Reasons to Bake

One problem with baking is disposing of the product. When I bake stuff, I want people to eat it. If no one’s around to eat what I bake, I refrain from baking. Dr. Science was away for a long weekend visiting his family in Oregon, so I didn’t bake. Now that he’s back (with his mom), I can bake up a storm.

Or pizza.

Last night, the sourdough culture had grown quite a bit in 12 hours, so one of these days I’ll be able to make bread with it. But I’m not happy about having to discard all that culture when it looks and smells right. I know it doesn’t have enough yeast to lift the baked goods, but with a little commercial yeast added, it might make a good poolish, right? So last night, when I fed the culture, instead of dumping 150 g of culture down the drain, I put most of it in a dish, fed it, added a pinch of commercial yeast, and let it ferment overnight.

I didn’t do this at random. I’m following Ciril Hitz’s formula for pizza dough, which calls for a 100%-hydration pre-ferment (poolish). I figure the sourdough culture counts, and he wants a pinch of instant yeast in the pre-ferment, and I knew it could use it. This morning I made up the dough. Ciril’s recipe makes enough dough for six 10-inch pizzas, but we wanted two pizzas and larger than that, so I made half the recipe and formed two 488-gram balls of dough:

Two 488-g balls of pizza dough

Two 488-g balls of pizza dough

The dough rises in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, then you let it sit at room temperature for awhile. I’ve learned that I need to let the refrigerated dough sit for an hour or more. I moved a rack to the center and put the pizza stone on it and fired up the oven to 500℉. When it was preheated, I stretched the dough into a circle:

Pizza dough stretched into a circle, more or less

Pizza dough stretched into a circle, more or less

and let it rest for a few minutes. Then Dr. Science (who makes good pizza) topped it with pesto and spinach, and I peeled it onto the stone, where it baked for 8 minutes. Then it needed a surface to sit on, so I put it on a pizza pan:

Spinach and pesto pizza

Spinach and pesto pizza

I did the second one the same way, but I put tomato sauce, chicken, black olives, and cheese on it:

Pizza with chicken and black olives

Pizza with chicken and black olives

Then we had dinner:

Pizza for dinner

Pizza for dinner

That’s good pizza dough and worth the trouble and planning ahead.

This morning, the sourdough culture had nearly doubled in 12 hours, so things are happening in there. Again, I saved some of it, fed it, and mixed in a pinch of commercial yeast. Tonight I’ll feed that again (when I feed the regular culture), just enough to call it the pre-ferment for Ciril Hitz’s multigrain English muffins, which I’ll make for Thursday morning’s breakfast. That’ll be an early wake-up call. For Friday, I’m thinking sourdough waffles. When the culture is a starter, I’ll be able to keep it in the refrigerator, where it’ll take significantly less work to maintain. But for now, it’s another reason to bake.

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