The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pizza dough

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sybram's picture
sybram

Pizza dough

I've seen numerous postings on this site mentioning that pizza dough is one of the things you can do with your starter discard, but I've never been able to find a recipe for such.  Do you just wing it?  Does it matter how old the discard is?  What ratio discard to flour do you use, or does it matter?


Syb

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Actually, Syb, everything you make out of sourdough is essentially made of "discard". 


A while back here on TFL, there was a discussion about standardizing terms so everyone who said "fresh starter" or "ripe starter" or "old starter" or "mother" or "discard" or what have you, knew exactly what it meant and everyone would think exactly the same thing when a term came up.  But I'm not sure exactly what happened beyond that discussion.


In my mind (and I'm a relative newbie and am often wrong, so bear with me--I'm taking a risk here!), "discard" is the following:


When it's time to feed your "mother" starter (the main supply of starter), I consider that starter to be "ripe" (ready to be used).  I will "discard" some of it (usually half) and feed the rest by adding the desired ratio of water and flour.  


However, I don't necessarily thow that "discard" of ripe starter away (In other words, I don't discard the "discard").    That's what I use in my recipes.  When a sourdough pizza recipe calls for 130 grams of sourdough starter, I use 130 grams of my discard.  When I need 50 grams for a loaf of bread, it's 50 grams of my discard. 


If the discard is not enough by weight for a given recipe, I might either "build" the discard by feeding it to get the desired amount and letting all that ripen, or I might have built up my mother starter beforehand to yield the desired amount of "discard". 


You don't need to look for recipes that are specifically to use up your discard--they won't say or be called "discard user uppers" (for lack of a better description).  Instead, you need to think through how much starter you typically maintain and how much you discard each feeding and then look for recipes to use up that discard that are easy and quick to use. 


EXAMPLE:  I maintain about 240 grams of starter, and it lives in the fridge most of the week.  On Saturday night I take it out and let it warm up for a feeding.  I am going to "discard" 120 grams of starter (half).  That 120 grams of discard goes into a sponge for the sourdough english muffins I  make every Sunday morning (Wild Yeast's recipe--YUM!).  I feed up the mother starter and put it back in the fridge (unless I want it for something else in the next day or two). 


This is my system for frugal starter management.  I am maintaining a weekly feeding schedule for my starter and I don't throw anything away because the "discard" goes into my english muffins.  Or, if I feel like having pizza that week instead, I look for  a sourdough recipe for pizza dough and use my starter for that instead of (or in addition to) english muffins. 


I hope I haven't confused you.  The bottom line is, if you want to use up your discard on pizza dough, look for ANY sourdough pizza recipe and use your discard for that. 

sybram's picture
sybram

Well, yes, I understand/agree with your discard definitions as far as they go, but there's  that other discard that's put in a separate bowl in the fridge that builds up in volume.  It seems some bread products don't need such "ripe" starter and will do fine with this older, certainly not as ripe and potent, sourdough.  Pizza, pancakes and the English muffins are some I remember "hearing" about on TFL. 


Thanks for sharing your procedure.  I'm going to write it down and see if it I might model it.  It seems good, although your life sounds a lot more structured than mine.  I will bake 3-4 days in a row (sometimes 3 different recipes [doubled] in the same day), then not again for 2 weeks.  That part probably wouldn't matter.


Syb

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I really do have a lot of respect for the folks who set the bar so high here on TFL. I hope to get up in those ranks one day. In the mean time, I find that I have a lot of fun not being so "classic recipe" oriented in my baking. I figure that If I want to learn, I have to be willing to take a chance and minimize the idea that I'm still learning. Rome wasn't built in a day and baking a good baguette or ciabatta takes time too.


If you've got a sourdough starter, by now you've probably followed enough threads to take a chance at being right. How else do we learn about the differences between using a starter and using commercial yeast? We read about whole wheat flour hydration but until I started measuring out the ingredients and comparing the real world results with the books, it could've been all so much blah, blah, blah.


I plan on working up about six recipes that I can produce with consistency and quality by the end of this year. I expect that it will require some intellectual curiosity, discipline in technique, and some artistic expression. Plus, I can usually eat the evidence when my loaves don't quite come up to expectations. That's a lot more than I could say about my home brewing beer experiments.


Have fun, bake fearlessly, and if it ever comes to it, remember to feed the birds.


