Is anyone called a sourpuss any more? I certainly was in my youth, either by my classmates or by my older siblings. Perhaps that would be called bullying today - it certainly seemed like it 'way back then.
These days, however, sour is good and I probably wouldn't resist the moniker. I love plain yogurt and I delight in cornichons and pickled onions. And, when a pal gives me sourdough starter for the second time (I killed the first batch with neglect), I get busy and use it.
We've been enjoying pizzas made at home, and the amount of starter that I was gifted was just about the right amount for two personal size pizzas, so I followed the recipe and rolled it out thinly before topping.
This time, I went "gur-may" with my toppings. I used fresh mozzarella, fresh sautéed crimini mushrooms, and diced, crisped pancetta on one half and spicy Italian sausage on the other. I could hardly believe what an amazing difference those ingredients made. The crust was crisp-chewy with a delightful sour tang. The cheese was super oozy, the simple essence of "dairy" - just the way I like it, even if the bottom of my oven is now smoking from the cheese that ran over the edge of the pizza and self immolated on the oven floor. The mushrooms were rich with funky fungal flavor and I honestly couldn't decide which meat I preferred - they were both out of this world.
The only down side of this sourpuss pizza is that it has spoiled me for ordering delivery from the pizza place down the hill.
Sourdough Pizza Crust, thanks to Jim Sartain
1-1/2 cups mature sourdough starter
1-1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 450F. (Some people prefer hotter. Try 550F if your oven will take you there)
Mix ingredients, working in the flour until you have a soft dough (I used my KitchenAid mixer to mix and knead in one step). If the dough gets too dry, add some more starter. If you've used all the starter, add a bit of water.
Knead dough, cover and let rise for 1/2 hour. This lets the dough relax, so forming the pizza is easier. Once the dough has rested, roll out into a flat round shape. Jim rolls his dough on parchment paper, turning the dough 1/8 turn between rolls and only rolling the dough away from him; he says it's easier to make a circular shape that way. If you want thin crust, you'll have a bigger circle.
Once you have a nice, round shell, you can pre-bake it, or top it and bake. To pre-bake, slide the parchment and pie onto a baker's peel, then into the oven. Works better if you use quarry tiles or a baking stone. Bake about 5 minutes - it doesn't take long, so watch carefully. Once the shell is pre-baked, you can cool it and then freeze it, or top it and finish baking*.
When you're ready to top the pizza, rub a bit of olive oil on the surface to keep the crust from getting soggy. Top with your ingredients. (I used fresh mozzarella and it ran over - if you use fresh mozzarella, which I heartily endorse, leave at least an inch between the cheese and the edge of the dough).
Bake for about 10 minutes, but watch carefully to see when the crust gets just brown enough. Pull your incredible, bubbling pizza from the oven using a peel if you have one, cut it in wedges and serve.
*I skipped the pre-baking step and just topped the raw dough after brushing it with a little olive oil. It worked like a champ.