provide sugar to be used to color the crust. Unlike domestic flours, and especially those based on hard red wheat, the Italian 00 flours, including the Caputo 00 flour, have less starch damage than our domestic flours. To improve starch conversion to sugar in U.S. flours (and to speed up fermentation), it is common for millers to add diastatic barley malt to their flours. The diastatic barley malt provides extra alpha amylase enzyme beyond that originally present in the flour before malting. To the best of my knowledge, Italian millers do not malt their 00 flours, and judging from the limited specs I have seen for the Caputo 00 pizzeria flour (e.g., a high “falling number”), Molino Caputo, the miller of the Caputo 00 flour, does not.
I decided to see if I could increase the amount of starch damage in Caputo 00 flour and then add diastatic barley malt, which is commonly available in food outlets, with the objective of increasing the amount of sugar extracted from the flour. I was particularly looking for an increase in residual sugar, the sugar that remains after the yeast is fed and is in the dough at the time of baking. I theorized that this residual sugar would then be available for increased crust coloration (browning). My first instinct was to run the Caputo 00 flour through my Cuisinart food processor—to, in effect, pulverize it and damage some of the starch molecules. Since I wasn’t sure that this would work, I asked Tom Lehmann through a post at the PMQ Think Tank forum if that approach would work. He replied that he thought that it would work and even suggested an alternative approach. (For those who are interested in our exchange, see http://www.pmq.com/cgi-bin/tt/index.cgi/read/20279
.) In my case, I simply decided just to drop the Caputo 00 flour I planned to use in the recipe down the chute of my food processor, a tablespoon at a time, while the processor was operating at full speed.
For the recipe I selected for the experiment, I decided to use a natural preferment for a Caputo 00 dough that would be fermented entirely at room temperature, for a total of around 13 hours. To sustain that long a period of fermentation/ripening, and because of my above normal room temperature (far above the ideal range of 64.4-68 degrees F recommended by pizzanapoletana), I reduced the amount of preferment from a typical 20% (by weight of flour) to 15%. The final recipe I used, including baker’s percents, was as follows:
100%, Caputo 00 pizzeria flour, 6.97 oz. (1 1/2 c. plus 1 T.)
57.3%, Water, 4.00 oz. (about 1/2 c.)
2.4%, Sea salt, 0.17 oz. (a bit less than 7/8 t.)
1.79%, Extra-virgin olive oil, 0.13 oz. (a bit more than 3/4 t.)
0.2% dry diastatic malt, 0.014 oz. (about 1/6 t.) (Note: I used the Bob’s Red Mill brand from Whole Foods)
15%, Natural preferment, 1.05 oz. (a bit over 2 T.)
Dough ball weight = 12.32 oz. (for one 13-inch pizza)
Finished dough temperature = 79.5 degrees F
Thickness factor (TF) = 0.093
In preparation for making the dough, I had to ready the preferment. The night before I was to make the dough, I took a small portion of one of my semi-liquid natural preferments and refreshed it with an equal amount of flour and warm water. I then covered it and put it on my kitchen countertop to ferment overnight, a period of about 8 hours. By that time it had a lot of little bubbles and was ready to use. To make the dough itself, I first dissolved the salt in the water, then stirred in the preferment and the olive oil, and gradually added most of the flour, to which the diastatic malt had been added, and mixed them all together, using a wooden spoon, until a rough but still wet dough ball had formed. I finished kneading the dough by hand on a work surface using the remaining flour. As is often the case when working with semi-liquid preferments, a small amount of additional flour was needed to achieve the proper smooth, silky and elastic dough ball and also to adjust the total dough ball weight to the preestablished value (12.32 oz. in this case). The final kneading process took only a few minutes.
The finished dough ball was put into a plastic container and placed (covered) on my kitchen countertop. After 6 hours, the dough had barely risen and had slumped into a flatter shape. I just reshaped and rerounded it, mainly to get a feel and sense of the condition of the dough. It then went through additional fermentation/ripening for about another 7 hours. The dough volume increased only gradually over most of that time, but started to expand quickly during the last few hours, about doubling in volume. I then removed the dough to shape into a skin. The dough was very soft and a bit on the damp side, but that was easily overcome by a small amount of bench flour. The dough handled very nicely, although it was more extensible than elastic. But I had no problems whatsoever shaping it out to the desired 13-inch round. It exhibited some bubbling but not much.
The dough was dressed in simple Margherita style and baked on a pizza stone that had been placed on the lowest oven rack and preheated for about one hour at around 500-550 degrees F. Although the crust exhibited reasonable browning during the 5 minutes it was on the stone, it was not the degree of color I was hoping for. So I moved the pizza to the top oven rack and exposed it to the broiler element, which had been turned on about 4 minutes into the bake cycle. The crust browned up almost immediately, faster than I normally achieve using just the Caputo 00 flour by itself. It was under the broiler element for a bit under a minute.
The finished crust was one of the best I have made with the Caputo 00 flour. It was chewy, crispy, with a lot of flavors of fermentation—subtle but clearly in evidence. It’s hard to explain, but parts of the crust had almost a layered effect, with a hint of flavor reminiscent of butter (almost like a croissant). There was also good oven spring in the crust, and a nice crumb, but without being--or tasting--bready. The rim (cornicione
) was normal size and shape, although I could see puffiness as the pizza was baking.
More work remains to be done to determine the reproducibility of the crust, and to test using different amounts of diastatic malt (I had used the amount that fellow member David came up with from his research on diastatic malt) and other possible techniques for achieving damaged starch in the Caputo 00 flour.
The photos below show the finished product.