Sourdough Pizza Dough and Recipes

I’m a serious pizza eater. There were stretches of time back when I lived near my Dad’s restaurant where I’d eat fresh pizza almost every other day; I’d stop in for a slice (or a whole pie) on my way home from work to sort out dinner and not because I was lazy and didn’t cook, but because I loved pizza and I simply wanted some. I’ve had tons of different topping combinations but always fall back on classics: sometimes I think the simplest of things really are the best. But one of the most amazing things about pizza is that it can take on so many different toppings and taste fantastic. I know hardcore pizzaiolo will take issue with that statement but it’s pretty awesome to experiment with new flavors and see what we can come up with. Even in Italy I’ve seen some crazy pizza toppings (French fries? Yes, I’ve seen it) and as long as everything is in balance it usually works out. But fmeor me, a good margherita pizza bares all and tells the story of how good a pizzeria is.

Pizza is a food I can eat at every single meal given the chance and when visiting a new restaurant I always struggle internally when I spot it on the menu. You see, I always want to order the pizza. It’s like the entire menu fades away right in front of me and pizza is all that remains. Even if it’s at some strange fusion restaurant that has nothing to do with Italian food, I want it. My meal companions can pretty much bet I’m going to order pizza and with about 99% accuracy I’ll inevitably complain about it right after the first slice. What can I say, I’m picky.

sourdough pizza with spinach and fetaI have this vivid memory of several buddies and I, physically exhausted and running on zero sleep, stumbling into a Peruvian restaurant in the incredibly small city Aguas Calientes right outside of Machu Picchu. We just finished the 4 day hike through the mountains and rain to the sacred site, and this was our first restaurant meal in days. As I opened the menu I saw the typical Peruvian fare and what do you know, they had pizza! Of course my buddies looked at me like I was crazy at the sacrilegious pizza selection I made right there, after that hike, in the rain, in Peru, but I honestly can’t remember a single other item on that menu except for the pizza I ordered1. Blinders.

When you think of great pizza what comes to mind? I think the answer depends on your background, where you grew up, and just how much you’ve eaten. There’s nothing better to me than a Naples style pizza with that thin crust and that blistered and puffy cornicione but it’s incredibly difficult to get this type of crust that comes out of a blazing hot wood fired oven, and that’s ok. Pizza at home doesn’t have to try to imitate a Naples style pizza, it can be exciting and delectable in a completely different way. One day I’ll have a wood fired oven but until then the focus here is to make naturally leavened pizza dough that’s incredibly tasty, versatile and flexible. Most of us aren’t making pizza professionally, so an adaptable dough recipe that works around your schedule — and could chill an extended period in the fridge, if necessary — is a good thing.

sourdough pizza toppings and bottomsourdough pizza cornicioneFor me great pizza has a thin, well baked crust with an airy and soft cornicione (rim). When you hold a slice in the air it should sort of sag a bit, indicating the crust isn’t baked to a cracker-like consistency but rather still soft and pliable. The bottom should be well cooked with dark spots scattered about. The toppings should be a light dusting of items, especially the cheese — everything in balance.

This formula is very versatile and adaptable, though, so if you like a thicker crust up the weight for each dough ball. If you like a thin, cracker-like crust shape the dough ball out thin and cook for a few mins longer until things firm up. You can even use this dough recipe for pan pizza and foccacia. If you like a Chicago-style pizza… (gasp) I’m not sure I have any suggestions but I’m sure you can make it work.

Ok, let’s make some pizza.

Flour Selection

I would venture to say that Caputo flour from Italy is probably the most widely used flour for pizza. I’ve purchased a few sacks of Caputo 00 Pizzeria Flour on Amazon to test with and it definitely is really nice to work with. They list the protein percentage of their flour (in the blue bag) between 12-13% (12.75%), the water absorption is significantly lower than most of the flour I normally work with (meaning it cannot take on super high hydration), and the signifier tipo 00 indicates it’s milled incredibly fine (it truly feels like light powder). You can’t go wrong with this flour — it performs incredibly well and makes pizza with a thin, delicate crust that is strong enough to hang onto whatever toppings you throw at it.

However, lately I’ve been working more with Central Milling Organic Type 00 Normal flour (they also have a “strong” version with a higher protein percentage at around 13.8%!) and I’ve come to really enjoy this flour. Much like Caputo 00 it is milled incredibly fine and feels smooth as can be when mixing. I like that it’s a closer option for me, in terms of geographic distance, and I can order large quantities without too much of a hit to the bank. When using this flour my resulting pizza has had a really nice thin crust and a very tender interior, I’m very happy with it. Central Milling indicates their flour has around 11.2% protein and is a hard red winter wheat blend.

I know not everyone has a sack of tipo 00 flour in their pantry, heck I didn’t until recently, so you can definitely swap these flours out for a regular “all purpose” flour (or even better, a mix of bread flour and all purpose) with the expectation that the end the result might stray a bit from what you see here — and that’s just fine! The pizza will still be naturally leavened, flexible, delicious and made at home. You can’t go wrong with that.

The next frontier for me with this pizza dough recipe will be to explore more fresh milled grains as a larger portion of the flour percentage. My sourdough pizza formula below is a great place to start and the 10% whole grains I call for can easily be a springboard for experimentation: swap the whole wheat out for spelt or even kamut to play with the texture and taste. I think there’s an equilibrium to find: you don’t want the flavor of the grain to completely overpower the toppings you’re using, but rather be a balanced contributor to overall concert.

In the end I’m looking to go even higher and you can count on an updated recipe as I venture down that path.

Sourdough Pizza Dough Formula

sourdough pizza toppingsFirst, a little discussion on why I chose the percentages, numbers and ingredients in the formula below.

I like to think of pizza and bread as siblings separated in childhood

Why 290g dough balls? In experimenting with varying dough weights for each pizza I ranged everywhere from a 180g ball to a 300g ball, finally settling on 290g. This is a personal thing but I found 290g to be the sweet spot for a 12″ personal pizza (I can easily eat a single pizza solo) with a thin bottom crust and larger, puffy rim. if you go up on the weight of each ball you can increase the crust thickness at bottom or increase the size of the pie. Conversely, if you go down on the weight you can make a less pronounced rim or smaller pizza.

Why 68% hydration? One of the fantastic things about a super blazing hot wood fired oven is you can bake a pizza in around 90 seconds. Because it takes longer than that in a home oven you’ll end up baking off a lot of the moisture in the dough which means your pizza will turn out to be quite firm and like a cracker. With a higher hydration this can be countered a little, give the dough a little extra time in the oven, and generally prevent a sad cracker pizza from happening. I don’t think 68% is a set-in-stone number, feel free to go up or down on this depending on how things turn out in the oven, and most importantly: to adjust for the flour used! Additionally, because I advise using parchment paper to launch your pizza into the oven (more on this below) increasing the hydration into the 70’s is totally possible (as you increase hydration it becomes harder and harder to shape and transfer the pizza from your peel to the oven deck).

Why use diastatic malt? If you’ve read my site for a while you’ll know I’m a fan of using powdered malt in my flour to increase enzymatic activity2 and add color to my crust. Why should pizza be any different? It is optional but recommended.

Vitals

Total dough weight: 592g
Hydration: 68%
Yield: 2 x 290g dough balls
Buffer: 2%3

Note that in the chart below the numbers add up to a little over 2 x 290g dough balls (580g versus the listed total dough weight of 592g, above). I add in a 2% “buffer” to the formula to ensure the resulting dough provides at least two 290g balls. You might end up with a little excess dough on your bench but for me a buffer of 2% works out to perfectly produce two 290g balls.

If you want to make more than 2 dough balls just scale everything up while keeping the same percentages.

