Sourdough Pizzas – As Good As Home Oven Pizzas Get!

Back in July 08, I wrote a post entitled Making Your Own GREAT Pizzas At Home. The title was not an exaggeration. I had experimented with multiple pizza recipes before developing one I particularly liked, and with further tweaking over a period of months was consistently getting results that I was pretty pleased with. My pizzas were on a par with all but one of my favourite local pizzerias, and given the restrictions of a domestic oven, I was chuffed with that.

Naturally, I slipped into evangelical mode and posted my recipe on the web for anyone interested. The response was underwhelming, although a few folk emailed me privately to enthuse after trying the recipe. But there were hundreds of pizza recipes on the web, I reasoned – why should massive tribes of pizza pundits flock to my blog? I sulked vaguely for a short time, then got on with enjoying my home-baked lil’ luverlies.

That was not the end of the story – not by a long way. Driven by a restless and at times self-defeating perfectionism, I continued to experiment with my pizzas, but could not improve on the recipe I posted. Then I happened upon a remarkable site of obsession and instruction that set me back on my increasingly well-padded bum with a jolt: Jeff Varasano’s Famous New York Pizza Recipe. (Update: There is now a doco series being shot about Jeff and his pizza adventures. If you want to check it out and/or subscribe to future Youtube episodes as they’re posted, see here.)

It took all of 20 seconds browsing to conclude that Varasano was a bona fide pizza maniac! He had travelled the world in search of the best pizzas, researched the Italian masters, and wrote in a didactic tone that resisted challenge.

As I pored over the site, it quickly became apparent that the man was no web blowhard. He was obsessed with pizza, and a genuine authority. His quest for the optimum pizza made mine look petty indeed. And one of his paragraphs seemed to point an accusatory finger directly at me!

    There are about a hundred books and internet recipes that claim to give an authentic or secret pizza dough recipe. Oddly, while many claim to be secret or special, they are practically all the same. Here it is in summary. If you see this recipe, run screaming:

    Sprinkle a yeast packet into warm water between 105-115 F and put in a teaspoon of sugar to feed it. Wait for it to foam up or ‘proof’. Add all your flour to a Kitchen Aid heavy duty mixer, then add the yeast and salt. Now mix until it pulls away from the side of the bowl. Coat with oil and leave in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 1-2 hours. Punch down, spread on a peel with some cornmeal to keep it from sticking and put it on the magical pizza stone that will make this taste just like Sally’s in your 500F oven.

I dunno who Sally is, but I do know that the dough recipe Varasano was dissing with such contempt was pretty close to mine! And I had to admit that his claim was correct that the numerous dry yeast pizza dough recipes strewn over the web are, indeed, pretty samey. I had made a few small changes, including adding a little rye to the dough, but really, my tweaks were just tweaks. Now, here was someone claiming he had something different, more authentic, better!

I read the site and re-read it, and the excitement mounted. He was advocating using sourdough starter in the dough! I had recently started baking sourdough bread at home, and was already an addicted breadhead. Anything sourdough was electrically charged for me. Add pizza and the equation was combustible.

On the edge of spontaneous immolation, I spoke sternly to myself. I’d be reduced to smoking ashes soon enough, relatively speaking (which hopefully means a couple of quality decades ahead yet!). So I calmed down to hyper, and set off on a new quest for a home-baked pizza that smashed through the dry yeast barriers to new levels of yumdom.

Jeff Varasano’s recipe was my starting point, and I fully acknowledge him for showing me the way, the truth and the light of home-baked pizzas.

I adhered as closely as possible to his recipe and directions at first, then began to experiment until further tweaks seemed counterproductive. In other words, I think these sourdough pizzas are now about as good as domestic kitchen pizzas get. And yes, I’m gonna share the lurve, right here, right now…

I’ve slightly increased Varasano’s recommended dough hydration, and have adapted his technique to suit my preference for hand-mixing (he uses an electric mixer). This adaptation has necessitated including a small proportion of olive oil in the dough – if anything, I think this enhances the flavour. My topping preparation is also a bit different from Jeff’s.

