Pizza is among the world’s most popular fast foods, and that’s with good reason. A bread base topped with tomato and cheese and then with anything your gastronomic heart desires on top of that. Baked in a searingly hot oven until the crust is wonderfully crispy and slightly charred, and the cheese is molten hot. This is my recipe for sourdough pizza.
When I was about 17 years old, I visited my friend Søren who worked at the local music shop called Music Key. I’d hang out there, and we’d play with the equipment when there were no customers.
One day he was going to go buy lunch, and he said he would buy a pizza, and I said, “Pizza? I’ve never had pizza”. He was surprised, “You’ve never had pizza?” he asked.
We went and bought a pizza. I had a capriccioso, which in Denmark includes tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, and ham. It was delicious. I’ve been a pizza lover ever since.
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The history of pizza
Pizza probably evolved from a flatbread eaten by the Romans called panis focacius. The modern version of the pizza was invented in Naples, Italy, around the turn of the 19th century.
The earlier versions of the flatbread did not contain tomato since the plant originated in the Americas.
The tomato plant came from the Americas to Europe in the 16th century. At first, it was thought to be poisonous because it was of the nightshade family.
By the 18th century, it had become common for the poor people around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flatbreads, and thus the pizza was born.
The dish became popular, and soon travelers to Naples ventured into the poor part of town to try the local delicacy.
The dish quickly became popular in all of Italy over the next decades.
The spread of pizza
Pizza stayed a local delicacy in Italy up until somewhere after the second world war when US servicemen stationed in Italy became very happy with the dish, and it started gaining popularity in the States.
A statistic states that 13% of all Americans eat pizza on any given day.
The popularity spread all over the world, and today pizzas are eaten everywhere, and there are very many varieties. Even my local Indian restaurant serves ‘Indian pizza’ with toppings based in classic Indian cuisine.
The dough I am presenting in this article is an offspring of a classic Naples pizza, which resembles the New York-style pizza.
The pizza base dough in this sourdough pizza recipe
|4 pizzas (25cm/10 inch)
The base for the pizza is the carrier of toppings but is usually nothing more than that.
With this recipe, I strive to make the base so much more. It’ll be a delicious part of the pizza with well-fermented bread, leavened using a sourdough starter.
The dough hydration sits comfortably at 65%, with a good amount of salt to bring out the taste of the flour. A good splash of olive oil is added for both flavor and texture but also helps make the pizza more crispy.
The inoculation of the starter is at 20%, which is perfect for a room-temperature fermentation at about 21°C/70°F. If your room is vastly warmer, you can lower the inoculation.
|starter (100% hydration)
If you want to scale the recipe or change it around, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.
Tools needed for a successful homemade pizza
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There are some tools needed to make a great pizza at home.
First of all, an oven that can heat very hot is great because you get the most authentic result. A wood-fired stone oven gets all the way up to 500°C/932°F.
My oven heats to 300°C/572°F and also has a very good broiler, which means I can get to around 325°C/617°F. Not exactly wood-fired pizza oven temperatures, but it’s not bad.
To help yourself get the perfect pizza, you’ll also need these items:
- A pizza peel – Essential for loading the pizza onto the piping hot baking steel.
- A baking steel – helps retain heat in the oven and gives your pizza that telltale bottom.
- A pizza cutter– you need smaller pieces unless your mouth is as large as Steven Tyler’s.
Ideas for toppings for this sourdough pizza recipe
This section contains an absolutely non-exhaustive list of ideas for toppings for your pizza. You can basically come up with your own.
|Tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano, capers, extra-virgin olive oil
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, extra-virgin olive oil
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, ham, olives, fresh basil
|Tomato sauce, garlic, oregano
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, bacon
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, pineapple
|Frutti di Mare
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, seafood
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, parma ham
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, onion, oregano
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, pepperoni, stracchino
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, boiled potatoes, sausage
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, peppers, peas, porchetta
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, french fries
|Prosciutto e Funghi
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, mushrooms
|Braccio di Ferro
|Mozzarella, spinach, ricotta cheese, parmesan
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, pecorino cheese, spicy salami
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, tuna, onions
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, bresaola, Parmesan flakes, rocket
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, olives
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichokes, anchovies, and oregano.
|Pizza al Pesto
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Genoese pesto, pine nuts, olives
|Tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, pepper
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, assorted vegetables
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami, chili pepper
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola cheese, eggplants
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, asparagus, mushrooms, bacon, parmesan.
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplants, parmesan flakes
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, artichokes, mushrooms, olives
|Ricotta e Spinaci
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, spinach.
|Mare e Monti
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, seafood, porcini mushrooms
|Tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, salami, zucchini, polenta
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Vienna Sausage.
