Introduction: Amazing Sourdough Pizza

About: -plants -baking/cooking -sewing low impact movement too many series I watch, currently I like "Taboo"

Would you like to know how to make your own sourdough pizza crust and how to get it perfect every time? Then this is the right instructable for you!

You will see how to:

  • make smooth and crisp pizza dough
  • make tomato sauce
  • customize your own pizza

and also, why sourdough is an awsome way to start your pizza baking. So let's leave the days of cold pizza from the delivery service behind and make our own sourdough pizza!

A quick word of awareness: If you want to go through with sourdough, plan ahead at least one night before. You can speed up the process with yeast, then 2-3 hours before pizza-time is on is fine.

Step 1: The Ingredients

We have 3 sections of ingredients (this is for 2 pizzas, diameter around 30 cm):

  • The dough:
    250 g of all purpose flour or bread flour
    1.5 teaspoons salt (around 4-5 g)
    2 tablespoons active sourdough starter (or 1g active dy yeast)
    175 g water (not ml, g!)
  • The sauce:
    1 small can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes (or, if like me you are a person who makes their own sauce when it's tomato season, 1 glass of tomato sauce, ideally with bits)
    2 tablespoons tomato puree
    1 garlic clove
    1/2 red onion (optional)
    salt to taste
  • The toppings:
    Just add whatever you like! Here I used
    1 large Mozarella ball
    honey fermented garlic
    olive oil

Nice ideas for a topping are: fresh italian Prosciutto and arugula, added after baking, artichokes in oil, olives, spicy Salami, spinache, ham, canned tuna in oil and of course Nutella and chocolate sprinkles and banana (please, it shoud go without saying, but don't use tomato base under Nutalla. That's disgusting!)

Also, you will need a few utensils:

Semolina flour for turning and forming the dough (optional)

A large bowl
A knife, cutting board and pot for the sauce
A cast iron pan or baking sheet lined with paper

And of course an oven.

Step 2: The Dough

Here comes the most time consuming part, making the dough.

Combine 175 g lukewarm water with the salt, active sourdough starter or yeast and the flour. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel.

This step is the so called hydolysis. The water breaks up some of the starches, in the way that the Oxygen atoms, that hold the single sugar molecules together to form a starch molecule, are solved out by the incoming water. This will help your starter or yeast to feed on the dough. Sourdough starter is a combination of wild yeast and bacteria, which feed on sugar. Thus, often you will find sugar or honey in your recipes for sourdough or yeast use. If you take advantage of hydrolysis, you can skip the sugar.

Step 3: Working the Dough

After the hydrolysis is done, lightly oil your hands and turn the dough out to your clean kitchen counter and start to slap and fold it. This strange process is conducted to develop gluten and structure in the dough. Just take the dough with both hands, rise it up 10 cm and slap it on your worksurface. Then, stretch it, fold it over the edge away from you and slap it again. Do this for around 5-10 minutes until your dough changes in texture and is smoothe.

In bread you want gluten developed for chewyness and structure, in cookies not. This is why we try to develope in pizza: The stretching of the dough will align the molecules and hook them into each other. Gluten will stabilise the bread. This also works with rye flower tough. So I would rather say, it's to re-order the starch molecules in your dough to give it stability. You slap and fold (or French-fold) it, because our dough is sticky, a so called high-hydration (75%) dough. If you use less water, you can easily knead dough. Since it is so tacky, you need a different technique, ideally slap and fold.

Now, after so much action, it is time for a rest: Oil your bowl, put the dough in and cover it with plastic wrap or a moistened kitchen towel. Leave it to ferment overnight.

This is where most peole think, that's way too much work and planning. But it is rewarding. You need to give your sourdough some time to do it's thing. The bacteria and yeast will now start their metabolism: Eating sugar, growing, and - and this is what gives the dough airyness - fart. Yes, it's like a fart. They will produce CO2 in their metabolism and therefore your dough will become bubbly after a while. Yeast does pretty much the same, only a little faster. Here, 2-3 hours of fermentation are fine. The dried yeasts you can buy are selected bread yeast to work with dough and they have a sped-up metabolism.