I stopped short of following his recommendation to tamper with the oven to elevate its maximum temperature to 500C! While I admire and respect that sort of fanaticism, I quietly contend that it is entirely possible to turn out wonderful thin-crust traditional-style pizzas from an unmodded domestic oven. Not charred at the edges and super-light, as is only possible at 500C+, but still up with the best I’ve had at commercial venues, and immeasurably superior to the crappy things franchises like Dominos, Pizza Hut, etc sell by the millions (how’s that for lowering the bar?). Not as good as the incredible thin-crust ones I had from an old woodfired oven pizzeria near the Trevi Fountain in Rome, but not far off, either. I say this not out of boast, but as a pizza tragic (although not on Jeff’s level!) speaking on a wavelength shared by others of my kind. You’ve gotta try this!

Alright, here we go. You’ll need a sourdough starter, which if you’re starting from scratch will take 7 to 14 days to develop to full leavening capacity. Follow the directions here, and you can’t go wrong.

In fact, you may get a whole lot more than you bargained for. An active wild yeast starter is the key to a wondrous new world not only of knockout pizzas, but of home-baked artisan breads and other goodies… if you choose to open that door. I strongly recommend that you do! See these previous posts:
Sourdough Rising – The Home Artisan Bread Baking Revolution
Baking Sourdough Bread At Home: A Beginner’s Guide.



Sourdough Pizza

Equipment:

    Large plastic mixing bowl
    Plastic dough scraper
    Small, round plastic Glad containers (or similar) with lids
    Pizza peel or back of cookie baking sheet
    Pizza stone

Dough Ingredients (1 pizza)
Multiply ingredient weights by however many pizzas you want to make, or re-scale using bakers’ % provided in right column:

Filtered water110 gm68%
Pizza flour (I use Anchor)162.5 gm100%
Salt5 gm (or to taste)2-3.5%
Ripe sourdough starter*15 gm9%
Instant dry yeast0.5 gm (a pinch or two)0.3%
Olive oil 1 tablespoon, or a bit more

*I use a 100% hydration white starter, or rye/white flour starter. The proportion of starter used here is very small, so the starter hydration is not crucial.

Dough Method (as stated, I do all mixing by hand):

    1. Mix all ingredients except salt, cover and rest for 20-40 mins (autolyse).
    2. Add salt, and do 20 or 30 stretch-and-folds in bowl with a plastic dough scraper.
    3. Pour about 1 tbls olive oil on to bench surface, scrape dough on to bench, knead/squelch between fingers and stretch this way and that until oil begins to be absorbed (2-3 minutes). Change kneading method to “air kneading” (slapping dough repeatedly on bench – see youtube demo video below).
    4. If sticking too much during air kneading, add more oil to bench surface and repeat 3.
    5. Repeat 4 until gluten is well-developed and dough is smooth and stretchy (but it will still be quite a wet dough). This should take about 5 minutes in total, but always go by dough feel. Return dough to lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover, and rest 20 mins or so.
    6. Divide dough into however many pizzas you’re making, using a scale to ensure each piece is equal in weight.
    7. Roll into balls and transfer each into its own small lightly oiled plastic container, roll around to cover evenly with oil, and put on lid.
    8. After short rest, transfer to fridge. Retard fermentation in fridge 2-3 days (I prefer 3).



Demo of slap-kneading technique

Watch the entire video and as the gluten develops you’ll see the dough transform from a sticky blob to a lovely, manageable, well-integrated dough.



