Sourdough Pizza Dough for High-Temp Ovens

Flour, water, salt, and yeast

This is the sourdough equivalent of the yeast-leavened recipes I just developed for Serious Eats (which should be out sometime in early December), and it is a direct descendant of the indoor-oven one I published here last year.

You’ll note the lack of “extra” ingredients like oil, sugar, or diastatic malt, each of which are avoided because in they promote browning excessively in compact, high-temperature ovens, where they need no help whatsoever. When I first started using my Ooni, my pies were all burning on the rim before the toppings were cooked or the underside was crisp. And since I’d used my other doughs plenty in larger wood-fired ovens without issues, I assumed that the fault was with the oven and not me.

What I didn’t realize until late in the game, was that despite reaching comparable temperatures, there is one BIG difference between tabletop ovens and wood-fired ones: real estate. In a WFO, you can set the pie at a distance from the fire, so that the reflected and radiant heat from the fire is tempered. But in a compact oven like an Ooni, the pie can’t help but be inches from the fire. Which is why you especially need to avoid any ingredient that promotes browning.

Because the dough lacks the tenderizing benefits of a little oil, I think this recipe works best with a lower-protein “bread” flour like King Arthur AP, and with a touch of instant yeast to limit acidity. But you can try higher protein flours or leave the yeast out if you like.

—Andrew

Ps. I’ll be skipping this week’s Friday Bread Basket because of the Slab Class happening that day and because of the long weekend. See you all at the class or next week, when we’ll jump into holiday bread season.


Sourdough Pizza Dough for High-Temp Ovens

(PDF version)

Makes 900g dough, for three 300g (~12-inch) or four 225g (~10-inch) pies

  • The levain build step is given for reference, but you can build it however you like. Just be sure to use it at the peak of ripeness.

  • Using a pinch of instant yeast in the dough will give the dough a slightly lighter texture and is optional here. (I'd recommend trying it both ways. Sourdough contains the same yeasts in commercial yeast, so you are really only “supplementing” the amount by doing so. I personally prefer the more-tender texture that a little commercial yeast provides.)

  • You can also mix the dough in steps 2 & 3 in a stand mixer on low speed.

  • As usual, these doughs are nice from 24 to 96 hours after placing into the fridge, but I think they are at their peak in the middle of that range (ie 2-3 days in).

Overall Formula

100% high protein all-purpose flour, such as King Arthur, or a similar protein OO flour

5% rye (or other whole-grain) flour

0.125% instant yeast (optional)

67% water

2.2% salt

25% 100%-hydration levain

Levain Build

55g high protein all-purpose flour

55g water

27g ripe sourdough starter

Final Formula

440g high protein all-purpose flour

27g rye flour

135g ripe, 100% hydration levain (from above)

290g water

0.6g (1/8 teaspoon) instant yeast (optional)

12g (2 teaspoons) sea salt

  1. For the levain: Mix flour, water, and levain, (aim for a DDT of 78˚F) and let sit at 78˚F until at least doubled in volume, 4 to 8 hours. (Alternatively, increase flour and water to 75g each, reduce levain to 5g, and let sit for 12 to 14 hours until about doubled.)

  2. For the dough: Whisk flours and yeast (if using) in a medium bowl. Place the water in a second medium bowl; scoop out about 1 teaspoon (~5g), and set it aside. Add the levain to the remaining water and stir to combine. Add half of the flours to the liquid mixture and stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until evenly mixed and no dry flour remains. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir until mostly combined. Working in the bowl, knead the dough by hand until evenly mixed and no dry flour remains. Cover and let sit 30 minutes.

  3. Add the reserved water and salt to top of dough and knead by hand in bowl until thoroughly combined and even in texture, 1 to 2 minutes (once again, aim for a DDT of 78˚F).

  4. Cover and let sit for 3 hours at 75˚F (dough will likely not rise appreciably during this time). During this time, using wet hands, do 3 sets of folds at around 60, 120, and 150 minutes.

  5. Transfer dough to a lightly-floured countertop and divide into four pieces of about 225g each (for 12-inch ovens) or three pieces of about 300g each (for 16-inch ovens). Form each into a smooth, round ball. Coat the exterior of each dough ball lightly with oil and place in a 4 to 6-inch wide round takeout container or on a lightly-oiled tray, spaced at least 2 inches apart, covered loosely but completely. Refrigerate doughs for at least 24 hours or up to 4 days.

  6. Remove dough balls from the fridge and allow to warm up, covered, 1 to 2 hours before baking. (Exact timing depends upon ambient temperatures; dough should reach at least 60˚F before stretching and baking.)

  7. To bake: Preheat pizza oven to ~800˚F. Coat dough balls thoroughly with flour, then transfer to a well-floured surface. Stretch to the intended dimensions (10 inches for 225g balls and 12 inches for 300g ones), place on peel, top, and transfer to oven. Bake, rotating the pie 1/4 turn as soon as the quarter closest to the flame begins to brown, about 30 seconds. Repeat until last quarter has browned completely, about 2 minutes total.