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Sourdough pizza crust is simple to make for two 12-inch pizzas with perfectly chewy, airy, and crisp crusts. Proof and shape your pizza dough balls directly on sheets of parchment paper for easy transferring of the dough onto a hot baking stone in the oven.
One of my favorite things to make with my starter is sourdough pizza dough! Good homemade pizza is a must for us living up in the mountains where restaurants are few and far between.
This recipe is flexible. You can bake the pizzas the same day you start the crust, or refrigerate the dough until the second or third day.
The texture of the crust rivals restaurant personal pizza, with the occasional giant crispy air pocket.
This pizza dough recipe is heavily influenced by Maurizio Leo’s sourdough pizza dough and his method for baking pizza in a home oven.
I quite enjoy his recipe just as it is, but after making it many times, I’ve made my own tweaks and simplified the method.
The recipe calls for a very small amount of diastatic malt powder. This is to help the crust develop and brown properly. You can leave it out if you don’t have any on hand.
With this method, there’s no mess on a rolling pin, my oven, or even on my pizza stone. The dishes afterward are very minimal–a win-win!
You can customize each sourdough pizza with whatever sauce and toppings your heart desires.
Just keep in mind that freshly sliced, torn, or shredded mozzarella will melt much better than pre-shredded cheese.
Sourdough Pizza Crust Baking Schedule
*The strength of your starter, the temperature in your home, and other factors will affect how long each step in the recipe will take.
- Mix and rest: 20 minutes
- Bulk fermentation: 2.5 hours
- Retard in refrigerator (optional): 24+ hours
- Pre-shape and proof: 3 hours 15 minutes
- Shape, top, and bake: 35 minutes
I usually start my dough in the late morning. This gives me time to feed my starter when I wake up in the morning so it can peak before I mix my dough. Then I’ll often proof and bake the same day that I start my crust to have pizza for dinner.
For the times that I choose to refrigerate the dough overnight, I’ll pull it out to proof the next day around 2:30pm to have pizza in time for dinner.
The extra time in the fridge only increases the flavor and development of the dough.
The timing is flexible, though, since you can leave the dough in the refrigerator longer than a day.
You could start the dough in the afternoon or evening on day one, if that works better for your schedule, then leave it in the fridge for pizza anytime on day two or three.
Tips for Making Sourdough Pizza Crust
- The key to the crust’s texture is all in the fermenting/proofing. Over-proofing your dough will prevent your crust from rising well in the oven. Under-proofing will result in a denser, crunchier crust.
- If you don’t own a pizza peel (I don’t), a large wooden cutting board or an inverted half sheet pan will work to transfer your pizza to the oven.
- Make sure to preheat your stone or steel along with your oven to prevent damage. Allow it to stay inside the oven as the oven cools down afterward as well.
- I actually prefer all-purpose flour for this recipe instead of a higher protein bread flour. The crust takes on the right balance between chewiness and airiness.
- Digital kitchen scale
- Medium-sized bowl (a bowl with a lid is helpful)
- Pizza stone or baking steel
- Parchment paper
- Plastic wrap
- Pizza peel (or a wooden cutting board or inverted half sheet pan to transfer pizzas to oven)
- Cooling rack
How to Make Sourdough Pizza Crust – Step-by-Step
Step 1 – Make Sourdough Pizza Crust Dough and Bulk Ferment
You’ll want to start by scaling your ripe sourdough starter, water, kosher salt, and diastatic malt (if using). Stir them together.
Then add your flour and stir until a shaggy dough forms.
At this point I use my hand to knead the dough in the bowl for a couple of minutes until it comes together. The dough should still be fairly sticky.
Place a lid (or tea towel) on the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
Then it’s time to bulk ferment for the next 2.5 hours, or so. I like to set my dough in my turned-off oven with the light on to keep it closer to 75°-80°F.
You’ll want to perform 3 sets of stretch-and-folds every 30 minutes to develop strength in the dough. Stretch around the bowl a couple of times for the first set, and then once around the bowl for the remaining sets.
