The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sourdough pizza crust

dmsnyder's picture

Three months ago, I made pizzas using Maggie Glezer's recipe for the dough. (See Pizza Napoletana) It made the best thin, crisp pizza I'd ever had. My blog on that pizza elicited many useful comments and suggestions. I incorporated some of them into the pizza I made this weekend. Thanks to Ross for the prompt to make sourdough pizza dough and to Sylvia for the mention of using a combination of bread flour and durum flour in the dough. I have taken Stan's noting the lower hydration of authentic naples-style pizza dough under advisement. I would note that, using bread flour rather than Italian Typo 00, my effective hydration is lower. (Higher protein flour absorbs more water than lower protein flours like Typo 00.)

Final Dough Ingredients


Baker's %

KAF Bread Flour

375 g


KAF Fancy Durum

50 g


Active Firm Starter (50% hydration)

75 g


Instant yeast

1/8 tsp



10 g


Water, lukewarm



 Note: Since I calculated baker's percentages the “old fashioned way,” with the levain factored in as just another ingredient, the numbers are misleading. There is a total of 500 g of flour, really. Fifty grams of the flour is in the starter. The starter also contains 25 g of water, so the total water equals 330 g. Thus, the true hydration level of the dough is 66%. And, therefore, the durum flour and the pre-fermented flour are each 10% of the total flour.

So, a true representation of the Total Dough (ignoring the fact that the 50 g of flour in the starter consists of 35 g of AP, 10 g of WW and 5 g of rye flour), would be:

Total Dough Ingredients


Baker's %

KAF Bread Flour

450 g


KAF Fancy Durum

50 g


Instant yeast

1/8 tsp



10 g


Water, lukewarm

330 g



840 g



  1. In a 6 qt mixing bowl, disperse the starter in the water. (Suggestion: Break the starter into marble-sized pieces and let them soak in the water for a few minutes to soften them. This will make dispersing the starter a lot easier.)

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours, salt and yeast.

  3. Add the dissolved levain to the dry ingredients and mix with the paddle on Speed 1 for 1-2 minutes until the dough forms a shaggy mass on the paddle.

  4. Cover the mixer bowl and let it stand for 20-30 minutes.

  5. Switch to the dough hook, and mix for 3 minutes at Speed 2. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. The dough will be tacky on the verge of sticky but will form an early window pane.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board. Do a stretch and fold to strengthen the gluten a bit more, if needed. Round up the dough then flatten it into a rectangle.

  7. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, and form each piece into a ball.

  8. Smear about a tablespoon of olive oil on the inside of four 1 qt. ZipLoc bags or other containers that can be sealed air-tight, and place a ball of dough in each. Close the containers tightly.

  9. At this point, the balls of dough can be refrigerated for 1 to 3 days before use or frozen for later use.

  10. If refrigerated, the dough balls should be allowed to warm to room temperature (about an hour) before use. If frozen, they should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator the day before use, then warmed on the bench for an hour before shaping.

  11. An hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500ºF (or hotter, if your oven goes higher). Have your baking stone in place.

  12. Remove one ball at a time from its container and shape it into a 10 inch round by your method of choice. (Optionally, brush the entire surface of the dough with olive oil. This will protect it somewhat from sogginess from wetter toppings.)

  13. Top the pizza as desired. (Note: Very light toppings will result in a crisp crust. Heavier toppings will result in a soft center crust. Yet heavier toppings will result in a soggy center crust.)

  14. Immediately transfer the pizza to your pre-heated baking stone and bake for 8-10 minutes, more or less until done.

  15. Remove the pizza from the oven to a cutting board. (Optionally, brush the exposed crust with olive oil to make it shiny or drizzle olive oil over the pizza for flavor.) Cut as desired and serve.

  16. Repeat steps 12-15 for additional pizzas.

I made substantially the same pizza as last time – olive oil, slivered garlic, chopped rosemary, sliced tomato and parmesan cheese added half way through an 11 minute bake at 500ºF on a pizza stone.

Ready to bake

Ready to slice and eat

The dough stretched thin enough to see through without tearing. It baked crisp with more chewiness to the crust than the original version. The center was crisp and rigid enough to support the toppings. It was delicious.

 Thanks to Ross, Sylvia, Stan and all the others who offerred suggestions the last time I made this pizza dough.


