Pizza Dough Starter Question Coming to you from France.

I am eager to try this recipe. I live in France and we dont have sour dough starter here. Is it possible to use a different starter? I have found the instant starter and the block starter. Please advise. Merci Beaucoup.


702551 January 10, 2023
There is definitely sourdough starter in France, they call it levain. Levain, sourdough starter, whatever you call is essentially the same at the core: naturally occurring wild yeasts that have a head start in fermenting a grain.

Remember that for thousands of years, humans have been using the yeast starter process because there was no such thing as commercially available packets or jars of yeast.

Here's one recipe for making levain:

but you can use any one to make a sourdough starter/levain/whatever. Most bread baking books also describe the procedure; this isn't limited to American cookbooks but pretty much any language.

You may want to ask your local baker if they'll sell some to you. I know here in the USA, some bakeries and pizzerias will do this. It saves you the trouble/effort in spending 2-4 weeks in creating your own starter. It won't be something they list prominently, you'll have to ask someone.

Best of luck.
[email protected] January 10, 2023
I have seen the levain in the grocery store here, but didnt realize it was universal for all bread? Not seeing sourdough bread here I thought it must be something different. I will buy some and give it a go.
702551 January 10, 2023
It will definitely work. After all pizza dough is simply bread dough, there's nothing magical about pizza dough.

The supermarket levain you buy will likely have little sourness since it was made from commercially produced yeasts that were selected for uniform flavors and quick/reliable rising performance.

The point of making your own sourdough starter from scratch is to harvest the naturally occurring yeast strains that contribute more specific flavors that are often unique to a particular area which is why Roquefort tastes different than Bleu d'Auvergne (or why San Francisco sourdough tastes different than New York sourdough).

There are ways of faking that sourness using additives like vinegar. I believe I saw an episode of America's Test Kitchen that showed one recipe with "fake"/instant sourdough. I'm no expert on such matters so I'll let you do your own online sleuthing if you want to use a shortcut to mimick sourness.

Anyhow, good luck with your pizza.
Nancy January 10, 2023
MarenBriggs - two options.
Either use this article on how to convert bread recipes using sourdough to yeast and vice versa.
Or, make your own sourdough starter (it's a recipe in itself), then use it in the recipe as written.
Where to look for such recipes:
* here at food52
* other reliable bread sites in English (like King Arthur Flour)
* in French as "levain au levain."
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