How to make sourdough pizza

A sourdough pizza is something truly amazing to eat. With a crust packed full of flavour, the slow breakdown of the dough from a sourdough starter means it is much easier to digest. We are not going to pretend that sourdough pizza is healthy, it’s not, but as far as pizza goes, sourdough pizza is certainly the most healthy of all the pizza you can make. In this article we are going to show you how to make sourdough pizza.

The process of making sourdough pizza is a fairly slow process, with the best dough often involving a 1-3 day process. However, what you get in return for your efforts is something that tastes better than any quickly made yeast-based pizza crust. The process might take a while, but it involves little effort with the majority of the time being taken up by the dough retarding in the fridge for 1-2 days.

Let’s be honest and tell you that great sourdough pizza comes from heat, and the more heat you have, the better the pizza. Ideally, if you are serious about wanting great pizza, a dedicated pizza oven is the way to go. One of these can set you back anything from £200 to £3000! Don’t be put off though, you can still cook great pizza in your oven using things like a cast iron pizza stone. The fact remains though, the hotter the oven and faster you can cook it, the better the end result will be.

The sourdough starter:

You will need an active sourdough starter for this recipe. Ensure the starter has been fed the night before, and again at least 3 hours before being added to the dough. We recommend using our organic white sourdough starter with pizza.

How to make sourdough pizza dough:

Making sourdough pizza dough is much easier than making sourdough bread. With bread, we need to make sure good strong gluten structures have formed and it often requires a number of steps to ensure bread rises well when baked. With pizza, we are not really interested in those big dough rises (although we are looking for some still). We also work with a very low hydration dough. Both these factors make sourdough pizza dough very easy to work with.

As with anything made with flour, the better the quality of flour used, the better the end result will taste. In this recipe, we use a mixture of both strong white bread flour and a tipo 00 flour designed for pizza dough. Why not just use only tipo 00? Well, you can certainly do so if you feel confident working with dough. The addition of strong bread flour will make the dough much easier to handle and shape later on. As you become more confident working with sourdough pizza dough, experiment with different ratios of flour.

Ingredients (makes 3 x 275g dough balls (10″ pizza bases):

300g strong white bread flour
200g tipo 00 flour
300g water
11g salt
80g of active sourdough starter
10g of oil (olive oil, rapeseed oil etc)

Mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl and allow an hour for the water to be fully absorbed.

The Bulk Ferment:

The fermentation of the dough is identical to the processes used while making bread. If you are unsure of some of the terminology we use in this article, head over to this article for detailed explanations on each one. 

We bulk ferment our dough for 5 hours at room temperature. As usual, we are looking to strengthen the gluten during this time. Note that the addition of oil to the dough and the skipping of any kind of autolyse process will mean that we won’t get the same strong gluten formation that we do while making bread. That’s ok! We do not need a great gluten structure for great sourdough pizza. The end result should be that the dough is soft, silky, and very easy to handle.

During the bulk ferment, we should still carry out regular stretch and folds, or as the dough is so easy to handle, you might want to give the dough a little knead. Space the stretch and folds/kneads about 1 hour apart from each other for the entire bulk fermentation process. The dough should feel like it has gained some strength and become silky smooth and easy to handle.

Once the dough is strong enough to be shaped into a ball (boule), do so and move onto the next step.

Retard the dough:

Place the dough in an airtight container or in a bowl wrapped in plastic and place it into the fridge. Leave the dough for a minimum of 12 hours. Ideally, the best tasting dough comes from a 1-2 day retard stage. The longer you leave it the better it will taste!

Shape and rest the dough:

Take the dough out from the fridge and divide it into 275g pieces. Shape each piece into a dough ball. This is similar to making a boule for bread (think of them as mini boules). It is important to build some tension so that the dough balls hold shape while resting. Cover your dough balls so they don’t dry out and move onto the resting stage.

The important part with pizza dough is allowing the dough to rest long enough so that the gluten relaxes. If the gluten has not rested it will be very difficult to shape the dough for the pizza bases. This process can take anything from 1-3 hours. The dough should be back to room temperature and feel soft and workable when ready. Trying to shortcut this process will make or break (literally) a pizza base, so make sure you allow plenty of time for this process to complete properly.

Stretching out the pizza bases:

Stretching dough is without a doubt the most difficult stage in this entire process. Making good pizza bases is a skill that you will learn with time. As with anything, practice, practice, and practice again! Below is a great youtube tutorial on stretching pizza dough. We strongly suggest you take a moment to watch it before attempting to stretch dough. Whatever happens, don’t give yourself a hard time for not having perfect looking pizza, to begin with. It will still taste great!

TIP: To stop your pizza bases sticking, make sure they are well floured with a non wheat based flour. Rice flour, semolina flour or tapioca flour works great!

Add the toppings and get cooking:

Remember when it comes to toppings less is often more. Too many toppings will often lead to a soggy pizza crust. The best temperature to cook pizza is around 300c. If you are using an oven that is unable to reach that temperature, then just get it as hot as you possibly can.