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 (owr a whole pie) on my way home from work to sort out dinner. This was 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 69% 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 69% 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: 69%3
Yield: 2 x 290g dough balls
Buffer: 2%4

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.

You can see a video of me doing this balling technique over at my Instagram feed.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 5, 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! 




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  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. This hydration takes the water in the 100% hydration starter into account.

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

  5. 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