Submitted to YeastSpotting 


rossnroller's picture

In response to a request on another thread, here is my sourdough pizza recipe.

My pizza story goes some way back now. Masochists can access the details in the following posts on my regular blog:

Pizza - A Tale of Evolution

Making Your Own Great Pizzas At Home (I've been meaning to amend the title of this post for some time...this was written pre my sourdough revelation).

I 'graduated' from dry yeast pizzas after coming across Jeff Varasano's amazing site of obsession and instruction - see here. Until applying Jeff's sage advice, I thought I'd tweaked my dry yeast pizzas to close to optimum for a domestic oven, but have found that SD brings the flavours to a whole new level. Of course, there is simply no substitute for a wood-fired oven (or, second-best, an electric pro oven) because unless tampered with, domestic ovens cannot reach the temperatures required to bring the very best out of pizzas (around 450C, 800F).

That said, the pizzas I am turning out with this recipe are pretty damned goood - far better than those I've had from most commercial venues, and immeasurably superior to the crappy things franchises like Dominos, Pizza Hut, etc sell by the millions (how's that for lowering the bar?). Not as good as the incredible thin-crust ones I had from an old woodfired oven pizzeria near the Trevi Fountain in Rome, but not far off, either. I say this not out of boast, but as a pizza tragic (although not on Jeff's level!) who is eternally on a quest for superb pizza, and in a spirit of spreading the lurve.

I have to acknowledge that Jeff Varasano's dough mix and methods are the inspiration for this pizza. I do not have a mixer as he does, so adjusted the method to suit hand-mixing. Also, I was not prepared to mess with my oven to force it up to ideal pizza temperatures as Jeff recommends. Instead, I experimented and made some little tweaks along the way, which have improved both the convenience of the method and the final result. If you try this recipe, hope you find the same. Enough rambling...

Dough for 1 pizza - multiply ingredient weights by however many you want to make (or use bakers' % to re-scale):
Filtered water                 110g (65.5%)
Pizza flour                     168g (100%)
Salt                               6g or less (2-3.5%, according to taste)
Sourdough starter*        15g (9.0%)
Instant dry yeast            0.5g (0.25%...I just use 1 or 2 pinches, or 3 for 2 pizzas)
Olive oil                         1 tblespoon approx
*I use a 100% hydration white starter, or rye/white flour starter. With this small amount, hydration % is not crucial.

Dough Method (as stated, I do all mixing by hand):

  1. Mix all ingredients except salt, cover and rest for 20-40 mins (autolyse).
  2. Add salt, and do 20 or 30 stretch-and-folds in bowl.
  3. Pour about 1 tbls olive oil on to bench surface, scrape dough on to bench and knead/squelch between fingers/stretch until oil begins to be absorbed (2-3 minutes). Change kneading method to "air kneading" (slapping dough repeatedly on bench). 
  4. If sticking too much during air kneading, add more oil to bench surface and repeat 3. 
  5. Repeat 4 until gluten is well-developed and dough is smooth and stretchy (but it will still be quite a wet dough). This should take about 5 minutes in total, but always go by dough feel. Return dough to lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover, and rest 20 mins or so.
  6. Divide dough into however many pizzas you're making, using a scale to ensure each piece is equal in weight.
  7. Roll into balls and transfer each into its own small oiled plastic container, roll around to cover evenly with oil, and put on lid.
  8. After short rest, transfer to fridge. Retard fermentation in fridge 2 - 3 days (I prefer 3).

Making pizza:

  1. Take dough out of fridge about 1 hour before baking (pre-heat oven and pizza stone on max during this time).
  2. Empty one dough ball out on to floured surface. Gently and gradually stretch it out evenly from centre with your fingers, leaving a small rim at edges. Be firm but not rough - the dough should be very manageable and stretchy, but be careful not to stretch it so thin it tears. When at the size and thickness you want, transfer to semolina-sprinkled peel (or back of cookie sheet). This transfer process can be a bit tricky. I get my partner to lift one side of dough while I lift the other. It will distort in shape in transit, so re-shape when on peel (easy - but who cares if it ends up 'rustic' in shape, anyway?). Keep giving peel a shake to make sure the dough is not sticking. If it does stick, work a little more semolina under the sticking part. It is vital to keep checking with a little shake that it is not sticking as you put the toppings on that it is not sticking. I have made the mistake of thinking a tiny bit of sticking shouldn't matter, that the weight of the pizza would unstick it and send it sliding cleanly off the peel and on to the pizza stone - I was spectacularly wrong! IF IT STICKS AT ALL, SPRINKLE SOME SEMOLINA UNDER THE STICKING PART SO IT DOES NOT STICK ANY LONGER!!
  3. Quickly assemble your preferred toppings. KEEP TOPPINGS LIGHT! Then transfer to pizza stone in maxed-out pre-heated oven. Bake about 8 mins (note: the thicker the dough and spread of toppings, the longer it will take to bake; I like thin crust pizzas lightly topped, so mine only take 8 mins @ 250C).
  4. I like to serve mine with freshly ground black pepper, some torn basil leaves, with some chopped fresh chillies in quality extra virgin olive oil spooned over.

