Pizza Braid: Sourdough Vs. Classic

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Introduction: Pizza Braid: Sourdough Vs. Classic

A pizza braid is a fun way to dress up a homemade pizza. It's pretty, different and absolutely delicious. The butter parmesan topping seals the deal for bread lovers. But a good pizza braid needs a good crust. A classic homemade pizza crust will leave everyone smiling, but how does the classic compare to its gourmet sourdough cousin? That's what we're here to find out.

Step 1: The Classic

This is a delicious classic pizza dough recipe that makes ditching the store-bought stuff completely worth the effort. The steps are simple and straightforward and the result is fantastic. The ingredient proportions for this recipe come from this homemade artisan pizza recipe found at breadtopia.com.

Ingredients:

- 2 & 1/4 cup (all-purpose or bread flour)

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

- 3 tablespoons olive oil

- 3/4 cup warm water

Tools:
- clean towel

- measuring cups and spoons

- large bowl and/or stand mixer with dough hook

- large cutting board

- rolling pin

- knife

- large cookie sheet

- parchment paper (optional)

- small bowls (for toppings, optional)

Step 2: Mixing Up the Dough (Classic)

First, put the warm water in a large bowl or stand-mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let it sit for a few minutes to activate the yeast. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Knead this dough in a stand mixer or on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic but not too sticky. Form a ball of dough and lightly coat in oil before placing in a clean bowl and covering with a clean towel. Allow this to rise in a warm room or oven for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. If an oven is used, make sure the oven isn't too hot (100 F or 37 C should be fine).

Tips: Make sure the water isn't too hot or too cold. Too hot and it will kill the yeast. Too cold and the yeast won't activate well. To avoid a tough dough, add the flour a little at a time.

Step 3: Let It Rest (Classic)

After the dough has doubled in size, press the air out of it and cover it to rest at room temperature. Let it rise this second time for around 45 minutes while the oven is preheated to about 420 degrees F or 215 degrees C and the toppings are prepared.

This is one type of dough that can be used to make a delicious homemade pizza braid, but this isn't the only way to make pizza.

Step 4: Sourdough Crust

Another way that pizza crust can be made is with the yeast in the air - that's right - sourdough pizza crust. This delicious sourdough crust is adapted from a recipe from Breadtopia. The sourdough yeast lends gourmet and complex flavors to your pizza braid. To learn how to make your own sourdough starter from flour, water, and pineapple juice check out this sourdough starter tutorial (also from Breadtopia).

Ingredients:

- 1/2 cup sourdough starter (stirred down)

- 1 cup warm water

- 3 & 1/4 cup all purpose or bread flour

- 2 teaspoons olive oil

- 1 teaspoon salt

- pizza toppings (sauce, cheese, herbs, pepperoni, etc.)

Tools:

- jar or large glass measuring cup

- paper towel/napkin/cloth to cover jar

- clean towel

- measuring cups and spoons

- large bowl and/or stand mixer with dough hook

- large cutting board

- rolling pin

- knife

- large cookie sheet

- parchment paper (optional)

- small bowls (for toppings, optional)

Step 5: Getting Started (Sourdough)

Sourdough requires a lot of rising and proofing time so you'll want to get started with the first step in the morning. It's not too involved, I promise :).

Stir down your sourdough starter and mix together 1/4 cup each of starter, flour, and warmish water in a 2 cup or larger jar or measuring cup. Stir together until the consistency is smooth. Cover the jar with a paper towel or cloth and keep at room temperature forabout 5 hours.This forms the sponge which should rise significantly during the rising time.


Tips: Bits of starter floating in the water is a good indication that the starter is active and the dough will rise well. If the starter is not super active, consider doing this first step the night before and keeping the sponge in the fridge overnight to rise. Add the flour slowly to avoid having a tough dough. If the sponge doesn't seem to be rising much, but the sponge looks bubbly and active, you can place the container in a bowl of warm water for the last hour.

Step 6: Mixing Up the Dough (Sourdough)

In a large bowl or stand mixer combine together the sponge and the rest of the ingredients: warm water (3/4 cup), starter (1/4 cup), oil (2 teaspoons), salt (1 teaspoon), and flour (3 cups). Knead this dough in a stand mixer or on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic but not too sticky. Form a ball of dough and lightly coat in oil before placing in a clean bowl and covering with a clean towel. Allow this to rise in a warm room or oven for about 3hours or until doubled in size. If an oven is used, make sure the oven isn't too hot (100 F or 37 C should be fine).

Tip: Add the flour slowly to avoid a dry or tough dough.

Step 7: Let It Rest (Sourdough)

After the dough has doubled in size, press the air out of it and cover it to rest at room temperature. Let it rise this second time for around 45 minutes while the oven is preheated to about 420 degrees F or 215 degrees C and the toppings are prepared.

As you can see, this method is a bit more involved, but is still possible to do in one day. The real question is: Will the taste and texture of the crust be better?

Step 8: Braiding the Pizza

After the dough is made, the pizza braiding steps are the same for both the sourdough and classic crusts.

On a large, floured cutting board roll out the dough ball into a long rectangle. Cut the edges of the crust into long strips, leaving some space for the toppings in the middle. Add the sauce, cheese, and other desired toppings to the center of the rectangle. Fold the top and bottom triangle-shaped ends of the braid inward and braid the dough by folding each strip across the toppings to the opposite side of the braid, alternating sides until all the strips have been folded inward.

Tip: Try not to roll the crust out too thin but make sure its large enough to hold all of the tasty pizza goodness.

Step 9: Brushing and Baking

Carefully move the finished braid onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with butter, herbs and grated parmesan if desired. Bake in a 420 F (215 C) oven for about 20 minutes until hot inside and golden brown on the outside. Let cool for around 5 minutes. Slice and enjoy hot with warmed marinara sauce.

Butter, Herb and Parmesan Mixture

- 1/4 cup melted butter

- 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese

- 1 teaspoon powdered garlic

- 1 teaspoon dried oregano

- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Tips: Double mixture proportions if making 2 pizza braids.

Step 10: Sourdough Vs. Classic: the Moment of Truth

So, which one is the winner? It's a tough decision. Both crusts are soft and delicious with flavorful and crispy exteriors. However, by family consensus . . . . drum roll please . . . . the sourdough crust had the slight edge. The flavor profile is a little more robust and the texture is a little softer. All in all, both crusts are a great way to make a delicious and fun pizza braid. As usual, downloadable pdfs of the condensed recipes are attached. Let me know what you think in the comments below and enjoy!

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    6 Comments

    0
    Craig FaustusB
    Craig FaustusB

    Question 1 year ago on Step 10

    You have "- 1/2 active dry yeast" in your ingredient list for the regular crust. One half of what? Tbsp or tsp?

    0
    dancingstar
    dancingstar

    Answer 1 year ago

    Thanks for catching this! It is 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast.

    0
    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    That looks pretty amazing! Especially with that mixture you brushed on top :)

    0
    dancingstar
    dancingstar

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks! The mixture really takes it over the top.

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    1 year ago

    Whoa I want it!

    0
    dancingstar
    dancingstar

    Reply 1 year ago

    It's pretty tasty :).