 

sybram's picture
sybram

I'm with you, PG.  I like to bake the same recipes over and over, changing this or that to see what happens and what I like best.  Ignorance is not bliss for me, although it can't be helped immediately for a relative novice like myself.  I'm so tickled when I learn a new "trick" from you guys.


Syb

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

I take Janknitz's point about the difficulty in defining "discard"...but I think sybram's use of the term is clear enough. ie: starter you have not specifically planned to use in a bread (or other sourdough creation) and will end up discarding if you can't quickly and conveniently find a use for it.


Anyone who keeps feeding their starter, rather than refrigerating it between feeds then taking it out of the fridge to build it up for use in a recipe, will inevitably have "discard" they have no immediate use for. Sybram, I believe, is looking for quick uses for this excess starter, being loathe to simply throw it in the compost or whatever.


So, sybram, there are many possible ways to use your excess starter. Now that summer is approaching here, I refrigerate my starter in between builds, although in the cooler months I bake enough bread to keep it fed and active all the time. I also hate throwing excess starter out, and during the cooler months make pancakes from it once or twice per week. They are YUM. Ditto banana bread, chapatis and parathas. Most of my excess starter is used up on these delights.


But to return to your query about pizza, I make sourdough pizzas every week, but love them so much that I would make sure I always had starter specifically for this use, rather than merely resorting to pizzas as a way of using excess starter. IMO sourdough pizzas are superior in flavour to dry yeast ones, and say that after making quite a lot of both types. Note, though, you only need 30gm of starter for two 14 inch sourdough pizzas, at least in the dough mix I use...so you're not going to use up a lot of excess starter on pizzas.


After quite a lot of experimenting with different sourdough pizza recipes, the best dough mix I've found is on Jeff Varasano's site (google for it - when I put a link in I trigger the spam filter for some reason). As you'll note, he's a pizza maniac, quite obsessive, and very opinionated on how pizzas "should" be made - didactic, even. But you've got to respect his depth of knowledge, and I notice he's now put it to commercial use, having opened his own pizzeria. I have found no better pizza dough recipe. It's a beauty. Recommend you give it a go! Would be great if you report back with your results.


Cheers
Ross

sybram's picture
sybram

Yes, Ross, you definitely get my drift, and thanks for the pizza man link.  I'm on it.  But the other items you mentioned--do you use "old" discard for them?  Do they take less umph from the sd (and what are chapatis and parathas)?  Do you use more sd because it's old and less potent?


Syb

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

But the other items you mentioned--do you use "old" discard for them?  Do they take less umph from the sd (and what are chapatis and parathas)?  Do you use more sd because it's old and less potent?

Not sure what you mean, syb. It's just the excess starter I have after daily feeding when I haven't got a bread planned to use it on. ie: it's still fresh, so as potent as any starter I'd use in a bread.


Chapatis and parathas are Indian flatbreads - delicious, easy and there's nothing better as an accompaniment to Indian curries. Sounds like you're not into Indian, but if you are interested, I can give you my recipes. Cheers R

sybram's picture
sybram

By "old" I meant the leftover starter accumulated from a few or several feedings. 


No, I've never eaten Indian food, but I've been wanting a good flatbread recipe to make while camping.  I trail ride, and an easy flatbread would be good with some of the things I cook there, and it would fit in with the time I have to devote to it rather than a long rise bread.  That said, I would love to have your recipes if you would be so kind to share them.


Syb

sybram's picture
sybram

Oh my goodness, you were so right.  This guy is a pizza wild man!  Did you clip the lock off your oven to achieve the higher heat?  I'm going to approach my husband about it.  Can't see him going for it, but it's worth a try.   I'm sure any warranty would be negated if you did this, but my ovens are old and out of warranty, so what the hay?

gcook17's picture
gcook17

Here's the formula I use.  I adapted it from the pizza dough formula in ABAP by Suas.  The levain is actually my discarded stiff starter which is 50% hydrated.  I usually make 12" pizzas with 10 oz. of dough per pizza.  The amounts below make enough for 6 such pizzas.  I usually freeze the ones I don't need right away.  I take them out of the freezer a day or two before I need them and put them in the fridge.  They come out of the fridge 2-4 hours before I want to bake the pizzas.


