This dough was made on December 13th, at 8 P.M. I put it on the farthest, coldest speed rack in my walk-in refrigerator and forgot about it. It was once a proud, strong dough made with a 60 percent pre-ferment from a naturally yeasted levain, high gluten flour with 14 percent protein, salt and diastatic malt. Now it sat like an old man flopped on a park bench. It’s best days were gone. The yeast had eaten the simple sugars over the past 12 days and the played-out gasses that initially pumped its chest out toward the sun, were gone.
Yesterday, at 9 A.M. on December 26th, I pulled it out. It had been sitting in a state of cold fermentation for exactly 301 hours. I usually use this old dough as a nice “Kicker” to a new batch of ciabatta or batard dough, but as I pulled this dough off the tray, the condensation and extra virgin dribbled off and that beautiful, fruity smell of fermented wheat hit my nostrils screaming, “I’m still good damn it! BAKE ME!” So I did.
I gently formed a disc, then microplaned some Parmigiano Reggiano on the dough.
Then I dressed it with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella.
After the cheeses, I put some San Marzano tomato filets on the cheese for sweetness.
Then I got greedy and veered from the traditional path with some paper thin slices of La Quercia lardo that would melt all over this beauty.
Then I put it into a 550 degree oven and baked it for nine minutes. The leapording on the bottom was nice even though I baked it on a pizza screen.
The crumb was spectacular with nice, irregular open cells and a crispy crust with no gumline. Like any old man, it’s rise was slow and predictable unlike the unruly younger doughs, it nevertheless made up for this in complexity as every bit of the grain came out as a forceful wheaty-malty taste deep in the back of my throat and then left a caramel aftertouch in it’s wake.
But best of all, this old man who once sat floppily on a tray in my walk-in turned his twilight years into a treat for me and my staff.
Ain’t life grand?