Sourdough Pizza al Taglio

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There must be a word for the way a fleeting thought of pizza for dinner creeps in and quickly sprouts to a full blinding desire—the single-minded resolution that pizza is the only option, the only thing that will satisfy. I sometimes wake with the idea of pizza for dinner firmly rooted, and there's no excising that stubborn weed. Thoughts of scattered melted cheese, plump tomatoes, olives, pepperoni… The simple idea of that harmonious blend of flavors and textures motivates, eventually ushering pizza to the dinner table—again3.

And I'll come right out and say it: this sourdough pizza al taglio has been stealing the pizza spotlight for so long I've all but forgotten how to shape dough round-like instead of rectangular-like. The balance will likely shift once warmer weather comes, but regardless, there's a permanent well-deserved spot in my pizza repertoire for this style of pizza. Either way, since I started making rectangular pizza in a sheet pan, I've been kind of hooked on its simplicity and deliciousness. It results in a pizza with a thin and crispy bottom crust, a tender interior, and an overall lightness thanks to strong fermentation and high water content—a perfect contrast of textures.

Upfront, a few reasons why I love this recipe (besides how tasty it is):
Hands off: there's very little dough handling
Use what you have: you can top it with literally anything in your fridge or pantry
Flexible schedule: the pizza can be made all in a single day or the dough can be refrigerated overnight for pizza the next day
Great for gatherings: a single sourdough pizza al taglio can feed a large crowd (and kids love it)

I've been chatting with other bakers about this pizza for a while on The Perfect Loaf's Discord server, and we've all been expressing our love for easy pizza in an alternative form factor. And as we've collectively pointed out, a rectangular sheet pan pizza it's a crowd-pleaser thanks to easy slicing, flexibility in topping choices, and it's easy to double or triple the recipe.

Sourdough pizza al taglio
Adult and kid friendly; you guess which is which 🙂

Keep in mind there's a distinct difference between focaccia and this sourdough pizza al taglio, or pizza by the slice. Where focaccia spends most of its time rising directly in the pan it will be baked in, and this rectangular pizza spends its time rising in a bulk container and then is shaped out to a rectangle just before it meets the oven. But also, the result here is thinner and less pillowy-soft. There's a distinguished crunch at the bottom crust that sets this pizza apart.

Let's talk about the durum wheat flour I use in this recipe.

Flour selection

This sourdough pizza al taglio is adaptable and flexible. I like to add 15% (to total flour weight) finely milled durum flour to usher in all the wonderful flavor and aroma that durum brings. Durum is a wheat species used heavily for pasta-making, but it often appears in pizza doughs (for more, check out my article on durum flour over at Food52).

Be sure to read on to the FAQ at the end of this post for additional tools and tips for success.

For bread-making, you typically want to go with a very finely milled durum flour, sometimes labeled as “extra fancy” or “semolina rimacinata.” One of my go-to sources is Molino Grassi extra fancy durum semolina, right from Italy. If you've never baked with durum, it really does add an incredible flavor to pizza and bread alike—and you can, of course, use it to make fresh pasta as well.

If you don't want to pick up durum, feel free to substitute the 15% in this recipe for the same weight of whole-grain spelt, khorasan, whole wheat, or even just more white flour. As I mentioned, this recipe is super flexible, and the result will be great with whatever grain flavor you'd like to explore.

Sourdough rectangular pizza slices

Sourdough pizza al taglio tools

For this sourdough sheet pizza, you can use any high-quality half sheet pan (12×16-inch). But I have to say, I've been testing with a Lloyd Pan “grandma” style pan with this pizza, and I'm so impressed with its performance I've switched from using my sheet pans and haven't looked back.

The LloydPan has a nonstick coating that still somehow results in a crispy crust and beautiful bottom coloring. I'm not usually a fan of using a nonstick coating on anything, but with these high-quality pans, the coating is not scratchable and doesn't decrease performance—and they're made in the USA. The pan itself is also extra thick for added strength, and the sides aren't so tall you're venturing into deep dish pizza territory. They're just awesome.

