**Advance Prep Required - You'll Need a Sourdough Starter ** There is some planning involved in this recipe with both timing and equipment. Read the recipe all the way through prior to starting.Step up your pizza game by making Sourdough Pizza Dough! This recipe is made with bread flour, a touch of whole wheat flour and an active Sourdough Bread Starter. After a long overnight rise, the dough can be proofed at room temperature or in the refrigerator for longer storage. This recipe is vegetarian and vegan friendly. *UPDATE* - see how to shape sourdough pizza VIDEO below!Time above for fermenting and proofing can vary depending on ambient temperature and starter activity. Use the time as a guide and not a determining factor for when the dough is ready. This is the nature of sourdough. Prep time indicated does not include any rest time. Each pizza yields 8 slices._____________________Example Bakers ScheduleThursday Night: Mix the Dough - Ferment Overnight at Room TemperatureFriday Morning: Shape the Dough - Pop it in the Refrigerator to Start ProofingFriday Afternoon: Pull the Dough From the Refrigerator - Finish Proofing at Room Temperature for about 2-3 Hours. Friday Night: Shape and Bake!
In a large mixing bowl for 4 pizzas (or a medium bowl for 2), add the starter, water and olive oil. Mix with a fork, then add the flour and salt. Mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. The dough will seem dry. Switch to kneading with your hand, using your fingers like claws and by folding the dough to knead until there are no dry bits left. The dough will feel stiff and sticky at this point
Use the fork to scrape the dough off your fingers. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Fold the Dough:
Once the initial rest is done, fold the dough. This simply means to take a portion of your dough, while still in the bowl, gently stretch it and press it down towards the center of the dough. Repeat this process until you work all the way around the dough. Notice how the dough changes from when you first kneaded it. It should be softer, not as messy and more playable, although still sticky. TIP: Moisten your fingers with water before handling the dough - it won't stick as much.At this point you can leave the dough to bulk ferment at room temperature OR you can do up to two more folds over the next hour at 30 minute intervals. Performing folds builds strength and structure and improves the overall quality of your dough. Do whatever fits your schedule. You'll still have a fabulous pizza either way!
Bulk Fermentation (first rise):
Cover the bowl with two damp tea towels (doubling up keeps the dough from drying out). Rest the dough at room temperature until it doubles in size, is jiggly and no longer looks dense. At 70F (21C), this will take anywhere from 8-10 hours. In my cooler kitchen, 65-68F (18-20C), it takes upwards of 12-14 hours to double in size. Use this time and temperature as a guide and not a determining factor for when the dough is ready. It's ready when it's ready.
Once the dough has doubled in size, it's time to shape the dough. Coax the dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into equal pieces - four for four 11" pizzas or two for two 11" pizzas. Then shape each piece into a rough round by folding each side to the middle, then the top and bottom. Flip the dough over and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes (set a timer). This is a good time to prepare your proofing vessels. I like to use a 4 C (950mL) lidded glass bowl for this - one for each ball. It helps the dough hold it's shape and they're reusable. Zip top or reusable food storage bags can be used as well. Simply brush the vessel throughly with olive oil to prevent sticking. After the bench rest, shape the dough into dough balls. This video shows us one method - start at 1:10 minutes. Make sure the skin/surface is taught, then transfer the dough to it's proofing container seam side down. Put a lid on the container or seal the bag. Time to Freeze the Dough (optional): If you opt to freeze your dough balls, this is the time to do it. Freeze them in zip top bags or in their glass storage containers. When ready to use, thaw them out overnight in the refrigerator, then carry on with proofing the following day. Note that the dough doesn't quite bake up as beautifully as fresh dough, but freezing is an option.
Proof the Dough (second rise):
After shaping the dough, there are two ways to proof the dough, depending on your schedule.A. Refrigerator: After shaping the dough, you can pop it in the fridge for up to two days. Keep in mind that it's still rising as it sets in the fridge, but at a much slower rate. Set the dough in its proofing vessel on the bottom shelf if you can. Two to three hours before you're ready to make pizza, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and set at room temperature so the dough can finish rising and/or warm up to room temperature (this at a kitchen temperature of 65F). Trying to shape pizza with cold dough is frustrating and results in a lackluster crust, so make sure you give it time to warm up to room temperature and finish rising. B. Room Temperature:Right after shaping the dough and If you're ready to make pizza, skip refrigeration and proof the dough at room temperature for about one and a half hours (this at a kitchen temperature of 65F). The warmer the kitchen, the quicker the rise. Keep an eye on it. When is the Dough Ready?The dough is ready to make pizza when it's risen between over one and a half times in size to just doubling in size, is puffy and springy to the touch (it's pretty forgiving - just make sure it's at room temp). PRO TIP: In a Hurry? I usually don't advocate for speeding up sourdough, but this is a time where you can! If you want the proof to go a little more quickly, pop the dough balls in their proofing vessel, in the oven with the oven turned off and the light on. This will speed the process a bit.
Let's Make Pizza!:
Prepare the Oven: Place an oven rack on the second setting from the top. If making a second pizza, set another rack two positions below the top one. You can easily bake two pizzas at a time. Place an upside down sheet pan and/or a pizza stone on a rack, one on each rack if baking two pizzas. If you proofed the dough in your turned off oven, remove the dough now.Preheat the Oven & Pan/Stone: to 550F. You'll want to preheat for at least 45 minutes.
