Sourdough Pizza Guide: Recipe, Sauce, The Perfect Bake, and Toppings


So you played around with pizza baking at home but now it is time to step it up and put your bread baking skills and make a Sourdough Pizza.

In this post, we will cover all the steps from A-Z. You will learn how to make the sauce, dough, stretch the dough, prepare for bake and finally cheeses and topping ideas.

Sourdough pizza is a bit different in flavor and process as opposed to your traditional pizza. The perfect sourdough pizza should be airy or open crumb and baked all the way through while making sure the dough does not soak up some of the sauce and prevents a fully baked pizza.

Baking Pizza in a home oven can be challenging. Luckily for you, I have cracked the problem to a soft or underbaked pizza crust and will show you how to get that perfect crispy crust even if you don’t have a baking stone.

Happy baking!

Sauce Recipe

This is a very simple and quick sauce you can make in about 15 min. This portion will be enough for the amount of dough we are making below. You can always make extra sauce and freeze it or store it in the fridge for future pizza days. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano ( you can use dry or fresh )
  • 1 teaspoon of salt ( add as much as you want here, this is a personal preference
  • 1/4 cup of water

Directions

  1. Heat up a saucepan to medium heat
  2. Add the olive oil ( give it a few seconds to heat up)
  3. Add the garlic and fry it up for a couple of seconds, enough for the oil to absorb the flavor and for the garlic to slightly brown ( be careful not to burn it)
  4. Add the Tomato paste and give it a quick stir
  5. Add the tomato sauce
  6. Add some salt and stir
  7. Add the oregano and stir
  8. Add the water and stir.
  9. Bring to a light boil and cover.
  10. Let this cook for about 15 min and remove the cover.
  11. Reduce sauce until it becomes thick. You can test it out by running your spoon through the sauce and you can see how quickly it comes back together.

NOTE: Taste your sauce to make sure you have enough salt. Also, if you find that your sauce is too acidic or sour from the tomatoes you can add a pinch of sugar. It should balance it out.

Sourdough Pizza Dough Recipe

Ingredients

  • 300 gr of bread flour or type OO flour ( you can change this to include whole wheat flour. I would go with about 240 gr bread flour and 60 gr whole wheat. if you like but you will need to adjust the water accordingly)
  • 200 gr of water ( if you have added whole wheat flour than add 210 -220 gr of water)
  • 100 gr sourdough starter
  • 8 gr of salt
  • 12 gr or 2 tablespoons of olive oil

This recipe will yield 2 medium-sized pizza’s ( around 10-12 inches )

If you do not have a sourdough starter already check out our complete guide right here.

Directions

  • In a large bowl add the water and sourdough and give them a mix by hand so they are combined
  • Add the oil
  • Add the flour to the water and mix until combined.
  • Let it sit for 45 min. This will allow the flour to fully absorb the water and will start creating the gluten mesh.
  • After the 45 min is up, add the salt with a little bit of water. This will help incorporate the salt more easily into the dough.
  • Give this a mix and start to knead for about 10-15 min ( if you are using a mixer, set it to medium and mix for about 8 min. This dough is pretty soft so don’t worry. this is how it is supposed to be. This dough has a 60% hydration.
  • Once you have kneaded the dough, shape it into a ball
  • Coat the dough with a bit of oil and place it back in the bowl and cover
  • Let it sit for about 90 min. I recommend you put this in your oven with the light on ( this is the best method at home to proof the dough if you don’t have a proofing box)
  • Now that the dough has proofed we will give it a “punch”. In the bowl, you can start to fold the dough on to itself until you get a tight ball. Try to get some surface tension on the skin. The process of punching the dough will further develop the gluten mesh and will also help to distribute the yeast more evenly.
  • After you have punched the dough ( again cover the dough with a bit of oil ) cover the bowl with shrink wrap or a wet towel and let it sit for about 40 min.
  • After 40 min you should see the dough double in size.
  • We will now portion out the dough. You can either make 4 small pizza’s ( personal size ) of about 150 gr each or cut it into 2 for two medium-size pizzas of 300 gr. I don’t suggest you make this any larger as the pizza will not fit in your oven. If you like thick crust pizza then go ahead and make your pizza around 400 gr ( you will have to increase the size of your dough if you want to get 2 pizza’s out of it).
  • After you have your portions round them into a ball tucking the dough in on itself. Make sure you have good surface tension on the skin and place them on a pan and put it in the fridge overnight.
  • After 18 -24 hours take out the dough from the fridge and let it rest on your counter for about 40 min. The dough needs to get back to room temperature and the yeast needs to wake up.
  • You are now ready to shape and bake your pizza.

