This flavorful, easy to make pizza dough has a lovely tang from sourdough starter discard. It's better than ordinary homemade pizza dough, and so much better than store bought. Give your pizza crust the flavor it deserves!
Why this recipe works
- This easy to make homemade pizza dough only takes about 10 minutes of hands-on work
- Using unfed sourdough starter discard gives extra flavor to the pizza crust
- Can also be used to make foccacia, stromboli, or calzones
Pizza Night is an event in our house.
With so many of my family members having...ahem...specific food preferences, making a pizza becomes a game of sections. No tomato sauce here, no olives there, and definitely no fresh basil over there, Pizza Night is indeed quite individualistic.
One thing we all agree on is the pizza dough. It's got to be soft, chewy, and flavorful. Me being me, it's going to be homemade pizza dough, and it's going to use sourdough starter discard.
In other words, it's got to be Sourdough Starter Pizza Dough.
Decide how much flour and water is needed
I try very hard not to waste my weekly unfed sourdough starter. So substituting sourdough starter discard in recipes is something I do frequently, for both sweet and savory items. Since the actual amount of discard can vary from the 1 cup I strive for, I can calculate the amount of extra flour and water I'll need in this recipe, and it's really not hard.
Measure the sourdough starter discard into a bowl, preferably using a kitchen scale. Using a weight measurement rather than the volume makes the calculations easier, but you can use whatever method works for you.
Next, divide the measured amount of starter in half, which gives you the amount of flour and water you already have, assuming your sourdough starter is 50/50 flour to water, like mine. If your ratio is different, use the flour to water ratio of your starter to calculate the flour and water amounts in your discard.
Once you determine the amounts of flour and water in the starter, you'll just add however much is needed to reach a total of 15 ounces (425 grams or 3½ cups) of flour and 8 ounces (227 grams or 1 cup) of water to your bowl.
If you don't have a kitchen scale, and you have 1 cup of sourdough starter discard add in 2¾ cups flour and ½ cup water to start the dough.
What you need
In addition to the flour and water, you'll need yeast, kosher salt, and olive oil. You can also add chopped herbs, either dried or fresh, like in these Ciabatta Rolls.
Sourdough discard pizza dough is not unlike my Sourdough Focaccia. In fact, they are the same dough. It's just how the dough is shaped, finished, and baked that's different.
And like with the focaccia, the pizza toppings are completely customizable to your tastes. Use whatever your favorites are.
How to make sourdough starter pizza dough
Making a sourdough pizza dough recipe involves very little hands on work.
All it takes is about 5 minutes to measure out your ingredients and another 5 to 10 minutes to knead. That's all the prep work you have to do.
It's that simple.
Step 1: Make the dough
Combine the starter, flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil, and herbs (if using) in a bowl and knead until you have a smooth dough (photo 1).
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and put in a warm place to rest until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours (photo 2). The oven with just the light on works well.
Step 2: Shape the pizza
After the dough has doubled in size, it's ready to be shaped into pizza. You can either do that now, or you can put the dough in an oiled bowl in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The benefit of a cold rise is that the sourdough flavor really has a chance to develop more of that characteristic tang. When you're ready to make the pizza, it's best to let the cold dough sit out on the counter for an hour or so if you've got the time. Room temperature dough is easier to press out than cold.
Let your oven preheat to 425˚F while you shape the dough. I put a large round pizza stone in the oven and let it heat along with the oven. That helps to give the base a chance to warm quickly, so you don't get a soggy crust. If you don't have access to a baking stone, a quarter sheet or half sheet baking pan will be fine. Just shape the dough as thin or thick as you'd like. I'd still recommend allowing the pan to preheat while you prepare the pizza.
Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper and start pressing it out with your hands into however large a circle you want (photo 3). You can go thick or thin, your choice. I usually finish the circle with a pie pan roller to make sure it's even.
By the way, that whole tossing the dough in the air business? Yeah, I don't do that. I've watched that I Love Lucy episode too many times to risk dropping the dough.
You're welcome to try, though.
Step 3: Add the toppings
As I said in the beginning, pizza toppings are so personal.
In this instance I'm making a white pizza with garlic powder, a spritz of olive oil, fresh mozzerella cheese, and cooked slices of Beyond Sausage. I top everything with a generous amount of shredded cheese.
