Bake it in a woodfire oven or your home oven.
Happy National Pizza Day!
When we first moved into our house, our neighborhood was active. Children ran from door to door collecting their friends for Nerf battles and water gun fights. Parents sat outside and watched their children, sharing an adult version of child’s play.
One of my neighbors, Sue Groffie, inspired me with her multiple talents. Every New Year’s Eve, Sue threw the best adult party. She is very artistic and crafty. In fact, I commissioned her to create this watercolor of the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh.
We socialized during yard sales and block parties, and she shared some great recipes that I have used frequently throughout the years. Her pizza dough recipe became a favorite at my son’s birthday parties. The guests would each get a small ball of dough to toss, top and bake.
During the pandemic, yeast was nowhere to be found on store shelves, and canned pizza crust hard to get. I adapted her delicious recipe for sourdough starter. I thought I would share it just in time for National Pizza Day, today, February 9.
Don’t have a sourdough starter? Begin one here.
Create a poolish mixture
A poolish mixture of highly active starter ensures that my bread is perfect every time. When I make a loaf of sourdough bread, there is always leftover poolish mixture. I won’t want it to go to waste, so I make my honey-oatmeal bread, cinnamon rolls or this pizza crust.
Before you make the poolish mixture, Complete a discard and feed of your established starter. Discard half and save to make crackers or cookies. Feed the remaining starter with 75 grams of distilled water and 75 grams of all-purpose flour. Let your fed starter sit for an hour or two, until it is bubbly and nearly double in volume. Then start your poolish mixture.
To start your poolish, remove 25 grams of your fed starter and mix it with 100 grams of distilled water and 100 grams of all-purpose flour. Cover it with plastic wrap and let this mixture ferment for 6 to 8 hours. It should double in volume in that time.
Since I use leftover poolish from when I make bread, I mix my bread the day before I make pizza. Then I store my leftover mixture in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation until the next day, when I’m ready to create pizza dough.
My timeline for making pizza crust.
The day before – make poolish mixture and bread dough. Store leftover poolish in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning – Remove poolish mixture from refrigerator and allow it to return to room temperature for an hour before mixing the pizza dough. I make the dough early so that it can rise for 6-8 hours.
That afternoon – When ready to start making the pizza, prepare your toppings and shape the dough while the oven preheats. Then bake according to the instructions below.
Pizza Dough Recipe
This recipe will make four medium-sized thin-crust, two Chicago style or regular crust pizzas, or one deep-dish pizza. I cut the recipe in half and make two thin-crust pizzas or one regular crust for just me and my husband. In Sue’s original recipe, she froze half for another meal, but I found that sourdough doesn’t survive freezing well.
I will also make a half recipe when I have a smaller amount of the poolish mixture left, or want to use it to make a second loaf of bread or another recipe.
1 ¾ c. (420 g.) 2% milk, warmed to 120°F
4 Tbsp. (56 g.) olive oil
½ c. (113 g.) fresh sourdough starter (from the poolish mixture)
1 tsp. (6 g.) Kosher salt
1 ¾ c. (250 g.) all-purpose flour
Additional 2 ⅔ c. (380 g.) all-purpose flour, reserve ⅓ c. (50 g.)
Heat the milk in a large glass measuring cup in the microwave on half power for 1 minute. Use a kitchen thermometer to test the temperature of the milk. Avoid overheating, as it will kill the yeast. If a skin develops on top, remove it and let the milk cool to 120°F.
Once the milk reaches 120°F, stir in the olive oil and sourdough starter. Mix until it is well combined.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ c. (250 g.) all-purpose flour, and Kosher salt. Fold in the yeast and milk mixture until it is completely combined. It will be very sticky at this point.
Begin adding 2 ⅓ c. (330 g.) all-purpose flour, ½ cup at a time. Use your hand to knead it into the dough until it becomes soft and pulls away from the bowl and your hands. If the dough is still too sticky, add the ⅓ c. (50 g.) of your reserved flour 1 Tbsp. at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.
Place the dough into a well greased bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and place in a warm location. Allow the dough to rise for 6 to 8 hours, until doubled in volume.
Bake the pizza.
Make garlic infused olive oil to brush on the crust before baking. Crush and mince 2 to 4 cloves of garlic and add them to 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. I make this at least an hour before I’m ready to make the pizza. After you brush the oil on the crust, use the minced garlic in your pizza sauce or homemade marinara.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Position one rack near the bottom of your oven, and one in the middle. Once the dough has doubled, divide it into halves to make a or Chicago-style crust. Use the whole recipe for a deep-dish pizza. Divide it into fourths to make thin crust pizzas.
Regular Crust Pizza
For a regular crust, toss, roll, or pull the dough to fit your pizza pan. It cooks well on a baking stone, if you have one. Once your oven has preheated, shape one half of the dough for each pizza pan or stone.
Brush the dough with garlic infused olive oil and place the pan on the lower rack of your oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and top with your favorite pizza sauce, toppings and cheese. You can make your own pizza sauce with one 8-oz. can tomato sauce, ½ tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. oregano, ¼ tsp. Kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper for each pizza.
Once you have topped your pizza, return it to the middle rack of your oven for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut it into slices and serve.
Chicago-Style Crust Pizza
Chicago-style pizza is baked in a cast-iron skillet. Heat your skillet in the oven as it preheats. Carefully remove the skillet from your oven and press one half of the dough into the skillet. Be sure to push some up the sides to make a high crust around the edges.
Brush the dough with the oil and place the skillet on a middle rack in your oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven and top with your favorite toppings. Use lots of cheese. Return it to your oven for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Slice and serve.
Deep-Dish Crust Pizza
For a deep-dish pizza, place the whole recipe in a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish, or pan. I prefer to use glass because I can see the bottom of the crust. You can use metal or stoneware, too. Shape the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the pan and brush with the oil.
Place the pan on the bottom rack of your oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven and top the pizza with your favorite toppings. Return it to the middle rack in your oven and bake an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese melts. Slice into squares and serve.
Thin Crust Pizza – My family’s favorite
Toss or roll a fourth of the dough into the shape of your pizza pan or stone. This stretches the dough very thin, so it gets very crispy on the bottom. Brush it with oil before baking.
Put the pan onto the bottom rack in your oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with your favorite toppings. Bake an additional 10 minutes on the middle rack until the cheese is bubbling and the edges are browned.
Happy February 9th – National Pizza Day!
Although my friend has moved away, and my neighborhood is no longer filled with young children and families enjoying the outdoors, I still enjoy my friend’s dough pizza recipe.
Any way you chose to make it, you will too.
Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.