Preparing pizza

    1. Take dough out of fridge about 1 hour before baking (pre-heat oven and pizza stone to max temperature possible during this time). When dough has returned to room temperature (45 minutes or so, but could be shorter or longer, depending on ambient temperature), empty one dough ball on to moderately floured surface. Forget about showing off that pizza dough tossing technique you’ve been working on – this dough is far too wet for that. Instead, gently and gradually stretch the dough evenly with your fingers, working from the centre out, leaving a small rim at edges. Be firm but not rough – the dough should be very manageable and stretchy, but be careful not to stretch it so thin it tears.
    2. When at the size and thickness you want, transfer to semolina-sprinkled peel (or back of cookie sheet). This transfer process can be a bit tricky. I get my partner to lift one side of dough while I lift the other. It will distort in shape in transit, so re-shape when on peel (not always easy – but who cares if it ends up ‘rustic’ in shape, anyway?). Keep giving the peel a shake to make sure the dough is not sticking. If it does stick, work a little more semolina under the sticking part. It is vital to keep checking that it is not sticking as you put the toppings on. I have made the mistake of assuming a tiny bit of sticking shouldn’t matter, that the weight of the pizza would free it for launching with a bit of jerking of the inclined peel and send it sliding cleanly on to the pizza stone – I was spectacularly wrong! (The stuck part remained anchored to the peel while the toppings and rest of the dough ended up in a mess on the hot pizza stone – try cleaning that up after you stubbornly went ahead and decided it was a sort of open calzone you were baking rather than a pizza!). Yup, if the dough sticks to the peel AT ALL, EDGE SOME SEMOLINA UNDER THE PROBLEMATIC PART UNTIL IT DOES NOT STICK ANY LONGER!!
    3. Drip olive oil over the dough and spread it evenly with your fingers. Next, swirl a bit of tomato sauce over surface and thinly spread. Quickly assemble your preferred toppings. KEEP TOPPINGS LIGHT! Then transfer to pizza stone in maxed-out pre-heated oven.
    4. Bake about 8-10 mins max (note: the thicker the dough and spread of toppings, the longer it will take to bake; I like thin crust pizzas lightly topped, so mine only take 8 mins @ 250C).
    5. I like to serve mine with freshly ground black pepper over the toppings, and scattered with torn basil leaves, with some chopped fresh chillies in quality extra virgin olive oil spooned over.

Toppings:
See: Making Your Own GREAT Pizzas At Home.

And remember, for thin-crust traditional-style pizzas, LESS IS MORE. Load the toppings on and you risk ending up with a soggy, half-cooked pizza. Bake it longer to compensate, and the rim will be over-baked and too brittle.

I don’t take great pics – poor lighting in the kitchen, and I’m too impatient to start eating! These don’t do justice to these pizzas, but will give some idea of the way they turn out.




Yes, the degree of difficulty of these pizzas is higher than that of the dry yeast versions. Yes, the time involved is days, not hours. And yes – it is worth the extra effort!

Tip 1: Try par-baking your olive-oil-spread pizza bases for 2 minutes or so, then remove carefully from oven and put on toppings before returning to oven to complete the bake. Par-baking gives a nice bubbled crust effect.

Tip 2: For last 2 minutes of bake, turn on your griller (‘broiler’ is the term in the States, I think). This will give you a char on the edges, similar to a wood-fired oven (but not as good, since you don’t get the same hint of smokiness in the flavour).

I don’t see myself going back to dry yeast pizza dough, but there is a short-cut alternative for those who might baulk at beginning a wild yeast starter culture just to make pizzas: a biga or poolish, which is basically a starter made using commercial yeast (dry or compressed).

Whether you use a natural or commercial yeast pre-ferment, the secret to more complex, developed flavours is to retard fermentation of the dough overnight or longer in the fridge.

I’m not much interested in exploring the use of a commercial yeast biga. Why would I be, when I have a gloriously active wild yeast starter that I fawn over like a pet and that serves me so well? As ever, though, the choice is yours. Just don’t harbour the delusion (as I did before I knew better) that those dry yeast pizza bases are as good as it gets – they ain’t! Not out of a domestic oven, at least.

Sourdough pizzas are top of the wozzer. Try ‘em!

Find this post useful? Buy me a coffee (if you’d like!).



