Pizza at Pastamadre, part #2: The recipe

March 19, 2018

  

Sourdough Pizza Recipe

 

Ingredients (for 2 good-size-pizzas with a diameter of approx. 28cm)

- 150 g wheat flour type 1050 (type 2 in Italy)

- 150 g durum wheat semola (hartweizengrieß)

- 200 g water (≈ 65% hydration)

- 5 g salt

- 40-80 g sourdough biga (1)

 

 

Procedure

- Sift the two flours in a bowl. This will aerate the flours but will also remove any lumps or impurities that might contain.

- Add the water and mix with your hand or a spatula until it is fully absorbed by the flour.

- Let the formed mash covered for at least 30 min and up to few hours to autolyse (2).

- Add the salt and mix it in the dough. Add the biga and start mixing and at the same time start kneading the dough. The dough will be sticky but do not add additional flour, just use your kneading skills to transform the dough to a single, coherent mass with a smooth surface using a series of stretching and folding movements. For a good gluten network and depending on your experience you will knead the dough for 10-20 min. Use the windowpane test to assess gluten formation. (3)

- Place the dough back in the bowl, cover it and let it ferment until roughly doubles-in-size. The exact time depends on the exact conditions and your sourdough strength and will take from 4-7 hours in room temperature or overnight in the fridge. Longer the fermentation, more pronounced the taste and better the digestibility. Be aware and do not let the dough to overferment (4).

- When ready place the dough on a working surface dusted with flour, split it in two and fold each part as to form two pizza balls (panetti).

- Cover the balls and let them rest for at least one hour, ideally a couple of hours.

- Open each ball to a pizza disk using adequate flour to avoid sticking on the surface/hands.

- Add the toppings, drizzle with some extra-virgin-olive-oil and bake in a conventional oven at high temperature (at least 220°C) for ≈ 10min or in a pizza oven/stone (depends on the exact setup for 3-5min). (For baking tips look note 5)

 

 

Notes

(1)  Biga: a word of Latin origin, commonly used to describe a freshly renewed and active sourdough or yeast culture ready to be used for bread making.

(2) Autolyse: When flour absorbs water many endogenous enzymes are getting activated and start to process the starch and protein in the flour. The starch brakes down to simpler sugar molecules and proteins are already starting to form the gluten network. This is beneficial for two main reasons. First, the sourdough microorganisms when added later will find available sugars to readily start the fermentation process. Second, our main task to knead the dough will be much easier because an already pre-formed gluten network will be in place since the flour had time to absorb efficiently the water. Important is not to add the salt in this stage because it will inhibit the action of some enzymes.

(3)  Windowpane test: This is a simple method to assess a well-formed gluten network. Simply take a small piece of dough and stretch it into a thin membrane. It is ready if becomes translucent without braking.

(4)  If the dough is left for long time to ferment unpleasant phenomena will take please, namely strong acidic/alcohol odours and excess gas production. The latter can tear even a strong gluten network resulting to dough collapse. In simple words, the dough has been transformed to sourdough!

(5)  To obtain a moist and airy crust in a conventional oven you can apply the following suggestions:

       a) Pre-heat the oven for sufficient time (at least 15 min more after it had reached the desired temperature) with the baking tray inside as to create a hot baking surface.

       b) Assemble the pizza disk on a baking sheet and add the toppings. Take out the tray from the oven, slide the baking sheet with the pizza on it and place it back in the oven. Do these actions relatively fast as to minimize heat loss but also carefully as not to get burned.

       c) Do not add the sensitive toppings like mozzarella, fresh herbs from the beginning but roughly at the middle of the baking time to preserve fresh and juicy characters.

       d) Bake the pizza on the lower shelf using the standard heating function of the oven.

 

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