Friday, May 02, 2008

Sourdough Pizza

I have tried sourdough starters in the past. Kinds made with and without yeast but always with flour. It never worked well for me. Either they went bad, or they never had enough raising capability, or they were too "needy" LOL. I saw a few recipes for starters that called for instant mashed potatoes, water, sugar, and a bit of yeast to start. To feed you add more warm water, sugar, and potatoes. I am still kind of confused as to when you feed it and how long it stays in the fridge and everything. But this is what I am trying: Birth of starter: 1 packet yeast (I used instant, it was what I had) 1 cup warm water 3 tbsp sugar 3 tbsp instant mashed potatoes (I used granules but will buy flakes ongoing). Mix those ingredients in a jar (I used a Claussen pickle jar) until smooth. Cover with a cloth and hold in place with an elastic band. Leave overnight at room temperature. Days 1, 2, and 3: Stir well. Leave out at room temperature. Day 4: Feed your starter by adding: 1 cup warm water 3 tbsp sugar 3 tbsp instant mashed potatoes. Stir well, and leave out at room temperature. Day 5: Take out 1 cup of starter to use in a recipe. Place the rest of the jar inside the fridge. This is where it starts to get confusing, so I have decided to try my own idea and see how it works. This starter can be fed every 3 days. So technically you can leave it in the fridge for 3 days, feed it on the fourth day(leave out at room temperature after feeding), on the fifth day remove a cup to use in your recipe and replace the jar to the fridge. Wait three days, feed, and use, and so on. That gives you various "finishing days" which I find a little unsettling LOL. There is no way I will be able to keep track of when I can use my starter again and when it should be fed. So instead, I will feed and use the starter once per week. If I feel that I want to bake more often than that, I will start a second batch of starter on a different schedule. I made my first recipe using the starter today - pizza. Now, this starter is new so there is no "sourdough" flavour to it. But it does have a pleasant yeasty (beery?) aroma. I have no unbleached flour and don't shop until Sunday (trying to stick to a budget). But I do have whole wheat flour. It is a store brand, and let me say I have NEVER seen such huge flakes and percentage of bran to 'dust' in whole wheat flour! I find it hard to use in recipes because the bran makes it everything so dry. Pity, because the flavour is really nice aside from that. Out of desperation, I tried something. I sifted out the big bran flakes! What I was left with was a nice soft flour with smaller bits of bran. Then I measured it to make the recipe: 2 cups sifted, seived whole wheat flour 1 cup starter 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp olive oil Mix together the flour, starter, and salt. It should make a fairly stiff but still pliable dough. Knead until it comes together and all ingredients are moistened. Knead in the olive oil. Continue to knead until the dough is supple and taught (about 5 minutes). Next time I might use the kitchenaid, although it wasn't a chore to do it by hand. If the dough gets too sticky you can flour your hands a bit. I divided the dough into three balls, and placed them into greased bowls (turn to coat), then covered with plastic wrap and placed in a warm place until about doubled (it took about two hours for me). Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out one dough ball to desired thickness and transfer to baking sheet (I threw on a pinch of corn meal). Let sit for about 20 minutes - kind of like a mini rise. Add your toppings. Place in oven and bake 10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the bottom of the crust is golden brown. Repeat for the other two dough balls. This made three 10 inch very thin crust pizzas for me. I LOVE thin crust pizza with just a scattering of interesting toppings. I think next time I will try dividing the dough in half for a larger, slightly thicker crust so DH and DD can load on the toppings and have a pizza more like they are used to. I do NOT have a pizza stone. If you do, preheat oven and stone to 450/500 and bake the pizzas about 7 minutes if you divide the dough in half (I have been told). So I guess mine would have cooked in less than 5 minutes, eh? Maybe I will even try stretching the entire recipe onto on square pizza for a breadier, almost deep dish type. This is what happens when you kind of make things up as you go along ROFL. I found the flavour of the dough to be very good. Yeasty, it had a nice chew (but not 'chewy') and some crispness on the bottom. It wasn't dense, with small bubbles in it. I know it would be absolutely perfect on a pizza stone. We will see how the flavour develops as the starter ages. I would also love to try pizza on the grill some time. I forgot to take a picture before DD and I ate ours, but I will try to get a pic of the one I make for DH. He isn't feeling well so he didn't eat yet.

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