Have a sheet of parchment paper ready for each pizza you're making. Also, have a pizza peel or sheet pan standing by to slide the shaped and topped dough on for transferring the unbaked pizza to the oven and onto preheated pan and/or baking stone.Prepare Ingredients: Just before getting ready to shape the final dough, gather and prepare all your ingredients, chopping small or slicing thin. When making pizza, less is more for a crisper bottom crust (I over top my pizza - so don't go by example if you want a crisper bottom crust). You can opt to saute the veggies before putting them on the pizza if you like. I go with raw.
Shape the Pizza Dough (see how to shape VIDEO below): Don't be shy with the flour here! Gently nudge the dough out of the proofing vessel and onto a floured surface trying to keep it in a round as best you can. Flour the top and edges of the dough generously. If it's sticking to anything, sprinkle a bit more flour. Dimple the dough using your finger tips on both hands gently pressing down to the surface of the board (think focaccia) 4-5 times. Avoid the outer 1/4"- 1/2" of the dough - this is your crust edge. Pick the dough up and place it on the backs of your fisted and floured hands gently pulling and stretching the dough while moving your hands to transfer the points of contact with the dough. Shape into a disc shape taking care not to rip the dough. Place back down on your floured surface. Is the shape how you like it? If not give it a few stretches again using the back of your hands until you're happy with the shape. The dough should measure 11" (28cm). Don't worry if it's not perfectly round - a rectangle or amobea shape works too! If you feel the dough is tight, place it on the board and let it rest for about 5 minutes before you attempt shaping again. It will relax as it rests. If making two pizzas, shape them both, one after another.Transfer each pizza round to a piece of parchment paper and trim the edges of the parchment flush with the pizza dough, leaving just enough overhang to act as a handle. Note that parchment paper is generally rated for use under 500F. So at 550F, with any overhang, the paper will char and become brittle.
Add the Toppings - less is more! (see a crispier option in the notes***): The Sauce: Spread a thin layer of sauce on the pizza. You can opt for a red pizza sauce, your favorite basil pesto or garlic scape pesto or a white sauce. A thin layer will bring out the best potential for the bottom crust to bake through. The Cheese: A limited scattering of cheese on top of the sauce is a delicious way to add layers to the pizza. I like fresh shredded parmesan. Then, after the veggies and for the top, try a variety (in a limited amount) of cheeses like an Italian blend, shredded mozzarella, fresh mozzarella and/or feta. The Veggies: Less is more when it comes to pizza toppings. I don’t mind if the bottom crust is a bit soft so I pile on the toppings. If you prefer a crisper crust, go light on the sauce and toppings. My favorite pie includes mushrooms (raw), marinated artichokes (squeezed of its juices/oils) and Kalamata (drained throughly).
Bake the Pizza:
Working quickly (you don’t want the raw dough with the toppings to hang out too long), transfer the pizza onto a pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan using the parchment as a handle if needed. Open the oven and pull out the rack with the preheated stone or pan. Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone and/or pan using the parchment as a handle if needed. Be careful as the oven is HOT! Repeat with the second pizza if making two. Bake the assembled pizza(s) for 7-9 minutes OR until the dough is golden brown with some charring, the cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly. The pizza bakes fast at high heat, so keep an eye on it! Remove the pizza(s) from oven and allow to rest for five minutes. Cut into 8 equal pieces and enjoy!
Store Leftover Pizza:
Store pizza leftovers in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat at 350F for about 10 minutes.
Need a sourdough starter? Follow my DIY Sourdough Starter recipe.*Flour Subs: For this recipe you can use all, all purpose 3 1/2 C (500g) or all bread flour 3 1/2 C + 1 T (500g) instead of incorporating whole wheat flour (these measurements are for four pizzas). Note that the dough is not as stretchy when using all purpose, and you'll need to reduce the water by a few tablespoons because it's not as thirsty as bread and/or whole wheat flour. If it seems too wet, add a tablespoon of flour. But, AP flour still makes a darn good pizza. With practice and experience, you'll gain an understanding for how the dough should feel. **Hydration: Flour can vary slightly in moisture content from bag to bag and brand to brand. Local humidity also plays a role in flour moisture. If the dough feels too dry when mixing, add a few teaspoons of water (one tsp at a time). Too wet? Add a sprinkle of flour (a little goes a long way!). As written, this recipe produces a soft, chewy crust with crispy edges. For a crisper crust, you can reduce the water just a bit. A Tablespoon or two makes a difference. Play with the hydration until you find your pizza bliss! ***A Crispier Option - Par Baking: To make the pizza crispier, you can par bake the crust for about four minutes before adding the toppings. Pull the par baked crust from the oven, then add the toppings and bake another 5ish minutes. Be sure to use the tines of a fork to dock the dough several times before baking taking care to leave about 1/2" of edge crust undocked prior to going in the oven. The crust will be extra crispy if you go this route!In baking, weighing ingredients is important for an optimal outcome. If you feel you'll be baking regularly, I recommend investing in a digital kitchen scale.Nutrition below is for crust only. Toppings are extra!