Sourdough pizza and dough balls

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After years of experimenting with different types of pizza this is the one that I’ve settled on. At least for now! Main components:

  • Sourdough pizza dough. Recipe below, based very closely on my super-simple sourdough recipe. This is really low effort and makes a great, easy to shape dough, that works brilliantly for both pizza bases and doughballs.
  • Dan Lepard’s frying pan tomato sauce.
  • Garlic butter (for the dough balls). No recipe needed. Butter, fresh garlic and lots of chopped fresh parsley.
  • Toppings of your choice.

A note on quantities…

  • The pizza dough recipe below makes two 12″ pizzas and a batch of dough balls.
  • I find that we need ~90g of tomato topping per pizza. You don’t want to put too much sauce on, or you will end up with soggy bases! The frying pan tomato sauce recipe makes lots more than this which is great because I freeze it in pre-weighed batches and then only have to make the sauce once every few times that we make pizza.
  • I also find that I use about 200g of Mozarella per pizza.

Top tips

  • Pizza making is definitely a time that it pays to clear your worksurface to give yourself plenty of space and to be organised. Make sure that all your toppings are prepared and at hand before trying to top your pizzas!
  • Make sure that the tomato sauce isn’t too wet. Wet tomato sauce = soggy bases 🙁
  • Pizza stones to bake on, in the oven and well preheated in advance.
  • Non-stick reusable baking sheet (/ cooking liner) . The thin brown stuff that comes in rolls and you can cut to length, rather than the thick flexible rubber stuff. You can make up the pizza bases on a heavily floured tray and then slide them direct on to the baking stone in the oven, but I find this to be hit and miss as to whether they stick / transfer nicely. Instead I make them on baking sheets and then slide the baking sheet + pizza direct on to my pizza stones. The paper makes transfer trivial, but is thin enough that the pizza still benefits from the heat of the stone.

Sourdough pizza dough

Quantities below make two pizzas (~12″) and about 16 generous doughballs. We find it’s just right for two adults and two kids.

Technique for making the dough is all as per my standard sourdough recipe and I won’t repeat the details here. The only difference is the quantities, and the fact that I add some olive oil when I mix up the final dough. Timings assume that you want to bake pizzas in the evening.

Poolish (made the night before)

  • 230 g white flour
  • 230 ml water
  • dessertspoon of starter (straight from the fridge).

Main dough (mixed in the morning once the poolish is nice and bubbly)

  • Poolish from above
  • 230 g white flour
  • 100 ml water
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 8 g salt

Mix all the ingredients together and then stretch and fold three times over the next hour. Leave to rise until doubled in size. Divide and shape into 3 equal sized balls, place on a well floured baking sheet, and put in the fridge. Ignore the fact that there are four balls in the photo, I was making a larger batch when this was taken!

Dough balls

About an hour before you want to eat, remove one of the balls of dough form the fridge and place on a well floured surface and gently stretch it out just a little without deflating it.

Then using a dough scraper, chop into about 16 rectangular / triangular pieces and transfer these to a well floured baking tray. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for half an hour. If you really want round dough balls then you can shape them into rounds instead, but… The dough is quite sticky so this is hard work; it’s not possible to do without knocking a lot of the air out so the dough will then need more time to prove before baking; frankly we like the less conventional shapes!

Bake in a very hot oven (200-250 degrees C) with a tray of water in the bottom to create steam for 10-15 minutes (keep an eye on them — cooking time will vary a lot depending on how hot your oven is). Eat whilst warm with lots of garlic butter!

Shaping the pizza bases

I use coarse semolina to help shape my pizza bases. Sorry — no photos yet. I’ll try and take some next time!

  • Make a generous pile of semonlina on the worksurface.
  • Take a ball of dough direct from the fridge and press it out with your knuckles on the semolina.
  • Turn it over and repeat until it is about tea plate sized.
  • Now you should be able to pick it up and stretch it over the backs of your hands whilst rotating it to stretch it out into the shape and size that you want.
  • At this point, per my tip above, I place it on to non-stick baking paper to make it easy to transfer into the oven.


Now you just need to assemble your pizzas and bake. Be creative, but don’t add too much topping however tempted you might be!

Bake in a super hot oven on pre-heated baking stones whilst you eat the dough balls 🙂 I find cooking typically takes 8-12 minutes but it will vary a lot based on just how hot your oven gets so keep an eye on them! If you’ve used the baking sheets then you can remove from the oven by just sliding a flat tray back underneath. The only bit that can then be tricky is getting the pizza off the sheet — this is where it helps if your tomato sauce wasn’t too wet and you didn’t overload the pizzas…

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