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heliman 11-01-2011 03:11 AM

Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
Just thought I would raise this topic again and see if there are any new theories or thoughts on how to create it. Perhaps Peter R can offer some insight here.

So far the most plausible theory seems to be a 48 hr cold fermentation which consumes all the sugar and minimises browning. This process produces air pockets that char at temps around 425 and 480 C and produce the spots.

Comments welcomed...

texassourdough 11-01-2011 06:33 AM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
Hi Rossco!

I think you have the right idea but I am not sure cold fermentation is necessary.

I don't pursue leoparding particularly but when I have it and have seen it, the dark spots are typically associated with relatively large bubbles. Long retards tend to encourage that makes sense. However, overproofing in general should provide similar benefits of sugar depletion (which I would think should not be necessary to get leoparding but would tend to make it look more visually pronounced) and airy/bubbly dough.

I would expect that early balling of the dough would also be favorable to leoparding for it encourages airier dough. And relatively gentle shaping would also be beneficial as would a more extensible dough (and less elastic so easily shaped).

The subtleties of dough are amazing!

heliman 11-01-2011 06:51 AM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
Greeting Dr Jay!!!

I made a biga earlier on this evening and plan to try out the 48 hr fermentation just to test the theory. What in your view would consume all the sugars the quickest? More/less yeast perhaps?? Longer fermentation??

Interestingly the Da Michele pizzas have lots of leoparding which is what piqued my interest during my visit last year. The pizzas have a whiteish appearance so that spots contrast nicely. Definitely visually appealing in my view.

texassourdough 11-01-2011 09:01 AM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
And back at ya, Dr. Rossco!

I tend to think of yeast vs time as a balance. At a given temp (water, salt, etc.) the rate of yeast doubling will be essentially fixed. And at room temp the rate is nominally doubling every two hours. Thus a dough with half the yeast will take about two hours longer to reach the same level of sugar depletion. This is not literal for the enzymes will be breaking starches into sugars and more time means more sugar is close enough IMO for general discussion. And using 1/4 as much yeast would mean about four extra hours...

Methinks there probably is a minor advantage of long retards in that the enzymes will really have really hammered the starch and the dough will be more extensible. Dead yeast will also make the dough more extensible. AND, the level of residual sugar will almost certainly be lower for its rate of generation will be (I think) slower. I think it is likely to give you a whiter main crust than a shorter fermentation. But I tend to think they should be reasonably similar (though probably just a tad browner on a similarly overproofed dough). NOTE: I am confident that leoparding is benefited by overproofing. However, the overproofed dough is likely to be fragile and require careful handling to give optimal results. It will be fragile due to starch degradation, dead yeast, which reduce dough strength and its airy nature which allow it to be easily degassed (and you want gas IMO for leoparding).

My gut feel is that less yeast and longer time are marginally preferable for leoparding. A one to two day retard is probably best though three would still work. Shorter ferments would need more yeast. To pull it off quickly (four hours) would probably require about 1 to 1.5 percent yeast (possibly even 2 percent) and would give a yeasty, rather simple dough taste due to lack of enzyme action byproducts and alcohols. But one should still be able to get leoparding with a quick dough. In all cases I would want to ball the dough early.

Good Luck!

heliman 11-03-2011 04:02 AM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
OK - one day down and another to go to hit the 48 hr fermentation mark. Have cranked the fire up and will run it until tomorrow night when I cook the pizza.

Question - I need to run the oven at between 800 F (425 C) and 850 (455 C) but how does one prevent burning the crust at that temp?

texassourdough 11-03-2011 06:20 AM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
You are above my normal temp range - I typically bake lower for just that reason of overly charring but I do occasionally dabble in hotter ovens and in my experience the dough needs to be relatively thin (but I associate that with leoparding anyway - not superthin and not thick) and the toppings sparse. You certainly need to be under two minutes cooking time at that temp and possibly much less depending on your flour/oven/pie habits.

I ultimately think airyness is more critical for leoparding than oven temp but????I could be wrong perhaps they both have to be right?

Good luck!

heliman 11-03-2011 02:57 PM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
Have had the oven running overnight so the temp should ramp up to around 425 C easily when I get home from work this evening and do the test. Will aim for around the 400 mark so will allow the temp to drop down a bit before cooking. I have only made 2 pizzas so hopefully I will be able to prove the experiment with that number. Will post the results....

scott123 11-03-2011 05:40 PM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
Longer cold ferments favor enzyme activity and enzymes generate sugar. Long cold fermented dough contains more sugar than short ferments, not less. If you want to maximize leoparding, don't cold ferment, and don't ferment longer than 24 hours.

High yeast activity short fermented doughs tend to have the least residual sugar, but I don't think this plays a large role in leoparding. Using an unmalted low enzyme 00 flour is critical, but I would think everyone's already doing that. The biggest player, by far, is heat. The faster the bake, the more leoparding you're going to get. It depends on what hydration you're working at and the thickness factor, but a 45-60 second bake is a good target to shoot for.

I've never tested this myself, but prolonged kneading is supposed to oxidize the dough and make it a bit whiter. White dough = whiter crust = greater contrast. The acids generated by a sourdough starter also encourage leoparding, although I've seen plenty of nicely leoparded crusts that were cake yeast.

Tscarborough 11-03-2011 06:26 PM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
From a purely empirical standpoint, leoparding is caused by:

Small bubbles.
Thin walls on said bubbles.
High temps that char those thin walls while not browning the base crust (i.e. fast cook times).

In my experience, limited because leoparding is not a desired trait for my pizzas, they occur most frequently with a 24-30 hour warm rise, very hydrated (70%+) dough that never leaves the table when forming the skin and a sub 2 minute bake.

Tscarborough 11-03-2011 06:30 PM

Re: Leoparding - The Discussion Continues...
This is probably the most leoparding I have ever produced, and it fulfills all the criteria stated above: +70% hydration, 30 hour warm fermentation, first pizza of the bake (800+ floor, 1000+ dome) and less than 90 second bake.

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