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
285g Type 00 White Flour (I used Central Milling Type 00 Normal) 90.00%
32g Whole Wheat Flour (I used Giusto’s Stoneground) 10.00%
212g H2O @ Room Temperature 67.00%
6g Diastatic Malt (optional) 2.00%
9g Salt 2.90%
47g Mature, liquid starter 15.00%

Method

Before we begin, a quick note about building a levain (leaven): I don’t actually build a specific levain to make this dough. As I’ve mentioned in my post on my Sourdough Starter Maintenance Routine an ongoing starter (or mother, chef, etc.) and a levain are essentially the same thing. A levain is built as an off-shoot, or splinter, that eventually dies off in the oven when the bread it’s built for is baked, but for this pizza dough there is such a small levain requirement there really isn’t a need to make a levain and wait for it to fully ferment before using.

It’s not necessary to build a specific levain for this dough, just use your starter

One technique you can utilize is to make an intermediate build of your starter if it’s ready to be used (at it’s peak) but, due to schedule constraints, you still have a few hours before you can do so. In this case what I’ll do is make a small levain, with a large percentage of seed starter and warmer water, and try to time things so it’ll mature in a few hours. It’s hard to give exact times and temperatures but experiment with it — for my starter and environment I can usually do an intermediate build with 100% seed (mature starter), 100% flour (50% white and 50% whole wheat), 100% water at 90ºF and it will mature in about 3 hours.

You can adjust the timetable presented below to suit your schedule. For example, you could mix your dough a few hours before work in the morning and toss it into the fridge, then take it out late in the evening and proof on the counter overnight for a lunchtime bake. Or, you could mix at 5:00 p.m. like I have listed below and instead of shaping into balls the next day at 11:00 a.m. you could shape earlier before work and bake right when you get home. The key is your dough needs to have sufficient strength and fermentation, but there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of when each step can be performed. Use the times below as a guide and adjust to suit your schedule. Also keep in mind I’ve even placed the shaped dough balls in the fridge overnight and they baked up beautifully the next day!

1. Mix – 5:00 p.m.

The goal for mixing this sourdough pizza dough is to develop quite a bit of strength upfront (more than I would with traditional sourdough bread) and then a little more strength during bulk fermentation through folds. You can certainly use a mixer for this dough, such as a KitchenAid stand mixer if you have one, or you can do things by hand. I’ve done it both ways and the outcome has been similar. In either case the end result will be dough that’s not completely smooth, but very strong feeling. Perhaps a little past medium development.

Mixer

If using a mixer I like to hold back a little water, around 50g, and add it in the later stages of mixing. In your mixing bowl measure out the called for water minus 50g and add your mature starter; swish around with a whisk or spatula to disperse. Then add in flour, salt, and malt and mix a bit with your hand (so when you turn on your mixer dry flour doesn’t eject out dusting you head to toe). Attach the dough hook to your mixer and turn on speed #2 (for a KitchenAid) and mix for a few minutes until everything comes together. Once it is a single dry mass dribble in the remaining 50g water over the course of a minute or two while mixing, waiting to add more water until the previous liquid is absorbed. If you add the water all at once the dough will just slide around and around and around, never mixing. I mix for around 4-5 minutes or so until the dough starts to look a little less shaggy, but it will still be far from fully developed (see image below).

By Hand

If mixing by hand I follow my same procedure as with sourdough bread. I add everything to a mixing bowl and incorporate with my hands until it’s all one shaggy mass (I don’t hold back any water if mixing by hand, I just add it all in since this is relatively low hydration after all). Once incorporated dump out onto your counter and slap/fold for about 5-7 minutes until it firms up and holds shape on the counter. If you don’t want to do slap/fold you can also just perform turns in the bowl, stretching the dough up and folding it over itself, for several minutes until the dough is strong and resists stretching and folding.

Just as with bread the level of development with the dough can vary so we will fill in the necessary strength during bulk fermentation with stretch and folds. If the dough is less developed by the end of mix then we can simply add in more folds during bulk. For reference, this is what my dough looked like at the beginning of bulk (I used a mixer):theperfectloaf-sourdough-pizza-dough-portrait-2The dough looks shaggy for sure, but the lower hydration and mixing has made it very strong and resistant to tugging or folding. Transfer dough to a thick-walled container (I use a large ceramic bowl) for bulk fermentation on the counter.

2. Bulk Fermentation – 5:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. (In the fridge at 7:45 p.m.)

At 75-77ºF ambient temperature bulk fermentation should go for about 2.5 hours. Perform 3-4 sets of stretch and folds — a North, South, East and West fold for each set – during bulk, spaced out by 30 minutes. After the third set assess how the dough is feeling: is it incredibly stiff and resists any stretching at all? If so let it rest the remainder of the 2.5 hours. If the dough is still extensible and slack give it the final, fourth set.

After 2.5 hours in bulk, use some olive oil and lightly oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough. Then, dump the dough out onto the counter and using two hands shape the dough into a very tight boule. You can “spin” the dough on the counter to create tension on the outside or drag it two your body while using your pinkies to pinch the dough under itself (my preferred method). It’s important here to get the dough nice and taut, don’t worry about knocking out gasses or degassing.

Wrap the bowl with reusable plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.sourdough pizza dough end of bulkAbove you can see how my dough typically looks at the end of bulk. It has a fairly smooth surface and looks strong and active.

3. Divide & Ball – 11:00 a.m.

Pick a vessel to hold your shaped dough balls. With only two you can use a small baking sheet (like a quarter sheet), or even better, a high-walled baking dish. Lightly oil the vessel with olive oil so the dough is easy to remove later. At the end of this post I’ve provided links for all the tools I use here in this post, including my pizza dough trays.

Remove the bulk container with the dough from the refrigerator and dump the dough out onto your unfloured bench. Divide the dough into two 290g dough balls and using almost no flour form each into a very tight ball. It’s incredibly important here to create a ball that has a completely closed bottom. You want a tight skin on each of these that completely surrounds the dough ball.dividing pizza doughThere are a few ways to do this but my favorite way is to pickup the ball and using both hands tuck the dough back and into itself as you rotate it around in your hand (see upper-left image below). Work your way around and around stretching and tucking, then flip the ball over and pinch the bottom to close the seam. From there I place it onto the bench and lightly tug it towards my body one or two times to ensure things are sealed and it’s perfectly round. When finished tap the top of the dough with your hand so it sticks in place on the bench.balling sourdough pizza doughsourdough pizza dough balled upThe ball should be smooth all over and on the bottom — try not to have creases, seams or holes. Transfer to your lightly oiled proofing vessel.

4. Proof – 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Once the balls are shaped and onto the proof vessel cover with plastic wrap so they do not dry out during proof (this is why a high-walled dish works well, it keeps the wrap up off the dough). The balls will proof on the counter, around 75ºF, for about 6 hours. At the end of this time the dough should be puffy to the touch and should have relaxed out from their tight ball into more of a disc shape:fully proofed sourdough pizza doughIf you’d like to use the dough right away be sure to start preheating your oven, as described below, before the dough finishes its proof. Alternatively when the dough is finished proofing you can place the dough into the refrigerator and it will hold for several hours, even overnight.

5. Preheat oven at 4:30 p.m., Bake at 5:30 p.m. and onwards

Preheat oven on Bake setting for one hour at 550ºF (or the highest your oven will go). Gather your handheld water mister and place by your oven, you will use this to lightly spritz the pizza once you’ve placed it into the oven (more on this below).

TIP: Thirty minutes before you plan to bake the first pizza toss your entire proofing vessel with dough into the refrigerator. It’s so, so much easier to shape out the dough when it’s cold from the fridge and I find that there is no need to let the dough warm to room temperature before baking. This is optional but recommended.

I use a Baking Steel in my oven to bake my pizza and, as I mentioned before, it does one heck of a job of staying super hot and transferring massive heat to the pizza dough. You can see below how I have things setup: the Baking Steel is a few rungs down from the top broiler element and below the baking steel is another rack with a normal pizza stone. The bottom pizza stone is not necessary, I keep it in my oven all the time and never move it just to keep some extra masonry mass in there for heat retention (and I’m kinda lazy and hate moving it around).Home oven setup for pizza with Baking SteelIn early pizza trials I placed the Baking Steel as close as I could to the top broiler with the thought that when I turned that broiler on to superheat the steel, it would get insanely hot — and it sure did. However, that residual heat from the boiler sticks around so when you launch your pizza on the steel it cooks the top of the pizza a bit too fast in relation to the bottom. I found this extra top-heat to harden off the crust prematurely, stunting dough spring. As you can see I like it a little lower, just low enough to still get significant heat from the broiler when it’s kicked on but not too close as to overcook the top of the pizza.


