In my book, Generations of Passionate Home Cooking, I explain in detail the process of producing a good sourdough starter/sponge. On the leeners web site they go over the process in some detail using their Goldrush Sourdough Starter. Superior pizza dough is like Nirvana – it is a trifecta of taste, chew, and smell. Like all things exceedingly worthwhile, it requires the best ingredients.
1 1/2 Cup of sourdough yeast sponge
1 Tablespoons SAF Red Instant yeast
Optionally, 2 tablespoons King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor
1 Cup of King Arthur’s Italian-Style Flour (“00” milled) (8.5% protein level) more as required
3 Cup of King Arthur Artisan Organic All Purpose Flour
1 + 1 Teaspoons salt added at two times
Bottled drinking water
Great flavor olive oil
Combine flours and mix well. Early in the morning, pour the sponge (1 ½ cups of it) into your work bowl. Add yeast, half the salt, 1 cup of flour and bottled drinking water until the mix is loose. Let this stand covered with a wet cloth for an hour.
Now stir in 3 cups of flour with the other half of the salt with a paddle or by hand until the dough is still a little sticky. This is moisture dependent. Adding more liquid allows more flour. The flour should be added a little at a time. Add a little more "00" flour if needed
Now hand-knead the dough or mix it with a dough hook setting the speed to low for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is somewhat smooth and elastic. If doing this with a mixer, do not add too much flour. The dough should be somewhat sticky else, it will be too dry. If necessary, add back gradually a little water until the consistency is just right.
Coat the insides of a clean stainless steel or glass bowl with a film of great olive oil. Now turn the dough in it to coat it all over. Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a wet towel and set it in a warm place to rise for an hour, or until it doubles in volume. You may place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. The cold retards the whole operation but an extra day develops further character and nutrition. You pickup where you left off the previous day, once the dough has come back to room temperature.
When double in volume, punch down and knead until the dough is glossy and fully elastic. Cover and let rise again to twice volume. Punch down the dough and divide it with a knife or scissors into four or six equal balls, depending on the size pizzas you are making. Dust dough ball in flour, shake of excess. Roll out dough ball very thin trying to keep the thickness uniform on parchment paper larger than the pizza. You may stack the “blanks” on their parchment paper, one of top of another until ready to make pizza. Assemble pizza per recipe and trim parchment paper to just larger than the pizza. Place pizza and its parchment paper on cooking stone using a batten. Don’t have a batten you say? A double walled cookie sheet is very stiff and will work fine as a batten. You also use the batten to retrieve the cooked pizza by sliding the parchment paper onto it.
Watch video for more information.