 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Formula

Levain

 

Final Dough

Grains

 

%

Quantity

%

Quantity

%

Quantity

 

Bread Flour

100.0%

32.49

100.0%

6.84

100.0%

25.7

 

Water

77.0%

25.02

50.0%

3.42

84.2%

21.6

 

Yeast

0.2%

.07

 

 

0.3%

.07

29

Salt

2.0%

.64

 

 

2.5%

.64

281

Malt

0.5%

.16

 

 

0.6%

.16

72

Oil

5.0%

1.62

 

 

6.3%

1.62

 

Levain

 

 

 

 

40.0%

10.26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

184.7%

60.

150.0%

10.26

233.9%

60.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix

Short-Improved

 

 

 

 

 

DDT

73-76

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferm

2 hours w/ 2 folds

 

 

 

 

 

Rest

20-30 min.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make 10 oz. pizzas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's also a comment on this with a different pecentage of levain at: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11729/day-three-pineapple-juice-starter

 I can't remember why I lowered the levain amount.  One thing I noticed lately is that this dough is a little too wet so you may have to increase the amount of flour or levain/stiff starter.  Here is the formula for the 60% version.  I hope this helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Formula

Levain

 

Final Dough

Grains

 

%

Quantity

%

Quantity

%

Quantity

 

Bread Flour

100.0%

32.5

100.0%

9.28

100.0%

23.2

 

Water

77.0%

25.02

50.0%

4.64

87.8%

20.4

 

Yeast

0.2%

.06

 

 

0.3%

.06

26

Salt

2.0%

.65

 

 

2.8%

.65

284

Malt

0.5%

.15

 

 

0.6%

.15

65

Oil

5.0%

1.62

 

 

7.0%

1.62

 

Levain

 

 

 

 

60.0%

13.93

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

184.6%

60.

150.0%

13.93

258.5%

60.00

 

sybram's picture
sybram

Thanks so much for sharing.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I don't save every bit of discard because then I'd have lots of little baby starters and no room for food in the fridge.  I either plan to use it up (as in the english muffins) or I throw it away. 


My family already thinks I'm nuts because of my collection of fermenting objects in the fridge and freezer (one 100% hydration starter, one firm starter, kefir grains and homemade drinking kefir, homemade yogurt and yogurt culture--oh, and my "insurance starter" in frozen and backup forms).  If I started keeping all the discards too, I think I'd get thrown out of the house along with all the yeasties. 


If you want to make something out of your discard, by all means, do.  But my personal feeling is that if you don't have an immediate use for it, let it go, throw it away (hopefully in your compost), be done with it.  Maintain as little of the mother starter as possible so as to minimize waste, but don't fret about every drop.  If you save it all, you will soon be like the sorcerer's apprentice--a slave to the voracious wild yeast gods.  Scary thought ;o)

sybram's picture
sybram

I think you just might be right.  I tend to make and way too much starter to have on hand, thinking I'll surely have time to make this, this and this tomorrow or the next day.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't (wherein lies the problem).


Syb

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller


If you save it all, you will soon be like the sorcerer's apprentice--a slave to the voracious wild yeast gods.



Hahaha - but aren't we all already!??

sybram's picture
sybram

And that's the real truth.  My family thinks I'm nuts, because most everything I do has to be worked in around my baking, rising, mixing, fermenting and retarding.  They don't understand the addiction.

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

With all due respect to Jeff Varasano, there is no reason to tamper with the operation of your oven in order to achieve good pizza in a standard domestic electric oven.





Char:



Everything above was the result of well fermented dough (an ongoing experiment/project) and pizza stone under a broiler.


It takes a while to get the balance and timing right but when you do, you should find a simple electric oven is all you need to get decent pizza.


FP

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Agree foolishpoolish. Jeff is clearly an extremist and a perfectionist with a very strong vision of the Ideal Pizza. I respect that sort of obsessive, no-compromise commitment to an ideal, but not as far as replicating his oven mods!


In Australia many people, including me, don't even have broilers in their ovens, but there are workarounds. For example, using the griller to pre-cook the base and get a char up before finishing off in the oven. I know somone who uses their barbecue and swears by it. I turn out pizzas I'm very pleased with simply using an unmodified domestic oven and Jeff's dough recipe, thus:


Oven up to max temperature (250C in my case), pre-heat a pizza stone for 45 minutes or longer and bake the pizza on the stone for 8-9 minutes instead of Jeff's quick blast...and voila! Of course, you're never going to exactly replicate high temperature wood-fired oven pizzas using a domestic oven, but second-best is still damned fine, especially compared with most bought ones. In fact, IMO a well executed sourdough pizza done in a domestic oven beats a dry yeast one done in a wood-fired.

