Sourdough Pizza Dough

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Sourdough has been all the rage for the past few years and for good reason. It’s good for your gut health, it’s delightfully flavorful, it produces the most picturesque crumb ever, and in times of desperation, it eliminates the need for traditional yeast. But our favorite reason for using sourdough is because, when done correctly, it tastes absolutely and undeniably amazing. Cue: this sourdough pizza dough recipe.

But sourdough has been around for longer than 2020, and so have several restaurants that aren’t afraid to kick traditional yeast to the curb and make baked goods (including pizza) that are naturally leavened. Among others, The Wylder in Boise is one of our favorite restaurants for incredible sourdough pizza, and this sourdough pizza dough recipe is inspired by the incredible pies served at their restaurant in downtown Boise (don’t miss the honey badger– it’s our fav!).

To create this recipe, we adapted it from Ken Forkish’s Saturday Pizza Dough (get the full recipe here) and modified it to use an active sourdough starter rather than yeast. It’s straightforward and simple. All you need is some flour, salt, sourdough, and time.

Please Read Before Making This Recipe

IMPORTANT NOTE #1: This recipe is intermediate in difficulty and recommended for those who have baked with sourdough starter before. When following the directions step by step, you will have great results, but baking with sourdough is not necessarily recommended for the beginning baker. Onward.

IMPORTANT NOTE #2: Just like any other sourdough recipe, this sourdough pizza dough takes time. Budget for about 36 hours total: 4-8 hours to activate your starter, 1 hour to stretch and fold the dough, 15-20 hours for the dough to double in size, 6 hours minimum for the dough to cold rise in the fridge, and 2 hours for the dough to come to room temperature before baking. This may sound overwhelming, but when broken up step by step, this recipe is very straightforward. Keep reading for a sample timeline.

How To Make Sourdough Pizza Dough

If you’ve ever baked sourdough anything before, the key is always to be precise with measurements (using a scale is vital for this recipe!) and not to rush the process. The end result is well worth it!

1- Make sure your starter is active. To begin making this recipe you’ll need an active sourdough starter, which basically means the starter needs to be fed, bubbly, and buoyant when placed in water. There are a million articles online that can show you how to activate your starter, but we typically mix 100 grams of room temperature starter (pull it out of the fridge an hour or so before using) with 100 grams of bread flour and 100 grams of filtered room temperature water. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap, let sit at room temperature, and allow to double in size (this typically takes anywhere from 5-8 hours). It’s important that you’re able to make the pizza dough once your starter is active for best results. If you let the starter sit for too long, it will begin to deflate and require another “feeding” of flour and water.

2- Mix the dough. We made modifications to our favorite pizza dough recipe to create this sourdough pizza, so if you’ve made that recipe before then this should feel somewhat familiar. In a large bowl (we recommend a dough tub or food container), mix together 350 grams of 90-95°F water with 100 grams of active sourdough starter and swish around until the starter is dissolved. Add 15 grams of fine sea salt (we love this Jacobsen sea salt) and swish around to dissolve just like you did with the starter. Add the flour all at once and combine with one hand until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet mixture. The dough will be shaggy and that’s okay as long as all of the flour is incorporated. Cover the bin or tub with a cloth and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Important note: this dough is a very high hydration dough, so it will be sticky to the touch and shouldn’t be coated in flour.

3- Stretch and fold. Over the next hour, you’ll stretch and fold your dough three separate times. You can lightly wet your mixing hand with water (preferably your dominant hand) so that it doesn’t completely stick to the dough. If you’ve never done the stretch and fold, this is a great video that shows you how to do it, but in essence, imagine that your dough has four sides, and using your hand you’ll scoop up just underneath the edge of the dough and stretch it upward as far as you can without tearing the dough, and then fold it over to the opposite end. Repeat until you’ve done the stretch and fold with all four sides at minimum, or repeat until your dough cannot be easily stretched and folded anymore. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes and repeat. Complete the stretch and fold process three times total.

4- Let the dough rise. Now for the easy part– let your dough rise until doubled in size. If you’re using a dough tub or plastic bin (highly recommended), make note of the measured height of the dough at this point (you can also use a marker or sticky note). If your ambient room temperature sits between 69-72°F, it should take roughly 15-18 hours for the dough to double in size, but watch closely once your dough is close, because the rate at which it rises will depend on several factors including the strength of your starter, the ambient room temperature, and even the weather. It’s important to not let the dough overproof (overproofing is always worse than underproofing!). When the dough is doubled in size it should be jiggly and sticky.

5- Shape the dough into balls. Lightly flour two rimmed cookie sheets and set aside. Flour a large cutting board or clean work surface and pour the dough from the bin onto the surface (you may need to use your hands to release the dough from the bin). Use a floured bench scraper to cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces (no need to measure– eyeballing is fine). Form each piece into a ball, joining the sticky sides of the dough together on top, as if you are folding the four corners of a towel into the center. Take each dough ball and using the slightly floured surface, build tension by scooping the dough toward yourself while maintaining the dough in a ball and sliding it across the surface (watch 2:10-3:15 of this video for a great demo of shaping the dough and building tension). Place the dough balls on the floured cookie sheet (we usually place 2-3 dough balls on each cookie sheet). Sprinkle flour on top of the dough balls and cover (we prefer these plastic cookie sheet covers for pizza dough).

6- Let the dough cold rise in the refrigerator. Place the shaped and covered dough balls in the fridge for a minimum of six hours and up to three days. This part of the recipe is flexible, which makes this sourdough pizza dough a great “make ahead” recipe.

7- Let the dough come to room temperature & bake! When you’re 2 hours out from using the dough, pull it from the refrigerator so it can slowly come to room temperature. This will not only allow it to bake more evenly but will make it much easier to work with. Once it’s been two hours, use the dough according to pizza recipe instructions. We prefer to cook this pizza dough cooked at high temperatures in a standard oven (see this recipe for detailed baking instructions for a standard oven) or for shorter time periods for 60-90 seconds in pizza ovens such as the Ooni or Breville at their highest heat. See this video for tips on using the Ooni.

Sourdough Pizza Dough: Tips & Tricks

Making sourdough anything isn’t for the faint of heart. This sourdough pizza dough recipe is straightforward, but if you haven’t baked with sourdough before then here are a few tips and tricks that may help:

  • Don’t rush the process! Sourdough takes time, and it takes significantly longer for naturally leavened dough to rise versus a dough that’s made with traditional yeast. As long as your starter is active and your room temperature isn’t too hot or too cold (aim for 69-72°F), then you should have success.
  • Be willing to test this recipe (or any sourdough recipe) more than once. Although we’ve optimized this recipe for success, sometimes it takes a time or two of knowing what the dough should look and feel like and how to handle it before you are able to confidently execute any sourdough recipe on your own.
  • Read the instructions thoroughly. The more thoroughly you understand how to tackle each step, the more likely you are to find success. Sourdough and baking in general don’t lend well to skipping steps, making swaps, or omitting instructions as you go.
  • Double your first batch or two. If you haven’t made homemade pizza before or if you’re using a brand new pizza oven, it’s always nice to have extra dough to work with. This recipe doubles beautifully and the timeline should stay the same. Just make sure to use 200 grams of active starter instead of 100.

Sample Timeline

*Timeline may differ based on strength of sourdough starter, room temperature, etc.

DAY ONE

11:00 am: remove starter from fridge

12:00 pm: feed starter

4:40 pm: make dough

5:00 pm: stretch & fold dough

6:00 pm: let dough rise until doubled

DAY TWO

9:30 am: shape dough balls

10:00 am: put dough in fridge for cold rise

4:00 pm: remove pizza from refrigerator

6:00 pm: bake the pizza

Print

Sourdough Pizza Dough

Looking for killer homemade sourdough pizza dough that yields incredible flavor and texture yet isn't overly complicated to make? This is your recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pizza dough recipe, sourdough pizza, sourdough pizza dough
Prep Time 2 days 12 hours
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Equipment

  • 6-quart dough tub or plastic bin
  • 1 Food Scale
  • 2 rimmed cookie sheets
  • 2 plastic cookie sheet covers
  • 1 pizza peel (if using a pizza oven)
  • 1 pizza pan (if using a standard oven)
  • parchment paper (if using a standard oven)

Ingredients

  • 350 grams water (90-95°F)
  • 100 grams active sourdough starter
  • 15 grams fine sea salt
  • 500 grams all purpose flour

Instructions

Make The Dough (25 minutes)

  •  In a large dough tub or food container, mix together the water with the active sourdough starter and swish around with your hand until the starter is dissolved. Add the fine sea salt and swish around to dissolve just like you did with the starter. Add the flour all at once and combine with the same hand until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet mixture, resulting in a shaggy dough. Cover with a cloth and let sit for 20 minutes.

Stretch and Fold (1 hour)

  • Over the course of one hour, stretch and fold your dough three separate times. You can lightly wet your mixing hand with water (preferably your dominant hand) so that it doesn’t completely stick to the dough. Note: if you’ve never done the stretch and fold, see this video. Imagine that your dough has four sides, and using your dominant hand, scoop up just underneath the edge of the dough and stretch it upward as far as you can without tearing the dough, then fold it over to the opposite end. Repeat until you’ve done the stretch and fold with all four sides at minimum, or repeat until your dough cannot be easily stretched and folded anymore. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes and repeat. Complete the stretch and fold process three times total.

