I have a love affair with sourdough – bread, cakes, pastry, crumpets and, today, pizza dough. My sourdough starter is like my third child, it even comes on holiday with us – seriously, it does.
Please don’t be put off by the overnight factor for this pizza base. Yes, it does necessitate planning ahead but the actual hands-on time is minimal. And the slow rise equals loads more flavour compared to pizza dough risen in an hour.
If you haven’t got a sourdough starter on hand (it is relatively easy to make from scratch in four to five days, find directions HERE), this pizza base can easily be made with baker’s yeast. I have included a variation in the recipe.
This dough is mostly no-knead, letting time do the work, utilising a slow rise in the fridge for a longer period of time. The result is a pleasingly chewy crumb and a crispy thin crust. The other notable difference is the flavour.
A sourdough starter is a combination of wild yeasts to give rise, and bacteria for taste. The bacteria kick in about 12 hours into the rise, so without using the fridge to slow the rise it is tricky to make the most of the delicious goodness these microbes can bring to the dough. If using the yeast option, the addition of natural yoghurt provides the bacteria to deliver the flavour, which is difficult to replicate using yeast alone.
Recently I have been enjoying experimenting with Pizza Blanc, or white pizza. The base is spread with a white sauce rather than ubiquitous tomato puree.
To make blanc (white) sauce I combine 350g ricotta, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, a large handful of grated parmesan, and salt and cracked pepper to taste. Spread generously on to the pizza base, and top with seasonal offerings such as zucchini ribbons and thinly sliced red onion.
1/3 cup (50g) wholemeal flour
2 ½ cup (400g) white flour (wheat or spelt)
1 rounded teaspoon salt
½ cup (100g) bubbly sourdough starter, fed 6-8 hours earlier
OR ½ teaspoon dried active yeast + 1/3 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup (250g) water
1 teaspoon olive oil
- The evening before cooking the pizza, prepare the dough. In a large bowl combine the flours, salt, sourdough starter, or yeast and yoghurt, and water. Use a tablespoon to bring the ingredients together into a "shaggy" dough. Cover with a plate and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
- After this time use wet hands to briefly knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together into a smooth-ish ball. Drizzle over the olive oil, tossing to coat. Cover and set aside at room temperature for one hour to give the yeast a headstart, then place the covered dough into the fridge overnight. During this time the dough will slowly rise and roughly double in size.
- When ready to cook the pizza, remove the dough from the fridge and set aside while preparing the toppings.
- If using the barbecue (with a lid), preheat to 240 degrees Celsius with a hot plate in position – this doesn't work on a barbecue grill as the pizza base cooks too fast. Alternatively use the oven set to 240C with a pizza stone on the bottom shelf.
- Prepare chosen toppings. Once the barbecue or oven is hot, tip the dough on to a floured bench and divide in half. Roll one half out into the shape of the hot plate or pizza stone, about 5mm thick. Slide on to a well-floured pizza peel (or a cookie tray works well) and quickly spread with blanc sauce (see above), toppings and grated cheese. Immediately transfer to the hot barbecue or oven.
- Cook for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the pizza base golden. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Serve immediately, cut into squares or wedges.
Tip – try using long-bladed kitchen scissors to cut pizza, it works a treat!
*Recipe & text first published 20 December 2017 on Stuff.co.nz