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Homemade Pizza Dough (Sourdough Starter)

i got a nice new pizza stone for christmas this year (i somehow cracked my previous two) so i decided to make homemade pizza and try using sourdough starter.  i followed this recipe i found on sourdoughhome.com.

the first dough turned out a little dry so i made another in a slightly different way which was much stretchier, but i baked both and they were very good in different ways.

the ingredients are very simple:

  • 1.5 c mature sourdough starter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1.5 c Flour

this recipe is for one pizza.

wpid-IMG_20131223_171811.jpgi started by just mixing all these things together – flour, then sourdough starter (i had some that had been fed awhile ago so it was “mature”) and the rest.  this turned out quite dry, so i added a little more sourdough starter to try to help, and then after it had formed a ball i tried to save it by adding a little water.  this just made it sticky.  you can see by the series of photos below that it was a kind of lumpy ball – it felt kind of dense and rubbery, not soft and stretchy like it should.  i let it rest anyway and started on another one.

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for the next attempt, i didn’t take pictures of the process, but it came out much better, so i’ll explain the steps.  this is the process i’d recommend if you want a dough that is very stretchy and you can make very thin and crispy.  the ingredients are the same, except i had used all the “mature” starter with the first dough so i used some active bubbly starter – i’m not sure if this made a difference, but it might have been the key.  i also added a little water.  i didn’t measure the dough quite as exactly this time either, just going by feel to determine if there was enough.

make the dough:

  1. add a little flour to a large bowl – like 1/4 cup
  2. add about 1 to 1.5 cups of sourdough starter
  3. since my measuring cup had starter stuck in it, i added a little water and swished it around – less than 1/4 cup.  i then added the oil and salt to this and stirred it up before pouring it over the sourdough starter
  4. stir this mixture up to form a batter
  5. start adding flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a dough forms
  6. dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 mins, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking, but making sure it’s slightly sticky

this one turned out smooth and stretchy like pizza dough should be.  or as my mom always said, it should feel “like a baby’s bottom.”  form it into a smooth ball, and let the dough rest, covered, for about 30 mins.

shape the crust: flatten the ball with your hands, and stretch it while rotating, or if you want to get fancy, toss it into the air with a spinning motion so the centripetal force stretches it out (catch it on the back of your hands, not your fingers.)  depending on how stretchy your dough turned out, you can make a very large, very thin dough.  my first one was not stretchy, so i rolled it out with a rolling pin and it was not thin, more of a “hand-tossed” thickness.  my second attempt was so stretchy that i accidentally made the middle paper-thin while there was still quite a thick crust around the circumference.

put some cornmeal on a peel, then move the crust by folding it half twice, then unfold it on the peel.  my first attempt did this easily.  my second one kind of stuck to itself and unfolded strangely…

baking: using a pizza stone is the best way to bake pizza, and i’ve used both techniques mentioned in the recipe on sourdoughhome.com before – bake crust first, then add toppings and bake again, or bake everything at once.  since i wasn’t quite sure how the first, tougher, dough would turn out, i used the two-bake method so toppings wouldn’t be wasted if the crust didn’t perform.

pizza ovens used by restaurants are very very hot, so preheat your oven with pizza stone to 500°.

wpid-IMG_20131223_185106.jpgwpid-IMG_20131223_190016.jpgto the crust, i add a thin layer of olive oil, a thin layer of sauce, and garlic salt and pizza seasoning, then slide it carefully onto the stone and bake it for about 4-5 mins.

on to the toppings: i’ve made homemade pizza sauce before, but haven’t settled on a recipe yet – the last time it was so watery that i think it caused my pizza stone to crack when the sauce leaked off/through the crust.  so i used canned Contadina sauce (i add more sauce after the first baking, but we love sauce.)  i also usually use regular Hormel pepperoni, but this time opted for the sausage-like pepperoni and cut it myself, i think it was better.  for cheese i like a mozzarella/provolone blend.  top your pizza however you like, then put it back in the oven for 5-7 mins until the cheese is golden brown.

wpid-IMG_20131223_191803.jpgwpid-IMG_20131223_192448.jpgthe first pizza turned out with a thicker, chewier, yet crispy crust and had more of the sourdough flavor to it.  the second pizza had a thinner, crispier crust, with almost cracker-like edges but less sourdough taste.  i preferred the second one, but the first was very good too.

appetizer: i had a tiny bit of dough that i experimented with when i was trying to see if adding less flour would be better.   it was probably 1/3 the size of the pizza dough.  so i flattened it into a rectangle, buttered it, sprinkled it with garlic salt and cheese, and baked it for 7-8 mins and had some very tasty cheese sticks.  i didn’t get a chance to take a picture because it was eaten up so quickly, so here’s the last little bite that was left by the time i remembered:

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storing: since we can’t eat two whole pizzas, we just put the leftovers on a pizza pan, wrapped in tin foil, and put it in the freezer, it reheats very well on the pizza stone.  you can also stop after the first baking and freeze the crust so it’s ready to be topped and baked instantly.

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