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola cheese, speck
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, bacon
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, corn, sausage
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, various vegetables
|Tomato sauce, Buffalo mozzarella, oregano
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola cheese, radicchio, parmesan
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, ham, parmesan
|Mozzarella, bresaola, parmesan flakes
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, fontina cheese, bacon
|Mozzarella, sliced tomato
|Fiori di zucca
|Mozzarella, courgette flower, anchovies olive oil
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, fried egg
|Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, parsley, olive oil
|Tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, lamb kebab, iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, creme fraiche dressing
The last one is one that has come to prominence in Denmark over the last decade. It’s basically a pizza with a kebab and a salad on top.
Many of the pizzerias in Denmark are owned by people of Middle Eastern descent, meaning they also serve pita bread and durum with kebab. I haven’t found any information about where the “Salatpizza” originates; maybe it’s not even Denmark.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite topping is for pizza.
The conclusion of this sourdough pizza recipe
This is absolutely the best homemade pizza I’ve ever had.
The base is as thin as paper. The tomato sauce has a lot of taste. When the pizza is baked, the crust puffs up perfectly and is super chewy. Yum!
Then the base has a wonderful tang from the sourdough and a well-developed taste. Now the base is not just a carrier for the toppings but part of the pizza taste profile.
I made four pizzas for this recipe:
- Margherita: Tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil
- Quattro Formaggi: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, ham, olives, fresh basil
- Sune’s favorite: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, pineapple
- Tomato sauce, mozzarella, kalamata olives, capers
They were all gorgeous, delicious pizzas that I’d serve to any pizza lover. You should make this too!
Please share this recipe for sourdough pizza on social media
This is my recipe for sourdough pizza. If you like the recipe, please consider sharing it with like-minded pizza lovers on social media.
If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.
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Sourdough Pizza Dough
Mix dough and bulk ferment
- Add 585g tipo 00 flour, 65g semolina flour, 16g salt, and 13g diastatic malt powder to a bowl and incorporate it by hand.
- Add 400g water, 130g sourdough starter (peaked in the last 12 hours), and 18g extra-virgin olive oil.
- Mix everything until all the flour is hydrated. Leave to rest for 30 minutes covered.
- Perform three sets of stretch and folds spaced out by 30 minutes.
- After the last set, do a windowpane test. If the dough doesn't pass the test, do another set of stretch and fold and a 30-minute rest.
- Put the dough in a bulking container and let it rise to double size.
Divide, shape, and final proof
- Once the dough has doubled, divide the dough into balls of 300 grams each.
- Oil a roasting pan with olive oil.
- Shape each dough piece into a tight ball and add it to the pan.
- Cover the pan with cling film and let the dough final proof for about 1 hour at room temperature or about 24 hours (up to 5 days) in the fridge, whatever suits your schedule.
Make the pizza sauce
- Dice the onion finely. Heat a pot to medium heat.
- Fry the onion and crushed garlic for a couple of minutes until it's softened.
- Add the can of tomatoes and tomato paste and mix. Add the oregano and basil.
- Let simmer for about 30 minutes—season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Blitz the sauce in a food processor until it's smooth. Add to a container and store in the fridge until you need it.
Get the oven ready
- Add your baking steel to a baking sheet or wire rack on the top shelf in your oven.
- Turn your oven on as high as it goes. Mine goes to 300°C/572°F. Also, turn on the top broiler if you have one.
- Let the oven heat for at least 30 minutes after it hits the maximum temperature. You want that steel to be scorchingly hot.
Make the pizza
- Flour your counter liberally.
- Flour your peel with quite a bit of semolina flour and put it aside.
- Push the dough out into a disc while turning it. Leave a slight edge that you don't press down.
- Once you have a disc of about 12cm/4¾ inches, start pulling the dough out with your left hand (or right if you are left-handed).
- Flip the dough over your hand and turn the dough counterclockwise (or clockwise if you are left-handed) about an ⅛th.
- Keep going until you have a disc of about 20cm/7⅞ inches.
- Then lift the pizza dough onto your clenched fists. Move one first to the left while stretching a little bit. Move the other first to the first fist. Keep going until the pizza is about 25cm/10 inches.
- Add the pizza dough to the peel and arrange it, so it's a perfect circle.
- Add a little tomato sauce in the middle of the pizza base.
- Use a spoon to distribute the tomato sauce on the base by moving outward until you have a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Leave about 1cm/⅓ inch without any sauce.
- Add your desired toppings. Ensure they are not very wet, and the fewer toppings, the lower the chance of a soggy bottom.
- Grab your peel and add the pizza to the baking steel.
- Pull back quickly when the tip of the peel is where you want the back of your pizza to be.
- Bake the pizza until it's to your liking. This is very oven dependent, so keep an eye on it until you know how long it takes (for the following pizzas).
- If your oven heats unevenly from back to front, turn the pizza around using the peel during baking.
- When the pizza looks done, remove it from the oven, add it to a plate and cut it using a pizza cutter. Pizza-time!