Fans of pizza and sourdough, it’s time for a fusion! Ange of Sourdough Breadsmith is teaching us how to create a Naples-style pizza base using some clever additions to the basic sourdough recipe. 

She’ll also share some tips on how to create a traditional Italian pizza in the electric pizza maker. Bellissimo!

Ingredients2 x 8” Pizza4 x 8” PizzaBaker’s Percentage*
White Tipo 00 Flour150g300g75%
Fine Semolina50g100g25.00%
Water (tepid)125g250g62.50%
Levain (at 100% hydration)50g100g25%
Black Volcanic Salt5g10g2.50%
Extra Virgin Olive Oil10g20g5.00%
Total:390g780g195%

*Bakers percentage is relative to the total flour
(Weight of ingredient/Weight of flour) X 100 = %

Note: The best flour for a sourdough pizza is a fine Italian Tipo 00 flour and should be available in most grocery stores, if not a strong (bread/bakers) white flour can be used instead. The black volcanic salt is a nod to the amazing pizza found in Naples, this can be substituted with non-iodised sea salt.

Schedule and Instructions

PREP

Activate starter:

Refresh your starter 12 to 24 hours before use if it’s kept at room temperature. If your starter is usually kept in the fridge you’ll need to activate it a day or two before using to make sure it’s in tip-top condition. Feed your starter (generally, you’ll need to double it up…e.g. for a 100g starter. add 50g wholemeal rye flour and 50g tepid water), leave it at room temperature for 12 hours and repeat, then move on to building a levain. 

Build levain:

Making a levain is your opportunity to change the flour to match your recipe and amp up the activity for a strong fermentation. Generally, the levain is a “once-off” single-use thing that will be used up by the recipe, so make just enough for the recipe—double the amounts if you’re making a double batch of dough.

Measure 20g of bubbly, active starter into a clean container to form a separate levain. Add 20g flour (50% white and 50% wholemeal rye) and 20g water (100% hydration) to the container and gently fold in. Cover loosely and leave it at room temperature. After 12 to 24 hours mix 30g white flour and 30g water into the levain, cover loosely and leave at room temperature. This can be used for dough anytime in the next 4 to 24hrs.

Note: Remember to double the quantities for a double batch of dough.

Mix Dough:

Ideally, mix the dough at least the night before making the pizzas. The dough really benefits from a long slow cold-proof in the fridge. Mix the water into the levain and add the oil, fold in the semolina and then the white flour until a rough, shaggy dough forms. Sprinkle over the salt but don’t mix it in yet. 

Autolyse:

Cover the dough and rest it at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour to kick start gluten development. The dough will develop some elasticity without any kneading.

Stretch and fold:

Start out by dimpling the salt into the dough and then stretch and fold with wet hands for a few minutes until the dough tightens. Cover the dough and rest at room temperature for 2 hours, with two sets of stretch and folds after 30 minutes and again after 60 minutes, additional sets of stretch and folds can be done at 90 minutes and 120 minutes if you feel so inclined and the dough demands it. Alternatively, knead the dough in a stand mixer for 5 to 10 minutes to develop strength and elasticity.

Bulk proof:

Once you can stretch your dough into a thin membrane without tearing (window test) cover and leave to prove somewhere warm for another 1 to 2 hours. This may take longer in cooler weather. Once bubbles start to form on the surface and the dough has increased a bit in size by 30-50% then it’s ready to be shaped, if not give it another 30 minutes or so.

Shape:

Gently tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (or spray the surface lightly with water). Divide the dough into 200g pieces (two pieces in a single batch and four in a double) and scrape each piece into a round with a bench scraper, then rest for 10 minutes before shaping. Flatten and shape into a rough ball/boule by folding the edges in to form a square and then folding the corners of the square in towards the middle. Flip the dough over so the smooth side is up, rest for 10 minutes, then tighten by cupping your hands around the ball of dough and pulling it towards you, or by spinning the dough around on the spot to build tension and form a nice tight skin a bit like a balloon. Place the shaped dough balls seam side down onto lightly oiled trays or containers and cover with cling-film or a close-fitting lid. Rest at room temperature for half an hour. 

Cold proof:

Ideally, put the dough balls on the top shelf in the fridge to cold-proof for 12 to 24 hours. Alternatively, proof at room temperature for an hour and then do a shorter cold proof of 2 to 4 hours. The dough balls can also be frozen at this point to keep some sneaky sourdough pizza up your sleeve for another time.

Make your Pizzas

Thaw:

Take your dough out of the fridge 1 to 4 hours ahead of time to come to room temperature. If frozen, allow to thaw out completely before use.

Preheat:

Preheat the oven as hot as it will go (at least 240C) for 30 minutes after 20 minutes place a cast iron pan or pizza stone in the oven to preheat before putting the dough in.

Shape the pizzas:

Gently turn the dough balls out onto a well-floured surface with the smooth side down. Dust with semolina and gently press the dough balls out and flatten into 8” circles with your fingertips. Cover and rest for 10 to 20mins while you get on with the toppings. 

Prepare toppings:

Get your base sauce and toppings ready. A sauce made from tinned plum tomatoes squashed down and flavoured with chilli, garlic and herbs is a Breadsmith HQ’s favourite, along with mozzarella cheese and basil for a simple Neapolitan pizza. 

Final shaping:

After 10 to 20 minutes of allowing the pre-shaped pizza dough to rest, gently lift, hold an edge, and let the weight of the dough stretch the pizza nice and thin while rotating (think of turning a steering wheel) leaving a slightly thicker rim around the edge to form a nice “cornicione”. Place on a well-floured peel or onto baking parchment ready for topping. 

Top and bake:

Top your pizza straight away and get it into the oven on the preheated pizza stone or cast iron pan, the hotter the oven the better! Bake until the crust and cheese are golden brown, drizzle with a final flourish of olive oil and a scattering of fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

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