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Author Notes: I love this dough, though it can be kind of a pain--it just makes whatever I want it to based on how thin I stretch it. It's a lesson in letting the dough speak, as it can be frustrating and different depending on the starter, flour, climate of the day (it's easier to make this in the winter than in the humid summer). The secret is not to stress, it's going to be an ugly shape but taste amazing! Takes easily to a hot hot oven, dry cast iron skillet and even a grill for amazing grilled pizzas. Don't skip the whole-grain flour, but the proportions of all-purpose, grain and high-gluten are up to you. You need some of each to get a flavorful, soft but toothsome dough. - Raquelita
- 1 cup sourdough starter culture (unfed/neglected is the best here--won't get too active on you!)
- 1 cup warm water
- 1.25 cups all purpose unbleached flour (for first ferment)
- .75 cups mix of whole grain flours: buckwheat, spelt or "mixed-grain" are excellent choices, whole wheat flour is just fine too (for first ferment)
- 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour (for final dough)
- 1 cup high gluten or bread flour (for final dough)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- toppings, extra olive oil for brushing on grilled dough
- Stir the starter, 1.25 cup all purpose flour, .75 cup of grain flour and the warm water in a large bowl until uniform.
- Cover with a damp towel for 2 hours. Hopefully you'll see some larger bubbles as your starter activates, but if you don't and you're relatively confident in your starter, this should turn out fine. Otherwise, leave it longer until the starter wakes up.
- Stir down the starter, then add the rest of the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil. You could stir in dried herbs or small seeds here. Stir until it's too much to stir, the ingredients should be combined into a ball of dough that may need more flour.
- Knead on a floured countertop about 6 minutes until it's "baby's-bottom" firm and a uniform texture. Try not to add too much flour, but depending on ambient humidity, the original starter, etc. you may need to add a fair amount to keep it from being too sticky. Tacky is okay, sticky is not.
- Refrigerate in a large bag overnight--expect slight expansion.
- About 30 minutes before you'd like to bake/cook the dough, remove it from your fridge. It will be slack and soft, but that's OK! Let it come to room temperature (even a little cool is fine as it will warm up when you start to work with it).
- Divide into 5-6 pieces, keeping covered until you need them. At this point, you can freeze the pieces you don't use. Until you're used to the dough, working with smaller pieces will be helpful.
- For oven pizza, use a 475-500 degree oven with a preheated cook surface (pizza stone, sturdy upside-down cookie sheet). This dough seems to need a little longer to cook as it doesn't rise as much. Stretch and pull the dough into an even thin circle on a well-floured surface. Transfer to a pizza peel/makeshift peel well-dusted with cornmeal or semolina. Top with a light brushing of olive oil and toppings (go easy on the watery ones), then transfer the pizza to the oven. Bake 15 minutes or until the dough is really cooked and toppings are set.
- For skillet flatbreads, divide the dough pieces into 3 smaller pieces. Get a cast-iron skillet medium-hot (not smoking). Roll each piece (don't work too far ahead or the dough will get too stretched out) to 1/8-1/16 inch thick on a floured surface, using a rolling pin, flipping the dough a few times. During the rolling, you can incorporate dried spices and herbs, seeds, etc. Slap the dough onto the hot skillet, cook until browned (2 or 3 minutes) and flip. Store uneaten breads in the freezer and reheat on a dry skillet.
- Grilled pizza: have all your ingredients to top the pizza ready next to your grill. You'll work over a medium-hot grill (you should be able to keep a hand above the grate for 3-4 seconds). Make sure the grates are nice and clean. Dip the dough in a little olive oil and spread that with your hands as you deftly pull or stretch into a thin crust shape, working swiftly to lay this on the medium-hot grill. Don't try to move the dough for a few minutes. Let it cook and caramelize on the bottom, then it will release. Make sure the top side has a nice olive oil brushing. Flip, then quickly work to top the pizza with your at-hand sauce, cheese and anything that doesn't need through cooking (it won't get it in the grill). Close your grill and cook about 5 minutes (unless you smell burning). You can do these one at a time and re-heat the pizzas at once in the grill when they're all cooked. But if you're grilling, it's probably hot out and you don't need piping-hot pizza!
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