Pizza Recipe

  1. Mix:
    1 cup semolina flour
    ¼ cup corn flour
    (not corn meal)
    ½ cup whole wheat flour
    1 tablespoon rye flour
    40 grams gluten flour (⅓ cup)
    Add white bread flour to a total weight of 580 grams (4⅔ cups)for the mixture
  2. Add:
    1½ cups water
    1 cup active Italian culture
    (Note that my culture may be a little different from yours. I use equal volumes of water and all purpose flour.)
  3. Knead in bread machine.
  4. Add:
    1 tsp salt halfway through the mixing cycle.
    The completed dough should be a little sticky. If not, a little more water may be needed.
  5. Set overnight in a cool place, 55-60° F.

The quality of the flavor for most breads improves with longer rise times. So when possible, let the first rise occur overnight in a cool place. (55° to 65° F.) But longer rise times strongly depend on the nominal acidity of the culture. If the culture produces a lot of acid, the gluten of the dough will not stand up well to the extended exposure. Also, the quality of the flour can be important. Some flours succumb to acidity more readily than others.

Form into two pies, each about the diameter of a cooking sheet. Although you can use a rolling pin to create the thin dough, it is probably better to coax the dough by hand into the proper shape. You want to avoid losing the entrapped air bubbles. The dough should be very elastic; occasionally you’ll need to dust the dough with flour to avoid it becoming too sticky. After the pies are formed, dust with flour again, cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature.

Let the pies rise on wooden baking boards to minimize sticking. A good coating of flour on the bottom before the last rise helps greatly. To release the pies from the board, flip the board over and let the pies fall by gravity. Add some fresh dry flour to the bottom and flip it right side up again. For toppings just brush on garlic in olive oil and rosemary. A little tomato paste with cheese and deli meat is also good.… Use the toppings sparingly to not overpower the flavor of the crust and to avoid applying too much moisture.

It is best to bake the pies directly on a baking stone. Heat the oven to 550° F. (or as high as your oven will go). Slide pizza onto the stone, then spray oven with a misting bottle (not necessary but helps with the crust). Cook until lightly brown — about five minutes. Cool a couple of minutes on a cooling rack and serve.

Use an Active Culture

As you know, when you add flour and water to the culture, it will go through a typical cycle where the culture froths up then recedes. For good results, it is not necessary to catch the culture at the peak of frothing, so long as it is used within a few hours afterwards.

The high level of activity in a culture can be maintained with storage in a refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. As the time in refrigerated storage increases, the effort to regenerate also increases. After a couple of months in storage, it can take a couple of days to regenerate. With several months of storage, it can take much longer.. If it has been sitting dormant in the refrigerator for many weeks, a continuous process of re-generation may be needed.

Using all purpose flour, add equal volumes of flour and water to the culture repeated for several days. To begin, add the flour and water to increase total volume about 3 fold, and let it set at room temperature until there is some sign of activity. It may be a couple days if the culture is really dormant. Typically at this stage, the activity may only be evident by the formation of a few relatively large bubbles (about 2-3 mm). The culture will likely taste strongly acidic. Dump out about ⅔ of this, and again add flour and water to bring it up to the same volume. As the activity of the culture begins to pick up, this process will be repeated daily, and then finally twice daily. In a strongly active culture, there will be significant frothing within a few hours of adding new flour and water. However, it may take 2-3 weeks to achieve this from a strongly dormant culture (probably because the balance of yeast to bacteria is way off).

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