While your oven is preheating gather your pizza toppings and get them ready. Make the pomodoro sauce (see recipe below), cut mozzarella into cubes 4, and so on. It’s important to setup your pizza toppings in a logical layout on your kitchen counter so you have things streamlined — makes the whole process much more fluid.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your pizza peel and place on top. Lightly flour your bench and the top of a single dough ball from the fridge. Using a dough scraper gently remove the dough ball from the proofing vessel and place top-side down on your bench (place the remaining ball back into the fridge). Flour your hands and the side of the ball facing up and begin shaping. Using two hands shaped like an inverted letter “V” press down the dough in a uniform fashion starting at the side of the dough farthest from you working toward your body. You want to keep your hands flat with the dough. Try not to press out any gas at the rim of the dough where the edge will form — you want this to rise up as high as possible.flipped sourdough pizza doughshaping sourdough pizza discWhile pressing it’s easy to turn the disc from time to time and press from top to bottom in different orientations. You’ll feel yourself slightly pressing the gasses from the interior of the dough out to the edges as the center becomes more and more flat and the edge becomes more and more pronounced. If you find the dough sticks too much to your hands and the bench, use more flour, but I find this rarely to be the case. The cold retard of the dough just before shaping really helps strengthen the dough and the light dusting of flour takes care of any residual stickiness.

Once pressed out several times you have a choice here: you can transfer the disc to the parchment paper on the pizza peel and finish stretching the dough out on the parchment if that’s more comfortable, or you can lift the disc off the bench and using the back of your hands stretch the dough out as you work around (imagine an Irish-style boxer with their fists up, knuckles pointing away from the body with the dough draped over them). Another method would be the Naples style “slap” where you hold the disc on the bench with one hand and stretch the dough outwards with the other, then lift disc and rotate to work around the entire dough. Each method takes some practice, and if you’re just starting out shaping on the parchment paper directly is a great way to get a feel for the process before exploring more shaping methods.shaped pizza discOnce your dough is on the parchment paper and shaped, switch your oven over from Bake to Broil (high). This will get the broiler engaged, which usually takes a minute or two, while you top your pizza. When you have the dough on the parchment you can relax a bit and focus on working your oven and topping your pizza.

If using my tomato sauce recipe listed below, grab a ladle and scoop out a medium amount of tomato sauce. Pour onto the dough and using the back of the ladle spread out in a circular fashion. Top with the remaining items called for in the recipe.topping sourdough pizzaOnce topped, slide the parchment paper and dough into your oven. The pizza will bake on the parchment paper in the oven (even though my picture above doesn’t show this, sometimes I do it without parchment). Quickly grab your handheld water mister and carefully spray in your oven to slightly wet the dough all around. I’ve played with misting and not misting and I find it helps give the dough a little moisture (which if you recall, is a problem with a home oven: we lose moisture before the pizza is cooked, drying out the crust) at the beginning so it can rise high and prevent overly drying out the crust. If you do not want to use a handheld mister by all means skip this step.

The broiler should still be active at this point and your dough will get an initial blast of bottom and top heat. Bake with the broiler on for 1.5-2 minutes until you see the dough slightly color, then switch your oven from Broil back to Bake (at maximum temperature). Bake for an additional minute then using your pizza peel carefully rotate your pizza 180º in the oven to even out the baking.

Continue baking until done to your liking. I like to ever-so slightly under bake these so they are still very soft. Remove from the oven using your pizza peel and transfer to a plate. Top with remaining items (basil, a little more olive oil, etc.), cut and serve. Repeat for remaining dough balls.


In a nutshell, here is my pizza baking process:

  1. Take 290g dough ball out of fridge and shape out to a disc on parchment paper
  2. Turn oven from Bake setting (hopefully at 550ºF) to maximum Broiler setting
  3. Top dough disc with toppings
  4. Open oven and launch (slide in) pizza dough on top of parchment paper
  5. Quickly spritz all sides of dough with handheld water mister and close oven door
  6. Bake for 1.5 – 2 minutes (broiler should be on)
  7. Turn broiler off and oven back to Bake at 550ºF
  8. After 1 minute rotate pizza disc 180º using pizza peel and carefully grabbing corner of parchment paper
  9. Bake for an additional 4-5 minutes or until done to your liking

Pizza Ideas

Below are a few suggestions for pizza I make the most often, chances are one of these will be in any batch of sourdough pizza I make. I like to dress my pizza lightly, using only small amounts of cheese and a light saucing. You’ll see that in the recipes below and in my images throughout — it’s just my preference. If you like a more full pizza by all means pack it on. And of course, feel free to modify these to your heart’s content — use whatever is fresh, local and in season. If you have special dietary restrictions there are many modifications that can be made. For example, my wife cannot eat (most) dairy so I’ll always sub out the mozzarella for goat cheese with a light shaving of aged parmesan (for some reason she can eat this).

Basic Pomodoro Sauce

Bianco DiNapoli tomatoesThis is my go-to tomato sauce for just about every pizza I make (with a few exceptions, as outlined below).

  • One can whole peeled tomatoes (Bianco DiNapoli or San Marzano)
  • 1.5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

Drain the whole peeled tomatoes reserving the liquid for another use (pasta, described in the tip below). Place tomatoes, olive oil, salt and oregano in a blender and blend until desired consistency (I like it very smooth). Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. Will last about a week in the fridge.

TIP: To make a simple and delicious weeknight pasta sauce recombine the leftover sauce with the reserved tomato liquid and cook with kalamata olives and sliced garlic on the stove until reduced significantly (it should sort of coat the back of a spoon), about 30-40 minutes. Top pasta with basil/parsley, fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil.

Pizze

Sourdough Pizza with Pomodoro, Mushrooms, Peppadew, and Padrón Peppers

sourdough pizza with mushroomsI accidentally discovered peppadew at the market one week and I can’t get enough of these sweet & tangy little peppers. They’re my secret weapon. They are fantastic on pizza (when used sparingly) as they give an unexpected, but not overpowering, burst of sweetness that pairs incredibly well with the savory and salty flavors of this pizza.

  • One 290g ball Sourdough Pizza Dough
  • 1/3 cup Basic Pomodoro Sauce
  • Several padrón peppers with stems removed
  • Handful peppadew “sweet drop” peppers
  • 2-3 medium sized white mushrooms
  • Handful of kalamata olives (optional)
  • Several basil leaves
  • Drizzle olive oil

Spread the pomodoro sauce evenly around the pizza in a circular fashion while keeping a 1” border clean around the outer edge of the dough (this will be the crust). Then place the padrón peppers, peppadew, mushrooms and olives in an even distribution over the pomodoro sauce. Bake. When finished baking place basil on top randomly and drizzle a few “circles” on top of all with the olive oil.

Sourdough Pizza with Spinach, Feta & Garlic Confit

sourdough pizza dough with feta and spinachThis recipe is based on a pizza from the Gjelina cookbook (one of my all time favorite cookbooks) and it has just the right balance of flavors. There’s no tomato in here at all, so it’s a good break if you are kind of tomato-ed out. I like to add a pinch of red chile flakes to this one after the pizza is finished.

  • One 290g ball Sourdough Pizza Dough
  • 2-3 cloves garlic confit (roasted garlic will work also), chopped
  • 2 cups whole spinach leaves
  • 35g feta cheese
  • 35g mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
  • Pinch red chile flakes (optional)
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Scatter the chopped garlic over the dough and then pile the spinach leaves mostly in the center but a few reaching out to the crust here and there. On top of, and occasionally below, the spinach scatter the mozzarella and feta cheese (try not to break the feta into really small pieces) throughout. When this pie is baked the cheese will melt on top of and below the spinach which is just delicious. Drizzle a few “circles” of olive oil over the top and bake.