Bulk Fermentation (15-20 hours)

  • Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size. If you’re using a dough tub or plastic bin (highly recommended), make note of the measured height of the dough at this point using a marker or sticky note. If your ambient room temperature sits between 69-72°F, it should take roughly 15-18 hours for the dough to double in size. Watch closely and do not let the dough overproof. When the dough is doubled in size it should be jiggly and sticky.

Shape the Dough (15 minutes)

  • Lightly flour two rimmed cookie sheets and set aside. Flour a large cutting board or clean work surface and pour the dough from the bin onto the surface (you will need to use your hands to release the dough from the bin). Use a lightly floured bench scraper to cut the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces (no need to measure– eyeballing is fine). Form each piece of dough into a ball, joining the sticky sides of the dough together on top, as if you are folding the four corners of a towel into the center.
  • Take each dough ball, place on lightly floured surface, and build tension by scooping the dough toward yourself while maintaining contact with the surface as you move it (watch this video for a great demo). Place the dough balls on the floured cookie sheet, about 2-3 dough balls per cookie sheet. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough balls and cover with plastic cookie sheet covers or plastic wrap.

Second Fermentation (6-72 hours)

  • Place the shaped and covered dough balls in the fridge for a minimum of six hours and up to three days.

Bring Dough To Room Temperature (2 hours)

  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 hours prior to baking so it can slowly come to room temperature. If using a standard pizza oven, be sure to preheat for 1 full hour before cooking the pizza (see preheat instructions below).

Pizza Preperation and Assembly (10 minutes)

  • Preheat oven or pizza oven at specified heat (see instructions below). Set up a pizza assembly station including a floured work surface. If using a pizza oven, position your pizza peel next to the floured area, and dust it lightly with flour (don't skip this step- if your peel isn't floured properly it may stick to the peel). Have toppings including sauces, oil, cheeses, basil, etc. at hand, with a ladle or large spoon for the sauce.
  • Shape the pizza by lightly coating each dough ball with some flour. Press the dough down against the surface starting in the middle and moving outward, leaving about a ½ inch of the outer rim un-deflated. Use floured hands to pick up the dough at about 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the edges, allowing gravity to gently stretch it as you rotate around the edges of the pizza. If the dough still needs to be stretched, rest it on the back of your hands (palms facing down) and gently stretch as you move your hands away from each other, being careful not to tear* the dough or stretch it too thin. If the dough gets sticky at any point, set it down and give both the top and the bottom another dusting of flour.
  • Transfer the disk of pizza dough to a parchment-lined pizza pan (or to the floured peel if using a pizza oven) and smooth out the dough.** Spread about 1/4-1/3 cup of sauce over the dough leaving some of the edge uncovered, smoothing it with the back of the spoon or ladle. Add toppings*** and follow cooking instructions for standard oven or pizza oven.

Standard Oven Cooking Instructions (5 minutes)

  • Place a pizza steel or stone on an upper rack in your oven no more than 8 inches below the broiler. Preheat the oven to 550°F for 1 hour with the pizza steel or stone inside. Once the pizza has been placed inside the oven, bake for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is a deep golden brown and charred in some spots. Remove from oven, slice, and serve immediately.

Pizza Oven Cooking Instructions (1-2 minutes)

  • Make sure oven is preheated to its highest heat for at least 15-20 minutes. Once pizza dough has been shaped, placed on floured pizza peel, and after the sauce and toppings have been added, transfer to the pizza oven by sliding the pizza directly inside the pizza oven, tilting the peel forward about 45° and quickly pulling the peel from beneath the pizza (again, the peel must be properly floured for this to work correctly).
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted and the crust is golden with a few charred spots. Depending on which pizza oven you have and where the heat source is located, you may need to rotate the pizza as it cooks. Remove from oven, slice, and serve immediately.

Notes

*If you end up with a small tear, don’t panic– it’s okay to patch it by folding a small bit of dough over the hold.
** If using a pizza oven: once the first wet ingredients/sauce hit the pizza dough, you should act as quickly as possible to avoid overhydration of the dough which results in it sticking to the peel. Before you add sauce and toppings to the dough, make sure that you are able to move quickly and that your pizza oven is completely ready.
***This is a Neapolitan-inspired pizza dough recipe and is intended to support a minimal amount of toppings. A classic margherita pizza consists of a spoonful of crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Add extra toppings such as salami, mushrooms, olives, pine nuts, etc. in small quantities. 
– If using a standard oven, parchment is likely to discolor and even burn at high temperatures if used more than once. 
  • This recipe is easily doubled– just be sure to use double the amount of sourdough starter. 

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