I’ve been making sourdough pizza from home for years. It’s an easygoing dough where you can mix the dough on day one, then make pizza the next day (and even a few days after that, pulling one or two dough balls out of the fridge for several days in a row). Pizza is probably the perfect food, and I like to think it’s appropriate for any day and mood.
Though I typically just use type 00, in this variation, I went for whole-wheat pizza dough, bumping up the whole-wheat percentage in the dough for a sturdier, chewier pizza. At half whole-wheat, this makes for a super flavorful and nutritious pizza crust that can handle any toppings you’d like to throw at it. Coupled with the long, natural fermentation when using a sourdough starter, I find this pizza is just as flavorful with a simple tomato topping situation as it is with a thick smattering of cheese and pepperoni.
To get a well-baked bottom crust, be sure to heat your oven and baking surface (my preference is to use a baking steel) for a full hour before baking. To make shaping and transferring the pizza to the oven effortless, I like to lay the stretched pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper before topping, then slide that right onto the heated surface.
For some toppings inspiration, check out Food52’s 16 best pizza recipes. —Maurizio Leo
- Prep time 30 hours
- Cook time 10 minutes
- makes 4 (12-inch) pizza doughs
type 00 or all-purpose flour, plus more for baking
fine sea salt
ripe sourdough starter, 100% hydration
Extra-virgin olive oil
Tomato sauce, shredded or torn mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan, pepperoni, or other desired toppings
Autolyse (10:00 a.m.)
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the 300 grams all-purpose flour, 300 grams whole-wheat flour, and 400 grams of the water. Set the mixer to low speed and mix until combined and no dry bits of flour remain. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Mix the dough (10:30 a.m.)
To the mixing bowl, add the 13 grams salt, 110 grams ripe sourdough starter, and remaining 46 grams of water. Set the mixer to low speed and mix until all the ingredients are combined. Then, turn the mixer up to medium-low and mix for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough clumps around the dough hook.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl or container for bulk fermentation.
Warm bulk ferment the dough (10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.)
Cover the dough with a reusable airtight cover or plastic wrap and let it rise at warm room temperature (76°F/24°C) for a total of 2 hours 30 minutes. Set a timer for 30 minutes and let the dough rest. After 30 minutes, give the dough its first set of stretches and folds. During this time, you’ll give the dough two sets of “stretches and folds” (see next step for explanation) to give it additional strength. The first set is performed 30 minutes after the start of bulk fermentation, and the subsequent set 30 minutes after, then the dough will rest for the remaining time.
For each set of stretches and folds: With wet hands, grab the north side (the side farthest from you) of the dough and stretch it up and over to the south side. Then, fold the south side up to the north in the same way. Then, perform two more folds, one from east to west, and one west to east.
After performing the two sets of stretches and folds, let the dough rest, covered with the same airtight cover, in the bulk fermentation container for the remainder of bulk fermentation.
Cold bulk ferment the dough (Overnight)
Place the covered bulk fermentation container into the refrigerator overnight.
Ball the dough (11:00 a.m. the next day)
Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with olive oil.
Remove the bulk fermentation container from the refrigerator and let it warm for 15 minutes. Scrape the dough out to a clean work surface and, using a bench scraper, divide the dough into four pieces, each weighing about 285 grams (you might have a little scrap dough leftover). The dough will feel cold and tacky, which will make shaping easier. Shape each piece into a very tight ball, about 4 inches in diameter, with no seam on the bottom. I like to pick up the dough with my two hands and pinch the dough around a ball shape, or you can use your bench scraper to scrape the dough and tighten it into a ball, similar to how you’d shape a bun or roll. Place each ball of shaped dough into the baking pan, with a little space in between, to proof.
Proof the dough (11:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
Cover the baking pan with a large reusable piece of plastic or bag and seal shut. Proof the dough at a warm temperature (74°F to 76°F/23°C to 24°C is ideal) for about 4 hours 30 minutes. The dough is ready to use when puffy to the touch, and when gently poked with a wet finger it springs back slowly. If you’d like to delay cooking some of the dough balls, place them back into the refrigerator, covered, and take them out 2 to 4 hours before you want to cook them. Let them warm and finish proofing as directed below.
Prepare toppings and cook the pizza (4:00 p.m.)
Place an oven rack with a baking stone, baking steel (my preference), or an upside-down sheet pan on top in the top third of the oven and heat the oven to 550°F (260°C) or as hot as your oven can go. Let the oven and surface heat for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.
When the oven is heated, place a piece of parchment paper on top of a pizza peel (or another upside down baking sheet). Liberally flour your work surface and the tops of the proofed pizza dough with 00 or all-purpose flour. Using a spatula or your bench scraper, scrape out one round and flip it over onto your prepared work surface (it’s okay to leave the other rounds out and covered while cooking). Lightly flour your hands with 00 or all-purpose and press the dough starting from one side to the other to help flatten and spread the dough. Then, flip the round over and repeat. Next, pick up the dough and drape the edge over the knuckles of both of your hands and pull your hands apart as you gently stretch the dough, elongating the circle. Rotate the dough in your hands a bit and stretch again. Continue this process until the dough is about 12 inches in diameter. If you tear a hole in the dough at any point, just pinch it back together. Place the stretched dough on top of the parchment paper on the pizza peel.
Lightly spread on the tomato sauce, cheese, and any other toppings. Transfer the dough and parchment to the heated oven and cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, with oven mitts, carefully rotate the parchment paper holding the pizza 180 degrees and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, until the bottom and crust is deeply golden brown and charred in places. Remove from the oven, let cool for 1 minute, slice, and enjoy. Repeat with the other balls of dough, using a new piece of parchment for each round.