Shaping Your Pizza and Bake Directions

We will now go through shaping and baking.

I have also included a great technique to get a nice bake on your pizza if you do not have a baking stone but read this first and we will get to that a bit later.

Here are the things you will need.

  1. rolling pin ( this is not a must but if you are having problems handling the dought go ahead and use a rolling pin.)
  2. Olive oil
  3. Pizza sauce
  4. Wax paper or baking sheet
  5. Cheese and toppings ( whatever floats your boat )
  6. Baking stone ( optional read below for alternative solution )
  7. Pizza Peel ( also optional, you can do without it is just a bit trickier and you need to be careful not to burn yourself )

Shaping

Let’s face it, most of us don’t work at a pizza place so we had never developed the technique to stretch out the dough as you see at your local pizza parlor. Also, let me add the fact that this is a sourdough pizza and is much softer and more difficult to handle in your hands.

Let gravity do its work

Try tossing the dough from hand to hand rotating it on every hand switch, letting gravity do the work. You will need to be quick with this technique as the sourdough pizza dough has high hydration and is very soft so work quickly.

Stretching

You can also place the dough on your working surface ( well-floured ) and start pushing down on the center of the dough ball. Work your way to the outside of the dough but leave a crust.

Pushing down on the dough like this will stretch it out to the desired shape and thickness but don’t push down too hard. Try to get a feel for the dough.

Rolling out the dough

Lastly, you can use a rolling pin and roll out your pizza dough to a nice circle. This is where you decide if you want the thick or thin crust. Roll it out to the desired thickness.

Make sure to flour your working surface well so the dough does not stick.

Once done rolling out your pizza dough place it on your pizza peel ( make sure you have some semolina flour or cornmeal on your pizza peel, this will help to slide it off the peel and on to your baking surface.

If you do not have a pizza peel place the dough on some wax paper on top of a cutting board.

Now that you are done shaping and placed the dough on to the peel or wax paper cover it with a plastic bag and let it rest for about 10 min.

If you used a rolling pin you will want to let the dough rest and rise for about 25-30 min.

If you stretched it out by hand you can cut down this time to about 5 min. All this stretching and pulling put stress on the gluten mesh. You need to let the dough relax before baking.

Prepare The Dough Before Baking

Once you have shaped your dough and it is fully rested drizzle some olive oil on to the pizza dough and spread it all over. You can do this with a brush or you can just get in there with your hands.

This will provide a thin layer of separation between the sauce and the dough allowing the dough to bake all the way through and will not let the pizza sauce soak into the dough.

Take a ladle or a large spoon and scoop some of that delicious sauce you made earlier and plop it right in the center of the pizza.

With the bottom of the ladle or spoon start in the middle of the pizza and make a circular motion slowly increasing the circle. You should get a spiral shape.

This will spread your sauce evenly on the pizza dough. Make sure to leave some space for the crust.

DO NOT PLACE TOPPINGS ON PIZZA JUST YET READ BELOW BAKING PROCESS

Baking

Baking is done in 2 stages.

  1. The first a pre-bake of the dough and sauce only. You will want to bake the pizza about 3/4 of the way first.
  2. remove the pizza from the oven, add your toppings and place it back in the oven until golden brown.