Highly recommended: LloydPan 12×16-inch Grandma Style Pizza Pan

Sourdough pizza al taglio schedule

Baking schedule

I typically make this sourdough pizza al taglio all in a single day. I start mixing in the morning when my sourdough starter is ripe, and then I have a fresh pizza ready by dinner time. But you can easily extend this out to two days by placing your bulk fermentation container, covered, into the refrigerator right at the start of the two-hour proof. The next day when you want to make the pizza, take it out, let it warm up for 30 to 45 minutes, and shape it out to cook in the oven.

Sourdough pizza al taglio formula

Vitals

Total Dough Weight900 grams
Hydration73% (plus 2.5% from olive oil)
Pre-fermented Flour9.00%4
YieldOne 12 x 16-inch rectangular pizza

This recipe makes a single, large sheet pan pizza; if you'd like to make two, double all the ingredients.

Total formula and additional ingredients

Desired dough temperature: 78°F (25°C). See my post on the importance of dough temperature for more information on dough temperatures.

WeightIngredientBaker’s Percentage
392gType 00 flour or All-purpose flour (Central Milling Type 00 Normal or King Arthur Baking All-Purpose)85.00%
69gDurum flour, extra fancy or semolina rimacinata (Molina Grassi Extra Fancy Durum Semolina or Central Milling Durum Flour Extra Fancy)15.00%
12gExtra virgin olive oil2.50%
336gWater73.00%
9gFine sea salt1.90%
83gSourdough starter18.00%
Total sourdough pizza al taglio formula (all the ingredients needed for the main dough)

Additional sourdough pizza al taglio ingredients:

One 28oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (I like Bianco DiNapoli or another San Marzano style)
Mozzarella cheese (low moisture, shredded)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on top of the pizza
Any pizza toppings: pepperoni, black olives, artichoke hearts, jalapeños, etc.
Stack of pizza slices
Sourdough pizza al taglio slices stacked high.

Sourdough pizza al taglio method

1. Mix – 11:00 a.m.

I like to mix this rectangular pizza dough in my KitchenAid stand mixer, but you could use a larger bread mixer or mix and strengthen the dough by hand.

To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, water, salt, and ripe sourdough starter. Mix on speed one for 1 to 2 minutes until the dough comes together, and no dry bits remain. Then, turn the mixer up to speed two and mix for 5 minutes.

Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 10 minutes.

Turn the mixer on to speed one for 1 minute, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running. Once all the oil is added, turn the mixer to speed two and mix for 2 to 3 minutes until all of the olive oil is absorbed and the dough is cohesive.

The dough will still be shaggy and very soft but not soupy or excessively wet at the end of mixing. Transfer the dough to a container for bulk fermentation and cover.

2. Bulk fermentation – 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

At warm room temperature, around 74-76°F (23-24°C), bulk should take about 3 hours. If your kitchen is cooler, place your bulk container in a small home dough proofer, or extend the bulk fermentation time to give the dough more time to ferment. This dough needs three sets of stretch and folds, spaced out by 30 minutes, during the 3-hour bulk.

This is a wet and extensible dough, so I like to give it three sets of vigorous stretch and folds. After the first 30 minutes in bulk fermentation and using wet hands, grab the north side of the dough in the bulk fermentation container and stretch it up and over to the south side. Then, grab the south side of the dough and stretch it up and over to the north side. Repeat in the east to west and west to east directions for a total of 4 folds.

Give the dough two more sets of stretch and folds at 30-minute intervals. After the last set, let the dough rest in the container until the end of bulk fermentation.

3. Proof – 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

At this point, there's nothing to do: continue to let the dough proof in the bulk fermentation container for 2 hours at room temperature.

About an hour into proof, begin preheating your oven with a rack in the middle to 500°F (260°C) and with a baking surface—I like to use my Baking Steel—inside on the rack.

 Overnight proof option : Instead of proofing the dough on the counter for two hours, you can place the covered bulk fermentation container into the fridge to proof overnight. The next day when you want to make the pizza, remove the container and let it warm up for 30 minutes or so. The dough should be warm to the touch, well-risen, and very soft. After it's warm, proceed with the steps below.

