Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sourdough Crust Pizza

We had a near tragedy earlier this month when the refrigerated sourdough starter was too long ignored. That all-important mass of flavorful dough threw off liquid (hooch) and sat sulking, inert and non-bubbling, for hours after being fed. So I fed it again... and again... and eventually it responded with some enthusiasm. Disaster averted, but the whole exercise left me with a lot of sourdough starter hanging out in the kitchen. 

A serendipitous wander through the internet led me to Sourdough Surprises," a fun monthly baking group who strive to use sourdough starters for things besides bread". Well now, count me in on the fun. One portion of that extra starter led to amazingly good chile-enhanced Mexican Sourdough Chocolate Brownies for the group's May linkup. Next came inspiration from the Sourdough Surprises archives for a savory dish, Sourdough Pizza. This was an opportunity to try a sourdough pizza crust without adding any commercial yeast. 

The base recipe came from Sourdough Home, an incredible resource for all things sourdough. I added some herbs and seasonings to the dough, and then followed two different methods suggested for baking. 

Method A: Roll out dough and rebake a naked crust for five minutes at 450 - 500 degrees F. Add toppings immediately or at some later time and bake again.
Method B: Roll out dough, add toppings and bake immediately until crust browns and the cheese melts.

Photo: Sourdough patted into a 10-inch round
Photo: Prebaked sourdough crust with red sauce added
Photo: Coins of Basque chorizo sausage are a favorite pizza topping
Photo: Both baking methods produced a too-puffy edge
The resulting pizzas were both tasty, but differed somewhat in texture. For me pizza success is all about the crust. Method A produced an irregular puffy crust that was a bit challenging to sauce. The super-puffy edge held a slightly undercooked core after baking while the bottom crust was well-browned and crisp. That didn't stop me from cutting a few slices to devour sample and enjoy. Method B produced a flatter center with an airy, puffy edge. RL raised his eyebrows, shook his head, and announced I had imagined any textural difference. He focuses on the toppings, preferring a much thicker base of red sauce, but judged both pizzas to be equally good. Next time I will roll out a flat base and skip the raised edge.This was a fun experiment, altogether surprising in how much oven spring occurred. Sourdough pizza crust could become a regular go-to item in this household.

Too much starter turned out to be a very good thing.

Sourdough Crust Pizza  
recipe adapted from Sourdough Home

1.5 cups sourdough starter, well-fed and rested

1 tablespoon olive oil + a bit more to rub onto the shaped crust
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1.5 cups AP flour

  1. Mix the first 5 ingredients together, starter through garlic salt, blending thoroughly. Add the flour by half cups, working it in until incorporated and you have a soft dough. Quantities will vary depending on the consistency of your starter, so adjust as needed. If  too dry, add some more starter or a little water, but avoid adding too much more flour. You want a soft, slightly tacky dough. (I like to knead the dough at this point until I feel the texture change, roughly 5 minutes for this batch.)
  2. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered loosely with plastic; it may lighten but don't expect it to raise much. (60 minutes in my cool kitchen)
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 - 500 F, depending on your ovens capabilities.
  4. Roll or pat the dough out into a round shape, thin or slightly thick depending on your preferences. (I patted the dough into two 10-inch pizzas with a slightly raised rims.) Cover loosely with plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Optional: Prebake the crust by sliding the shaped dough onto a heated stone in the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the pizza crust from the oven and rub a bit of olive oil on top of the crust to keep it from getting soggy. (OR skip step 5 and move on to step 6.)
  6. Top with whatever toppings you like and (return to the oven to) bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted.

Tonight's Toppings, per each 10" pizza
1/2 cup thick red sauce, homemade or commercial
1 Basque chorizo sausage, sliced in thin coins, precooked & drained
1/4 cup red onions, caramelized
3 yellow mini sweet peppers, sliced in thin rings
kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
handful of fresh basil leaves, julienned


  1. Note: a subtle, tangy sourdough flavor came through on a warm slice, and was even more pronounced on a cold, slightly dense slice the next morning. It's not a Neopolitan-style pizza crust, but it IS tasty.

  2. we made pizzas last night - I would love to try it with a sourdough crust next time though. Thanks so much for linking up to Friday Food Frenzy!


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