Related Posts:

  • Baking Sourdough Bread At Home: A Beginner’s Guide
  • Sourdough Rising – The Home Artisan Bread Baking Revolution
  • Making Your Own GREAT Pizzas AT Home
  • Pizza – A Tale Of Evolution
  • Song Of A Baker
  • 52 thoughts on “Sourdough Pizzas – As Good As Home Oven Pizzas Get!

    1. Hi Lance and Rolanstein, I’ve made this dough quite a few times over the last couple of years – it’s a really tasty dough, but I bake in a woodfired oven and it springs right up and the dough taste certainly becomes quite prominent. When I don’t have sourdough starter ready I usually go with Peter Reinhart’s Neo Neapolitan dough, with a 2 or 3 day ferment.

      Regarding tomato: when baking in the wood oven (at well over 400 degrees) I use a raw tomato sauce – put canned diced tomatoes in a colander, put some sugar and lemon juice on top, and let drain for an hour. All the bitter liquid drains out and you are left with a fairly thick and sweet sauce. For a cooler oven I’d probably go with a cooked sauce.

      Cheers, Mick

    2. I’ve baked this pizza in a WFO only once, Mick. You just can’t beat fast-baking at those high temps and the smoky char. And as you say, the lift you get from a WFO is terrif.

      I reckon WFO pizzas taste great, whether the dough is SD or made with dry or compressed yeast, as long as the dough is a good one and your toppings light and appropriate. And I agree that if you’re going with dry or compressed yeast, an extended fermentation will extract maximum flavour from the wheat. Same with SD, for that matter.

      It’s a whole different thang, baking pizza in a domestic oven. Which brings me to your most recent post, Lance.

      Re tomato sauce: I don’t spend much time on this, these days. I often don’t use a tomato sauce topping at all. But when I do, I either spread on some leftover home-made pasta sauce (just a simple Neapolitan style sauce, or for a real treat matriciana), or use a thick store bought passata. I only buy good quality Italian ones. There are some crappy watery brands out there, and if you’re unlucky enough to be stuck with one of those, bring to the boil in a small saucepan and reduce until it’s the right consistency.

      I always sprinkle our backyard dried oregano over the pizza base, which I first smear with EVOO, then I add the tomato sauce if using (thinly spread with fingers). Our oregano is far more pungent and flavoursome than any of that dust you get in jars from the supermarket, so it works a treat, but if you don’t have dried oregano of this quality probably best to incorporate it into a cooked tomato sauce, along with a touch of sugar, sprinkle of salt and pepper, and maybe a bit of garlic. But really, I reckon a simple thick passata works fine.

      It’s true that a domestic oven pizza will give you browned mozzarella, because to cook the base properly you need to bake your pizza for at least 8 minutes in a maxed out oven, with the pizza stone pre-heated for an hour. 8 minutes is too long if you want to avoid that browned cheese effect (and for an authentic pizza, you do!). Obvious strategy: add the cheese half way through the bake. I sometimes do that. A side benefit is that your base gets more of a chance to rise with one less topping on it for the first part of the bake. You want a thin-crust base, but with some rise, and of course a light airy rim.

      Some people bake the base for 2-3 minutes, take it out and add toppings, then put it back to complete the bake. You often end up with a very bubbly base if you do that. I prefer the following:

      Pre-heat your stone close to the top of the oven, then turn on the griller (‘broiler’ if you’re American) for 5 minutes or so to really get some heat into the stone surface. Turn off the griller AND fan, and add your topped pizza, minus mozzarella. Take it out after around 4 minutes, add the mozzarella, and put the pizza back to complete the bake. For the last 1.5 minutes or so, turn the griller back on to get a char on the rim.

      You’ll need to juggle the timing to get the cheese and char right, but in time you’ll work it out. The above is the best method I’ve tried – turns out pizzas most closely resembling WFO ones. Close, very close, but not quite the same effect!

      Re the retarded doughs not crisping up as well as others, I think the most important factor is to ensure you give the dough enough time out of the fridge to rise, before shaping and baking. Try doubling the time you’re giving these doughs and see if that does the trick.

