Has Anyone used a starter, poolish, or levain to make dough?

Brief Intro:

I opened my pizzeria on Jan. 1. I have no direct experience running a pizza joint, but do have a degree from CIA, and VA Tech ( lab instructor too). I have 20 years of varied experience in restaurants - mostly fine dining. I even sold food for a major distributor. I have some solid baking skills, but never did it every day for years. My specialty is garde manger and chaucuterie.
The thing I learned first is that pizza dough is not like baking bread - I tried it… It worked but was inconsistent. Second, I am running a marketing company - NOT - a restaurant…
The place is called “The Kind Pie”. I am located in a high income area of Atlanta, GA. I sell Organic / All Natural Pizza, along with artisan sandwiches, pasta dishes, and salads. High end stuff at mid-level pricing. All paper and plastic can be composted. Like Pizza Fusion but the food taste good…
Started by buying bread from a local baker (James Beard winner)… Too costly - now I am baking it here. That’s what brings me to the starter. I use a poolish or levain to make my focaccia and ciabatta. It is a little more work than buying it, but cost a fraction of the price. My food cost on sandwiches is 20%, pizza: 15 to 20-%. I use only buffalo mozz. and San Marzano tomatoes. By using high quality ingredients I don’t have to use so much, and they do allot of work for me. By making bread I lower my cost to 15% on sandwiches. They have gotten rave reviews and lots of repeat business in the 3 weeks I have been opened, but getting the word out is the chore of the day - every day.
Today I will make pizza dough using the starter… tune in later…
To Dr. Dough… Dude - You are the Man. You have helped so much with this endeavor i can’t begin to thank you. I really enjoy food science and your bakers math reminds me of my day’s at CIA. I could read your entries here over and over and never get bored.
What is your opinion on using starters?
The reason I ask is that my current dough (Thanks to you and the others here) is OK but I would like to see a more robust edge or puffy, without being too gassy… Up the yeast?
Currently I do this:
16 # White Flour Organic and unbleached / unbromated
4# Wheat Flour Organic Adds a nice flavor to the crust and looks browned when it’s not
4oz Salt Sea Salt
1 T Agave Nectar
2 T Olive Oil Organic Extra Virgin - added when dough is just mixed
2.0 oz ADY Organic - will switch to instant soon, tried fresh but sales volume not there yet. Threw some away :frowning:
12.5# water Spring (bottled)
Have a 30qt hobart mixer, and a Blodgett 48" deck oven. Both small, again another reason to go high end on price

2# flour
2# plus 1 cup H2o
.5 oz ADY

Would I just back out the quantities used in the starter from my formula?
What would be the substitution factors for using a poolish? I would need to cut back on water, flour, and yeast… but how much? I will research on my own, but figure you have this in your head. I have found a few sites for Artisan Bread that have been very helpful.

Thanks again to all here - keep it up…


Thanks Norma 427 and Dr Dough!


Have you looked at pizzamaking.com about me using the natural starter to make a type of focaccia? I just learned how to make a focaccia type pie, using a natural starter. If you look under Sicilain, or starters, you can see what Toby and other people are reporting on in using starters.

Best of luck to you. Since you already have baker’s skills, you are way ahead of me. :smiley:




Thanks a million. Went to pizzamaking.com and saw the threads you mentioned. I use my new pizza dough to make artisan bread for sandwiches - GREAT FEEDBACK, and what a cost savings - Freaking Awesome!.

My starter is on day 6. A bit more work but well worth it.

I thought for sure this dough won’t stretch, but boy did it. Used it on day 2 not as easy to work with, but I can always sell more bread! Day 3 - Works too - but that’s stretching it, no pun.

That guy Matt on PM.com is not very nice.




Glad to hear you found pizzamaking.com helpful. How is your starter doing? I am just experimenting with some of mine.

Enjoy the journey,