If you’re like me, then you’ll probably agree - the best part of the pizza is the crust! From just about the same time I started my journey to baking my own “perfect loaf,” I also started searching for my perfect pizza crust.
What the “ideal pizza dough” comes down to, for me, is three things: same day prep, naturally leavened, and a delicious, tender, chewy crumb.
Same Day Prep - As a stay at home dad who looks forward to Friday night pizza, I’ve got to be honest, I just don’t have the energy/time at the end of the week to make a 96 hr pizza dough with 32 and a quarter folds. When my wife “punches the clock” at 5pm on Friday, I’m ready for a chill evening with family, good food, and an icy IPA. So pizza dough has to be something that is easy and hasn’t depleted all my energy by the time the weekend starts.
Naturally Leavened - I’ve experimented with various yeasted pizza doughs (so no judgement!) and yes, they are easy and fast. But as a sourdough baker who usually has a starter ready to go, it’s worth the minimal effort to get the benefits and flavor of natural leavening.
Delicious, chewy, open crumb - “It’s all about the flavor” is a quote you’ve probably heard many times on the Podcast. When it comes to pizza crust this mantra holds true. There is nothing more disappointing than a pizza with a bad crust. And if you’re going to the effort of making your own pizza, then flavor is probably already a priority. You simply can’t get the same delicious flavor from instant yeast. A tender, chewy, crispy on the outside, open crumb crust is what you want waiting for you at the end of every slice.
Recipe makes 3 - 230g doughs (10 inch personal pizzas).
Pre-fermented Flour: 15%
120g Mature 100% Hydration Starter (36%)
330g All Purpose Flour (100%)
230g Warm Water around 100°F (70%)
10g Olive Oil (3%)
7g Sea Salt (2%)
The morning of, wake up and feed your starter. Make sure you feed it enough so you have 120g worth to make your dough (so at least 60g flour/60g water). If you want an extra lively starter do two feeds before mixing, one the night before and one in the morning.
After lunch, approx. 4-5 hours before dinner, mix all ingredients together by hand, make sure to use warm water (approx. 100 deg F). Final dough temp 82F.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Keep in a warm place for a minimum of 4 hours. Dough should double.
About 30 mins before baking, punch down dough (it will be sticky) and pour out on a floured surface. Divide into 230g balls and shape like mini boules (as tight as possible).
While dough balls rest, preheat your oven with pizza stone(s) to 500F or A.H.A.I.G - as hot as it gets! I like to preheat one stone directly under the broiler and another stone on the bottom rack.
Do the final shaping and transfer dough to parchment paper. Add toppings.
5 mins before baking turn the broiler on directly above pizza stone.
Bake first pizza under the broiler, watching closely, for 2 mins. Rotate pizza to get an even bake. At this stage, I’m looking for a little char on the crust and browning for any meat toppings. The bottom of the pizza might still be a little undercooked so…
Drop pizza to bottom rack/stone (to prevent it from burning) and keep the broiler on to reheat the top stone.
After a couple mins, turn off the broiler and, once the flame goes out, move the pizza back to the top stone to finish off the bottom of the pie. I like to see dark brown spots and even a little char on the underside.
Remove pizza and start to process over to bake the remaining pizzas. Total bake time 5-7 mins per pizza. The hotter you can get your pizza stones the fast the bake time should be.