      There are many factors involved in a good pizza. It’s deceptively simple. I’ve found the flour makes a huge difference. I went through every flour available here, including the Italian Tipo 00 ones, before I realised that the best flour for me was sitting under my nose. It’s a local one called Allied Mills Superb. I’d heard about it, but wasn’t motivated to try it until I discovered that it is the flour of choice of the best of the local pizzerias. Once I used it, I soon saw why! Plus it’s only available in bulk, warehouse direct, so it’s MUCH cheaper than those piddly little packets at the supermarket.

      So, see if you can find out the flour your favourite local pizzeria uses, and track that down. You might be surprised.

      It’s difficult to zone in on things you might improve without knowing more. Next bake, could you take some pics, including a cross-section shot of a piece of sliced fresh-cut pizza (as per my second-top pic in my post above)? That might offer some clues.

      Don’t give up! The flavour of this dough is very good if you get everything right. That said, I’ve gone back to the dark side and tried dry yeasted doughs from time to time, and they can be lovely, also. I do think they’re generally lighter than this SD dough. It would be a pity if you abandoned this SD version before you tasted it at its best, though.

      And BTW, one little tip. If you’re finding the high hydration dough hard to handle, add a little – and I mean a little – more flour to the mix. I’ve found a slightly less wet dough works a bit better in a domestic oven in terms of rise and lightness. For WFOs, I suspect the high hydration really comes into its own, though. That seemed to be the case with my sole WFO pizza bake, at least. Maybe Mick can add some thoughts on this…?

      Cheers!
      rolanstein

    3. Mick & Rolanstein,
      Many thanks for your comprehensive responses. You have both given me lots of things to think about for my future pizza making. I might just give Mick’s suggestion of the Neo-Neapolitan a go and try and perfect that before returning to sourdough bases.
      I often wish I had a WFO, but no doubt this would bring its own variables, and to be brutally frank to myself, Lancashire weather is not the most conducive to outdoor cooking!
      Rolanstein, interesting what you say about Oregano – I’ve noticed a fair bit of variation in quality, even amongst the bought ones. The best I ever had was one we bought in Portugal, of all places. I think it had been freeze-dried, which seems to preserve the flavour much better.
      We’re off to Greece on holiday next week, so I’ll see what’s on offer there!
      Fair comment about pictures; let me produce something I’m a bit prouder of and I will put it up.
      All the Best,
      Lance

    4. Just a quick one, Lance. The Greek oregano is the best I have encountered. Very strongly flavoured and stunningly aromatic. I’d be loading up on that while over there!

      Cheers!
      rolanstein

    5. I just want to add that I also use Allied Mills Superb, and imported Greek dried oregano :)

      Moving in a few Weeks so may need to build a new WFO.

    6. Thanks for sharing this recipe – I have never been satisfied with my breadmaker dough pizzas and recently got into breadmaking by hand with a sourdough starter. I found this recipe at the perfect time, and now it’s my go-to pizza dough that we eat every week or two.

    7. Thanks a lot for your kind acknowledgement, Raewyn. I’m chuffed that you rate the recipe so highly that it’s now your go-to. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised by your response. There’s no doubting the superior flavour yielded by natural leaven and extended fermentation.

      I am fortunate, I guess, to have started my pizza and bread-baking by hand, and never to have owned a breadmaker. I have tasted a few breads made by people using breadmakers, and IMO none have come close to good hand-made home sourdough bread (assuming, of course, top quality flour is used). Then again, I have to admit to being a sourdough nut. And it’s certainly not the case, of course, that all breads and pizzas using commercial yeast are mediocre. I do think extended fermentation is vitally important though, whether using dry or fresh commercial yeast, or natural leaven.

      All the best with your pizzas and bread, Raewyn!