I will break down baking into 2 sections.

  • with a baking stone or pizza stone
    Without a baking stone

Your oven should be set to “bake” – meaning the heat is only coming from the bottom of the oven. This is the setting for the first stage of baking. Below is the illustration that should be on your oven settings knob.

Baking with a baking stone

  1. preheat your oven to 250 C or as hot as you can get your oven without putting it in the broil position. ( broil means you are activating the top heating elements.
  2. Place the baking stone or baking steel inside and preheat it as well. (about 30-45 min).
  3. Once the oven is hot and ready slide your pizza onto the baking stone. ( at this stage we are going to bake the pizza about 3/4 of the way )
  4. just as the pizza is starting to get a hint of color and the dough has risen take the pizza out ( this should take about 5 min )
  5. Place your toppings, then the cheese and put it back in your oven until golden brown.
  6. For the last 2 min of the baking turn on the top elements of your oven. This will help to give the pizza a nice color from the top.

Baking Pizza without a baking stone and still get a crispy crust and bottom crust.

  1. preheat your oven to 250 C.
  2. Place a flat baking pan in the oven and preheat it as well.
  3. Once the oven is hot and ready slide your pizza ( that is on wax paper )onto the baking pan ( with the wax paper ).
  4. At this stage we are going to bake the pizza about 3/4 of the way )
  5. just as the pizza is starting to get a hint of color on the bottom ( about 5-6 min ) and the dough has risen take the pizza out, place your toppings.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven replace it with your oven wire rack. Make sure this is placed on the 2nd shelf from the bottom of the oven.
  7. Now that the pizza is solid from the first bake and your toppings are on it you can place it back in the oven this time on the wire wrack. Removing the wax paper.
  8. Bake for about 2-3 min and then turn on the top elements in your oven and place the wire rack in the top 3rd of your oven. This will help give the pizza a nice color from the top and will help to bake your toppings as well.

And now for some tips and information that will help with your final product, the ultimate sourdough pizza from start to finish or any pizza for that matter.

Toppings and Cheese

When considering which topping and cheese to use choose wisely to get the right balance. There are many verities of cheeses and topping. It is an infinite choice ( well, almost infinite ). Below you will find a list of cheeses and some topping ideas to helpfully help you make the right choices.

The correct order in which you place your toppings is also important as there are some toppings that are more delicate that need to be covered by the cheese and some toppings that you want on top of the cheese that you want to expose to direct heat.

Let’s begin.

Cheeses

Not all cheese is created equal. Some are better than others for pizza especially under the intense heat of the oven required. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite cheeses to use on pizza. Also, some guidelines on how to use them on your pizza. I LOVE CHEESE!

Gruyère

Expensive? YES. Amazing? YES YES YES.

Ok if you have never tried this Swiss cheese (I find that there are many people out there that have not) go out right now and buy your self some, I’m not kidding. Swiss Grouier – that is what you are looking for. It is a hard cheese (softer than parmesan but harder than a Gouda or Edam for example). A perfect cheese for melting. It has just the right amount of sharpness without being overpowering. It’s heaven in your mouth, period. The only downside is the price. It is quite expensive. Check your local delicatessen shop or a good supermarket. You should be able to find it, it is quite common.

Mozzarella

Mozzarella, everyone knows this cheese. Try getting your hands on some fresh Mozzarella rather than the graded one you find pre-packaged. Fresh Mozzarella is white in color and softer than the usual yellow-colored Mozzarella which is more commonly found in supermarkets. It is a stringy cheese by nature so when melted it has the perfect structure for pizza cheese, this is why it is also most commonly associated with pizza.

You will find that fresh Mozzarella does not pack much of a punch in flavor so when using this cheese it is recommended to blend it with other cheeses like Parmesan for example. Something with some sharpness to balance out the flavor.

