Friday, March 05, 2010

Sourdough Pizza

Sweetie had a fire board meeting on Wednesday evening and I was the dinner cook. To challenge myself I decided to see if I could make pizza from scratch in under two hours so that he would be on time for his meeting.

Fortunately I had used the 'toss off' when I fed my starter on Monday and mixed it (1 cup sourdough starter) with a slurry of a cup of all purpose flour mixed with a cup of water. That mixture had been in the 'fridge' for a couple of days and was ready to bake with.

After putting the mixture in the stand mixer bowl, I added some sugar, olive oil and salt and stirred it around with a spatula. A little over two cups of all-purpose flour was easily absorbed as I used the dough hook to incorporate the flour and knead the dough. I sprinkled about another 1/4 cup flour on the board I used for final kneading, then the dough went into the rising bucket to rise until doubled in bulk. Since I put it in the warmer part of the living room near but not next to the stove, it took about an hour to double.

While the little yeasties were doing their thing, I made a tomato based pizza sauce. based on my favorite spaghetti sauce. I also added about a 1/4 cup of very finely diced mushrooms. The sauce simmered for almost an hour, with lots of stirring to keep it from scorching. I wanted it to be thick and not to have much loose liquid which coudl ruin the crisp crust.

While the sauce was simmering, I cooked some Italian turkey sausages from Willie Bird's in a pan with a little water over medium-low heat. I took a couple of them, once cooked, and sliced them to put on as pizza toppings. This was also a good time to find the shredded mozzarella cheese and to finely grate some Parmesan cheese, and to preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone in the oven.

Once the pizza dough had doubled, I cut it into 4 pieces. Since the dough was still a bit sticky, I was liberal with the flour on the board I used to make the dough circles for the pizza. It's a good idea to keep the rim a bit thicker than the base of dough.

The final shaping was done on a piece of baking parchment, then the toppings went on: some sauce, applied in a thin layer, the sausage slices, the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Using a pizza peel which I slid under the baking parchment, I slid the parchment and pizza onto the preheated baking stone. About 5 minutes later I used a corner of the paper to turn the pizza on the stone 180 degrees for more even baking.

The resulting pizza was delish! The crust was tangy with sourdough flavor and the bottom crust was crisp and firm enough to hold the toppings without drooping. The sauce and toppings went perfectly together. With a nice salad this made a fine meal...and it was ready in under 2 hours, including baking time.

If you don't have sourdough starter at hand, substitute rapid acting yeast...a full packet should do it...and 1 1/2 cups warm water. You may need to add a little more or less flour with either method due to differences in weather and flour. You want a dough that is still a little sticky but smooth and elastic.

If you don't care for tomato sauce and Italian sausage, substitute your favorite toppings. Bechemel sauce or ricotta cheese make a nice base for non-tomato pizzas and the sky's the limit for what to top them with, including meat, poultry, fish, and veggies, plus herbs and all kinds of cheese.

Simple Sourdough Pizza Dough

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup barely warm water
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 – 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Mix the sourdough starter with the slurry and whisk to combine thoroughly. Let this mixture sit at room temperature for two hours. If you will be making the rest of the dough another day, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate this starter mix.

When you are ready to make the dough and make pizza, put the starter mix into a stand mixer bowl and stir the sugar, olive oil and salt into the starter mix. Using the dough hook, gradually add the flour until a dough forms. Knead with the mixer for 4-5 minutes, adding more flour a tablespoon at a time as needed.

(If not using a stand mixer, put two cups of the flour in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the mixture of starter, sugar, olive oil and salt that you’ve whisked together in another bowl. Stir to mix the wet mix into the flour until a dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a smooth and elastic dough which can still be a little sticky.)

Once dough is smooth and elastic, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for another minute, adding flour if necessary to fully blend the dough.

Form dough into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl or other container good for dough to rise in. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

When it is about 45 minutes before you plan to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and if you have one place a baking stone in the oven to preheat, too.

On a lightly floured surface place ¼ of the dough. Using floured hands, stretch the dough into a rough circle, keeping a rim of thicker dough around the edges. Some people like to toss the dough to do this, but mine always ends up on the floor if I do, so I just push the dough or hold it by the edge and work my way around. Place the stretched dough (about 9-10 inches in diameter0 on a piece of baking parchment.

Top the dough as desired. I used a tomato based sauce that included canned tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, basil, oregano and garlic, all cooked together over low heat for an hour until most of the liquid had evaporated. The topping over the sauce was sliced cooked Italian turkey sausages, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

To bake, slide the parchment paper holding the pizza onto the preheated baking stone. If no stone is available, turn a jelly roll pan upside down on an oven rack in the preheated oven and immediately slide on the parchment paper holding the pizza.

Bake about 5 minutes, then turn the pizza around 180 degrees for even baking. Bake until golden brown. Remove from oven to cutting board, cut and serve. If you are making more than one pizza (recipe makes 4 crusts) prepare it on another piece of parchment and once you remove one pizza, put the next one in the oven.

You can also make breadsticke: use one of the dough pieces, spread out or roll to about the same diameter as a pizza, but keep the thickness pretty even. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and cut into strips. Place the strips a small distance apart on the baking parchment and bake like the pizzas!
I'm sending this to Susan at Wild Yeast for her popular Yeastspotting event. Check it out!


  1. Elle, I love you! one more reason for me to start making some sourdough starter! Any recommendation of which one to follow?

  2. Oh, I care for tomato sauce and Italian sausage! Delicious.

  3. Mmh, those look good.
    Reminds me, that I haven't made pizza for a while. Can't find any fault with tomato sauce and sausage either.

  4. I love sourdough and I love pizza!! This looks incredible.

  5. Looks awesome!
    I make pizza quite often, and yet, looking at your sourdough pizza, I can't help but get a craving!

  6. Oh yum the pizza looks wonderful. The sourdough crust looks so delicious.

  7. So I love most pizza dough but this sourdough one looks absolutely amazing! It gives it that extra something to make you want to eat it for days on end.