I don't take great pics - too impatient to start eating! These don't do justice to these pizzas, but will give some idea of the way they turn out (NB: I don't even try to char mine - that's best done in high-temp WF or pro ovens).

cacciatore sausage, zucchini, red onion, mozzarella and ricotta SD pizza


mushroom, tomato, red onion and mozzarella SD pizza


anchovies, olives, onion and mozzarella SD pizza


Cheers all

gothicgirl's picture

Posted on on 6/12/09

I have been on something of a pizza kick lately, and not those commercially prepared pies with flavorless cheese and mushy veggies.


I can directly pin-point when this all started.  It began at the Mushroom Council lunch when Chef Kent Rathburn made us a grilled mushroom pizza.  I knew in that moment that I would be making a pizza with grilled mushrooms.  This is the result.


I used mushrooms that were available at the grocery store, portobello and white button, and added some red pepper for extra flavor.  I will say this, grilling mushrooms is an easy way to add a soft smoky flavor and meaty texture to a pizza, and it may be the only way I do it from now on!


I decided that instead of sauce I would just put diced tomato on my pizza, and along with some lovely fresh mozzarella cheese I would add some creamy ricotta.  Of course, I added some pepperoni.  It is my favorite topping.  I'm not ashamed to admit it either.


The crust is homemade, and I decided almost at the last minute to add about 1/4 cup of my sourdough starter to it.  The starter added a nice tangy bite to the crust, which has a crisp exterior and a soft interior.  If you do not have any starter do not fear.  It is entirely optional, and the crust is still beautiful with out it.

Grilled Mushroom and Ricotta Pizza on Sourdough Wheat Crust   Serves 4-6

Sourdough Wheat Crust:
1 cup water heated to 95F
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup sourdough starter, optional
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 teaspoon salt

Grilled Mushrooms and Peppers:
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Other Toppings:
Ricotta cheese
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Diced tomatoes
Fresh oregano, minced
Fresh Basil


Prepare a sponge by combining the water, yeast, starter, sugar, honey, and what flour in a bowl.  Stir to combine and allow to sit covered, at room temperature, for ten minutes.  The sponge may not be terribly foamy or bubbly.


To the sponge add the remaining ingredients and mix with the dough hook on low speed for 3 minutes. Adjust the hydration as needed (the dough should be tacky but not cling too much to your fingers).  Increase the speed to medium and mix for 8 minutes.   Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a ball on a lightly floured surface.


Transfer to a bowl coated with olive oil, turn once to coat, and proof for two hours, covered, at room temperature.  After the initial proof, degas the dough and store, covered well, in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or up to three days. 


Pull the dough an hour before you are ready to bake it.  While the dough warms up prepare your toppings and heat your oven to 500F with a pizza stone on the bottom rack, if you have one.  


With the flat of a knife crush two large garlic cloves.  Mix them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Add the sliced mushrooms and bell pepper strips and allow sit five minutes.


Transfer to a perforated grill pan and cook, over a very hot grill, until starting to soften, about five to ten minutes.  Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.


Divide the dough into two large or four small balls and, using your hands, stretch it into a thin circle.  


Transfer the dough to a pizza peel that has been dusted generously with corn meal.  Top the pizza with a thin layer of ricotta, diced tomatoes, oregano, mozzarella, pepperoni, and the grilled mushrooms and peppers.


Cook the pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and brown and the cheese has melted and begun to brown as well.


Allow the pizza to rest for five minutes before slicing.  Top with torn fresh basil.



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