Jul 012008

As a sourdough mama, I’ve learned that when feeding your starter you generally have to remove some of the original starter to make room for the new “food.” Some people simply discard it, I’ve read that some people use it to keep slugs away from their garden, and others make beautiful muffins, biscuits and breads.

All great uses (except for the discarding part – I’d feel bad to waste those baby yeasties!) but I think that I’ve found the go-to recipe for me to use that discarded starter. Sourdough pizza.

My husband and I are big pizza fans; what is there not to love? Pizza is a tasty way of getting a complete meal to the mouth. And I make pizza with whatever I have in my fridge. Leftover chicken breast four days old and a little dry and half of an andouillie sausage? Chopped up and sprinkled on top of a tablespoon or two of tomato sauce with cheese, it is loved once more as Cajun Chicken Pizza. Ten pieces of leftover coppa in the fridge from an appetizer tray and half of an aging bell pepper? Chop it up, throw it on some dough with cheese and pesto and you have one of my husband’s favorite slices. The options are endless and we’ve never had a pizza we didn’t love. Now that I’m feeding my starters regularly, I’ll have even more of an excuse to make them!

And now shameless cute picture of baby boy – To the left, my little man enjoying his grilled pizza margherita. YUM!

Sourdough Pizza
makes two 12″-pizzas

1-1/2 cups sourdough starter
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Water (optional)

In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well, adding water or flour to make a soft dough (I keep my starter at 100% hydration normally – meaning I feed it at a 1:1 ratio of flour and water – so did not need to add any additional water to the dough). Knead for about five minutes until dough is soft and elastic and is not sticky to the touch. Form into a ball and let rise in an oiled bowl (turning the ball in the bowl to cover with oil) covered with plastic in a warm place until doubled in size.

Once risen, turn out onto a floured surface and cut into two pieces. Believe me when I tell you that this dough is beautiful and silky and soft as a baby’s bottom; you’re going to love it! Roll out each piece to about 1/4-inch thick, 12″ rounds.

This pizza can be cooked either conventionally in an oven or right on the grill. See below for directions for both.

Cooks Notes:

Don’t have 1-1/2 cups of starter to begin with? You can do one of two things.

  1. If you plan ahead, feed your starter the night before with enough flour and water to ensure you’ll have the quantity of starter you need for this recipe plus enough left over to continue the starter’s growth. When you remove the starter the next day, re-feed your starter with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water if it is looking scarce.
  2. If you, like me, forgot to feed your starter the night before, don’t worry! Simply take out 1/2-cup starter in a bowl the morning you’re going to make pizza for dinner (often the day that you’d feed your starter anyway). Feed the jarred starter while you’re at it. To the starter in the bowl, add 1/2-cup flour and 1/2-cup water and stir well (thus creating your 1-1/2 cups starter!) Allow to sit for a few hours in a warm environement. At lunchtime, begin the dough process, above. This worked great for me – the recipe is very forgiving.

Want to make a more healthy pizza crust? I maintain two starters, one white and one 100% whole wheat. To make a healthier crust I used my whole wheat starter and then used 3/4-cup each of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. The result was fantastic; it still had the crunch and bite of a standard white pizza dough, but had a bit of chewiness and depth that whole wheat can add. I will be experimenting with a higher ratio of whole wheat to white in the future – and if you’ve been successful with it, please let me know!

Now, on to the cooking . . .

For grilled pizzas:

If you have a pizza stone, feel free to heat it up in your barbecue as you would your oven (see below) and cook accordingly. However, if you do not, here’s the method that we use (adapted from the pizza recipe in Mario Batali’s Italian Grill cookbook)

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect grilling. If using gas, turn the burners on high for at least 20 minutes before cooking. Make sure that the grill is very hot, around 450 – 500 degrees Farenheit. The grill needs to be clean, but not greased, before cooking.

Carefully lay one round of dough over the hottest part of the grill and cook until the bottom is lightly browned and dry, about two minutes. Using tongs, gently lift up and flip the dough over, cooking for just 30 seconds more. Transfer to a baking sheet with the less cooked side up, and repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Let cool.

