When I posted my thoughts on love and logic in the kitchen a few days ago, you may have noticed the picture that had my sourdough starter. I was feeding it. One of the things I did this past week with sourdough was to make pizza.
But let me roll back a little bit. I read, recently, that people with digestive issues such as IBS will often feel better when they give up commercially-prepared regular breads and switch to only fermented breads like sourdough. I decided to give that a try, so for the next several weeks, I am eschewing any commercial bread and only eating my own homemade, sourdough breads. It is definitely worth a try. In addition, I am lactose intolerant, so I like to control how much cheese is on a pizza. And anyway, it's so hard to find a place that will make a green olives and bacon pizza.
For those reasons, plus the simple pleasure of being responsible for my own food, I usually make our pizzas. I am happy to note that I did not inherit my Mom's pizza-curse: the few times she made homemade pizza? Some distant relative would drop dead! Now that all my rellies are distant, I'm doubly grateful she did not pass that one on to me.
We'll start at the beginning (a very good place to start...name that movie). I let my starter come up to room temp and divided it. I used half for my pizza dough, and the other half was fed and left to ferment a bit before it went back in the fridge for the next feeding.
I love this old brown yard-sale find of a bowl, by the way. I also love that I keep my starter in a repurposed green olive jar. Who else loves greenies on a pizza? Can I hear a hellya?
I added a cup of flour to the remaining starter, and then poured a cup of warm water into my (now empty) starter jar. Swish it around and pour that in, too.
Then I just throw a towel over the top of that and let it rest in a warm kitchen until it's bubbling like the partyers on New Year's Eve:
Meanwhile, I started my pizza dough.
Bear with me here, because I'm not a big recipe kind of cook. I'm more of a pantser, in writing, cooking and in life.
To my starter, I added about a cup of warm water, a little bit of mashed potato (maybe 1/3 cup), about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. You read that right: 1/4 cup of olive oil. I know it seems like a lot, but IMHO, a pizza dough should be a short dough. You want it to have that focaccio-esque chewy richness, and not just seem like a french bread pizza. I also added a teaspoon of regular yeast, because I needed my pizza dough to be ready rather sooner. I realize, of course, that this partially defeats the purpose of the whole only-fermented breads thing, but it's a journey. Right?
In the bowl of my Best Beloved Kitchenaid (BBK), I threw 2 cups of bread flour, poured in the starter-mix mess and started the dough hook on its happy roundy-round.
As the dough mixed and clearly required more flour to become dough instead of batter, I added sprouted-wheat flour, a quarter cup at a time and continued beating, until I had a nice, bouncy dough.
This was about 1/4 cup of flour away from perfect:
Just don't be fooled. Go ahead and let your BBK keep working a while, as unincorporated flour, water or fat can give a dough a more finished look than it should have. You want a dough that is kind of springy, smooth and elastic and with a little sheen from all that olive oil. But it shouldn't be greasy or shiny-looking. There it is, ready to rise in the bowl.
And since we're admiring the dough, check out the bowl: This is the one I mentioned that I bought direct from the potter at a craft fair in Pine, Arizona. Ain't it pretty?
After about an hour, I came back inside and punched down the dough, rounded it and set it for a second rise. I really stink at this because I did not take a picture. All it means is that I washed my hands, made a fist, imagined a politician's face in the middle of the dough and SMACK. OK, I pressed the dough down, then folded the sides up to about 1/3 of the way to the middle, gave it a few turns at kneading right in the bowl. Then I covered it up again and let it think about who was boss.
In another 30-40 minutes, it had doubled again and was ready for shaping and the final rise. If you look close, you can see a second sourdough starter in the background. I'm an animal that way.
Now, some people have the ability to throw a pizza crust, but I seem to be missing that gene. So out comes the rolling pin.
Then some more hand-stretching. For me, it works well to let the dough rest in the pan for 5 or 10 minutes, and finish stretching it. All that handling makes a bread dough get all elastic. If you let the dough relax a bit, it behaves better.
Hey! That's true of me, too!
The next picture is an optical illusion. The pan on the right is much smaller than the pan on the left. The left one is an actual extra-large pan pizza one from Pizza Hut.
I promise I did not pilfer it.
Did I mention I'm really bad at this? I also got no pictures of topping the pizzas.
But here's a tip: sprinkle a bit of shredded mozzarella on the dough before you add the sauce. It helps to keep the crust from getting soggy.
And in case you're wondering, which I'm sure you are, my favorite is Contadina Pizza Sauce.
Sweet Hubs wanted pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives.
I prefer bacon bits and green olives.
Oh, did I mention that I stink at this? Because I also did not get a picture of the finished pizzas.
I guess it's a good thing that I have a real job.