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A sourdough pizza is one that uses a crust made from dough leavened by naturally developed yeast instead of a baker’s yeast. The leavening agent is actually a ball of dough left from a previous pizza crust that has been fed to keep the yeast alive. This dough has a more sour taste than normal wheat-based dough. Once the sourdough has risen, it is kneaded and cooked just like standard pizza dough. Sourdough pizza crust lends itself well to pizzas that have vegetable toppings.
All sourdough begins with a starter. This starter is a mixture of flour, water and sugar. The mixture creates an environment in which yeast is able to live and grow. When starting a sourdough pizza crust, a piece of the starter is placed in a batch of fresh dough and kneaded until it is well incorporated. Over the course of several hours, the dough will rise and a piece of the new dough is removed to be the starter for the next batch.
The process of letting the dough rise can actually affect the taste of the finished sourdough pizza crust. The longer the yeast is allowed to grow inside the dough, the more lactic acid is created. Lactic acid has a sour taste, not dissimilar to the sour taste in yogurt. The texture of the dough also is affected by a long, slow rising time, because the gluten strings are allowed to develop.
When making a sourdough pizza crust, it is important to know the desired type of crust. By kneading the dough, letting it rise and then rolling it out to stretch the gluten strands, the crust will come out relatively thin. If the dough is rolled out flat before letting it rise, the crust of the pizza will be thicker and more cake-like.
Once the sourdough pizza crust is completed and rolled out flat, it needs to be pre-baked before being topped with other ingredients. This is done in an oven set to a high temperature. The crust should bake nearly all the way through. This is to ensure that wet ingredients do not prevent the dough from cooking or becoming mushy.
After the crust has been pre-baked, a sourdough pizza can be topped with nearly anything. Tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese with basil is traditional. Other variations include mozzarella and ricotta, sausage and peppers, or onions and peppers. The crust is versatile, especially when homemade, and has a slight tang that goes well with all types of vegetables.
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