Temptingly tangy, but not overwhelming. Packed with flavor and texture, this crust is so delectable and the composition has such character that it's hard to tag the exact source of its deliciousness (unless you know the secret sourdough factor).
I've experimented with an all-sourdough crust, but found it too dense. The flavor was there, but the dough never rose to my expectations.
However, with the addition of yeast, it still has the light texture of regularly risen dough. But, the sourdough starter really revs up the flavor! The marrying of the yeast and the sourdough is a match made in heaven. (Don't worry if you haven't got a starter. Check out Step 3 for help with that).
Creating the slightly sourdough pizza crust is a bit more time intensive than using a pre-packaged dough or other substitute dough product. But, for me, the crust is the foundation of any gourmet pizza.
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
- Bread flour- 6-7 cups
- Yeast- 1 Tablespoon
- Water- 3 cups
- Sugar- 1 teaspoon
- Salt- 1 Tablespoon
- Olive Oil- 1 Tablespoon
- Sourdough starter- 1/4 cup
- Cornmeal- as needed
- Mixer with dough attachment
- Parchment paper
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Pizza peel (or flat surfaced pan like the back side of a cookie sheet)
- Rolling pin
- Optional steel plate (which is what I used) or pizza stone or pizza pan
Step 2: First, Proof the Yeast
To make sure the yeast will perform its very important duty, "proofing" makes sure the yeast is ready for action.
Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon active dry yeast to 1/2 cup warm water.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes until frothy.
Note: Frothy is how you will know if the yeast is working. If it sits and does nothing, try it again. Be sure the water is warm. If you have a kitchen thermometer, the yeast will thrive on water in the temperature range of 105-115 degrees F. If it still doesn't get bubbly, it could be the yeast is old.
When it proves to be worthy pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of your mixer.
Step 3: Add the First Ingredients
- 2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup sourdough starter**
- 3 cups of bread flour
Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight in a draft-free area.
Why must it sit for so long, you might wonder? Why can't you just add the next ingredients right away? You could, but this process, called pre-fermentation, is what makes this dough, and ultimately your pizza crust, such a cut above anything else you've eaten. It gives time for the yeast, enzymes, and bacteria (good bacteria) to work on the starch and proteins. In other words, it gives the dough the flavor and complexity that far surpasses dough made without pre-fermenation. The addition of the sourdough starter makes the whole process move faster than without it.
We will add the final ingredients in the next step.
**What if you don't have a sourdough starter?
If you don't have a sourdough starter, perhaps a friend might have some to share.
Or you can order a free starter from this online site for just the cost of postage.
You can make your own starter, too! If you need a starter recipe, it will absolutely be worth your while if you choose to delve into the fascinating and distinctive realm of sourdough.
Step 4: Add the Rest of the Ingredients
- 3 or more cups of bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
Remove the dough and put it in an oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 8 hours and up to 2 days.
I've used dough up to 4 days later and it has been fine. The key here is to let it do a slow rise. (More flavor development).
Then you are ready to create!
Step 5: This Is How We Roll, Mama!
- Lay a piece of parchment paper over the peel
- Sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal over the parchment paper
- Take about 1/4 of the dough and form it into a circular shape in your hands
- Pull the dough gently until it thins out a bit
- Place it on the prepared peel, sprinkle with flour, and roll it from the inside to the edges
Step 6: Gather Your Toppings, Make the Pizza
You will note that I did not add a sauce. I like sauce on pizzas, and have used sauce with this dough recipe. However, this pizza is exceptional even without it. The chopped tomatoes and the oregano give the impression of a sauce, but they don't overtake the flavor of the crust.
So, the toppings I chose were added on top of the crust in this order:
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Chopped tomatoes
- Oregano (For the photo, I added the oregano at the end, otherwise you wouldn't see it)
- Goat cheese
- Kalamata olives
- Red onion
Step 7: Prepare the Oven and Cook the Pizza
At this point, you can cook your pizza how you normally do, but this is how I made my pizza.
I use a 1/4" seasoned steel plate on the top rack in my oven. It is the surest way to get the temperature high enough in a conventional oven, which is the goal when cooking pizza. Hot, hot oven. It takes preheating the oven to 500 degrees F with the steel plate inside. Then, before putting the pizza on the plate, change from BAKE to BROIL.
Between the heating of the steel plate and then switching the heat source to broil, the cooking temperature to the pizza is similar to a pizza oven.
I used the same method to prepare and season the steel (outside on my apartment balcony barbeque), as shown in the instructable Gourmet Pizza Appliance at Home, therefore I won't expand on it here.
Caution, caution, caution: I slide the pizza onto the stone using the parchment paper, but take the parchment out from under the pizza in ONE minute. This is extremely important as the parchment paper is only inches away from the heat source in the oven and it can burn.
At two minutes, I check the pizza, and every minute thereafter. It is fully cooked in 5 minutes. Remove carefully! Add a fresh sprig of basil, and enjoy! I have only one word for this specialty crust - gourmet!
Step 8: But Wait! There Is More Dough in My Bowl!
This recipe is so worth the time and effort. However, I would not want to go through all of the waiting (and subsequent drooling) just for one pizza, so this recipe makes enough dough for about 4 pizzas.
It freezes well, too. Be sure to remove it from the freezer and bring to room temperature again before using it.
The slightly sour dough also makes wonderful rolls. Just pinch off some dough, roll it out, then fold it in thirds, pinch the ends and let it rise for 1/2 - 1 hour. Bake directly on the steel plate for about 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Some things are worth the wait, ya know?
Second Prize in the