Kramer and I have been talking about making sourdough pizza for a while now. We’re both huge pizza fiends – I suppose that comes with the territory when you move from Arizona, where the pizza is a joke, to New York City, where there is good pizza to be had everywhere you look. There are a few elements to a great pie; first of all, the crust needs to be crispy underneath the cheese so that you can easily fold it and eat it without making a huge mess all over your shirt. Secondly, the crust itself needs to be perfectly chewy without being too hard or too soft, with lots of little air bubbles so that you know the dough was made and kneaded with care. The sauce needs to be homemade and it must have anchovy paste in it – this may sound weird to you, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your favorite pizza sauce probably already has anchovy paste in it and you don’t even know! It simply adds a depth of flavor and the right amount of saltiness to compliment the cheese. Just trust me! Make one batch with the paste and one without and you tell me which you like better. Finally, the cheese needs to be unsalted, fresh mozzarella with just a bit of Parmigianino Reggiano underneath for a bit of a bite. You can add more toppings, sure, but honestly, you don’t need it, because the sourdough crust is so delicious that it’s all you are going to want to taste. Kramer did the majority of the work on this pizza, which is evident from the attention to detail, and, well, the measuring out of ingredients, which I am usually far too lazy to attempt even though I know that it is necessary for precise baking.
If you’ve never had sourdough pizza before, I highly recommend taking it on. It’s a great bonding experience to be in the kitchen with someone, baking pizzas and learning together. Take out pizza is great, but making it yourself is something else entirely. The sourdough has a nice bite and is a great way to deviate from your usual routine, so grab some sourdough starter and let’s bake some pizzas!
1-5 days before baking your pizza, set aside 15 minutes to make your dough. Make sure to grab a scale that will measure in grams.
Mix the lukewarm water with your instant yeast and add your sugar.
This is our 50% fed starter. We bought it from King Arthur Flour after a few feeble attempts at making our own – anyone have any tips on how to make our own sourdough starter? Either way, after bringing it to room temperature, dissolve it in the liquid mixture. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can probably buy one at your local bakery or grocery store, or you can always use this Cast Iron Pan Pizza recipe that we made last year that doesn’t require sourdough.
Finish the liquid mixture by adding the oil, then combine all dry ingredients in the food processor by pulsing until fully incorporated. Continue to pulse and slowly pour in the liquid mixture. Work carefully, as the dough will come together very quickly. Pulse until the majority of the dough has formed into a single clump. This process should only take about 30-45 seconds.
Gently knead the dough until it comes together as a smooth ball, folding it over into itself once or twice. Tuck the bottom of the ball into the center, stretching the top as you go to smooth it out.
Evenly divide your dough by weight into two balls, then place them into an airtight container or an oiled ziplock bag and place into the fridge. The dough will double in volume as it ferments in the fridge, so use a container that is big enough to hold it all without spilling over. Store the balls in the fridge until 2 hours before you are ready to make your pizza. The longer it stays in the fridge, the more flavor it will develop, so make sure to give the dough at least 24 hours to do its thing.
Two hours prior to cooking your finished pizza, pull your dough out of the fridge and place it in an oiled bowl covered with a cloth or towel. Place the dough in a dark, slightly warm spot to rise; we used our oven (that was not preheated) with the light on.
Take this time between rising the dough and baking it to make the sauce. There is no cooking involved this time, so the sauce is very easy to put together.
Simply combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl, blender, or food processor.
and blend to a slightly chunky texture with your immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor.
Quickly, work your dough on a surface that has been lightly dusted with semolina flour. You can use cornmeal, if you like, but semolina is much finer, and therefore has a much more pleasant texture. Begin by flattening the dough with your fingers and slowly working it into a disk. After you get the pie to about 6 inches in diameter, pick it up and begin stretching it by draping the dough over the tops of your knuckles, pulling your hands apart, and rotating. Kramer had a lot of fun doing this, as you can imagine.
Dust your pizza peel with semolina flour and place your pie near the front edge of it. Make any final adjustments to the shape and add your sauce. Evenly distribute it and use less than you think you will need. We used under 1/3 cup for our 12-inch pie.
Then top with some torn off chunks of good, dry mozzarella.
Bake on a preheated pizza stone at 550 degrees for 10-12 minutes until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Look at that beautiful pie.
- 425 grams bread flour
- 255 grams warm water (110 degrees F)
- 60 grams of 50% hydration fed sourdough starter*
- 6.50 grams kosher salt
- 4.5 grams (about 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar
- 8.5 grams (about 1¾ teaspoons) olive oil
- .065 grams (about 1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- semolina flour, for dusting
- ⅓ cup pizza sauce per pizza (recipe follows)
- ¼ cup Parmiganno-Reggiano per pizza
- 1 cup unsalted mozzarella cheese per pizza, torn into chunks
- *We bought our starter from King Arthur Flour. We followed the instructions provided by King Arthur to feed it. This resulted in a 50% hydration starter.
- This makes a lot of sauce (probably enough for 8 pizzas, but it freezes beautifully, which is what we did with the leftovers)
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced well or grated on a microplane
- 4-6 large basil leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, minced (alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon of dried oregano)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (trust me on this, I guarantee your favorite pizza sauce has anchovy paste in it and you don't even know)
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- First of all, be sure to weigh all of your ingredients. You can buy a cheap digital scale at almost any store, like Amazon or at Target, and it's worth the purchase in order to make perfect pizza crust.
- Mix together the yeast, sugar, starter, water, (the temperature of the water should be 110 degrees F), and oil in a large bowl. In the bowl of your food processor, pulse together the bread flour and salt. Slowly add the water and starter mixture to the food processor with the flour and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds, or until the dough comes together as a ball. Lightly flour your work surface (and I mean lightly!) and knead the dough one or two times, until when you stretch it, you can see through it, otherwise known as a window pane.
- Form two balls, about 375 grams each, and place in two separate containers - we used plastic containers that we saved from when we had soup delivered from our favorite Chinese restaurant, so just about anything that seals will do - and seal. Place the containers in the refrigerator and allow to rest overnight.
- When the dough is ready, remove it from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature - this will take about 30 minutes. When the dough is room temperature, form each ball of dough into perfect looking balls by tucking the dough back into itself (see photos above). Place the dough in two separate, non-reactive, well oiled bowls, cover lightly with a clean cloth, and allow to rise for 1 hour. After your first hour, remove the dough, fold and tuck the dough into itself again, then place back in the bowl to rise again for 1 more hour.
- Now you are ready to form your pizzas. Preheat your oven with the stone in it to its highest baking temperature - ours gets up to 550 degrees F. Lightly sprinkle your work surface with semolina flour. You can use cornmeal, if you like, but semolina is much finer, and therefore has a much more pleasant texture. Begin by flattening the dough with your fingers and slowly working it into a disk. After you get the pie to about 6 inches in diameter, pick it up and begin stretching it by draping the dough over the tops of your knuckles, pulling your hands apart, and rotating.
- Dust your pizza peel with semolina flour and place your pie near the front edge of it. Make any final adjustments to the shape and add your sauce. Evenly distribute it and use less than you think you will need. We used under ⅓ cup for our 12-inch pie. Sprinkle with some of your Parmigianno Reggiano, then top with the mozzarella. Bake on a preheated pizza stone at 550 degrees for 10-12 minutes until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven with your peel, allow to set for a minute or so, then slice and serve.
- Combine all of your pizza sauce ingredients in a food processor, a blender, or in a large bowl (if you're using an immersion blender, like I did). Puree your sauce until it is slightly chunky, but mostly smooth. No need to cook this sauce, the tomatoes will cook through ontop of the pizza.