4. Prepare sauce and shape – 4:30 p.m.

Tomato sauce for pizza, with a little texture.

Prepare tomato (pomodoro) sauce

This sauce is very similar to my basic Pomodoro sauce on my other sourdough pizza post. Open a 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes and drain the liquid in the can (you can save this to make pasta!). Place the tomatoes in a blender with about 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Blend until smooth but not excessively frothy. I like my sauce for sheet pizza to have a little texture to it, not completely smooth.

Set the sauce aside until you've shaped out the dough.

Shape dough

At the end of proofing, your dough should be well risen, smooth, and very soft to the touch (see below). You should see signs of strong fermentation, but not a dough that's extremely bubbly or very weak in texture. If the dough is a little under fermented, give it 15 more minutes and check again.

Sourdough pizza al taglio dough at the end of bulk fermentation.
Sourdough pizza al taglio dough at end of bulk fermentation.

I like to use my large raised cutting board to shape this rectangular sheet of pizza dough. This way, I can place the sheet pan next to the cutting board and drag the shaped out dough right into the pan. Alternatively, you can shape it out to your counter and drag it over the edge into the pan, or drape the dough over your arms and gentle transfer it over.

When shaping this dough, be as gentle as possible. Try to avoid forcefully stretching the dough outward or pressing so hard you create holes in the dough. It should be very soft and extensible and spread easily; if it's resisting you, let it rest for a few minutes between stretches. Use as much flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface.

Liberally flour your work surface. Gently scrape out your dough to the floured surface and liberally flour the top. Using your fingertips, dimple the dough from top to bottom. Then, gently grab the sides and spread the dough outward. Repeat this, spreading at the dough's top and bottom, coercing the mass into a large rectangle shape. The rectangle does not need to be as large as your sheet pan; you can finish stretching once you transfer the dough over.

Shaping our sourdough pizza dough.

8. Cook – 5:00 p.m.

At this point, your oven with the baking surface inside should be preheated. Cooking this sourdough pizza al taglio is done in two phases:

Step 1: Spread sauce and pre-cook dough.

After shaping the dough, spread on the tomato, slide the pan onto the baking steel surface now preheated in the oven. Turn the oven down to 450°F (230°C) and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.

Spreading tomato sauce.
Spreading tomato sauce on sourdough pizza dough.

Once the dough is stretched out to fit the pan and the tomato sauce is spread on in an even layer (seen above), slide the pan into the preheated oven, right on top of your preheated baking surface. Turn the oven down to 450°F (230°C) and bake for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Spread toppings and finish cooking.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven, place it on a heat-proof rack.

Sourdough pizza al taglio after 10 minutes in the oven.

Add cheese and any other desired toppings to the pre-cooked pizza dough.

In my pizza below, you can see the kid's section at right, the “no veggie touching my slices” area in the middle, and the adult section at left (and to be honest, I ate slices from all three 🙂).

Place toppings on parbaked pizza dough
Add any toppings: cheese, pepperoni, artichokes, olives, etc.

Once topped, slide the pan back into the oven on the baking surface and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until done.

When finished, remove the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for a few minutes before cutting.


I see pizza as kind of this distilled embodiment of the perfect food, and this sourdough pizza al taglio has it all: a naturally leavened dough, a beautiful mix of flour, a shape that facilitates large meals (and is great for kids and adults), its flavors and textures are spot on, and perhaps the most importantly, it's delightful in the only way pizza can be.

If you're still in the pizza mood after making this, be sure to check out all my sourdough pizza recipes—buon appetito!


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Sheet pan pizza

Sourdough Pizza al Taglio

  • Author: Maurizio Leo
  • Prep Time: 6 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 pizza
  • Category: Pizza
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

My recipe for a naturally leavened sheet pan pizza that's flexible and a crowd-pleaser. This pizza has a decidedly crispy bottom crust and interior with a little chew—the perfect contrast of textures.