Sourdough Pizza with Pomodoro Crudo, Mozzarella, Basil and Oregano

sourdough pizza with tomatoI love this pizza. I’ve had a variation of this in Italy and each time I see it on the menu it’s my first choice. The flavor of this pizza is lighter than one with a traditional tomato sauce, and I think this is what I like so much about it. The flavor of oregano, olive oil and slightly roasted cherry tomatoes is pretty out of this world.

  • One 290g ball Sourdough Pizza Dough
  • 35g mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
  • 2 handfuls of multicolored cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Scattered kalamata olives (optional but tasty)
  • Dried oregano
  • Several basil leaves
  • Drizzle olive oil

Scatter the mozzarella cheese on the dough while leaving a 1” border from the edge clean. Starting at the center of the dough place cherry tomatoes cut side down radiating outwards in a random fashion (these look awesome mixed and matched with the highest density in the middle). Drizzle a few “circles” of olive oil around and bake. When finished, sprinkle the dried oregano on top and place the basil leaves on top of all.

This pizza would also be awesome with a pinch of red chile flakes or Calabrian chile oil.


Conclusion

Nowadays I find myself heading to my Dad’s restaurant a little less frequently, but at least when I can’t make it out there during the week I can get some pretty darn good pizza right at home utilizing my ever-giving sourdough starter. It seems lately I always have one or two dough balls ready and waiting in my fridge for that impromptu “let’s do pizza tonight”,  and you’d be surprised at how often that does pop up. Also, who says it’s a bad thing to have homemade sourdough pizza at home during the week and then head to the restaurant for more pizza on the weekend? I love that idea.

As I mentioned earlier I hope to push the whole grain percentage (and fresh milled flour percentage) with future bakes and I’ll be sure to post about that as I experiment. But a nice thing with this formula is there is a little wiggle room for playing with whole grains built right in: just swap out that 10% for whatever you might have on hand to experiment with. This formula really is a versatile and flexible one that can be retarded in the fridge for extended periods if necessary, and I enjoy the light and airy crust it produces with little to no sourness.

Now I just need that wood fired oven…


Whew, that was a hefty post! Lots of process photos, pizza photos and comments on how I’ve been honing my pizza making skills at home. I hope you do not feel overwhelmed by the length of this post, but rather, come away feeling like you have a single place to come back to for all the tiny details that sometimes get lost with making pizza at home. As always if there’s anything more you’d like to see here, or have questions about, leave a comment at the end!

Pizza Tools

I’ve decided to roundup all the tools shown here in this post for those wondering what I’m using. I’ve found each of these to be pretty great for their purpose and I’ve finally collected everything I need to make pizza consistently each week.

  • Baking Steel – highly conductive slab of steel to bake your pies on instead of stone (no cracking, higher temp, etc.)
  • Pizza Peel – I do not own this one (yet) but once the one I have gives up the ghost I’m switching
  • Proofing Trays – this is a great kit: it comes with two trays with airtight lids and a plastic scraper to lift the dough out. One awesome thing about these trays is that they will fit inside my refrigerator.
  • Pizza Cutter – simple and effective pizza wheel cutter
  • Calabrian Chile – these are so, so good. Perfect as is or to cook down into an oil for a spicy kick to your pizza.

sourdough pizza

Buon appetito! 





  1. By the way it was a pretty terrible “pizza”, if you even want to call it that — but hey, what can you expect?

  2. The action of breaking down starches into sugars that yeast can utilize for fermentation

  3. A little extra added to the recipe to ensure enough dough is made to cover the number of pizze called for

  4. Keep in mind the smaller the blocks of cheese you make the faster they will bake (and burn), there’s a sweet spot to find

  • KF in VT

    Just bought a small bag of 00 (but its a low protein soft wheat – all they had at my local store)! Excited to try your recipe as I’ve been playing a lot with sourdough pizza dough lately. Baking in both my Uuni 2 and home oven which gets to 500 degrees. Having that stone/steel good and hot is so key! Thanks Maurizio!

    • That 00 flour should be ok, give it a shot. The flour I use isn’t high protein either, I just make sure the dough is strong enough otherwise it can be a challenge to shape uniformly.

      How do you like your Uuni? I’ve been looking hard at those and trying to decide whether I’d like one instead of a full on wood fired oven.

      Thanks so much, hope you like the recipe!

      • KF in VT

        Hey! The Uuni is for tinkerers I’ve decided-it’s not for everyone. When I first got it, I brought it to a family picnic by the lake and it was interesting to see who really wanted to get it to work and who just wasn’t at all interested. I got to know one of my nephews a lot better haha! He hung in there with the problem solving. I really love it and the challenge of getting it to work right. On the plus side, it’s not very expensive, portable, and runs on wood pellets, so if you just want to make a couple of pies or a lot, it’s perfect. On the con side, it does take some experimenting. But there is an enthusiastic community on FB who discuss their success and failures and will answer any questions. Thanks for the flour advice. I should be baking pizza in a couple of days.

        • That’s the conclusion I drew about the Uuni as well. I’m definitely interested in it but I’d hate to buy something I’d eventually end up returning for a full on wood fired oven. I’ll hold off until I can get the bigger oven for the backyard 🙂

          Have fun with the upcoming bake, if you end up using the Uuni let me know how it turns out in there!

    • KF in VT

      p.s. made a great pie last weekend with pesto, sautéed onions and leeks, and sweet rowan farmstead mountain ash – a rich creamy cow’s milk cheese.

  • Anouk

    FINALLY ! YAY !! GRAZIE !!!

  • Ottavia Mazzoni

    I have been making and baking pizza in a very similar way for the last couple of years and I have never looked back…I just tend to keep my balls of dough much smaller though. You eat an incredibly large pizza I must say!

    • That’s awesome! I find this method to be super straight forward and incredibly tasty. Yes, they are large dough balls, I work out hard and I eat a lot of pizza 🙂 Scale it up/down to suit your preference!

  • scottwilson1

    Looks great, I will try it next weekend. One question — do you bake with the parchment paper throughout the baking period? I ask because the picture with the baking steel seems to indicate no parchment paper. Thanks.

    • Thanks for asking that, I should have clarified: I bake the pizza on the parchment paper even though the image shows it without. I actually alternate between the two and find baking on parchment to be much easier with essentially no drawbacks.

  • Looks amazing!! You’re going to make my boyfriend really really happy 😀

    • Glad you like it and I’m sure he will as well! Super versatile (and tasty) dough! Happy baking 🙂

  • Renato Parreira

    Hi, your pizza dough doesn’t have 67% hydration. I think it has 69%.
    You have also the water from starter.
    So, 212ml water + 23ml water from starter = 235ml. 235ml total water /(317g flours + 23g flour from starter) = 69%.

    • Yes, you’re correct that’s a mistake in my calculations up there! I’ll fix it, thanks so much for catching that.

      If you don’t count the malt towards the flour total weight you’re right, overall hydration is around 69% (including the starter). If you do count the malt it’s 67.9%. I do usually include the malt as part of the flour calculation so the correct hydration for this should be 68% (rounding up).

      • Renato Parreira

        Hi, I tried last night this pizza dough. Was a nice dough but not equal to yours. I’ll try again and let you know.
        Thanks for reply.

  • Hi,

    I have been using something similar to this for a while. I started with the basic sourdough recipe and have been slowing backing off on the hydration. The first one was a mess and completely stuck to the peel so I quickly folded it up and, voila, a calzone. 🙂

    I had arrived at a hydration similar to yours over time. However, your proofing method is different.

    I currently have a batch of it in the fridge to be baked this evening. I can’t wait to try it out.

    Cheers,
    –Bruce

    • Bruce,
      Calzone is always a good fallback — I’ve done this myself 😀

      I played around with hydration for this recipe A LOT. As you know it’s a very big deal with pizza and just changing a few percentage points can drastically change the outcome. I find using the parchment paper helps with the higher hydration quite a bit since you don’t have to worry about it not launching off that pizza peel (I would occasionally have issues here).

      Hope your bake goes well! I have one coming up this weekend as well 🙂

      • The bake went really well. On the first pie the bottom was not quite as crisp as I would like before the cheese started to brown, so I blind baked the next one for 2 minutes before adding the toppings and continuing the the bake. The second one came out much better for me.

        I may try putting the stone on the grill next time so I can get it really hot from below. We shall see.

        • Right on! Did you blast the baking stone with the broiler before loading your pizza? I find that extra blast of heat really helps.

          Another thing you could try is to slightly reduce the top, downward heat so the top of the pie doesn’t bake quite as quickly. I found it took a little experimenting for me to get the top and bottom heat to be where I want it, and in balance at the end of the bake.

          • I did. One other thought would be to put the stone on the top rack, right under the broiler for a few minutes. Then, just before adding the pizza, I could move the stone down to the middle rack. That should get the stone much hotter than the actual inside of the oven but then allow the top to back slower. Too many things to try… 🙂

  • Soe@limeandcilantro

    I love how you are so opinionated about how you like your pizza. Also, do you think I can just bake pizza in a baking sheet or will you judge me if I do? LOL

    • I find pizza to be a very, vey contentious thing so you have to be careful how you talk about it to people — especially Italians 😉

      You can absolutely bake this in a baking sheet, no problem at all! That’s traditionally how foccacia is made anyways, and heck, they are pretty close 🙂

  • Jenna Leigh Legge

    I am so excited to try this recipe!

    Question – at the moment I do not own a baking steel (I’m assuming you can also use a pizza stone for this?). So I was wondering….could I potentially heat up the bottom of my cast iron combo cooker and bake a slightly smaller pizza in that?

    • Yes, you can definitely use a baking stone! You could also use your combo cooker, anything that retains and transfers a large amount of heat will work well. Just be careful loading your dough into the preheated combo cooker, it might get tricky! You’ll have to make smaller rounds also so they fit the combo cooker but it will work out for ya.

      Happy baking!

  • jessica

    hello ! i finally made your pizza dough after drooling over it on your instagram feed. i am a sourdough beginner… so it didn’t turn out perfectly, but it was still delicious! thank you for the recipe! i look forward to trying this again very soon. in the final stage (proofing), my two boules spread out a lot. in the end i just kind of threw them onto the counter and pushed them to spread out into a pizza shape, so it was fine… but if you have any tips for this problem i am very happy to hear them 🙂 ! thanks again.

    • Awesome, super glad to hear that! If they spread out too much then it’s most likely because the dough wasn’t strong enough, or shaped tightly enough, when you divided the dough. Because the hydration is so low with this recipe I’d be hesitant to say there’s too much water in the dough, but depending on the flour you’re using this is also possible.

      I’d make sure to mix a little longer next time so the dough is very strong by the time you get to bulk OR do an extra 1-2 sets of stretch and folds during bulk to add more strength.

      Hope that helps and have fun with it!

  • Matt Morgan

    Hey Maurizio,

    Super excited about this post. Any thoughts on how to handle your baking suggestions in a bottom broiler oven?

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • Matt, an oven with no top broiler element? You can still definitely use this dough recipe and make pizza but without direct downward heat you might be limited to what kind of scorching you can get on the top crust. This isn’t to say it will turn out bad, I’m sure it will still be delicious, just different.

      What could work is if you had two baking steels setup with space between them to slide in your pizza. This way the top steel and the bottom steel will be super hot providing plenty of heat. Just an idea!

      • Matt Morgan

        Good idea. Will try with the pizza stone + pizza steel I have.

  • Allison Louise Bush

    Oh my!!! This is beyond awesome. Such a gift to have access to your knowledge! So grateful. Thank you so much! Can’t wait to try 😊

    • Thank you! I hope you enjoy it, I love this recipe!

  • Adam

    For a 100% whole wheat version, would you use the same process that you use for bread? (sift out bran and soften with boiling water) ?

    • Adam — I probably wouldn’t bother doing that for 100% ww pizza dough. I find this dough to be much more forgiving and a whole wheat version should work just fine, perhaps with less rise overall. I’ll be exploring that myself here very soon!

  • Hello Maurizio,
    I am chef Tony from Wheat and Fire Pizza Catering we talked a bit via email and you had pointed me to this article during our chats. Thanks to the busy holiday season, I just got around to reading these great pointers for Beginners and Amateur natural yeast and pizza enthusiasts.
    I would first say to those wanting to add more whole ground wheat berries to the recipe (or as the processed world calls it whole wheat flour) the best flour is to add in the Prairie Gold flour from Wheat Montana it is actually available at Walmart (I know I know) and is a non GMO large family farm that certifies their wheat chemical free by laboratory. I find it is the closest flour to our fresh ground flour we create for our mobile wood fired pizza caterings.

    I say this as bran is the killer in pizza doughs as it tears the gluten structure and inhibits rise due to fiber and other factors (hence why so many “whole wheat flour” crusts are not only dry but lack more rise and end up tasting more like bread). The Prairie Gold is actually a white wheat berry that is finely ground and just leaves more of the bran, endosperm, wheat germ etc in place, so more gluten a bit more fiber but not all bran like traditional whole wheat flour. Wheat Montana does a really nice job with this flour besides the non GMO, chemical free aspects. I would say this flour can easily be added to 30% of the recipe and still get a nice oven spring.

    The other factor I would mention for home bakers is the benefit of baking steel it holds and releases heat energy much more efficiently then stone. Stone absorbing less also means that it radiates better then steel. So the ideal set up when I am forced to cook in traditional ovens or even BBQ’s is to put stone on the bottom for char and crispness and to get my stone as close to the top of the pizza as I can. This will radiate and offset oven hot spots which also duplicating the wood fired pizza oven environment the best (centrifuge of flame with limited hot spots, coals radiating and heat the oven floor).

    The only other advice I have (which I think you talked about) is if using whole wheat feel free to add a touch more water (max 10g to this recipe) and hold back water (around 30%) let the dough come together very loosely then let it rest 30 minutes and add the 30% water (help the gluten structure and absorption by the whole wheat) and finish mixing. I find in higher whole wheat dough it is easy to also let the dough cold ferment for up to 12 hours extra. Cold fermentation after all is our friend in the sourdough world for flavor and letting the natural yeast help the dough become easier to digest as well (Michael Pollan helped popularize this information).

    Good luck everyone and thank you Maurizio for all of your tireless hard work to help create this venue for all of us to enjoy, share and collaborate!

    • Anthony thanks so much for the comments, I really appreciate it! I’ve tried Prairie Gold in the past and liked the grain/flour, I’ll have to give it another try soon. Of course I can’t find it in stores here so it’ll be an order.

      I really find my baking steel to be superior to the baking stones I’ve used in the past. As you mentioned it really has the ability to transfer much more heat directly to the dough and gets incredibly hot. It’s as close as I can get to a wood fired oven (until I finally do get one). A good idea might actually be to place another baking stone at the top of the oven right below the broiler to heat that up as well… I’ll have to try that out!

      I’ll definitely add a touch more water when upping the whole wheat, it usually can take on a little more for the reasons you mentioned. Looking forward to experimenting some more with that here very soon, especially with fresh milled flour.

      Thanks for the comments Anthony, really appreciate your input on all of this! Happy baking 🙂

  • Amalie Knage

    Hi! Thanks for an inspirational post! Im a beginner with sourdough, and calculating alternate timings for fermentation is tricky… if i have whole day at home and want to start baking at 6pm, how would you schedule it, especially after bulk? I dont assume the dough needs refrigeration then?
    Thanks again.

