Sourdough Discard Pizza: How to Sourdough-ize a Recipe

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If you’ve hopped on the sourdough pandemic bandwagon, first off, welcome. And whether you’ve baked the bread or quick pancakes or the world’s simplest chocolate cake, you likely now understand what all the fuss is about. But you still may wonder just what else you can bake with either your bubbly starter or the discard left over from feeding it (but probably both).

Fortunately you can substitute sourdough starter for a portion of the flour and water (or juice or milk) called for in many non-sourdough recipes—quick breads, yeast breads, muffins, tortillas, focaccia, pizza and more.

The types of recipes that work best for a starter swap

Because it contains water, sourdough starter works well as an addition to wet recipes, like doughs and batters, although my daughter Charlotte did make sourdough cookies on the weekend with discard and reported back that they tasted delicious. (I’ve added those to my long to-blog list.)

Generally however, if a recipe doesn’t call for liquid—such as a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe—in order to compensate for the water present in the starter that you add, you’ll have to substantially tweak the original recipe.

As you tweak away, keep in mind that if you remove some juice to compensate for the additional water of a starter, the result will taste less sweet. If you remove some milk, the finished product will have a drier consistency without the fat from the milk that’s no longer in it.

For this post, I’ve chosen a simple, foolproof recipe to adapt—pizza dough.

Do the math

Bob wants to add 1 cup of sourdough discard to his favorite pizza dough recipe for bit of sourdough flavor. He uses a 100 percent hydration sourdough starter, meaning his starter contains equal parts flour and water—by weight.

Bob doesn’t own a scale. He wants to try cooking a few things with his new starter before even thinking about buying more stuff. Bob does, however, have this blog post and the following approximate conversions to which he can refer:

sourdough starter: 250 grams ≈ 1 cup stirred down

flour: 125 grams ≈ 1 scant cup

water: 125 grams ≈ ½ cup plus 2 teaspoons

Over time, starter does become runnier as the bacteria and yeast eat the sugars, break down the starter and excrete alcohol, but let’s just keep things simple for Bob. Reading about himself in this post he’s following for his dough has confused him enough as it is.

By the way, when a recipe calls for a certain volume (cups) of sourdough starter rather than weight (grams), stir the starter down to remove the air bubbles before measuring. The air bubbles can easily double the volume—at least. One cup of bubbly starter can deflate to less than ½ cup after stirring.

Now let’s see how Bob will add his 1 cup of discarded sourdough starter to his favorite pizza recipe.

Sourdough discard pizza

Below are the ingredients in Bob’s favorite pizza dough, based on this recipe.

  • 2¾ to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more to grease the proofing bowl

Bob will adjust the above list of ingredients as follows: he’ll add 1 cup of discard and remove both a scant cup of flour and a generous ½ cup of water. His edited list of ingredients now looks like this, with the changes shown in bold:

  • 1¾ to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • scant ½ cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more to grease the proofing bowl
  • 1 cup discarded sourdough starter, brought to room temperature

Commercial yeast versus wild yeast

two types of sourdough pizza dough
Battle of the yeasts

I added sourdough discard to this dough for flavor, not for leavening, hence I kept the commercial baker’s yeast in the recipe. The sourdough starter you remove for feedings and store in the refrigerator does not contain enough yeast to leaven dough. But it tastes good and has fermented for a long time, making it more easily digestible.

I included a naturally leavened sourdough pizza recipe in my book, which will be published in early 2021 (Penguin US and Penguin Canada).

I prefer the very chewy naturally leavened dough. My daughter MK has a medical condition that makes chewing difficult so she prefers this less chewy sourdough discard version. We both love that this pizza dough uses up an entire cup of sourdough discard.

Pizza and French fries

sourdough pizza topped with hummus, potatoes, red onion, hot peppers
Sourdough discard pizza dough topped with hummus, potato, red onion and hot peppers

MK made a batch of very runny hummus last week. She worried that she had wasted beans, expensive olive oil and other ingredients. To salvage it, we spread it on the pizza. The heat of the oven thickened up the hummus (as it will all sauces), creating the perfect consistency. If you want to try this, thin out your hummus with the water you cook the chickpeas in.

I thought potatoes would go well with the hummus (plus we had very few vegetable toppings and use whatever we have on hand during quarantine). I parboiled a peeled potato for about 10 minutes, sliced it thinly, spread the slices across the pizza, brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. So I essentially topped this pizza with French fries. So good! We made this pizza a few times and now need more extra-runny hummus for more pizza.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Sourdough Discard Pizza

Servings: 2 personal-size pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1¾ to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ scant cup warm water 105° to 115°F
  • 1 cup unfed discarded starter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing the proofing bowl
  • cornmeal for sprinkling
  • pizza toppings

Instructions

  • Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a wire whisk or fork to combine.
  • In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Set aside.
  • Once the yeast mixture has become bubbly and foamy, stir in the olive oil and unfed discarded starter.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Knead the dough in the bowl a few times to incorporate the flour. Add more flour if the dough is extremely sticky.
  • Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Grease the bowl with olive oil, return the dough to it and cover with a towel. Let proof for about 1½ hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • If using a baking stone to bake the pizza, place it in the center of the oven. Heat the oven to 500°F for 15 minutes. If you don't have a pizza stone, bake your pizza in a large cast-iron pan or on a baking sheet.
  • Punch down the dough and divide it into two halves. If you want to bake only one pizza, put one ball in the refrigerator in a container and use it within 2 to 3 days.
  • Roll the dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, flatten it out with your knuckles into a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Rest the dough on the back of your fists, hands together. Move your hands apart while simultaneously tossing the dough a few feet in the air. Catch the spinning dough on the back of your fists and repeat until you've formed a circle 9 or 10 inches in diameter. Or if you prefer, roll out the dough with a rolling pin to your desired thickness.
  • Sprinkle the pizza peel, cast-iron pan or cookie sheet with cornmeal. Place the formed dough on the cornmeal and spread on your desired toppings. With a quick flick of the wrist, slip the pizza from the peel onto the baking stone. Or place the cast-iron pan or baking sheet in the oven.
  • Bake for about 8 minutes. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes longer to brown the top. If using the baking stone, slide the pizza peel under the pizza to remove it from the oven.

Notes

  1. Because the dough relies on active dry yeast to rise, bring your discard to room temperature before adding it to the dough. Otherwise the cold temperature of refrigerated discard will slow down the proofing of the dough.
  2. All of my sourdough recipes call for a 100 percent hydration sourdough starter, meaning the starter contains equal parts water and flour by weight (not volume).

5 Replies to “Sourdough Discard Pizza: How to Sourdough-ize a Recipe”

  1. […] Sourdough discard pizza. This recipe uses a cup of discard and makes two, personal-size pizzas. Make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate to use later if desired. Find the recipe here. […]

  2. You have a book coming???? YAY!

    1. Thank you Jane. I do! I will post it all over closer to the pub date 😀
      ~ Anne Marie

  3. Marina Schreiber says: Reply

    1 tablespoon dry yeast? Or 1 teaspoon?

    1. Hi Marina,
      It’s one tablespoon. It sounds like a lot so good idea to double check 🙂
      Enjoy!
      Anne Marie

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