The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

More Naturally Leavened Pizza Problems

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

More Naturally Leavened Pizza Problems

Hey All,

A while ago, I was having issues with my pizza dough balls flattening out. Now, I have issues with my naturally leavened pizza dough getting rise in the oven and getting crisp on the bottom.

 

My starter is fed at 20% inoculation every 12 hours using cool tap water and kept at 100% hydration. I use entirely central milling artisan bakers flour - unmalted and unenriched.

My dough recipe has been, generally, as follows. 100% CM Artisan Baker's Craft, 62% to 65% room temperature water, 2.6% salt, 20% active leaven. This leaven has been everything from simply my starter at peak that would normally be discard, to a 1:1:1 leaven used in 3 hours to a 1:2:2 leaven used in 5 to 6 hours. The results have been the same, however. My final dough temp has landed anywhere from 74 to 80f - trying to stay in that range.

My fermentation has been as follows - 3 to 3.5 hours in bulk with folds every 45 minutes, ball, 2 hour room temp ball proof, then retard in fridge.

The dough balls have been holding shape and, from 62 to 65% hydration (not including leaven,) have been easy to stretch and have felt relatively airy. That being said, a few batches have felt stiff or "card-boardy" where the dough is less fluid and more rigid. Best I can describe it. Not even elastic - just stiff.

Despite the dough balls being airy, they are baking up very poorly. For the most part, flat bubbles in the center and layers of dough that look like the gluten has "split;" almost as if its rising up then frays. The bubbles remind me of my underfermented commercially yeasted dough. The bottoms bake somewhat crisp but more often spongy and blonde, with the circular bubbles really getting most of the crispness that's there. Finally, there is almost no oven spring. The dough bakes up far less airy than it appears.

 

Does anyone have any idea what's going on or what might be causing this? Most of the time, it doesn't even taste sour (though flavors of natural fermentation are there.) It just doesn't bake up crisp. The crust will get a lot of browning, but the bottoms get that not flat, circular bubble, barely risen bake.

I'm wondering if maybe I should convert my starter to rye?

mwilson's picture
mwilson

 

My fermentation has been as follows - 3 to 3.5 hours in bulk with folds every 45 minutes, ball, 2 hour room temp ball proof, then retard in fridge.

 

This part of your process is definitely a problem. Pizza dough processing doesn't include bulk fermentation as such. Most importantly the dough should not be puffy / gassy when divided into dough balls. This is especially true when dealing with naturally leavened dough. Bulk, if you can call it that, shouldn't be anymore than 90 minutes or even 60 before balling and immediate refrigeration. Don't fold (S & F) the dough.

Your starter is also bringing to much strength into the mix. Rigidity / stiffness is a symptom of not enough LAB action. Refresh your starter at a 1:20 ratio until triple (this shouldn't take more than 12 hours) then refresh 1:3 for 3 hours before proceeding.

hotsawce's picture
hotsawce

I'll give that a try - I was having an issue a while ago where if not bulked sufficiently my dough did not have the strength to hold its shape in balls. They would turn into what looked like pancake batter.

 

The long bulk was taken under advisement from two well known/proficient bakers. Another pizzamaker I know does a 2 hour bulk in his shop before balling and fridging. 

 

But will definitely try a shorter bulk. How do you mean not enough LAB action? I'm getting stiffness largely at lower hydrations. Once I hit 65% the dough opens beautifully. It just doesn't bake that way.

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Also just because it is so informative: