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heliman 03-07-2010 01:22 AM

Interesting Dough Experiment
Last night we went to a well known (and one of the best) pizzeria. After the meal I got chatting to the owner and casually asked if they would be prepared to sell me some of their pizza dough. No problem they said - so I grabbed 3 doughs and too them back to my "lab" at home AKA the kitchen.

I thought that I would provide some observations in the hope that the experts here can shed some more light on the likely composition of the dough.

First up, (no more floggings please), the dough had a strong olive oil smell so I am sure that it contained a small amount of it. It was pretty dry so I don't thing it was sprayed or coated with olive oil.

The dough was very "heavy" feeling as opposed to the rather "light and fluffy" ones that I make. Could this be to do with the yeast? Is it possible that only a "starter dough" is used by the pizza place and no instant yeast?

I left the dough to ferment overnight in the fridge and I noticed that it had not grown in size much at all. Mine usually start trying to climb out of the container. Even after the dough was left out about 6 hrs there was still not much change in the size.

I intend keeping the dough for use as a "starter" and will freeze it until I am ready to use it. Will it make a suitable starter? If yes, what percentage will I need to mix with a fresh batch of dough (I have 500 grams of old dough) to get it working. Is any additional instant dry yeast needed?

Comments welcomed.

PS. Looks like I will have to add some olive oil (as per Reinhart's suggestion) to future pizza dough... eeeek did I just say that????

splatgirl 03-07-2010 01:34 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
Unless it's a sourdough, keeping it to use as a starter doesn't really serve any purpose. Commercial yeast leavened doughs do not self-sustain like a sourdough does, so at best, the benefit would be that you've got a bit of fermented dough with some added flavor but that's about it. Sure, you can use it as a "starter" but it will never function as a starter in the true sourdough sense of things.
OTOH, if it IS a naturally leavened dough and you add commercial yeast, that will take over as the dominant strain of bacteria in short order and basically kill off any sourdough beasties as well as most/all sourdough flavor.

If it is a yeast-leavened dough, I would have expected 6 hours at room temp to yield you some sort of increase in volume. OTOH, six hours wouldn't be that unusual for a sluggish sourdough.
I would take off about a 25 or 50g. blob and add 100g each of flour and water (by weight). Mix and see what it does. A nice healthy sourdough with act perky and double in volume in 6 or 8 hours. If it shows signs of life but takes longer than that, discard or separate all but a 50g. blob and do the additions again. It should grow and double faster than the first time.
OTOH, if you get nothing from this but a bunch of goo, it wasn't sourdough.

heliman 03-07-2010 02:05 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
Thanks for the info splat...

Is it possible that the dough has been made using a miniscule amount of Will yeast to give it "heavy" feeling?

Will have a go with 50g of the old dough tonight but will it not be adversely affected by the addition of the olive oil??

splatgirl 03-07-2010 03:45 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
I'm not sure why it would be "heavy" other than not being risen at all and/or it being a function of the gluten development.
You could try baking off a pies' worth and see how what you get compares to what you ate there. That might give you an idea of what state of development it is in with regard to rise/proofing. OTOH, if your goal is to be able to replicate this dough, the feel, smell and texture of the raw dough would be more informative, IMO. Ultimately, it might not matter since the bake has as much to do with the finished product as the it used in a WFO pizzeria?

I'm definitely not the sourdough expert here by any means (hello Jay?) but I don't think olive oil would interfere with anything. It would be VERY a small amount by the time you've done the additions anyway.

If you want to get on the sourdough bus, I highly recommend the fresh loaf website along with any/all of the other books discussed there and here. Prior to the completion of my WFO, I had never worked with sourdough and I managed to start and grow my own culture from scratch and become a fairly capable sourdough baker just with what I learned on the net and a couple of books.

heliman 03-07-2010 04:18 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
Yes, replication is what I am after!!

My dough almost feels like marshmallow, whereas this one is very compact with little air and bubbles in it. My dough sometimes has quite a bit of air in it which makes it difficult to stretch as the bubbles create a weak point causing tearing. The bought one felt like window putty and you could "mould" it into shape, whereas my usual dough has a bit of spring back etc. BTW the owner of the pizza place told me that the dough was made that morning - not sure if this has any influence on the end product.

I baked one last night - bare, save for olive oil, rocksalt and a tiny bit of Rosemary. Almost exactly the same as the one I ate in the shop. Will do the other 2 this evening and see how they turn out. I may also try Reinhart's neo-nap dough which could produce a similar product.

PS: I had originally thought of using the old dough as biga, hence my initial post proposing it as a starter (semantics, or poor choice of words?).

heliman 03-08-2010 01:30 AM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
Update on this one...

I took the remaining 2 doughs out of the fridge and and in getting them ready to rest I had a good sniff on each. They smelled distinctly like "sourdough". Maybe my imagination, but perhaps this is the process that they are using. There were a few large air pockets in the dough but there was only a very slight size increase since yesterday.

Have hacked of a 25 grams to see if I can get it started as per the splat method. Hopefully I can arouse the beast in it.

heliman 03-08-2010 06:42 AM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
Update 2...

The starter has been going for about 5 hours and I saw a couple of bubbles in the mix. Gave it another stir and will leave it over night and divide it up and add more flour and water in the morning. Not really sure what I am looking for but I am hoping all will be revealed shortly...

splatgirl 03-08-2010 01:42 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
Tasting the raw dough might give you an idea of whether it's sourdough, too. My guess is that it's not.

for reference, here's what my starter (100% hydration) looks like a few hours after feeding:
full of tiny bubbles and about 50% more volume than immediately after feeding. If I haven't fed it for a couple of weeks, it would take about twice as long or more to reach this state. By tomorrow, what started out as about an inch of goo in the jar will be like this:

So what is it that you found so attractive about this dough? Are you looking to zero in on a recipe that has better flavor than what you've made in the past or do you want something that handles differently? The issue of "big holes that tear" is a working/shaping problem, not a dough recipe problem, IMO. Not that a different dough recipe won't help you...

heliman 03-08-2010 02:24 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
2 Attachment(s)
Here are two pics taken this morning. Bearing in mind that I only used 25 grams of the old dough and 100 each water flour maybe the reaction is a bit tamer than yours.

I will keep 50 grams and add more flour and water and see what it looks like when I get home.

The dough was very tasty, worked really well in the electric oven and also handled very well. Yes, I would be keen to duplicate it if possible.

splatgirl 03-08-2010 03:05 PM

Re: Interesting Dough Experiment
I think that shows promise. If it peters out in a couple of days I would assume it was a conventional yeast dough, otherwise, with repeat feedings, you should see continued/increased activity.
When I feed my starter, I dump out or use everything so all that's left for the next feeding is what sticks to the sides of the jar. The pictures are based on that teeny bit plus a 150g. water/flour feeding.

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