Who doesn’t love pizza! Of course you can make that with dried yeast or baker’s yeast, but if you have some bread starter in your fridge, you can just as easily make the most delicious sourdough pizza Margherita. Just as crispy with nicely puffed up edges and with extra flavor developed during the slow rise.
Making the dough might be the easiest part of the whole pizza baking process. It is much more difficult to shape and bake your pizza properly. And it really helps if you have oven that you can fire up high. If you don’t, there is a lot that can be done with the help of the oven grill.
I learned how to shape the pizza from my son Noah who was taught by real Neapolitan pizzaioli at pizzeria Faam in Amsterdam. You will have to practice a few times before you master the technique, but the result will really be worthwhile.I don’t think your family will mind our practice rounds. I have never heard mine complaining that pizza is on the menu again!
This sourdough pizza Margherita is made in the Neapolitan style. This type of pizza should be a little soft in the middle, but the edges should develop nicely charred macchia di leopardo or leopard dots.
Sourdough pizza margherita
makes 4 pizzas
for the dough
70 g active starter *
520 g pizza flour or white flour
± 320 ml of water
1 tbsp olive oil
9 g of salt
semolina to shape *
also handy: pizza paddle and pizza stone
for the topping
2-3 cans of peeled tomatoes
2 balls of (vegan) mozzarella
Grated (vegan) parmesan cheese
Extra olive oil
Mix 70 g of active starter with 20 g of flour and 10 ml of water and put aside in a warm place. Mix the rest of the flour with ± 310 ml water and leave covered in a large bowl in a warm place for 1 hour. Add some water if the dough is very dry or some extra flour if the dough is still very liquid. It depends a bit on how liquid your starter was and the humidity of the flour. The dough should still be quite sticky. During this hour the processes in the dough start to get going and you will end up with a tastier and lighter pizza.
Knead the prepared starter, salt and oil through the dough. Cover and leave to rest in a warm place for ± 5 hours.
Then leave to rest in the fridge overnight
The next morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll your dough into 4 balls. Watch this video to see how you form nice firm balls. If necessary, use some flour to sprinkle on your work surface and the dough if your dough is very sticky. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and sprinkled with semolina. Sprinkle some extra semolina over the balls and cover. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 5 hours or up to 1½ hours before baking. Take out of the refrigerator and leave to rise at room temperature for 1 – 1½ hours. Strain the tomatoes and cut them into small pieces or blitz them for a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Pull the mozzarella apart and leave to drain on a piece of kitchen paper to dry slightly.
Preheat the oven well in advance (preferably 1 hour) on the highest possible setting, 250°C is the best. If you have a pizza stone let it preheat too. 10 minutes before baking, turn the oven grill to the highest setting to make the stone extra hot.
Sprinkle the pizza paddle with semolina. Watch the video at the bottom of this post to see how I shape the pizza:
Sprinkle a thick layer of semolina on a plate and place a ball of dough on the semolina. When forming the pizza, make sure to keep the edge intact as much as possible. Do not touch this part of the pizza or you will lose the beautiful puffed up edge. With your fingers gently press the inside flatter and slightly outward. Flip the dough and do the same with the other side. The edge should stay thick and you will probably see some bubbles.
My video (below) shows how to shape the pizza. This is what you do: Lift the dough and hold it just inside the thick edge Because the rest of the pizza hangs down, gravity will stretch your pizza for you! Try to make the edge about the same thickness all around. Carefully work round the edge of the pizza and let the bottom rest slightly on the work surface. If the center of the dough becomes thinner, you can also use the back of your hands. Turn and stretch the dough like this until the inside is paper thin. Place on the pizza paddle and make as nicely round as you can. Fix any small holes by pinching and pressing the dough.
Spread a thin layer of sauce over the pizza and top with the mozzarella. Keep the edges free. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese.
Put the sourdough pizza Margherita in the oven and turn off the oven grill. Bake for ± 10 minutes. The time really depends on the temperature your oven can reach. The edges should be a little charred. If necessary, turn the oven grill back on if the top of pizza is not baking fast enough. Take out of the oven and enjoy!
Heat the pizza stone again with the oven grill for the next pizza. Every oven is different, so try out what works best for you. If you do not have a pizza stone, use the thickest baking tray / baking tin and let it preheat in the oven too.
*Click the link to find out what an active starter is.
*Semolina di grano duro is slightly coarser ground flour from durum wheat.