Back in April, I asked this question: What if Andris Lagsdin, creator of the Baking Steel and Al Contarino, inventor of the KettlePizza were to get together to create a model based on their two products that works exactly like my set up straight out of the box? Well, folks, I'd like you to meet the new KettlePizza and Baking Steel joint pizza oven.
'baking' on Serious Eats
Fresh yeast imparts a flavor that isn't present in breads or pizzas made with dried yeast. It's not the same as sourdough, but it has a distinct flavor of its own. Here's how to buy it, proof it, store it, and revive it.
While pizza purists among us might say that adding anything except the basic ingredients to pizza dough is wrong, sometimes the urge to experiment gets in the way of tradition. If you're going to start flinging things into your pizza dough, you might as well do it armed with a little bit of knowledge about what might happen.
Fat isn't required in bread dough, and some might say that it doesn't belong at all in pizza dough. Whether—or when—you use it is up to you. But since it's so common in so many doughs, today we'll discuss the role fat plays in yeasted doughs.
Maybe the thing I like best about breadmaking is that it accommodates my lazy, forgetful, procrastinating self. Good bread can't be rushed. Great bread likes to hang around and chill. It likes to loaf just as much as I do.
Yesterday, since my starter was bubbling along the sides of the jar, I set aside four ounces of the starter and mixed it with some flour and water in a bowl. Today, that proto-dough in the bowl has risen and bubbled nicely. Time to make bread!
Give your starter a good long look. This might be the day of your first harvest. One thing to check out is whether the bubbles are just on top, or whether there are bubbles throughout the jar.
We're pretty excited about sourdough starters around here, and it looks like you are, too. Here are a few snapshots that Serious Eats and Slice community members took of their starters, from Day One to, well, eleven years old!
You've got the hang of this. Today, do it again: feed your starter 1 ounce each of flour and water, and give it a stir when you think of it. Bubbles are looking good! Not all starters are the same, so if you aren't seeing the same bubbling I am, don't worry too much about it. I've seen starters that have a slow start, but suddenly burst into action rapidly and vigorously. That's part of the charm of sourdoughs—they're quirky.
From now on, it's all about feeding once a day and stirring whenever you think about it. Unlike some recipes that require each feeding to double the existing amount of starter, I feed the same amount each day. Just add one ounce each of flour and water. We won't try to double it until we're getting ready to bake with the starter.
Today I wanted to tweak the water-to-flour ratio in my starter, so I fed it one ounce of flour and half an ounce of water.
Many sourdough starter recipes require a lot of feeding, but if you think about it, yeast isn't running around the jar like PacMan, it's sort of floating around and eating what's nearby. Stirring is just as important as feeding.
My goal with this project was to come up with a method for getting a sourdough starter going that would be easy for anyone. I also didn't want to end up with an excess of starter that would have to be thrown away. So I started with a very small amount. I find that starters seem to work better if they're very wet at the beginning, so I started with 1/2 ounce of flour and 1 ounce of water. That's all.
While some bags of flour contain nothing but wheat, many are enriched or processed in some way. Have you ever wondered how bleached or bromated flour is different? More importantly, do these processes affect your baking? Here are the answers you've been looking for.
A sourdough starter is a simple concept—let some flour and water hang around for a while, and almost magically, the correct combination of yeast and bacteria will take up residence. Over the next many days, I'll be posting daily updates on a new sourdough starter that I've got growing. Today is Day Zero, i.e., your materials list. Read this, gather your supplies (most of which you probably already have), and then come back tomorrow!
Wheat flour is a lot more complex than most flour labels would have you believe. While some companies do a decent job at defining what type of wheat is in the bag, others require a little more research. Before you start that research, though, you need to know just a little about the different types of wheat, and what they're good for.
Salt isn't absolutely required to make bread or pizza dough, but without it, breads simply taste flat—even sweet breads. That's reason enough to add it. But there's more: salt also strengthens and tightens the gluten and regulates the activity of yeast. Without any salt, some breads can rise unpredictably.
Yeast is such a common thing that we don't give much thought to how amazing it is, and what a boon it is to bakers, brewers, and winemakers. And yeast is such a fun guy. Or, more accurately, a fungi. It converts the fermentable sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethanol, and those bubbles, trapped in the matrix of gluten, are what causes bread to rise. When the dough is baked, the yeast dies but the pockets of air remain, giving the bread its unique texture.
In baking, as with much of cooking, the actual amounts of an ingredient don't matter much—it's the ratio of ingredients that matters. Think of bakers' percentages this way: The flour is equal to 100 percent. Every other ingredient is then expressed in terms of its ratio to the amount of flour. If, for example, you had a dough with 16 ounces of flour and 8 ounces of water and 0.32 ounces of salt, you'd say that the dough contains 50% water because the water weighs 50% of what the flour weighs. In baker's talk, that's called 50% hydration.