The Science of Airiness

How 100% Natural Dried Sourdough Transforms Dough 

February 2024

In the vast tapestry of culinary creativity, flour emerges as more than a mere ingredient – it’s the silent architect shaping the texture, taste, and artistry of diverse dishes. Beyond the familiar realms of baking, flour plays a transformative role in kitchens worldwide. From delicate pastries to hearty bread, its significance extends beyond the mixing bowl, weaving a thread that binds together the rich diversity of flavors and textures. As the culinary landscape evolves, the rising trend of Roman-style pizza and Pinsa captures chefs’ attention. In pursuit of perfection, chefs are increasingly drawn to crafting lighter, airier, and crispier crusts, redefining the gastronomic experience and setting a new standard in the world of pizza innovation.  

aria roman crust with air graphics

Renowned for crafting perfect crusts in timeless classics, Caputo flours have become the unsung heroes reshaping the broader perspective of culinary innovation. This is again proven with the groundbreaking “0” Aria flour, where they created a flour specifically for Roman style focaccia and pizzas. In a bold departure from tradition, achieving the coveted crispiness in Pinsa dough is redefined with an exclusive focus on wheat, eschewing conventional additives, and instead enhancing their wheat blend with pasta madre or mother sourdough. This innovative approach showcases the pure essence of wheat, elevating the Pinsa’s texture to an unparalleled crispiness that stands as a testament to simplicity’s power. This innovative blend breathes life into traditional dough, introducing a captivating airiness that redefines the very essence of crusts. The infusion of pasta madre, with its rich history and distinctive fermentation properties, imparts a unique character, elevating the texture and taste of crusts to unparalleled heights.

What are the benefits of adding lievito madre (mother yeast) to the wheat blend? 

Mother and sourdough are both terms that exploded into every baker’s vernacular during the pandemic with a focus around their enhanced flavor (“sour” from which sourdough gets its name), improved digestibility, extended shelf life, and overall naturalness. There’s also been a resurgence around preferments with many experimenting and implementing them in their recipes. So why did Caputo add dried lievito madre into the flour directly? Beyond the benefits previously mentioned, there are a few others that often get overlooked: 


  1. Dried mother yeast increases the absorbency of flour. It absorbs and retains more water which allows the finished dough to be soft and compliant and ready for use. With Caputo “0” Aria specifically, the addition of dried mother yeast means the flour absorbs at least 80% hydration. Many artisans want high water absorption to achieve a very soft gluten network and prolong shelf life and fragrance.
  2. Dried mother yeast allows the dough to be more extensible and less “elastic” meaning there is less “bounce back” and the dough can be evenly stretched and remain extended.
  3. Dried mother yeast causes the dough to color more uniformly. It helps dough mature more quickly which aids in coloration.
  4. The addition of dried mother yeast simplifies the dough making process because it is a preferment that has already been created. This allows artisans to invest less energy while achieving the same target and prolonging the shelf life of their baked products, which is especially ideal for any type of product that involves a reheating process. 

How does mother yeast work? 

Historically, mother yeast was used in place of the commercial yeasts we use today. Artisans use this fermented dough to power the fermentation of their fresh dough. The theory and practice were to ferment this dough for a while (for example, 30 days) to achieve a specific pH and certain acidity close to making the mother yeast die, then refresh it with flour and water again. Flour at this stage acts as feed, in terms of sugar, for the mother yeast, so the mother yeast going into full acidification would come back to life.

A series of dough fermenting


Through this complicated process (we oversimplified it here) we can keep the mother yeast alive indefinitely. When we have a certain pH value, bacteria and enzymes and all their chemical reactions work very fast and create new streams of yeast that give an advantage to the final fermentation of the fresh dough. This advantage is a more active and gradual fermentation and leavening of the final dough. Mother yeast is full of bacteria activity, separate from the leavening (gas action) and baking processes. Ultimately, because mother yeast is full of bacteria and is proliferating many different typologies of bacteria, it prolongs the shelf life of baked products after baking.  

What makes the mother yeast in Caputo “0” Aria unique? 

The dried mother yeast found in Caputo “0” Aria follows the Neapolitan tradition of making mother yeast. Criscito, is the Neapolitan way of saying mother yeast. The recipe is different from regular mother yeast, and it’s the way the mother yeast found in Caputo “0” Aria is made! 

Caputo carefully balances the percentage of mother yeast into the product according to the season, wheat, and milling process, so that they can continue to give a consistent product 365 days of the year. 

Mother yeast is very well applied depending on baking temperatures. At a medium oven temperature, you can take advantage of the bacteria reactions that happen during all the stages of the leavening and baking process whereas baking at too high of a temperature will kill the bacteria.  

What are some other benefits of “0” Aria? 

Caputo “0” Aria performs exceptionally well in frozen processes, meaning if you par-bake the crust and freeze it before later adding toppings and reheating, you will maintain the same high-quality dry and crispy results you get from the first bake.   

In a product like Caputo “0” Aria, the protein doesn’t necessarily give you the same information as a traditional wheat flour. Caputo evaluates the way the protein structure works together with the mother yeast fermentation in the leavening process. For example, when a Pinsa dough or a Roman focaccia dough are made, we don’t want protein for elasticity, we want protein that supports very hydrated dough along a very long process. In this case, protein doesn’t work as a structure strengthener, it works as a binder for the higher hydration and elastically in the baking development.   

Just because Caputo “0” Aria already includes a preferment in the form of dried mother yeast, that doesn’t mean you can’t still use it in a preferment. If an artisan still wants to create an additional preferment, they can use Caputo “0” Aria in that preferment and they can use it or another flour of their choice to close the dough.  

About Caputo Aria

To conclude: 

In the symphony of culinary artistry, Caputo’s range of flours emerges not just as a staple but as a transformative catalyst, stretching far beyond the conventional realms of pizza and bread making.  Within the realm of Caputo’s “0” Aria flour, the addition of natural dried sourdough emerges as a culinary game-changer, establishing a pioneering standard for crafting crusts that transcend expectations. The marriage of their special blend of wheat and natural dried sourdough creates a symphony of textures, elevating crusts to a realm where crispiness becomes an art form. As a result, “0” Aria doesn’t merely meet expectations; it sets a new benchmark for those who seek the perfect balance of airiness and crispness in their culinary creations. 

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