This sourdough pizza dough is naturally leavened and made with a combination of Type "00" flour and high-protein bread flour. It produces a delightfully chewy and crisp, yet tender crust with a signature sourdough tang. This recipe yields three (10-inch) pizzas, but can be easily doubled. Dough can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead, please see the recipe notes below for further instruction. Below the dough recipe, you'll find a recipe for a classic Margherita-style pizza using our favorite homemade pizza sauce. It will become an instant favorite. Feel free to use this recipe as a base and mix up the toppings as desired.
8 ouncesfresh mozzarella cheese, not packed in waterblotted dry and torn into pieces
fresh basil leavesplus more for finishing
parmigiano-reggiano cheese optional
Prepare the Sourdough Pizza Dough:
Important Note:Please note that this sourdough pizza dough recipe requires a large quantity (250 g) of ripe sourdough starter. Scale up the previous night's feeding so the starter is ready in the morning. See the example baking timeline in the note section below.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the water and salt. Use your fingers to swirl the mixture together until the salt has completely dissolved. Add the ripe sourdough starter.
Using your fingers, pinch the mixture together, distributing and breaking up the starter into small pieces throughout the water.
Add the "00" and bread flour to the bowl. Using a Danish dough whisk or your hands, mix until the dough comes together and no dry clumps remain. The dough will be shaggy. Cover and rest at room temperature (72°F/22°C) for 20 minutes.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead the dough for one minute, dusting it lightly once or twice with flour if needed to prevent it from sticking. The dough should be tacky, but very smooth. Lightly coat the mixing bowl with olive oil, lightly shape the dough into a round, and transfer to the greased bowl. Cover and proof at room temperature (72°F/22°C) for about 3 hours. The dough shoud have risen at least 50% and be rounded on the edges.
Transfer the dough onto a clean countertop. Using a bench knife, divide the dough into three equal-sized pieces (roughly 280 grams each).
Shape the Dough Pieces into Rounds: Shape the pizza dough pieces into balls. Working with one piece of dough at a time, grab the top portion of dough, stretch upwards, then fold back into the center. Repeat from the opposite edge. Continue along the outer edges of the dough, folding them back into the center to form a tightly seamed package. Flip the dough seam-side down and use your hands to gently shape into a round, using the countertop to build tension into the surface. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
Transfer the dough balls into a flour dusted proofing box (or rectangular pan with lid or large plate), setting them apart. Dust the tops with flour. Cover and proof at room temperature for a minimum of 5 to 6 hours or until ready to assemble or bake pizza that evening. The dough will hold for 3 to 4 additional hours after proofing. Make Ahead Instructions: Alternatively, shape and allow the dough balls to proof for 4 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the fridge and allow the dough to rest at room temperature (72°F/22°C) for 2 to 3 hours before using.
After the final proof, the dough balls should have expanded considerably, nearly doubling in size. Shape and bake using the instructions below as a guide.
How to Shape and Bake Sourdough Pizzas (Margherita Style):
Set a baking steel on a rack in the upper third of the oven, roughly 6 to 7 inches below the broiler element. Preheat the oven and steel to 500°F (260°C) for at least one hour. Prepare the pizza sauce, toppings, and set out for easy assembly.
Lightly dust a wooden pizza peel with flour and sprinkle with semolina flour. Use your hands to spread the mixture into a thin layer across the surface. Set aside. This will keep your dough from sticking and help with transferring.
Just before assembling pizza, turn the oven broiler to high for 10 minutes. This will blast your steel with an extra dose of heat. Generously sprinkle your countertop with flour. Carefully lift one pizza dough round from the proofing container (covering the remaining dough) and set on the flour. Dust the top with flour.
Using both hands, press the dough with your fingers, starting from the center and pressing outwards toward the edges, rotating the dough as you go while maintaining the edges.
Once the dough is roughly 6 to 7 inches in diameter, lift the dough with both hands, allowing the center of the dough to rest on your knuckles. Gently stretch the dough by pushing your knuckles outwards, rotating the dough continuously, while maintaining the slightly rounded edges. Allow the dough to hang off your hands slightly, allowing gravity to help stretch the dough into a thin roughly 10-inch disc. Gently transfer the dough onto the dusted pizza peel.
Drizzle the surface of the dough with extra virgin olive oil. Use your hands to brush it over the surface, concentrating on the edges. Spoon roughly ⅓ to ½ cup of homemade pizza sauce into the center of dough. Use the back of a spoon to spread the sauce into an even thin layer, leaving a ¾-inch border on all sides.
Distribute torn mozzarella pieces (roughly ⅓ of the 8-ounce mozzarella ball) over the sauce and top with several torn basil leaves.
Transfer the pizza onto the hot baking steel. Immediately turn off the broiler and set the oven to 500°F (260°C). Cook the pizza for 4 to 5 minutes, rotating it on the steel once or twice if needed, or until the bottom is crisp and lightly spotted. Finish the pizza under the broiler, watching carefully, or until the edges of the crust have gained color.
Using the peel, remove from the oven and place on a wooden cutting board. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves, and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (if desired). Cut into quarters and serve immediately.
Set the oven back to temperature and repeat with the remainingpizza dough, assembling and baking each pizza before serving.
Tips for Success:
For added chewiness and crispiness (particularly if baking in a home oven), I've had more success with sourdough pizza dough made with almost equal amounts of traditional Type "00" flour and high-protein bread flour. This recipe has been tested extensively with Central Milling "00" Flour, but has also been prepared with Caputo (Italian brand). They do differ in protein levels, but both create great pizzas. For bread flour, I recommend King Arthur for similar results.
This pizza dough can be prepped a day ahead. Follow the pizza dough instructions above, but only allow the dough balls to proof at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. Transfer the container to the fridge and refrigerate overnight. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature (72°F/22°C) for at least 2 to 3 hours before using the following day.
Example Baking Timeline:
Note: This sourdough pizza dough recipe requires a large quantity (250 g) of ripe sourdough starter. Scale up the previous night's feeding, so a portion is ready to be used in the pizza dough.
9:00 AM - mix the pizza dough, cover and rest for 20 minutes.
9:20 AM - knead the dough briefly, cover and rest for 3 hours.
12:20 PM - shape the dough into pizza balls, place in a floured container, cover, and proof for at least 5 hours or until you're ready to make pizza (they will hold for up to 4 additional hours if needed)