I like to fold over the edge and crimp it down (photo 4). It keeps any of the toppings from leaking out, and we like the thick edge to gnaw on. We call them pizza bones.
We're a funny bunch.
The only tricky step is when you transfer the pizza to the oven. Use a cake lifter or pizza peel under the parchment paper, and carefully slide it onto the hot pizza stone.
Step 4: Bake the pizza
Bake the pizza for 10 to 12 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown and the toppings are heated through (photo 5).
Step 5: Slice the pizza
Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then use a pizza cutter to slice into six or eight slices (photo 6).
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
Flour, specifically higher protein flours (like bread flour). The flour in the sourdough starter is fully hydrated, which can weigh down the dough and make it stodgy (I love that term. It means heavy, borrowed from The Great British Baking Show). You need that extra protein so the pizza dough maintains its gluten structure since it doesn't have a second rise after shaping.
You've got olive oil in the dough to help control the rise, but spraying the crust with it also helps to add flavor and creates a barrier between the dough and the toppings. This helps to prevent the dreaded soggy bottom!
Pro tip: Use pizza dough beyond just pizza
You can use this sourdough pizza dough recipe for more than just pizza.
Besides pizza and aforementioned focaccia, you can use this same pizza dough recipe to make calzones or stromboli (essentially, stuffed pizzas). The method to make the dough is the same, just the shaping is different.
A pizza crust with flavor
Move over, homemade pizza crust, we've got a more flavorful contender in town!
This sourdough pizza crust has a nice chewy texture, though not hard to tear with your teeth. And the flavor? A nice slight tang that supports, but doesn't detract from, the toppings.
Making sourdough pizza dough is my favorite way of using my weekly sourdough starter discard. It's fast, it's easy, and I can make the dough for later in the week.
The crust makes the pizza, and sourdough pizza dough makes a tangy crust you'll love. So skip the store bought stuff and make your own dough. It will be so much better, trust me.
C'mon, give your pizza crust the flavor it deserves, and let Pizza Night begin!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma. What do you do with your unfed sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and the sourdough starter discard.
And if you sign up to receive my weekly featured recipe email, I'll send you the recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread. Just click the subscribe button below. Enjoy!
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Tangy Sourdough Starter Pizza Dough
- parchment paper
- pizza cutter
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard, unfed, at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
- 2¾ cups bread flour, or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed, see Recipe Notes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon yeast, instant or rapid rise, see Recipe Notes
- ½ to ⅔ cup water, warmed between 100°F to 110°F, see Recipe Notes
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon mixed herbs, chopped, like basil or oregano, optional
- pizza toppings, as desired
- Make the dough: Measure the sourdough starter discard into the bowl of a stand mixer using a kitchen scale. Divide the measured amount in half…that is the amount of flour and water you already have (that is, if your sourdough starter is 50/50 flour to water, like mine).
- Measure in enough additional flour to the bowl so that the total amount (including the amount from the starter) is 15 ounces (425 grams). See the Recipe Notes below if you don't have a kitchen scale handy. Add the salt and yeast.
- Like with the flour, pour in enough warm water so the total amount is 8 ounces (227 grams). See the Recipe Notes about adding in the water. Finally add the 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the mixed herbs (if using).
- Mix the dough on low speed until the dough starts coming together, about a minute. Turn up the speed and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and put in a warm place to rest until the dough has doubled, about 2 to 3 hours. The oven with just the light on works well.
- Make the pizza: Place a baking stone in the oven, then preheat to 425°F. For best results, let the oven heat for an additional 10 to 15 minutes after it says it's ready just to insure there are no hot spots.
- While the oven is heating, start to prepare the pizza. Lightly knead the dough on a piece of parchment paper, then start pressing out into a circle with your hands (you can use a pie pan roller to help). The size of the pizza will depend on how thick you like the pizza crust. I generally press it out to about ¼-inch thick and 10- to 12-inches in diameter.
- Top the pizza with your favorite toppings. For a finished edge, fold the crust over about 1-inch and crimp it down.
- Using a cake lifter or a pizza peel, carefully transfer the pizza on the parchment paper to the hot baking stone.
- Bake the pizza for 10 to 12 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown and the toppings are heated through.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then use a pizza cutter to slice into six or eight slices. Serve immediately and enjoy!