The dry or harder kind of Mozzarella that is most commonly found, is a great choice as well. You will find that it has a much sharper taste than the Fresh Mozzarella. A well-balanced cheese that can be used on its own or blended.

Cheddar

For pizza I would not go with a sharp cheddar rather I would choose one that is mild. The german cheddar is usually a good choice here or any mild yellow cheddar you can find at your local supermarket. If you go with an aged English cheddar you will find the taste is overpowering so mild it down. If you just love sharp cheddar you can always blend it with fresh Mozzarella.

Feta

Feta is a wonderfull salty crumbly white cheese. Used largely in Greece. It is not a very common cheese to use on pizza and I recommend that you blend this with other harder cheeses. A good Feta Cheese has some nice aged flavor to it. This cheese does not melt and stretch like the Mozzarella rather it kind of heats up and becomes soft rather than the crumbly texture it has when it is fresh and cold.

It goes wonderful with herbs and leafy green vegetables like Spinach, Arugala, and others. Olives of all kinds are also a welcome pairing for this Cheese. Experiment with these.

Gouda

This cheese is so good they named it good-ah. All kidding aside. This cheese has a bit sharper taste than mozzarella but still mild enough. There are many variations of this cheese. Smoked Gouda, Aged Gouda and also blended sometimes with herbs. Head out to your local supermarket and try out some of these and decide for yourself which variation of Gouda you like best for your pizza.

Brie

Fancy schmancy cheese, this cheese has a very low melting point so if you intend to use it on pizza make sure to add it in the last minutes of baking. It is a wonderfull soft cheese that has a very smooth texture. It is a bit expensive so save this for special occasions if you intend to use it. It is not very common for pizza, trust me a little bit of Brie goes a long way. Try it out.

Cheesy conclusion

Of course, there are so many cheeses out there and I can’t list them all but the ones mentioned above are the more common cheese you can find almost anywhere and that was the reason I chose them. Try to experiment with different cheeses, you’ll be surprised.

Topping combination Ideas that will take your pizza to the next level.

As for toppings, there is no limit here. The only thing I’m going to say here is do not overdo it. People sometimes end up adding too many toppings this will end up in some mishmash of flavors and you can’t really taste anything. Try to keep your toppings to 2 or 3 at most. Usually, a 1 protein/meat (not necessary ) a veggie and herb is the right combo.

Also, the choice of cheese should be given some thought.

Mushrooms with truffle oil and Arugula / Rocket

  • use the right mushrooms – oyster mushrooms are a good choice
  • saute mushrooms in butter and garlic in a saucepan first and then drain them from all the butter. Don’t worry, the mushrooms would have the butter and garlic flavors infused into it already.
  • for the cheese use mozzarella as it has a mild taste and will not take away from the mushrooms and truffle oil.
  • Drizzle a bit of truffle oil at the last minute of the bake not when you place all your toppings.

Spinach, Feta Cheese and Herbs

A classic middle eastern blend of herbs and cheese with a leafy vegetable. You can use a pesto base for the sauce here or just olive oil. Tomato sauce will work as well. First, you need to wilt your spinach. so take out a pan add some butter and cook down that spinach. Once cooked put the spinach directly on the sauce and then cover with feta cheese and a bit of mozzarella, this will prevent the spinach from burning. Finally add an herb of your choice, Thyme, Oregano or any dry herb you like.

Margarita With a Twist.

Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic Confit, Basil with Fresh Mozzarella and Parmesan

This is the classic margarita pizza with the added cherry tomatoes and confit garlic. Simple is always great. This is classic but the taste is so spot on that it withstands the test of time.

For the added twist, fry up some cherry tomatoes in olive oil first. This will remove some of the moister out and willfully cook down the tomatoes. After baking the pizza 3/4 of the way with the sauce add the Basil leaves then sprinkle parmesan cheese and then the mozzarella on top. This will prevent the basil from burning. Lastly, add the tomatoes and Garlic Confit.

