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Crust Issues

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  • #16
    Re: Crust Issues

    Hello Mick,

    I think your pies look fantastic. I too use Jeff Varasano's procedure and have had great results using only my starter with no ADY. I use King Arthur Bread Flour... fresh only.

    If I'm following you correctly in your post you state that after forming the balls and putting them into the container you let them proof at room temp for several hours prior to retarding them in the refriderator... is that correct? I have used my dough balls up to a 7 day of retard. After day 5 the results began to diminish slightly in finished texture (rebound) but had a mild enhancement in sour dough flavor.

    If so, you might want to consider going right to the retard after a 10 minute rest.

    Concerning the starter, I do not use mine out of the fridge... I keep mine very active on the kitchen counter at all times... yes, requires attention and feeding every few days, but it is ripe and very active at all times. I do keep a separate starter retarded in the fridge, but I only keep it for no-kneed sourdough loafs i.e. breadtopia.

    Also, I hope you have dried a bit of your stash in case of a bad day. I recently had to reactivate some dried culture to start fresh. It happens!

    Have fun and thanks for sharing,
    Mikie V.
    My Oven Build


    • #17
      Re: Crust Issues

      Good suggestion of drying some starter, Mikie! Good to be reminded periodically for I know my starter moves around a bit... About two years ago I was given a starter from Northern California and it was distinctly more sour than my old, familiar starter. Now, two years later my old starter has more twang than it used to. Good to have samples of old starters (and potentially of a whole wheat or rye starter built off of your regular one).

      Thanks for the reminder!


      • #18
        Re: Crust Issues

        Hi all,

        I have just made a batch with no IDY and just my starter as a leaven. It worked . I also did a little comparison, (too much time on my hands). I made a batch with just IDY and no retard, a batch with just IDY and 24hrs retard, a batch with 30% SD starter and a 24hr retard and a batch with 60% SD starter, (accidental) and a 24hr retard. All done at the same time, same percentages with a 65% hydration dough and same needing method as described in post number 15. The only difference I had was in regards to the timing once I balled and placed them into individual containers. I waited 10 mins for the IDY dough and placed them in the fridge and waited about 3hrs for the SD to activate before retarding them.


        - All had nice oven spring, elasticity, bounce back and colour, it was the flavour that really stood out.
        - IDY and no retard compared to the IDY and 24hr retard. A notable difference in flavour. The dough that was not retarded just lacked that complexity that the retarded dough did. It?s when you do a side by side tasting that you can really taste the difference.
        - Next where the two SD pizza?s. I have to say first up that the SD starter blew the IDY doughs out of the water when eaten side by side. You cannot compare the taste. I know every starter is different and that longer retard times effect the overall outcome in different ways, (which I will have a go at doing in my next batch, might aim for 2 or 3 days) but these doughs where timed the same. The 60% SD pizza had so much more flavour than the 30% SD. Maybe because it only had a 24hr retard. I would imagine that if it had been longer than that it might have been too sour.

        Thanks for the complement Mikie. I have tried to retard after 10 mins but my dough does nothing in the fridge. It just sits there and does not move no matter how long I leave it in there. Once it?s out of the fridge it comes back to life pretty quickly. The thinking was that I give it a chance to activate and take hold it might have a better chance to develop better flavour. I will give it another go; maybe my starter was too young when I tried it.

        In regards to storing my starter in the fridge as apposed to feeding it every day and not refrigerated, when I feed it when I take it out of the fridge it comes back to life quickly and peaks in about 6 hrs, (its summer over here so that helps). So that begs the question, if my starter peaks in say 6hrs, can I feed it every 12 to 24hrs if I decide not to refrigerate it or should I be feeding it when it peaks in say 6hrs?

        I will dry some starter as well, just been pre occupied getting my pizza right. I have also brought a couple of bread book, The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and Tartine bread by Chad Robertson. Can?t wait to read them.

        BTW, I won?t be doing another test like that for a while, ate too much pizza that night. Had too make sure the results where correct after the first round .


        • #19
          Re: Crust Issues

          Subscribed; I still trying to perfect the SD Pizza.............. great info


          • #20
            Re: Crust Issues

            Mick, thanks for taking the effort with the tests and posting results. Love your passion for nailing the perfect pie (if it really does exist). I totally agree on the flavor thing on the SD crust. Hands down the winner for me and my family as well.

            My starter, the one on the counter, gets a lot of neglect to be honest. It's funky but lively. I have gone as many as 4 days without feeding it (I thought you fed it, Honey) and it rebounds nicely. Room temp in our home runs a constant degrees 68f. If I were to 'knock it down' right now and feed it, it will be bubbling in 2 hours... so, I know I have a very active culture at all times.

            Concerning the 10 minute rest vs. several hours... I'm with you on the fact that the dough does very little while in the fridge with a 10 minute rest... I happen to think THAT is a VERY good thing because the little yeastie fellas don't waste their energy until I tell them too. :-). I find I get a little more sour dough flavor this way, but that could just be my taste buds telling me what they think I want to hear.

            Note: My containers are not vented at all... after about 3 days in the fridge I get only a little rise, but my lids are bludging and sometimes pop off (Bad Deal, Dry Dough Balls)... The key is when I take them out to proof before I toss em. I give them enough time to double in size before I use them (up to 6 hours) with the lids not sealed. The lids just rest on top of the containers and self vent as needed.

            I have to say that a few years ago I was ready to give up on making my own dough... I'd tried everything but never got the oven spring I was looking for... I hate to admit it, but I started going to my buddys Pizza Factory restaurant and bought dough balls from him. 5 bucks for an extra large dough ball that made me four 10" pies... and they were predictable and tastey everytime. But, my friends were ribbing me... of course they still ate me out of house and home... but still. That was until I found Jeff Varasano's website. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to use a live culture.

            Oh, i will say that I'm not currently using a WFO as I'm appartment bound until our house closes escrow... short sale and all, it's taking forever! First order of business to build the oven. I say because I'm not going with the 65% hydration at the moment... but it works just as well regarding spring on my Forno Bravo stone in the electric oven.
            My Oven Build