    • I always do a long cold proof with my bread to add in additional fermentation time and flavor, usually around 8 hours. You don’t have to do this if you don’t prefer it. You’ll still need around 4 hours of bulk time (assuming you’re following everything else I have here on my site) but instead of an 8-12 hour cold proof in the fridge you can do like 3-5 hours on the counter at around 74ºF. You’ll have to ultimately determine when exactly to bake depending on how the bread is developing. Google “poke test” to help you gauge this but usually 4 or so hours works for me.

      Hope that helps!

  • Jennifer Karlen

    Making this tomorrow from my leftover starter from today’s sourdough loafs! I’m in Texas, we just moved here and I have yet to bake in this weather and 55-100% humidity. My house is about 65 degrees. Your ambient temp was closer to 70-75 I believe? Will that extend my bulk fermentation and proofing times?

    I’ve been eagerly waiting a long time for your pizza recipe thank you so much for sharing and happy holidays!

    Jenn

    • So sorry for the late reply! Yes, my ambient is usually around 75ºF. It will definitely extend your bulk fermentation and proof time for this pizza dough. It’s hard to say exactly how much you’ll have to extend things but it will be necessary. Give it a few extra hours and see how it looks and if it’s ready try it out. If the dough rises way too much and doesn’t taste fermented enough give it more time next time to develop.

      Good luck and happy baking Jennifer!

  • I was wondering how to preheat my oven then turn on the broiler. Or is it safe to preheat the oven for an hour on broiler mode?

    • In my oven I just turn it to bake and preheat like normal. Then, right before I load my pizza (as described above) I turn on my broiler (which in turn turns off “bake” mode and turns the broiler heating element on). I am not sure about preheating with your broiler for 1 hour, I would just do a normal preheat and then use the broiler when you load your pizza. Usually ovens have sensors inside to disable the broiler once it gets too hot so a preheat with the broiler on might not work…

      Hope that helps!

  • Joyce

    Hi, my broiler is a separate compartment below my oven and I don’t think can be on at the same time. How would I bake the pizza without the broiler? thanks for your help

    • If your broiler and main oven heating elements are not in the same cavity you won’t be able to use both together (easily). I’d recommend just ignoring the broiler altogether and use the oven. You might not get quite the level of browning on the top part of the crust but it will still taste fantastic!

  • rimkashox

    You don’t mess around man, this is the real deal… The real margarita. Looks amazing !

    • Appreciate that! Pizza is serious business 🙂

  • Tom Saunders

    I look forward to trying this out, the last time I made pizza dough (in hindsight) the dough was way over proofed and over hydrated.

    p.s You must be getting offers for hand modelling. I mean, come on!

    • Right on, have fun with it! It’s a pretty versatile recipe and I make it just about every other week or so now at this point — love it.

      Perhaps a second career for me?? 😉

  • ilvega

    This has been a challenging recipe for me. It is my third attempt and I cannot get past the mixing stage to bulk fermentation because the dough is too runny and difficult to handle. I use a mixer and reserve the last 50 g of water until the end. I make sure to add the water gradually but once the last 10-15 g are in the dough becomes so runny and sticky that I can’t do the stretches and folds even if I extend the mixing stage. It is a very different experience handling this dough compared to the country sourdough with less levain and longer autolyse recipe. I’m also concerned that if I don’t add the whole 212 g of water I’ll end up with a crust that is too dry. Any suggestions Maurizio? -Irbert

    • It sounds like the flour you’re using just can’t take the hydration. I’d reduce it until the dough feels ok to you, don’t worry too much about a dry crust. I would try it out with the water reduced and see how it turns out, if it’s too dry increase the water slowly each attempt until it’s just right for your flour!

  • Victoria

    Thank you so much for the amazing blog! I have read it all in one sitting. It would be awesome to see here more recipes for sweet breads. Like the russian pirogi dough. Where you put some jam inside or farmers cheese.

    • Wow, the whole thing! That’s great and thank you 🙂 I like the idea of doing more sweet bread recipes, I’ll add these to the list — thanks so much for the suggestion!

  • Jeff Markel

    Hi Maurizio – so glad to have found you! Congrats, btw, on the new gig blogging for King Arthur Flour. FWIW I think I found this blog by Googling around after seeing your awesome looking cinnamon rolls on KAF’s Instagram.

    Anyway, back to pizza. I’m anxious to try your recipe – it reads, and looks, great but I’m wondering how it freezes. I’ve been using Peter Reinhart’s “Sourdough Pizza Dough” recipe from his “Artisan Breads Every Day.” As he says, though, the sourdough in that recipe is used more as a flavor enhancer than as leavening – there’s a teaspoon of commercial yeast in there as well. My custom has been to freeze the Reinhart dough until the day of “pizza night” and it works super-well after thawing and proofing. My concern is that the freeze might adversely affect the leavening power of the sourdough much more so than it does the commercial yeast. Have you frozen any of this dough for later use and, if so, how has it performed after thawing?

    • Jeff — glad to have you along! Thanks, I’ve had a great time thus far working with KAF, great bunch of folks! I actually have not tried freezing this dough, but my feeling is it would work. I’ve frozen bits of my starter before and thawed them just fine. It would take some experimentation but I feel hopeful! I sometimes keep my shaped pizza dough in the fridge for even a day after I plan to bake it and it works pretty well, you might be able to also just keep the dough in the fridge.

      Hope that helps, thanks again for the comments!

  • Great post, Maurizio!! That beautiful basil is making me miss summer.

    Couldn’t agree more with the process. The overnight nap is so helpful for flavor and general performance. In a pizza emergency (the struggle is real) I rushed some day-of dough and it was fine, but the flavor just wasn’t the same. I had avoided using 00 since my oven/stone just didn’t get hot enough, but now that I have a Baking Steel I’m going to give 00 another try. Picked up some pickled cherry bomb peppers from Gjusta that are begging to be a topping. Will definitely reference your ratios, they looks great!! 🙂

    Side note – I assume you’ve seen the canned tomato tasting posts on Serious Eats? Google “serious eats tomato tasting spreadsheet” if you haven’t – the first and second result. Gotta love food geeks.

    • Cynthia, thank you, really appreciate that! I too am missing summer in a bad way. I want to make some fruit tarts, pies and all things basil + tomato.

      I agree with the overnight rest on the dough, really adds some complexity that isn’t found in a single day ferment. Those peppers sound amazing!

      I have not seen the Serious Eats test but just found it on the Google. Will be trying some of these soon and really, really surprised by the results! Crazy.

      Thanks for the comments and let me know how the pizza turns out!

  • Nicole

    Hey Maurizio! I’ve been looking all over for a good sourdough pizza dough that uses 00 flour. BINGO! Just one question regarding timing. How long can the separated and proofed dough balls be refrigerated before baking? Is 48 hours too long? Should I cut down on the proofing time if I want to leave them in the fridge for longer?
    Thanks!

    • Right on! You can really push that time in the fridge, I’ve found. I’ve left them in there for 2 days and the resulting pizza was still really awesome! Try it out and if you notice sluggish rise in the oven cut it back a bit next time or you can put it in the fridge sooner so you have more time. Have fun!

  • Vanessa Chesebro

    I’ve made this recipe twice in one week now- so glad I stumbled upon your blog! Made a double batch the second time and left it overnight (in fridge) after the proof, then it was so puffy that I was afraid of popping all the air pockets as I made the crust. Even at 9-10″ pies it was amazing. I’ll know next time I don’t have to be quite so careful and it can take a little more stretching.

    I’ve always been told to add the same weight in flour and water to my starter – a 1:1:1 ratio, but it seems like you don’t do that- can you explain why/what difference it makes? Bakers percentages are still a little confusing to me and I need to read about it again…

    • Really glad to hear that! This recipe is really versatile, and yes, the dough can take quite a bit of stretching before too much degassing occurs.

      You can use any ratio in your starter you’d like. I change ratios all the time depending on various conditions in my kitchen (cold weather, flour choices, etc.). I have two posts that might answer all your questions. The first is a post on my starter maintenance guide, this will give you an idea why I change my starter ration from time to time. Second is my Beginner’s Sourdough recipe which has a little explanation on Baker’s Percentages.