Ingredients

Main dough

  • 392g Type 00 or all-purpose flour
  • 69g durum flour, extra fancy (or semolina rimacinata, very finely milled)
  • 12g extra virgin olive oil
  • 336g water
  • 9g sea salt
  • 83g ripe sourdough starter

Pomodoro (tomato) sauce

  • One 28oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (Bianco DiNapoli or San Marzano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • About 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix (11:00 a.m.)
    Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix on speed one for 1 to 2 minutes until the dough comes together, and no dry bits remain. Then, turn the mixer up to speed two and mix for 5 minutes. Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 10 minutes. Turn the mixer on to speed one for 1 minute, then drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running. Once all the oil is added, turn the mixer to speed two and mix for 2 to 3 minutes until all of the olive oil is absorbed and the dough is cohesive. Transfer the dough to a container for bulk fermentation and cover.
  2. Bulk fermentation (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
    Give the dough 3 sets of stretch and folds during this time at 30-minute intervals. After the last set, let the dough rest until the end of bulk fermentation.
  3. Proof (2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
    Leave the dough covered in the bulk fermentation container and proof on the counter for 2 additional hours (see note for overnight retard). About an hour into the proof, preheat your oven with a baking steel or baking stone inside to 500°F (260°C).
  4. Prepare sauce and shape (4:30 p.m.)
    Drain the liquid from the can of tomatoes and place the tomatoes in a blender along with the oregano, salt, and olive oil. Blend until smooth.
    Gently scrape the pizza dough out of the bulk fermentation container to a floured surface. Dimple down with fingers and gently stretch out to a rectangle. Drag the dough into your sheet pan and finish stretching it to meet the corners.
  5. Cook (5:00 p.m.)
    Spread pomodoro sauce over dough, edge-to, edge with no dough exposed. Slide the pan into the oven on the preheated baking steel, turn the oven down to 450°F (230°C), and bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the pan and place it on an oven-safe surface. Spread on cheese and any other toppings. Slide the pan back into the oven on the baking steel and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer until the bottom is well-colored and as is the top.

Notes

  • If you don't have type 00 flour, use all-purpose.
  • Substitute out the durum flour for spelt, khorasan, whole wheat, or even more type 00/all-purpose flour.
  • You can refrigerate the dough at the end of bulk fermentation, covered, overnight. The next day, take the dough out and let it warm for 30 minutes and continue with the Shape step.

If you use this recipe, tag @maurizio on Instagram and use the hashtag #theperfectloaf so I can take a look!


Sourdough pizza al taglio FAQ

Why is this pizza dough so soft?

This dough has a relatively high hydration and is enriched with olive oil—it's supposed to be! This soft texture makes for a pizza with a thin and crispy crust and tender interior.

Can I refrigerate the sourdough pizza dough?

Yes! At the end of the three-hour bulk fermentation, instead of proofing the dough on the counter for two hours, place your covered container into the fridge until the next day (you can likely even go another day after that). When you want to make the pizza, take the dough out, let it warm for about 30 minutes, then stretch it out, top, and cook.

Can I make this pizza on a regular cookie sheet?

Yes, a typical cookie sheet—or sheet pan—will work just fine with this sourdough pizza al taglio recipe.

I don't have durum flour, what can I use in its place?

Feel free to substitute out the 15% durum for the same percentage of spelt, khorasan, whole wheat, or even more type 00 or all-purpose flour.

I don't have a Baking Steel or baking stone, can I still make this sourdough pizza?

Yes! You'll need to bake a little longer—check on it near the end and push it farther as needed (use some tongs to lift up and check the bottom). If the top is coloring too fast, turn the heat down a bit to extend the cook time.


  1. And you know it's starting to get bad when the kids start asking, “can we have something else tonight?”

  2. 83g of sourdough starter is used for this recipe, and my starter is approximately 50% flour. ((83/2)/461 total flour) * 100 = approximately 9%.

  3. And you know it's starting to get bad when the kids start asking, “can we have something else tonight?”

  4. 83g of sourdough starter is used for this recipe, and my starter is approximately 50% flour. ((83/2)/461 total flour) * 100 = approximately 9%.

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