This is a pizza with many flavors so you need to find the right balance, I would lessen the amount of parmesan used here only because you will get sweetness and a tiny bit of sharpness from the garlic confit.

3 Cheese blend ( Gruyère, Goat Cheese and Cream Cheese ) with herbs

This is the ultimate cheese blend and one of my favorites of all time. For this take 1 part Gruyere 1 part goat cheese and 0.5 part Cream Cheese. Add a bit of thyme and mix together.

Pre-bake the pizza base with olive oil only – no need for any sauce here. If you just love pizza sauce then go ahead.

Take out the pizza after the pre-bake and add the cheese blend. If you have a sauce down you will have to grab the cheese blend ( it is more like a paste at this point ) by hand and just throw down clumps of it on the pizza.

Scallion, Red Onions and Sausage

A nice Italian sausage will be great here. After baking the pizza with the sauce first, add the cheeses and then the onions and sausage on top. Just before your pizza is fully baked put the pizza on the top shelf of your oven closest to the heating elements and broil for a minute. This will crisp up the sausage and give some nice caramelized edges to your onions. After removing from the oven let it rest a couple of minutes and then add the scallions and serve. Bon appetite

Tools that can help you on your pizza baking journey

Baking Stone or Baking Steel – this will certainly give you a baking advantage and will help give an extra boost for your crust and the rise of the dough. Since I have experience with both I have written a comparison article on stone vs steel. Also, I have another great article about alternatives to a baking stone that produce great results.

Pizza peel

A pizza peel is a great tool for loading pizza or even bread for that matter into your oven and safely onto your baking surface. There are ways to work around this but they are less safe.

Scarper and Bench Knife

Plastic scrapers and a metal scarper also known as bench knife are great tools that help with picking up the dough from your surface, portioning it out and also scarping it from a bowl. These tools are very cheap but extremely useful, you can find them for around 4-5 USD on Amazon for a pack of 4 plastic scrapers or about 5-20 USD for a metal scraper ( this depends on the quality of steel, thickness and overall quality of how it was put together ).

Pizza Cutter

This is a must-have! Yes, of course, you can use a knife but it is not the right tool for the job and is not practical so get your self a pizza cutter if you don’t already have one. Try to pick one with a good handle and a nice thick heavy blade. Don’t cheap out on this one, get a good sturdy pizza cutter.

Scale

MUST HAVE. I can’t tell you how many times I have mentioned this on my website and numerous articles. I will say this one more time. If you are serious about baking work with a scale and not measuring cups and spoons. This is the only way to get consistent results. Baking is a science unlike cooking where you can mess around with your ingredients to create different flavors in baking you must be precise.

I have put the time and researched and used many scales in my life. For the past 2 years, I have been using a great scale that I just love and think it is probably the best scale on the market for a home baker. This scale has great functionality at a great price point and has yet to fail me after many uses. You should check out my review on it right here.

Baking surface

As I wrote above, you don’t have to use a baking surface to make a good pizza, but using one will certainly upgrade your crust and overall pizza to a whole other level.

You can choose either baking stone or steel surface, I compared the two in this article, you can read here.
You can read my recommendation on a great steel surface here.

Mixer

This is not a must-have, you can always mix and knead the dough by hand, having a mixer does help a lot. There is no shame in using a mixer. Some people feel like it’s “not the right way” to bake at home or to make sourdough bread or pizza. I call this BULL S&#T.

Do what is comfortable for you. Honestly, it is not that easy kneading dough by hand and for some people, whether they are older or have physical constraints, a mixer is just the perfect tool. There is one mixer out there that I have used in the past at our bakery. We used this home mixer to test out new recipes and from my experience, it is the best home mixer on the market by far. You can check out my review right here.

Amit

Hi, my name is Amit. I started baking at a young age at my father's bakery. I hope I can answer some of your questions and hopefully you will find some hidden gems to help you out with your home baking skills.

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