      Hope that helps and happy baking, Vanessa!

  • Pocahontas

    where is the starter recipe please ?

  • Aristocat123

    Hello Maurizio and thank you for all you hard work and detail you put out n your blog/site. I am in the middle of making this crust right now. I have two more folds to go in bulk formation stage however I don’t feel that the dough is active….It’s folding nicely, I used the Antimo Caputo 00 flour and my starter looked strong and healthy (I have been feeding it twice a day). I used the starter this AM before I fed it. Am I overthinking this? Thank you for all your help

    • You’re welcome, glad you’re enjoying the site! This dough won’t look overly active but you should see some signs of activity. It should feel slightly puffy but it won’t be like my normal sourdough dough for bread. You can see in my photos above the dough has a few bubbles when I ball it up for the fridge, but nothing crazy. If your kitchen is very cold (less than 75ºF or so) then you might want give your dough a little more time before placing it into the fridge.

      Hope this helps!

      • aristocat123

        Thank you for your prompt reply. I was overthinking and babying the dough to much. I did give it more time and I saw bubbles. I am also making Your best sourdough bread right now. I usually bake the loaves in Dutch oven and the bottom of the bread gets a bit burned @500. I have a convection oven could this affect it? Also I’ve been using AP flour in the proofing baskets….I bought Rice flour and will use that this time hopefully it will not burn so bad. Again thank you for all your help and Happy Baking

        • I sometimes get a darker bottom when using a DO as well, it’s hard to avoid that. You could try preheating for less time (or preheat the DO in there for less time so it’s not quite so hot when you load the dough) or coat the bottom of your dough with something like raw wheat germ or cornmeal to help insulate a bit. Hope that helps!!

          • A

            I think I have a very strong oven. I ended up heating up the oven @500 for one hour and lowerd it to 475 for the first 20 minutes with the lid on and then 450 for another 20-25 minutes without the lid. The loaves came out great. I also used the rice flour I/O AP. The last batch of bread came out really good. I also pushed the proofing a little longer in the refrigerator and let it rest 30 minutes in the proofing baskets before baking. I’ll try to send you pics of the loaf. Thank you for all your help.

            • A

              Ooops, I can’t figure out how to send you a pic. They’re not perfect yet but I thought the crumb came out pretty good.

              • Shoot met over an email via the Contact link at the top and Ill get back to you so you can send over some pics!

          • patricia

            Hi Maurizio,when you bake your bread in your DO do you use combination heat with fan when baking in it for the first half of the bake and then switch over to regular heat when the lid comes off . Or do you just use regular heat for the whole baking period. Thanking you

            • Hi Patricia! I do not use the convection option with my oven, I just use the normal “bake” setting (no rotating fan). Hope that helps!

              • patricia

                Thanking you dear Maurizio,for answering. Does that mean that you never use the fan in your oven at all. i am not a big fan of using this kind of heat,or perhaps it is because I don’t know how to use it. I have baked all my life with the normal bake setting. But my new cooker has three different heats to chose from. Regular bake. Combination heat with top and bottom heat… and Fan. I never know what to chose now. so I usually to be safe stay with the regular heat.:-) Tonight i am baking for the first time this lovely recipe for pizza that you have so kindly shared. I hope that I can make you proud. 🙂 I’m following it to the T as we say. Thank you so very much for all that you do for us all here and that we can step by step grow to baking lovely everything that comes from Mother nature and flour grains. Blessings.

                • I use the fan (convection) when I’m baking other items to regulate the heat in the oven, it also speeds up the cook time. When you’re doing bread I’d say play with the top & bottom function so you’re getting heat from both sides. Keep an eye on the dough to make sure it’s not coloring too quickly but I’d say that’s actually a really nice feature to have!

                  You’re very welcome and I’m glad you’re enjoying the site! Hope the pizza turned out well — thanks so much for the kind words 🙂

                • patricia

                  Thanking you Maurizio for answering and explaining .i shall do that now too.

                  Yes your pizza was to die for it turned out so very lovely. Many Many thanks for that wonderful recipe. Love the site too.Look forward to making so many more recipes too.

                • Thank you and glad to hear it!

  • cherstuff

    As ever, this was just so so good. Perfect pizza. Just the way I like it best. The spinach topping was 👌🏻.

    • So, so glad to hear that! Thanks for the feedback, always love hearing how it worked out, and yes, I LOVE that spinach pizza, a little different and so good. Thank you!

  • MikeH

    Maurizio, thanks so much for the site. I found it a couple if years ago while trying to make a sourdough rye bread from Peter Reinharts Bakers Apprentice cookbook. I had used his method for cultivating a starter and finally reached a point where it showed some signs of life. Before starting I was “cross-googling” other methods and found your site. I took a detour and tried the Tartine bread in you return to basics recipe and have never gone back to even try the rye (although I should!). I have spent many happy hours preparing and enjoying these breads!!!! Today, however, I tried this pizza recipe. I have tried many many methods for almost a decade for making a Neapoltan pizza (from the Apprentice book, Joy of Cooking, Jeff Varasanos website, etc) and while some have turned out pretty good, today was a major step forward. Easily the best I’ve done! I didn’t use the diastatic malt, used a stone instead of a steel, felt like at a couple of points I probably made some missteps and yet this crust was still outstanding. It is a very forgiving dough and the oven spring was excellent despite some fairly heavy handedness in shaping the crust. The parchment is also a great way to cook. Although I have almost always used for breads I never thought about using for pizza. Makes the transfer to the oven so much easier and really cuts down on the smoke after multiple pies. Looks like a baking steel is in my future!!!! Thanks again!

    • Ah Mike thanks so much for the comments! Makes me happy to hear this recipe has worked out so well for ya. I have also found it to be incredibly versatile and make it quite often here in my kitchen (still dreaming of a wood fired oven someday…). You’ll find that as you keep working with it you’ll get even better and better pizza in no time. Shaping does take some getting used to and I think each person has their own style they prefer, but like you said it’s pretty forgiving.

      I highly recommend the Baking Steel — it’s a great piece of equipment for the kitchen.

      Thanks for the comments and enjoy the pizza!

  • Allison Louise Bush

    Hands down this is the best recipe for sourdough pizza on the planet! Thank-you!

    The tomato sauce recipe is also outstanding. I was a bit sceptical to the few ingredients in the sauce yet this is leaves the taste in the sauce so subtle that it doesn’t´t overpower any other tastes in the toppings. And so simple and easy to make.

    The dough is also so forgiving. It turns out great even when my schedule is crazy busy and I have to shorten or lengthen hours in the process. After one huge bake I had several pizza balls left over, I baked the last 4 days after making the dough and was still good. A tad on the chewy side and the rise wasn´t as great as day one, but still good for pizza hungry souls. I now have two balls in the freezer to test how that will work out. After putting them in the freezer I regretted not spreading one out to test that as the thawing time will be significantly shorter. Oh well there is always a next time 🙂

    There has to be a book one day Maurizio! Thanks again!

    • Thank you, Allison!

      I like to keep the sauce simple! You can definitely change it up with more heat, other add-ins as well, but this is my standard sauce. And like you said, it doesn’t overpower any of the other flavors.

      I’ve done this as well, I sometimes keep half of the dough for later and either make them a day or two after or make focaccia with them (recipe coming at some point :)) — very versatile!

      A book sure would be fun, we shall see one day. Thanks again Allison!

    • Zuzana Zigmundova

      hey allison, i would love to hear how your freezer the dough experience is … id love to try but not sure how?

  • Ashley

    Hi Maurizio, I mixed the dough and for some reason there is a

  • Ashley

    I mixed the dough and for some reason there is a green pepper-ish smell to the dough. I smelled the flour and starter and they all smell fine. Do you have an idea of what the cause may be? Thank you!

