Sourdough Neapolitan Pizza

Sourdough pizza, also known as sourdough Neapolitan pizza, is a timeless fusion where the intricate art of sourdough encounters the timeless allure of Neapolitan-style baking. In an age dominated by immediate satisfaction, this culinary masterpiece transports us to an era where the essence of baking lay in the delicate balance of flavor and the artful embrace of patience.

The Rise of Modern Commercial Yeast

Modern commercial yeast, born out of the necessities of World War II, revolutionized baking by providing a quick rise that transformed the industry. Its invention by the US military marked a departure from the slow fermentation process, setting the stage for a bread and pizza landscape dominated by convenience. While undeniably practical, commercial yeast sacrifices some of the nuanced flavors and the inherent romance found in traditional starter-based baking. In the rich tapestry of pizza history, the evolution of naturally leavened doughs is not merely a culinary detail but a pivotal chapter, showcasing the deep-rooted connection between pizza and the time-honored tradition of sourdough fermentation

What Is Sourdough Pizza?

Sourdough pizza, a harmonious blend of sourdough’s complexity and Neapolitan tradition, offers a taste experience unlike any other. In short: yes, sourdough pizza is absolutely worth trying and offers an amazing flavor profile that is more complex and delicious than a typical delivery place. From the signature leopard-spotted crust to the delicate balance of flavors, discover why sourdough pizza is a culinary journey worth embarking upon.

Sourdough Pizza Dough

So what is sourdough pizza? Sourdough pizza is a distinctive style of pizza that is crafted using a naturally leavened dough, known as sourdough. Unlike traditional pizza dough, which often relies on commercial yeast for fermentation, sourdough pizza dough is made using a sourdough starter—a mixture of flour and water that captures wild yeast and beneficial bacteria from the environment.

The sourdough fermentation process involves allowing the dough to rise and develop flavor over an extended period, typically ranging from several hours to several days. This slow fermentation not only contributes a unique tangy flavor to the dough but also enhances its texture and digestibility.

The resulting pizza crust tends to be chewy, with a complex flavor profile that goes beyond the simple taste of flour and water. Sourdough pizza can be topped with a variety of ingredients, from classic tomato sauce and cheese to more adventurous combinations, allowing for a personalized and artisanal pizza experience.

In essence, sourdough pizza represents a return to traditional, time-honored baking methods, celebrating the natural fermentation process and the rich depth of flavor it imparts to this beloved culinary classic.

Why Does My Pizza Dough Taste Sour?

As a passionate sourdough blogger who embarked on the journey of crafting sourdough pizza in the cozy confines of my own home, the answer to why sourdough pizza tastes delightfully sour is a tale woven with dedication and a love for the tangy nuances of fermentation.

Why is my pizza dough sour?

The magic happens in the heart of sourdough itself – the starter. This humble mixture of flour and water becomes a thriving ecosystem, home to wild yeast and beneficial bacteria. Together, they engage in a slow and intricate dance of fermentation, transforming the dough into a living, breathing entity.

It’s this gradual fermentation process that sets sourdough apart and gives it that distinct sour flavor. This is why your pizza dough tastes sour. As the wild yeast consumes the sugars in the flour, it produces carbon dioxide, giving the dough its airy structure, and releases organic acids, imparting that cherished tang. The longer the fermentation, the more pronounced the sourness becomes, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite.

But this sourness isn’t just a taste; it’s a testament to the art and science of sourdough baking. It’s the product of time, patience, and a deep appreciation for the traditional methods that have been passed down through generations. For a sourdough enthusiast like me, that tangy taste is not just a flavor note; it’s a reminder of the rich history and craftsmanship behind every slice of sourdough pizza. It’s the embodiment of a slow and intentional approach to baking, where the journey is just as rewarding as the destination.

Can You Freeze Sourdough Pizza Dough?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze sourdough pizza dough. The dough is very versatile but make sure it is fully defrosted before starting to shape it for your pizza. A cold (or even semi-frozen) pizza dough will not stretch properly and will quickly snap back. Think of an elastic band that’s been taken out of the freezer–it will snap in half if you try to stretch it. You want your dough pretty warm and elastic so it can be worked into the proper size.

Sourdough pizza can go in the fridge for up to 72 hours

Even sourdough pizza dough that has been in the fridge is too cold to be worked with right away. Be sure to read my Ultimate Guide to Sourdough Pizza Dough for more tips and tricks about bringing your dough back to life.

How to Cook Sourdough Pizza in Cast Iron

The combination of sourdough pizza dough and cast iron likely emerged organically as people sought ways to create flavorful and crispy crusts for their pizzas. Cast iron skillets, with their ability to retain and distribute heat evenly, proved to be an excellent choice for achieving the desired texture in pizza crusts.

Cast Iron Pizza Skillet

While the exact moment when someone first decided to cook sourdough pizza in a cast iron skillet remains unknown, the practice likely gained popularity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries as the appreciation for traditional and artisanal cooking methods experienced a resurgence. Today, cooking sourdough pizza in a cast iron skillet is celebrated for the unique flavor and texture it imparts to the crust.

In addition to cast iron skillets, people have been cooking their sourdough pizzas in dutch ovens, deep baking dishes, and of course pizza stones for many years now at home.

What Is the Difference Between Sourdough Pizza vs Normal Pizza?

As a devoted home cook with a deep affection for sourdough, the difference between sourdough pizza and normal pizza is a flavorful journey that transcends mere ingredients. Let’s explore the distinctions from my perspective.

Sourdough Pizza Crust

Sourdough pizza boasts a rich, complex flavor profile, thanks to the slow fermentation process. The tanginess from the sourdough starter adds depth and character to the crust, creating a more nuanced taste experience. Traditional pizza, often made with commercial yeast, may lack this intricate flavor complexity.

The extended fermentation of sourdough results in a crust with a delightful chewiness and a slightly crispy exterior. This contrasts with the often softer and less chewy crust of a pizza made with commercial yeast. The distinct texture of sourdough pizza adds a satisfying element to each bite.

Sourdough’s fermentation process breaks down gluten and phytic acid, potentially making it easier to digest for some individuals. This can be especially beneficial for those with sensitivity to gluten. On the other hand, traditional pizza dough, which undergoes a quicker rise with commercial yeast, may not offer the same digestibility advantages.

Sourdough Pizza Healthy Benefits: Gut-Friendly and Nutrient-Dense

From promoting gut health to being nutrient-dense, sourdough pizza adds a wholesome dimension to your dining experience. The prolonged fermentation process in sourdough, typically ranging from several hours to several days, allows beneficial bacteria to break down gluten and phytic acid. This process may render the gluten more digestible and reduce the levels of phytic acid, a compound that can inhibit mineral absorption. For individuals sensitive to gluten or those looking to enhance digestibility, sourdough pizza can be a gentler option compared to pizzas made with commercial yeast.

Sourdough Pizza Dough Balls

In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients concluded that:

Traditional, empirical and in vitro scientific results all agree that sourdough and, more in general, the long-time fermentation processes are associated with an improved bread digestibility.

From: Sourdough Fermented Breads are More Digestible than Those Started with Baker’s Yeast Alone: An In Vivo Challenge Dissecting Distinct Gastrointestinal Responses