Sourdough pizza was actually Chuck’s ulterior motive in buying sourdough startes for my birthday, and I, armed with newly purchased Italian-style flour from King Arthur, was happy to oblige. I made pizza on the same weekend as the sourdough pitas, so my starter was active and ready to bake. The recipe in the booklet that came with my Italian starter called for an entire kilo of flour to make six thin-crust pizzas; since we were only going to have pizza for dinner for two nights I meant to make only 2/3 of a recipe, but I forgot to scale my measurements and ended up making the whole thing (and we got to have pizza for an extra night!).
The Italian 00 flour (which I ended up using nearly all of with just this one recipe) was ultra-silky to the touch. The King Arthur version is also low protein (8.5%), but I did some research afterward and learned that the numeric rating for Italian flours actually refers to the grind. “00″ is the finest grind, and it actually comes in diverse protein levels – I saw one online with 11.5%, similar to an all-purpose flour, and I have no idea what the protein level is of the brand that I found at a local Italian deli (hooray for living in Little Italy!).
Here, the giant blob of about-to-be-kneaded sits on my kneading mat. It was very soft, and although it got more elastic as I kneaded, I suspect that I should have kneaded it even more.
After one proofing once, the dough for the two pizzas we made on the first night was shaped and left out to proof again. (The dough for the other pizzas was put into the refrigerator imediately after kneading to keep it from over-proofing.)
After stretching the dough into shape and proofing again, we started topping the pizzas – since these were thin crust pizzas, a light hand with the toppings worked well. Here we used light layers of pepperoni and fresh mozzarella (dry thoroughly first if using water-packed cheese!), plus roasted garlic and drained canned tomatoes.
We then put on the final touches – parmesan cheese and herbs – and put the pizza in the oven – heated to 500 degrees F, with baking stone.
One of the key things we learned about this dough is that it’s very delicate after shaping and proofing. the first night, we didn’t think to shape the pizzas on parchment, and the second round ended up sticking too it’s rising surface too much to be transferred to the baking peel. It had to undergo an emergency re-shaping, and the texture of the baked pizza suffered as a result. The second evening (when we baked all four remaining pizzas), we let the pizzas rise on parchment, and then transferred the parchment to the stone along with the pizza. This worked well – with the caveat that it’s important to trim the parchment to just about the same size as the pizza; otherwise the corners of the parchment will start to singe and you’ll be on oven-fire-watch until the pizza has finished baking. (Or perhaps a Super Peel would solve my pizza transfer problems…hmmm, it would be sad if my current peel had an unfortunate accident…)
Here’s the pizza from the first night that turned out well – the crust was thin and wonderfully crispy, with a little chewiness at the edges.
We had a lot of fun making the pizzas, despite the frustrations with the fragile crusts. Chuck made a barbecue chicken pizza that turned out really well, and I made a delicious one with kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes. Chuck actually prefers a chewier crust for his pizzas, so next time we do sourdough pizza it will probably be from a different recipe, but I’m looking forward to getting another bag of 00 flour and giving this another try.