If using a gas grill, turn down the heat to a medium from a high.

Sauce and top pizza as you prefer, leaving a 1/2-inch edge of dough around the outside.

Place 1 or 2 pizzas at a time on the cooler part of the grill and cook until the cheese is melted and the bottoms are crisp and golden brown. This may take from 2 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of your crust and heat of your grill. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting.


For oven baking:
Place a pizza or baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes before baking (though I’ve done just fine using a pizza pan). Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Gently shape each half into a loose ball. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. One at a time, lightly dust each dough ball with all purpose flour and roll it out into a round of 12-14 inches in diameter. Spread 1/4 cup cornmeal on a baker’s peel (or your pizza pan) and transfer the dough round to the peel or pan.

Top the pizza crust with your desired sauce and toppings (be creative! Our favorites range from the traditional Margherita, to Cajun with leftover chicken and andouillie sausage and peppers, to Thai style with peanut sauce!) and then either slide the pizza from the peel to the baking stone, or just slide the pan in the oven, and bake until the crust is crisp and brown, 10-15 minutes. Once baked, remove from oven and let rest for about five minutes before cutting to serve.

I know you’ll enjoy and use this recipe again and again! Please comment and let me know how it goes!
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  11 Responses to “Sourdough Pizza”

  1. This turned out awesome. I made it with mostly bread flour and a little white-whole-wheat. I, and most of my guests, said that it was one of the best crusts we've ever had. I will definitely make it again. Thanks! <3

  2. I am so glad I found your blog! I discovered you through kitchenstewardship's face off series. I started a whole wheat starter last week and so far I have made your sourdough pancakes, and tonight I made the sourdough pizza. It was wonderful! Yesterday and today I added a few tbsp. of potato flakes to the starter's feed and it took some of the edge off of the sourness of my starter (for my husband's sake) and it made the starter super bubbly and foamy! It made such a delicous dough!

  3. Original comments from former blog:

    Laura said…

    You’ve inspired me! We are having pizza for dinner!

    Brian and Staci said…

    I’m so absolutely impressed with you!!! HOW do you find the time to do all this fantastic stuff???!!!! I’m hoping to read more of your blog over the long weekend!! I’m so excited to find you! Hope you have a great time at your cabin!!!

    breadchick said…

    Excellent use for the “toss off”! I feel bad too when I have to throw away starter toss off. I’ve book marked this recipe and the next time I do a “starter tutorial” on The Sour Dough, I’ll like to you and your pizza post. I’ll also direct people here when getting email questions.

    Since I’m feeding my whole wheat starter this weekend, I suspect I’ll be making some pizza as well.

    Jj said…

    I never tried anything like this on the grill – sounds fantastic. I’m planning on getting a gas grill before this summer is out and will have to add this to the “must try” list, thanks!

  4. […] I cautiously tried a few sourdough recipes from said blogs for things like muffins, pizza crust, crackers and pancakes, recipes that didn’t require as much rising power while I waited on my […]

  5. How long do you let your dough rise? After the initial rise and divided the dough can you freeze the dough? How long can you leave it in the fridge after the initial rise. Can you make the dough then put it in the fridge and for up to how long? Thanx!

    • The dough has normally risen after two hours or so, but it depends on how cool/warm your home is and how active your starter. I don’t have any experience freezing the dough but it can be punched down after the initial rise and stored in the fridge for up to three days if needed, covered with plastic wrap. It actually tastes better after aging a day before baking!


  6. I have no stone to bake the pizza on. Can I just use a regular pizza pan?

  7. Did you ever experiment more with higher ratio of whole wheat flour (or spelt perhaps) and find something that works well?

    • Hi Heather!

      I have experimented with up to 50% white whole wheat or whole spelt flour with good results. I do think, flavorwise, that having at least 50% white flour is important for the best “tooth” to the crust. Hope this helps!


  8. […] also am on the quest for bread recipes that take only one day to begin and bake (like my focaccia, sourdough pizza crust and french bread) to round out dinner.  I normally looked at several recipes before choosing one […]

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