I recently discovered a nearly full bag of Antimo Caputo 00 “Chef’s Flour” lurking at the back of my pantry. The bag had a use by date of 2014 but it had been stored in a cool, dry pantry for the last 4 years. It looked fine, smelled fine, tasted fine.... why not use it up, right?
Three attempts at pizza later, I’m stumped. The first round started with a poolish to lend some extensibility to the dough. Strangely textured even after the initial mixing, fermenting for the usual 12 hours produced a larger mass that was devoid of any of the usual bubbly, stringy character I’m used to. Proceeding to a final dough (if you can even call it that) resulted in a material more like Play-Doh than something intended for pizza. No windowpane, not even a string of connective tissue was present. It looked more like a cookie dough than anything related to bread.
i wrote that off as an obvious error on my part, probably due to an ever-dwindling attention span. Two more attempts later using the Forkish single ball recipe as a standard lead me to believe that this time it may not be my fault. And with two fresher bags of 00 as a control, I think I may have even proved my innocence.
The question is: What Happened? Does gluten evaporate over time? Is there some reaction that can occur over time to render it so utterly useless? Or did it just curl up and die from loneliness?
I’ve tossed the rest of that bag but would appreciate any theories on the cause.