      Cheers
      rolanstein

    8. Hi. Thanks for compiling this great recipe. I’m just about to pop mine in the fridge for the “retarded fermentation” part of the process. Just wondering though, why such little starter? I have a very mature wholemeal starter but I thought the salt kills off the bacteria in the starter in the same way chlorinated water kills off the bacteria, so the sourdough only gets to feed of the flour for 40 minutes before it get clobbered in the head by the salt. Am I missing something?

    9. Hi Dan. Good on you for giving this a go. Lemme know how it turns out.

      The salt in these small quantities isn’t so toxic to SD bacteria that it kills them – it just slows down their activity, and that’s what you want – an extended fermentation to bring out all the flavour in the grain. Retarding the dough in the fridge also extends the fermentation by slowing it down.

      As for the small percentage of leaven, it’s all a matter of getting the flavour profile and texture you’re after. Every component of the SD process has the potential to affect the end result. For such a simple end product the complexity en route is astonishing. The good news is that near enough can be far superior to most commercial products, as long as you get the most important stuff right.

      Cheers!
      rolanstein

    10. Brilliant. Thanks for clarifying – will report back after Sunday and let you know how it all went. Looking forward to it.

    11. Just reporting back. Overall my attempt was pretty successful. My domestic gas oven was a huge limitation and my pizza’s were wonderfully crispy on the bottom but not on top so I had to finish under the grill to crisp the top. I was happy with the flavour but will add more salt this time as I was too gentle before as I was afraid I would kill off the starter. If I had one complaint with my pizza it was that there was not enough air in my dough so I might need to do some more air kneading. I hope to bring this to a commercial level eventually so this is the first of many attempts. I’m using a wholemeal starter and I wonder If I should be using a different flour to enhance the flavour. BTW, I retarded my dough for 4 days, will try 3 next time.

    12. Dan, your flour is crucial. Are you in Australia? If so, I really don’t think you can go past the Allied Mills Superb (see comments thread above). Otherwise, might be time to start trying out some of the Italian ‘OO’ pizza flours. Tip: I recommend finding out which flour(s) your favourite pizzeria uses and start with that.

      Also, the shaping is crucial. When you took your dough out of the fridge, was it well aerated and moussey? It should have been. If so, any lack of airiness in your crust would have been due to the way you handled the shaping. I’ll wait for some feedback from you before expanding.

      4 days should have been fine as a retardation period, but I don’t think you need to go longer than 3, or even 2. Longer doesn’t mean better flavour development past a certain point.

      My pizzas are all white, including the starter, but given the small amount of starter in this dough, I don’t think your using a wholemeal starter is significant to your end result.

      Finally, sounds to me like your oven is not getting to a high enough temperature. Can you buy a thermometer and measure the heat you’re getting? Are you using a pizza or baking stone?

      Cheers
      rolanstein

    13. Hi rolanstein, Yes, I’m in NSW, I’m using Lighthouse (anchor foods) high protein pizza flour and my dough had a nice bubbly mousse style texture that you mention. Looks like my shaping may be an issue, I’m kind of winging it. I’m using a metallic non stick baking tray with heaps of holes in it. I’ll look into the thermometer and see what I can get a reading. Thanks so much for all your help

    14. Dan, I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the Anchor Lighthouse flours. See if you can track down a 12.5kg bag of Allied Mills ‘Superb’, or whatever your fave pizzeria uses. Believe me, flour makes a big difference.

      Also, go and buy yourself a pizza stone. It’s a small outlay that makes a significant difference. I usually pick them up for $5-$8 on special, and keep a spare. One lasts me about a year, but I do a lot of baking – not just pizzas but bread and other stuff. Probably average 3-4 bakes per week at maxed out oven temps. If you do less than this, a stone will probably last you 2 years plus. Apart from a dough scraper, it’s about as good an investment as you’re likely to make as a home baker.

      There’s a link to a video on pizza shaping I think you might find useful. Gimme a bit of time to see if I can find it, and I’ll post it here.

      Cheers
      rolanstein

    15. Hi rolanstein,
      Just wondering, what happens to your pizza stones that they fail? These days I don’t bake on mine much since going gluten-free/“paleo” a couple years ago, I just do gluten-free pizzas about once a month.