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Hi Ross,


I definitely agree that baking off terrific pizzas is perfectly possible in a standard, non-rigged home oven! :)


However, this whole sourdough pizza thing is something I don't really "get". When I bake ordinary breads, I do taste a slight difference between a country style loaf that's been made entirely with sourdough and one that's been made with a yeasted preferment. There are very subtle, long lasting flavour notes inherent in the naturally leavened loaf that are not there in the yeasted one. But to me, they're very subtle. Once I start putting things on top of the bread slices, I'm having a really hard time distinguishing a naturally leavened pain au levain and an equivalent loaf made with a perfectly ripe poolish. To me, they're both great. It could possibly be easiest to distinguish them by studying the crumb, where the colour and structure could separate them. Tastewise? I'm not sophisticated enough...


I don't think it's possible for my (possibly underdeveloped) taste buds to taste a difference between a SD pizza crust and a long fermented yeasted crust when it's topped with tomatoes, basil and mozarella.


I also find that it simply isn't possible to replicate a commercial oven setting by one's home oven. We do as best as we can with baking stones and various schemes to generate steam, but my baguettes, loaves and pizzas lack that extra crunchy, caramelized oomph they would get from a commercial oven. Still, perfectly edible and delicious breads and pizzas in a non-rigged home oven? You bet!

sybram's picture
sybram

Wow!  Thes pies look wonderful!  How high do you have your shelf.  Can you explain the process, please? 


Syb

sewcial's picture
sewcial

I have a gas oven. By putting the stone right on the oven floor, I can get a nice char, but I really don't prefer my pizza too charred. When I baked it that way, it was just a bit blacker on the bottom than we like it, so I put the stone on the very lowest rack setting, preheat for an hour or more, then bake 8-12 minutes. It comes out great.


I read the Jeff Varasano article and he said he freezes his dough balls. I wasn't clear on how much rising the dough did before he froze them. Does anyone here freeze your pizza dough. When I tried it with some dough I had made and fermented till triple in size, they did not do well when I thawed and  baked them. They were tough and not pleasant. I'd like to be able to freeze the dough so I can have it without spending time making the dough during the holidays when all the grandchildren are here, but only if the pizza will be great when we eat it.


Any tips on freezing pizza dough?

sybram's picture
sybram

Yes, I freeze my pizza dough per The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  Spray the inside of a small Ziplock with Pam, and put enough dough in for 2,3 or however many crusts you want to make at a time.  Do this as soon as you mix up the dough, and freeze immediately.  Take dough out of freezer and put in fridge the day before you want to make pizzas (can leave in fridge up to three days).  Take out of fridge, make 5" circle for each crust, let sit out for two hours, shape, top and bake. 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Hi Hans. I can only say that I can easily tell the difference between my sourdough pizzas and the dry yeast ones I used to bake all the time - both in flavour and texture. As to which is better: well, for me it's certainly the sourdough ones, but it has to come down to a matter of personal taste.  I should add, I have certainly enjoyed dry yeast pizzas a lot! So, I'm not claiming sourdough is the ONLY way to go. I can just state that it's my clear preference. (Note: I do spike my SD pizzas with a pinch of dry yeast, as per Jeff's recipe).


We are basically in agreement on most points you raised, however.


sewcial,


Hmm, when I first read through Jeff Varasano's site, I don't recall him saying he freezes his dough. I notice he's changed his site since opening his pizzeria, although most of it is as I recall from the original. Maybe he's now freezing his dough out of necessity, with commercial quantity demands forcing the issue?


Whatever, I never freeze mine. I do retard it for up to 4 days in the fridge, though, and the flavour seems more fully developed after 2 days at least, than after 1-2 days. I can't claim to have done a lot of experimenting with this...just an observation based on limited data!


Like you, by the way, I don't like my pizzas too charred.


Cheers all
Ross

Ambimom's picture
Ambimom

I've made this several times.....it's delicious and v.v. easy...


 


www.recipezaar.com


Recipe #98733 (sourdough pizza crust)

sybram's picture
sybram

Thanks so much for the recipe link.  Can't wait to try it.


syb