You can refer to my video below to see how to stretch-and-fold dough:
Then allow the dough to rest for the remainder of bulk fermentation (another 1.5 hours). Your dough should increase in size by about 1/3 its volume.
At this point, you can move on to shaping and proofing, or place a lid (or plastic wrap) securely on the bowl and refrigerate the pizza dough for another day.
(Just remove your dough from the refrigerator for the next step about 3.5 hours before mealtime.)
Step 2 – Form Into Balls and Proof
Turn out your dough onto your countertop and divide it in half with a dough scraper. You shouldn’t need to dust with any additional flour at this point.
Use your scraper to push your first piece of dough against the counter to form it into a tight ball. Try not to degas the dough in the process.
Repeat to form the second piece of dough into a ball. Coat each ball with a thin layer of olive oil. I usually drizzle oil in the same bowl the dough was fermenting in and scoot my dough balls through it.
Place the oiled dough balls in the center of sheets of parchment paper. Cover them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out and set them in a warm place (75°-80°F).
(Again, you can put them on baking sheets in a turned-off oven with the light on for extra warmth, if you need.)
Allow them to proof for 3 hours or until they look puffy and expand out sideways like the picture below.
If you poke the dough with a finger, it shouldn’t feel “tight” anymore. Your finger should leave an indent that springs back slowly when proofing is done.
Set a rack in the top third of your oven, and place a stone/steel on the rack. Then preheat your oven to 525°F (550°F is even better, if your oven has the option).
Note: To avoid damaging your pizza stone (or steel), make sure you put it in your cold oven and allow it to preheat with your oven.
The stone/steel insures your crust becomes crispy on the bottom. It will transfer heat to your pizza quickly, giving the crust good rise.
While the oven is heating up, you can begin assembling your pizzas.
Step 3 – Shape Sourdough Pizza Crust
To shape your first pizza, dampen (or lightly flour) your fingers to prevent the dough from sticking to you. I keep a small bowl of water nearby to dip into as needed.
Begin pressing out the dough ball with both hands in a circular shape. Go from the center outwards, stopping before you flatten the outer crust.
You don’t want to deflate the outer crust or pop any air bubbles that come to the surface. Work on pressing the middle of the crust out evenly until your pizza is about 12 inches in diameter.
This method is very beginner friendly. You don’t have to lift the dough from the parchment to shape it or worry about tearing holes in it.
The crust will expand considerably during baking.
(Update 11/19/23: I now prefer to leave the outer crust a bit thinner and the bottom crust slightly thicker. I leave some air intact in the bottom crust by not pressing down so harshly. You can shape according to your own preferences.)
Step 4 – Top Sourdough Pizzas
Add any sauce and toppings you wish, though avoid over-topping to help the pizzas bake evenly.
Sometimes we do pepperoni, Italian sausage with green chilis, or supreme-style pizzas with sauce.
Other times, we stick to slices of mozzarella topped with sliced Campari or halved cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil. Then we add fresh basil and oregano and chili flakes after baking.
Step 5 – Bake Sourdough Pizzas
When your oven is ready, slide your pizza with its parchment onto your pizza peel.
Open your oven and quickly scoot your pizza right onto your hot stone or steel. Close the oven door and bake for 10-12 minutes (6 minutes at 550°F). You’ll know the pizza is done when the crust is nice and brown.
Note: Your parchment paper will be very dark by the time your pizza is baked. Don’t worry. It will not light on fire or release chemicals even when you’re baking higher than the recommended temperature on the package, according to my research and experience.
You can take your crusts even darker than mine if you like them crunchier.
Once you remove your first pizza from the oven, reset your oven temperature and allow it to come back to temperature before you put your second pizza in. This will allow your second pizza to bake up just as well as the first!
Allow your pizzas to cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Then slice and enjoy while they are still warm. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
If you make this recipe and love it, I would be so grateful if you would come back to leave a star rating and a comment. Your feedback is very appreciated!
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