Master making sourdough pizza with this tried-and-tested method from Ooni Pizza Taste Tester Bryan Ford – a professional baker, pizza lover and Ooni user, and author of the baking blog Artisan Bryan (find him on Instagram as @artisanbryan). This recipe uses a combination of “00” and whole grain flours for pizza bases with good structure and depth of flavor.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough is a traditional method of making dough that uses a natural starter, or mother, to ferment any kind of dough, rather than using commercial, ready-made yeast that comes from a packet. It means the dough takes longer to prove and develop, and you get a great depth of flavor in your doughs. You can use the method for making anything from bread to pizza to croissants.
Maintaining your sourdough starter
No matter what kind of dough you’re making – whether it’s for pizza or otherwise – a key part of prepping sourdough-based recipes is maintaining your sourdough starter.
Keep your starter in a jar on your kitchen countertop, covered with a lid or a cloth with an elastic band wrapped around the opening. If you’re using your starter regularly to make dough, it’s best to feed it with water and flour every 1-2 days to keep it alive and active, so it’s ready to use anytime. To feed it, add equal parts flour (the same flour your starter is based on) and water to the starter and mix until fully incorporated. The starter will grow every time you do this, so each time you’ll need to remove a little bit of the starter before adding the fresh flour and water.
If you need to leave your starter at home for a while or are unable to feed it for a period of time, seal it and place it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The cold temperature will make the starter go dormant, so it doesn’t need to be fed during that time. When you’re ready to use it again, continue feeding it every 1-2 days as normal.
Making sourdough pizza
Makes 4 x 14” pizzas
For the levain mix:
50g (1.8oz) mature sourdough starter
50g (1.8oz) 00 flour, or bread flour
50g (1.8oz) whole grain flour
100g (3.5oz) warm water
For the final mix:
425g (15oz) 00 flour, or bread flour
75g (2.6oz) whole grain flour
310g (10.9oz) warm water
10g (0.4oz) salt
200g (7oz) levain mix
Olive oil, for lining the proving container
Flour, for dusting the work surface
Note that you’ll need to start in advance, preparing this recipe by the morning of the day before you want to cook pizza. You’ll also need to have your active, mature sourdough starter ready to go – it’s mature when you’ve been feeding it regularly in the days leading up to starting this recipe.
Build the levain mix
To make the levain mix, take a tall jar and combine the 50g of sourdough starter with the flour and water. Mix until fully incorporated. Cover and leave to sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or until doubled in size. A nice trick is to put a rubber band around the jar where the line of the levain is when you mix it, so you can check how much it’s growing and be sure that’s doubled.
Build the final mix
Once the levain mix is ready, it’s time to make the final mix. In a large bowl, dissolve the salt into the water. Stir it until it’s completely dissolved. Add the 200 grams of levain mix, and stir until dissolved. Slowly add the flours, and mix together using your hands. The key is to incorporate the flour slowly so that the dough hydrates fully. Leave to rest on your kitchen countertop uncovered for 10 minutes before beginning the initial kneading.
Knead the pizza dough
Once rested, dust your work surface with flour and begin to knead the dough. If kneading by hand, use the palm of your hand and push the dough in a forward motion to the point that it is almost tearing. Pull the dough back onto itself, rotate it, and push with your palm again. This will take around 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can also knead the dough using a stand mixer – mix the dough on low speed for 10-15 minutes, then at a higher speed for 5-10 minutes. The dough is finished kneading when it’s smooth, bouncy and its shape bounces back after pressing into the dough with your fingers – this means the gluten structure has developed and the dough is giving some resistance. You should be able to squeeze it and pull it without any tearing.
On your work surface, tighten up the dough by tucking the edge of your hand under the dough and pulling it towards you, moving your way around the edge of the dough to keep tucking the edges underneath. This will help to smooth out the surface of the dough and ensure an even fermentation.
Bulk ferment the dough
Add a little olive oil to a large bowl or tub, spreading it around using your fingers to coat the container. Place the dough inside and cover with a cloth or the lid, and leave to bulk ferment at room temperature on your kitchen countertop for 3 hours. The dough is finished bulk fermenting when it’s at least doubled in size and has lots of air bubbles appearing under the surface.
Divide & ball up the pizza dough
Portion the dough into four roughly equal pieces. Using electric scales, weigh each dough piece out to 238 grams each, and redistribute the dough as needed between each piece. Shape each piece of dough into a ball using the same technique as tightening up the bulk dough – place the dough piece on the countertop and pull it towards you from the edge furthest away from you, tucking the edge of your hand under the dough. Keep doing this around the edge of the and pulling it towards you, moving your way around the edge of the dough piece until it’s smooth and round.
Once shaped, dust a proving tray with flour or line a baking tray with parchment (baking) paper, and place the pizza dough balls on the tray. Cover with a cloth or the tray’s lid and place inside the fridge to cold prove overnight for 24 hours.
Stretch, top & cook your pizzas!
Once the cold prove has finished, bring the pizza dough balls back up to room temperature by removing them from the fridge and leaving the tray on your kitchen countertop for around 2 hours. It’s important they’re at room temperature before you start stretching the pizza dough, or it will be too tight and impossible to stretch.
Once they’re ready to go, stretch, top and cook your pizzas! Check out all our pizza recipes for a huge range of topping ideas.
To cook the pizza, fire up your Ooni pizza oven, and aim for 932˚F (500˚C) on the stone baking board inside.
Using a small amount of flour, dust your Ooni pizza peel. Stretch the pizza dough ball out to 12 inches and lay it out on your pizza peel. Top as desired, then slide the pizza off the peel and into your Ooni pizza oven, making sure to rotate the pizza regularly. Serve and enjoy!