Pizza for Dinner, Anyone?

Reader Contribution by Jodi L. Wise
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Right after I was hired at Sourdoughs International, a TV show called Taste This TV came to our facility to tape a segment. What they had decided they wanted to make were pizzas. I love pizza! This was terrific news to me and how exciting to watch it being made it for the TV show. What I learned that day was that it was easy to bake pizzas and bread sticks. I know what happens to me when I first look at a recipe, I get overwhelmed. I prefer the kid’s recipe books that have simple step-by-step instructions and pictures to go along with them. So to watch pizzas and bread sticks being made in front of me was perfect. I thought, I have to run home and make these while I still remember what he did.

So my 13 year old daughter and I set out to make pizzas that very night. I wasn’t about to push my luck and try pizzas and bread sticks. We went to the store and picked out our favorite toppings and headed home to start our adventure. Now, I do have to say that we the smoke alarm goes off in our house, that means that dinner is done. It is a talent to burn that much food and still live but we have managed so far. I am thinking that pizza is ok with a little burn on the crust so it will work well with my cooking style. I pulled out my cookbook and went to the pizza recipe.

Sourdough-Crust Pizza Recipe

This recipe is from Classic Sourdoughs, revised: A Home Bake’s Handbook by Ed and Jean Wood.

Pizza has been made in Italy for thousands of years. Ancient pizza napoletanna was leavened by crisceto (sourdough); a by-product of beer fermentation was used until just before World War II. That has since been replaced with various forms of commercial yeast. But there are ways to use natural leavening properly, as in the old days. This recipe made with sourdough culture has the original natural sourdough crust, but the toppings can be as American-style as you like. If you have Italian type 00 flour, use it; otherwise all-purpose flour does very well. You may freeze the dough balls after the second proof; thaw it at room temperature before shaping. Traditional Italian toppings include tomato, mozzarella, and olive oil or tomato, oregano, anchovies, and olive oil. Makes about six 10-inch (25 cm) pizzas.

1 ½ cups (360 ml) sourdough culture
7 cups (980 g) unbleached all-purpose or pastry flour
2 ½ cups (600 ml) water
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Mix together the culture, flour, water, and salt in a large mixing bowl and knead for at least 30 minutes to develop the gluten. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, and proof for 4 hours at 77° to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees to 28 degrees Celsius) in a proofing box. Punch down and divide into 6 balls about 8 ounces (250 g) each. Place the balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and proof for an additional 4 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees (21 Celsius).

To form the pizzas, flatten each round by pressing on the center with the heel of your hand until a ridge begins to form at the periphery. Lift the dough by holding onto the ridge with both hands and let the weight of the dough stretch the developing circle. Turn the dough to maintain the circle, while alternately pulling on the ridge and pressing on the center until a 10-inch (25 cm) circle is formed with a ¼-inch (6 mm) ridge.

Transfer the pizzas to a lightly floured baking sheet or peel and proof for ½ to 1 hour at room temperature. Sprinkle on the toppings of your choice. Bake in a pre-heated 500° F (260248 C0 oven, on a pre-heated stone if you have one, for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.

We were so excited when we put on our own toppings and put them in the oven. Much to my surprise, they didn’t even burn on the bottom, sides or anywhere for that matter. The taste was out of this world. They were so easy to make. This was the best part for me. I was also told that I could freeze the dough. My pizzas don’t look pretty like the ones I have seen my boss and his family make. But I have learned over the years (because I am not a great cook), that it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it only matters what it tastes like. These tasted great!

Hope you have as much fun making these pizzas and we do. I do have to warn you though, this sourdough crust has turned my daughter into a sourdough pizza snob and now she only wants our sourdough pizzas.  

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