Lockdown lunches: how to make sourdough pizza
Consumers have stockpiled essential ingredients during the coronavirus crisis, such as flour and yeast. So FT food writer Tim Hayward shows the FT’s Daniel Garrahan, in the fourth of our lockdown cookery series, how to grow and feed a sourdough starter before turning it into a home-baked pizza
Filmed by Lauren Juliff and Liberty Wright. Produced by Daniel Garrahan and Tim Hayward.
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I love him. But I'm telling you...
So Tim - sourdough - very fashionable, everyone loves it. What makes a perfect starter, and what's the best way to look after it and get it going?
Well, you start off with some flour, preferably, if you can get it, some sort of unbleached flour, so it's still got some natural yeast in it. You add an equal amount of water to that, and you leave it standing around. You can speed that process up by putting in a handful of dried fruit, and it will collect the yeasts in the air and start a sourdough culture moving.
And after a couple of days, it will start to bubble a little bit, and that's your starting point. You feed it with an equal amount of flour and water. Each time I want to feed it, I pour away most of it. 50 to 100 grammes left in the bottom. And then to that I add roughly 200 grammes of flour, 200 grammes of water every time I feed it. And it's one of those things that works really well if you've been doing it all your life.
Which I haven't been doing. I've had mixed results with my starters. There's this one, which was last fed about two days ago, I think, three days ago which I almost poured on my laptop. In fact, I did just pour on the laptop. That's a good start. That's the one that's been fed more recently. It's actually been bubbling over like a magic potion.
The simplest thing that we could do with it, I thought, would be pizzas. Takes away all the fuss about trying to shape the loaf, which is so complicated. So get yourself a bowl. I'm going to use a mixture of strong flour and plain flour.
They've run out everywhere. So I went straight to the bakery. They only sell it in 16-kilo sacks. So I've been distributing to all of my friends and family, anyone who needs it.
How much did you pay for it?
£15 for 16 kilos.
So that is a really, really decent, generous baker you've got there. If he tries to sell it to you for 60 quid
You probably could sell it for 60 quid at the moment.
So we'll put in 150 grammes of strong flour, 150 of plain, 10 grammes of salt, 50 grammes of olive oil. Pour in 200 grammes of your starter.
You say "pour." I wonder where the spoon might...
Spoon is fine.
Well, it's like looking alive, which of course, it is. So what should that take it up to? My maths is terrible.
Zero it every time.
Oh, God, I haven't done that.
So you'd have been on 360.
OK, so I need to get it up to 460?
And the last thing you're going to need is going to be 150 grammes of water.
Zero it every time, of course you should do that.
I love him, but I'm telling you...
Use a fork, or something like that, to just really, really loosely mix that together. And then let it sit for about half an hour. Just knead it until it's good and elastic, and we can come back to it later.
Take your clove of garlic. Cut it across the middle. Empty the garlicky bits out of the top and put them straight into the bottom of your roasting tin.
Pour in two cans of tomatoes on top. You add pepper and salt to that, and a squidge of olive oil. Just give it a really loose stir.
My granddad used to always put sugar in his tomato sauce. Where do you stand on that?
You shouldn't need it with decent tomato.
His tomato sauce was great.
What you can do is a shot of balsamic vinegar. It also adds a little bit of sour. So then just chuck the lot in the oven.
That's so simple. I don't think I'm never going to make a tomato sauce on the hob again.
Mine looks a little black around the edges. Should I be worried about that?
That's fine. Scrape it in.
All of your garlic should have gone completely flat, so you should be able to do this by mashing with a spoon. This sauce is the absolute New York pizzeria. It's like an American standard because you can do it really, really quickly by putting the sauce ingredients in the pizza oven. It's a good, old school sort of catering industry trick. That's it. That's the sauce.
All of our sourdough cultures are different, so they work at different rates. So the rule that we tend to use is, has it doubled in size? Now once yours has doubled in size, it's done its thing.
And then you need to cut it into four pieces and form each of those pieces into a neat ball. You don't have to worry about keeping everything tight and neat doing the shaping bit. Just make them roughly into balls, and then stack them up in a tray and put that tray in the fridge. In the industry, we call this retarding. We're going to retard the dough overnight, and that's going to give it a time to develop better flavours.
Put some flour on the table. Pick up one of your balls. Place it in the middle of the flour. Allow it to use its own weight to kind of stretch out, by passing it from finger to finger. And as soon as you start to get a sort of round shape, put it down on the flour. Pull it out sideways with your fingers.
You've got it. That's good. That's really good. It doesn't take much more than that.
Now if you were an Italian, you'd now throw IT up in the air and catch it. If you get a tear in it, you can squeeze it close. Have you got a peel?
One of those things for shooting a pizza onto a pizza stone.
Oh, yeah, a big shovel thing?
Go get your big shovel thing.
It's way too big for our kitchen. It's absolutely ridiculous. Wait until you see this.
It's perfect. That's a commercial one.
I'm using a circular tin tray. Put some flour on the peel and then put the pizza dough on top of it. And then sort of shuggle it about, just to make sure that it moves on the peel.
So I've got a pizza stone, which, of course, heats the pizza up to a much higher temperature than my oven would do otherwise. Can you do these kind of pizzas just in a regular oven?
Totally. The thinner the steel tray you use, if you're putting it on an oven tray, the better, because that will heat through quicker.
Continuing to stretch it just a little bit around the outside, leaving a slightly raised crust, and now mine's perfectly circular, and I'm very happy with it. Don't put heavy downward pressure on it. Because that way you'll probably tear the base, which we don't want to do. Use a maximum of two tablespoons full. Now sprinkle of black pepper on top.
Cheap stick-block mozzarella. That seems to be difficult to get at the moment, so I got this off-brand burrata. Tear it into little pieces and drop them quite carefully. I've got some particularly fine olive oil floating about - a little squirt of that on top of it. A fresh basil leaf can go on top of there, as well.
Let's give it a little shuggle. It's moving. Do not take it to the oven until you're absolutely positive you can shoot it off.
Ah! It almost slid off the shovel.
OK, let's put them in the oven.
Ah, there she goes. Yeah, that shouldn't take too long, right - five minutes, or something?
Tim, where do you stand on pizza toppings? I always got the sense that the purists think that just cheese and tomato is how you judge whether a pizza is a really good quality.
TIM HAYWARD: I think now we're in lockdown, we need to stop being so damn judgmental. There's a lot to be said for a good Neapolitan pizza, which is very pure, close to what we're making here. But - and if you tell anybody I've said this, I will come to your house and I will kill you and all those you love - but I like ham and pineapple on a pizza.
Sorry, my daughter's just asked if she can be adopted. OK, let's do it. Oh, mate, that's really good. I love your edges. Look, I'm just going to lift mine up.
Let's cut. What you reckon?
That's pretty good.
You should to be able to think now of tweaks you could do to that, because sourdough goes so well with blue cheese, or some slices of pear. You don't have to stick to just Italian. Lahmacun is a Turkish flatbread. Make the base that same way, put olive oil all over it.
Then you crumble seasoned ground lamb over the top of it. Bit Of cumin, some sumac, things like that - bit of zaatar if you have it. When it comes out, you put dots of cream cheese on top of it, or it can work with feta, if you want to. So there's so many different ways you can do it without having to go through the whole routine of - I'm really bored of making sourdough loaves now. I've made 12 bigger than my head. I don't want to do anymore. The base is everything, and you can taste the sour in the base.
You can taste that that's sourdough pizza for sure.