How to make a wild yeast starter from scratch
For most of my 23 years in the pizza business, I was always fascinated with the dough making process. As of recent years, there is alot of implementation of wild yeast starters in pizza dough recipes. Often times a new student in pizza will ask a question on how something will “come out” when using certain ingredients or methods. My answer is always the same, “Let’s do it and see what happens!” We then get to see first hand the results of our experiment. This is how we learn about how the ingredients interact with each other. First hand, real life, right in front of you, to taste, and touch, and smell. Quite honestly, I have gotten some bad results from experimenting throughout the years. I have had some great results too. But I have always reverted back to my good old dough recipe because it was always so versatile and awesome. I have to say, after this wild yeast starter experiment, I am very very excited.
My latest pizza project here at the Goodfella’s Pizza School of NY was making a wild yeast starter from scratch and incorporating it into my dough recipe. The results were amazing! I am going to illustrate how I did it, all the tools and techniques I used, the ingredients as well as timelines so you can play around at home or in your business and see and taste the results for yourself.
Take your 2nd mason jar and put it on the scale. Hit the Tare to 0 the scale out. Using your spatula, take 75 grams of the mixture you are already fermenting from the day before and discard the rest. Add 50 grams of Rye Flour, 50 grams of Whole Wheat Flour, and 125 grams of water. I used 80 degree water. Mix it up until all the flour is hydrated and combined well. Cover your jar and store it in the same warm spot for another 24 hours. Be sure to clean out the jar you previously used so we can use it on day 3.
Again, on the beginning of the 3rd day its ok if you have not seen much activity. You can see here to the left that by the beginning of my 3rd day, beneficial bacteria and yeast are beginning to take hold.
Regardless of what your new starter is showing you, keep on feeding and you will soon see this starter take form.
Take your clean jar and 0 it out on the scale. Scoop 75 grams of the mixture you have been fermenting the day before into the clean jar, add 50 grams of Rye Flour, 50 grams of Whole Wheat Flour, and 125 grams of water. Stir and incorporate well till all is hydrated. Cover the jar and rest in the same warm spot for 24 hours until day 4. Clean out your previous jar.
Day 4 is the first day we begin to feed our starter twice a day. I fed my starter 10 am every morning and 10 pm every evening. You can do it anytime that is convenient for you but it must be fed every 12 hours.
By day 4 you should be seeing activity if you have not already. You should see bubbles scattered throughout the mixture. You may see that the mixture has risen and fallen a bit seeing the streaks along the glass where the starter once risen to.
We are feeding the same way as day 3:
0 out your clean jar on the scale and scoop 75 grams of the mixture you have been fermenting, discarding the rest. Add 50 grams of Rye Flour, 50 grams of Whole Wheat Flour, and 125 grams of water. Mix thoroughly, cover it up, and let it rest in a warm spot for 12 hour. Set an alarm on your phone or timer so you do not forget to feed it. After 12 hours, repeat the steps above again and store it overnight for another 12 hours.
You are going to feed the starter the same ingredients as day 4 every 12 hours on day 5 and 6. You can see that the activity was so strong in my starter on day 5 that it overflowed out of the small container I stored it in. Don’t forget to feed your starter!!!
In the morning on the 7th day, 0 out your clean jar on the scale. Add 50 grams of the mixture you have been fermenting, 100 grams of your staple flour (in my case it is All Trumps 50111) and 100 grams of water. We are finished with the Rye flour and the Whole Wheat flour for now. Mix well and hydrate. Cover and rest in the same warm spot and repeat this process 12 hours later.
Your starter should rise and fall predictably by now. If it is, its ready to be used in a recipe. If it is not rising and falling predictably, refresh your starter for a day or two more until it begins to show signs strength. This happened to me, so I reverted back to the Rye and the Whole Wheat for an additional day. On my 9th day, I omitted the Rye and Whole Wheat and went back to the All Trumps. My starter has been stronger ever since.
Now that you have your wild yeast starter, what do I do with it? How do I use it in a pizza dough recipe? How much starter do I use?
Our online course below will easily teach you how to incorporate your new starter into a phenomenal authentic pizza dough recipe. Included in the course is a recipe for commercial use as well as a small scale recipe for home bakers. You will learn how to build your starter up, how much to use, how to incorporate it with a variation of a dough recipe that has rocked the International Pizza Expo!