If you want to watch me slap and fold the dough, klick on the video.

Step 4: The Tomato Sauce

The basis of a nice jucy pizza is the sauce.

Take the tomato sauce of your preference. If you use whole San Marzanos, put them in a bowl first and squish them with your hands. You'll look like after a massacre, but you end up with nice chunks of tomato in your sauce.

Cut a small onion in half (optionally), mince it and swat it in some olive oil until translucent. Then add finely minced garlic and let it sweat. Now, there are just two tablespoons of tomato paste missing. This gives the sauce the thickness you need to nicely spread it. Last but not least add the tomatoes and salt to taste and let it simmer until thickened. The ideal consitency is reached, when you drag your spoon through the sauce and it leaves a path behind in the sauce. Thick enough but still jucy.

The tomato paste thickens the sauce. The sugar inside the dehydrated tomato will act as a binding agent, a litte like starch slurry, but not as intense. You need to sweat it first for the full effect and then simmer the sauce a bit but this will spare you some straining action.

If you want to, you can add some oregano, basil or chillie flakes here for a different taste profile.

This sauce is also nice on spaghetti on it's own. If you make a batch of it you can freeze it or store it in the fridge for 1 week at least. Some people add honey or sugar to the sauce to take away some acidity. I do not think this is needed, when you use ripe tomatoes for your sauce base.

Step 5: The Fermented Dough

Just to give you an impression of how the dough developed, a few pictures.It is aerated well and tripeld in size over 20 hours of undisturbed bacteria work.

Preheat your oven to 250°C for at least half an hour if you want to bake it on a sheet. You can also use the cast iron pan and fry it first, then broil it. I do this, if I am making 1 pizza, here I am making 2 so they are baked on a sheet. I also heated up the sheets in the oven so the pizza will bake fast and evenly.

Take a cast iron pan or a baking sheet with paper on it. Sprinkle some bread- or semolina flour on it. Then, take the dough balls and on a lightly flouerd surface, with you knuckles, form a pizza. Leave some edge for a sauce barrier and crispness.

If you use semolina flour here, you will have extra crispyness and the dough will more or less glide on a hot air pocket beneath it which makes for extra brwoning of the bottom.

Step 6: The Assembly

Now, make shure, you have your toppings ready!
I put Mozarella, dried tomatoes (in olive oil) and honey fermented garlic on it. Also at the end, I brushed the crust with the garlic honey. You can cut ham, fresh arugula, even fresh eggs or blue cheese- there are no limits to your creativity really.

Transfer the dough to your baking vessel. Spread a nice layer of sauce on it. Ideally do this with a ladle, as you can shape the edge a bit with it. Last but not least place your toppings on the pizza.

Step 7: The Baking

Now, bake it for 7-9 minutes at 250°C.

The thin dough with lots of air inside will bake through quickly. As the water evaporates the starches are stabilised. A high baking temperature or broiling (which I left out because the pizza was perfect like this for me) will give you some burn marks. This does only in a very small proportion come from the so called Maillard reaction. This chemical process is the rapid reduction of amides (e.g. peptides, amino acides from the flour) to other chemical compunds giving the colour. Pizza-burnmarks rather come from caramelisation, a rapid oxidative process at high temperatures leading to dehydration and lastly to the connection of sugars into Ketones, Aldehydes and other polymeres.

There you have it, your perfectly crisp and delicious pizza. Made from scratch, hot and with the ingredients you can choose. Enjoy!

Step 8: Why Is Sourdough So Nice in Pizza Making?

As a natural fermentation agent, sourdough is healthy for your gut. Also, wild yeast and bacteria take a longer time to ferment a dough and therefore also give the water in the dough time to hydrolyse some of the starch. This leads to a balanced taste of the pizza crust. Last but not least, a fluffy crust is what we all want in a pizza and sourdough and the slapping and gluten developement proof to be very effective for it.

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