    • That sure is odd. I’ve never ran into an issue like this… I would suggest checking your flour and starter but it sounds like you’ve already done that. Perhaps the mixing bowl was not fully cleaned? Or some other kitchen item imparting that smell? Your guess is as good as mine!

  • Zuzana Zigmundova

    Im really loving your blog, very knowledgable, I’m a self trained chef and this is so much fun for me to study and grow in this direction too! Just nursed to life my 1st starter and bread, worked all so great thanks to your directions! Im making soon your olive loaf … hmmmm … also, I’d love to know what’s your experience with freezing the pizza dough, what stage in?
    thanks million for all your effort!

    • Thanks so much! That olive loaf is one of my favorites 🙂 I have not had a chance to freeze the pizza dough but I have had emails from readers who have done this successfully. It should work just fine to freeze the dough at the bulk stage or after it’s been shaped. Let me know how it works out for ya!

  • what are your thought on using spelt flour with a sourdough starter?

    • Spelt will work very well for a sourdough starter!

  • john candle

    Started this on Friday for a weekend country gathering. Dough was very loose and extensible after proof. I proofed it at around 80 degrees. I decided that Saturday dinner wouldn’t work out with the dough so slack and flat in the proofing trays. I reformed the balls (which was very difficult at the warm temperature of proofing) and put in the fridge overnight. The next day they were perfect. Pizza was delicious. Crust was great. My takeaways (using your suggestions)

    1. Give the dough an extra turn or two to get more elasticity
    2. Perhaps I can lower the hydration a tad
    3. Proof at a lower temperature
    4. Keep in fridge as long as you like under 2 days

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for that feedback, always great to hear how adjustments are made and still result in nice dough! Yes, definitely adjust hydration for your environment and your flour.

      Happy baking!

  • Edel4edel

    Hi, thanks for this recipe. I had tried the pizza recipe from Tartine book before and it was a disaster :). I have been doing pizza dough but had left behind the idea of doing them with sourdough. This weekend I used your recipe and it was great. I will continue doing pizza with your recipe for sure. Just one question, the 6 hour proof it’s a pretty long proof period, have you tried to do it in a shorter time? in your experience, what would be the minimum required for it?

    • Really awesome to hear my recipe worked out so well for ya! The proof time varies and is very, very temperature dependent. If the dough is warmer the proof will be shorter. You can shorten this time by keeping your dough in a warmer spot with no problem at all. The key is timing things just right and using the dough when it looks “ready”. Hope that helps!

  • Kim Donovan

    Wow! I have been baking a number of your breads–AMAZING and now the pizza! Fantastico!

  • María Velandia

    Hi! I tried this recipe and it turns pretty well ( crunchy and full of flavors) thanks! but When the pizza turn cold the dougth turn pretty hard… am I doing something wrong?

    • Great, that’s awesome to hear! It’s hard for me to say why the crust turned hard after it got cold but that’s a pretty normal thing here, at least where i live. I’ll usually toast the pizza slices under the broiler in my oven for a few minutes and it’ll soften right back up 🙂

  • Nirmala Shome

    Thanks for sharing this and all the detail. I’ve tried the recipe two times and found the dough is still very sticky after proofing. I have to add some flour to get the dough into shape. Just wondering what I could be doing wrong?

    • This is a slightly sticky dough. I’ve increased the hydration just a bit above what a “normal” pizza dough would have because home ovens tend to take longer to bake (they can’t get as hot as a proper pizza oven), the added moisture in the dough helps prevent it from getting too hard during the bake.

      That said, you might want to try reducing the water perhaps 5% and see if that helps reduce the sticky nature of the dough.

  • Ashley Engle

    Any chance this dough can be freezer after the final proof for future use??

    • I haven’t tried this but it should be possible! Would be worth a test 🙂

  • This looks great and I’m excited to try it. I just was gifted some active mature sourdough starter that will be totally up for the job. Have you done grilled pizza with this recipe? How did it work?

    • Awesome! I haven’t tried this on my grill but I really, really like that idea. Would be even better with a charcoal grill and smoking hot grate.

      • Well – it’s snowing in Wyoming today so I’ll have to try that experiment sometime a little later in spring! I’m a little intimidated by the shaping of the dough balls but so far it looks like it’s supposed to – !

        • Snowing!? Wow, it’s 80ºF here today! Don’t worry about the shaping, your hands will increasingly build confidence with each bake — you’ll get there 🙂

  • john candle

    Thank you so much for the exhaustive (and beautiful) post. I have a question(s):

    I did the hand method and developed the dough until it passed the windowpane test. It took 9 minutes. I saw no mention of the windowpane test in your post. Indeed, it seems as though you seem to develop dough strength through the bulk fermentation and the turns. When I learned how to make Napolitano pizza with my friend, he simply mixed the dough (in a mixer) to strength, divided the dough into balls, and let proof on trays for a few hours til puffy, then pop in the fridge for up to three days. Is there a reason you choose to not do it this way (which seems simpler)?

    • You’re very welcome! The overnight retard does help build up some flavor in the dough: fermentation slows but complex flavors will continue to be developed while the dough is in the fridge. That said, a single day dough is totally fine and your timeline looks to be about right. I would say 3 hours should be right on, if the dough looks like it’s moving a bit fast just pop it into the fridge to slow down and take it out again. This pizza dough is pretty forgiving and unlike sourdough bread I’ve found that the window for using the dough is a little wider.

      I’ll have to think about adding in some timeline options for the dough, that’s a great idea!

  • Dan

    Maurizio- thanks for this great post. I found your site for the bread recipes, but now I’m getting into making my own pizza and I thought- he must have a sourdough pizza recipe, and you do!

    Anyway, two questions:

    When do you put the basil on? In the photo, yours seems uncooked.

    Also, you say the dough can be kept overnight in the refrigerator. I’ve heard others talk about keeping dough balls for up to 48 or 72 hours. Have you tried keeping the dough that long?

    thanks again, Dan

    • Hah, what providence! Very cool, glad you’re getting into sourdough pizza, it’s an amazing thing.

      I do not put the basil on the pizza before baking, in a home oven, which takes much longer to cook the pie than a wood-fired oven, the basil will cook to a crisp before the pie is done. In a wood-fired oven the basil can be placed on the pie before cooking as it only takes 1-2 minutes to fully cook the pizza.

      I have kept the dough in the fridge for 48 hours and it still bake up really nice, perhaps with slightly less rise (very slight) but a little more tenderness (fair trade).

      Have fun!

      • JPH

        Leo, your site is my go to for sourdough, it’s really great. I want to make pizza for Saturday night and I am not around Friday evening, which do you suggest:
        a) Bulk ferment Thurs night, divide Fri morning and proof in fridge until Saturday evening, or
        b) Bulk ferment Thurs night, leave in fridge throughout Fri, Sat morning divide and proof out of fridge until Sat evening?

        Thanks in advance!

        • Super glad to hear that, thanks! I’d probably go with option B, above. I like a good room temperature proof up until the point of baking the pizza!

  • Maria Giulia Franzoni

    Aged Parmigiano has none to very little lactose, that is why! Makes my life so happy! 🙂

    • That’s a very good point! And yes, I think Parmigiano brings happiness to so, so many 🙂

  • Gina Wallace

    Ahhh….PIZZA! my all time favorite food! Like you, on any menu, it is what I usually gravitate towards (unless there are gnocchi on the menu as well). I made this dough the other day but apparently forgot one step…thought they were proofing in the fridge and missed entirely the shaping and bench proofing. I went ahead and made the pizzas anyway. After a very long day couldn’t think my way out of just going ahead. They have a nice flavor, but are just a bit chewy. Back to the drawing board! But, am also going to try my hand at hard sourdough pretzels first…LOVE those as much as pizza for a snack!

  • Rosella

    Hi Maurizio!

    1) You wrote about making two balls of dough but are showing six. I take it from your pictures you tripled your recipe, correct? Or did you make six mini pizzas?

    2) Also, if I wanted a thicker 12″ pizza, would I just leave it as one ball instead of splitting in two?

    Thanks for your time and help!