      But before that I was baking big batches of sourdough bread once a week, 5-6 loaves per batch, plus pizza fairly often. This was at maxed out oven temp (530 F). And my stones have lasted for years!

    16. G’day Mike. My stones just crack apart after a year or so. Might be 1.5 years, even (I don’t have a good sense of chronology!), but certainly less than 2. One of them cracked in two as I took it out of the oven cold, the others I just found cracked in half sitting cold in the oven after a bake.

      No idea why yours last so long. Maybe you buy better quality stones than I? My last one was Avanti, cost $5 on special. I can’t remember the other brand I’ve had, but I’ve never paid more than $8 (always on special). Just curious – what’s your brand?

      I notice bakers in the States complaining about the expense of their stones – seems they go for around $30 over there. Not always the case that pricier = better, but I guess that means they’re better quality than the ones I buy here.

      Cheers!
      rolanstein

    17. Dan, I found the pizza shaping video I was referring to. Check out pizza master Gabriele Bonci in action:

      He’s doing a different style and shape of pizza, but his shaping technique is spot on I’ve found (I sprinkle on less flour than he does, though). Study his method here, and apply it to your own pizza shaping, and you’ll get that lovely airy crust you’re after.

      Cheers!
      rolanstein

    18. Sensational. Thanks so much. I’ll check out that Allied Mills flour you mention and I’ve just bought a stone. Looking forward to perfecting my dough.

    19. Thanks for the info rolanstein. I live in Winnipeg, Canada. I have a circular pizza stone which I think was about $20, it’s about 1cm thick. And a big rectangular one that is slightly smaller than my oven rack (great for baking 3 loaves at once) which I ordered from New York Bakers for around $60. The rectangular one is 20″x16″/50x40cm and 2cm thick (great heat retention). For North Americans reading this, you can get it here: http://nybakers.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=8&products_id=11&zenid=40058559ae6e9101e4f363d71062519e

    20. Aha! My stone is 0.5cm thick and 33cm in diameter, so there’s the explanation for the differences in longevity twixt your stones and mine. Still, at $5 per throw, I’m happy enough to get a year+ outta mine.

      That said, your stones sound like top quality jobs, Mike, and no doubt worth the outlay. Thanks for the clarification on this matter.

      Cheers
      rolanstein

    21. Have made huge progress since my last post. The stone has been an invaluable purchase and I’m really happy with the taste of my dough and the crispness of it. I still have not sourced the “superb” flour but I will keep and eye out. The only thing I’m struggling with is transferring to the stone from my bench. I noticed a lot of commercial pizzerias use a thing aluminium tray to create the pizza and then just pop it on the stone. Seems like it would save a lot of hassle. What’s your view on this o wise one?

    22. Good to hear of your progress, Dan.

      I use a wooden peel ($5 on special) to lay the shaped dough on, top it, and transfer the pizza to the stone in the oven. Of course, the dough will stick to the peel unless you take measures to stop this happening. I sprinkle the peel liberally and evenly with semolina before loading the shaped dough on to it. The semolina functions like tiny ball bearings, allowing the topped pizza to slide easily on to the pizza stone. Only downside is that you end up with burnt semolina (I wipe it off the stone with a teatowel between pizzas, which at least transfers the remnant semolina to the bottom of the oven).

      Tip: If using semolina, give the pizza a shake from time to time to ensure there are no areas that stick due to uneven spread of “ball bearings”. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a tiny area of sticking will come loose when you load the pizza on to the stone – it won’t, and you’ll end up with a mess dumped on your stone!

      Alternatively, you can simply load the shaped pizza dough on to baking paper, top your pizza, then slide the baking paper on to the back of a cookie sheet or similar before transferring it to the stone. I use this method with bread (but with my peel instead of a cookie sheet), and whip the baking paper out as soon as the dough has baked enough to “let go”. Would do the same with pizza.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers
      rolanstein

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