Today I made my first whole wheat sourdough pizza, adapting the King Arthur Flour Sourdough Pizza recipe. I chose this one because it uses unfed starter, saving a few hours time if you’re hungry and want a pizza the same day.
Here’s the finished pizza, sizzling hot from the oven.
The recipe calls for adding instant yeast, but I omitted it, with no ill effects. Intent on learning to make breads from wild yeast sourdough starter, I took the risk.
In addition to cutting the yeast, I also omitted the optional “pizza dough flavoring,” and replaced the unbleached flour with 100 percent organic whole wheat flour. I’m so glad I did. My dough is tasty and rich.
King Arthur tells us to knead the dough in a stand mixer, on medium speed, for seven minutes. My KitchenAid could not handle the dough on medium. I cut the speed to 2, as for bread dough. I suspect it’s the heavier whole wheat that strains the machine.
After seven minutes kneading, the dough seemed heavy. When I stretched it a bit, it felt tough and rubbery. I continued kneading another five minutes or so, stopping to do the windowpane test every two minutes until I got a relatively translucent film that did not tear, indicating the gluten was well-developed.
Following the recipe, I kneaded the dough briefly by hand, shaped it into a ball and rolled it in an oiled bowl before setting it in the oven, away from drafts, to double. Here’s the procedure, in photographs, except for the mixing and rolling phases, which I neglected to snap.
This recipe makes enough dough for two 12-inch, thin-crust pizzas or one 14-inch thick-crust pizza. Using my chopper/scraper (this is the one I love, and it costs less than $5), I divided the now-doubled dough in two and shaped both into balls, then flattened them into rounds.
For just the two of us, one 12-inch pizza is plenty, so I refrigerated one of the dough rounds for “leftovers” later this weekend. Then I dusted my pizza peel generously with corn meal and laid the other in the center.
King Arthur advises us to use a pizza pan, but I like to bake pizza directly on a stone, so I’m doing the last rise on the pizza peel. This was my first attempt at using a bona fide pizza peel, which I picked up today. In the past, I’ve used a cutting board, but the arthritis in my hands sometimes makes holding the board difficult, when I attempt to slip the pizza onto the hot baking stone. I’ve dropped a few, and they weren’t pretty. What a mess! I’m happy to report my new wooden pizza peel worked just fine.
As for the dough, I tried to nudge it into a nice round shape with my hands, as the recipe suggests, but wasn’t getting anywhere, so I took my rolling-pin and gently rolled it out in just a couple of minutes. The dough didn’t quite fill my 12-inch wide board, so I let it rest fifteen minutes, then came back and rolled it the rest of the way without a hitch.
Laying a plastic vegetable bag over the peel to keep it moist, I set the timer and checked it after thirty minutes. It had risen slightly and felt a little softer under the pads of my fingers.
With my pizza stone in the oven in the center rack, I set the oven to preheat at 450 degrees Fahrenheit and set the timer for 30 minutes. This long preheat assures the stone is good and hot when I slide the pizza onto it.
While the oven heated, I grated my cheese, washed and dried my spinach, cleaned and sliced the tomatoes and garlic and drained an ounce of Feta.
The timer dinged. The oven was hot, hot, hot! Quickly adding the prepared toppings (Mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, feta, in that order), I grabbed the peel with two hands and slid the pizza into the oven. The peel worked! No crumpled, smooshed pizza this time. I set the timer for eight minutes and gave myself a little break.
Ding! Using the pizza peel once more, at the half way mark I turned the pizza 180 degrees, and set the timer for eight more minutes. I cleaned up the mess and set the table, all ready for sizzle and mouth-watering flavor.
If you think this pizza looks good, you should taste it! I will tweak my recipe a bit and share it with you all one of these days. But don’t wait for the recipe. You know what you like on a pizza. Wing it!