Sourdough pizza dough

Sourdough pizza dough

This is a bit out-of-order.  After returning back from Portland a few weekends ago, I had July 4th off from work and decided to make some pizza for the holiday.  I also had to feed my sourdough starter so figured I’d make sourdough pizza dough with the discard.  I used the below recipe:

  • Sourdough starter – 80 g (~50% hydration)
  • AP flour – 350 g
  • Water – 230 g
  • Salt – 8 g
  • Yeast – 2 g

I mixed all the ingredients (above), let it sit for 40 minutes to auto-lyse and then kneaded it for about 15 minutes (slap and fold).  I put it in a large mixing bowl and let it bulk ferment for about 50 minutes.  It was fairly warm in the kitchen/house so I didn’t have to let it rise as long.  I then did 3 stretch and folds separated by 30 minutes.  After this I divided the dough into 2 (these ended up being larger balls than I typically work with in the past) and put them individual bowls to proof.


As can be seen above, the dough rose greatly.  Since I was making pizza, I wasn’t as concerned if it went slightly over since I was flattening the dough out anyway to make the pizza.  I topped the dough with some homemade tomato sauce (I just use canned San Marzano Whole tomatoes that I crush and heat with some basil and garlic), mozzarella, and mushrooms/prosciutto.

Overall I got some good rise in the crust and it did have a slight sourdough taste to it.

Good rise

I may have to try incorporating more sourdough starter to see if I can’t get more of the sourdough taste to it.



Sourdough wheat sandwich bread

Quick bread update.  I decided to use more of my sourdough starter to make this week’s 50% whole wheat sandwich bread.  This week I essentially used the same recipe as last week’s but with the addition of the sourdough.


  • 80g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 300g 100% whole wheat flour
  • 255g bread flour
  • 145g rice milk
  • 260g water
  • 18g salt
  • 35g honey
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 5g yeast (cut down the yeast to see if the starter has some oomph to create rise)

I combined all the above ingredients into one giant slurry and let it auto-lyse for 30 minutes.  I am always amazed how the dough goes from a ragged mess to a cohesive and firm dough.

I did the slap & fold kneading for 15 minutes.  Each time I do this, I get better and better at sensing/feeling the dough coming together and becoming less sticky.  The first time I did this, I had no idea how long I was supposed to knead for and ended up doing the slap & fold for almost an hour.

After I finished the slap & folds, I put the dough in a clean bowl and let it bulk ferment for an hour.  As seen above, the dough really formed up very nicely.  Following bulk fermentation, I dumped the dough out on my lightly floured countertop and performed a stretch and fold (envelope style) and placed the dough back in the bowl for 20 minutes.  Once more I did a stretch and fold followed by the initial shaping.  This involved de-gassing the dough and creating a square shape.  I then folded the dough down from the top to the middle of the dough and pressed this down.  Subsequently I pulled the dough once more to me and pressed down to seal it (essentially creating a log shape).  I then bench rested the dough for 5 minutes and then re-shaped into loaf shape.  The dough was then placed in a well-greased (butter) 9″ x  5″ loaf pan.

I allowed the dough to proof for about 45 minutes (the kitchen was warm because I was also making pizza).  As with last week, the dough had risen really well.  I did the finger poke test and noted the dough was well proofed.

The bread went into a 425 F oven with water spraying.  I let it bake at this temperature for 10 minutes.  I dropped the oven to 375 F and baked the bread for another 25 minutes.  By this time, the top of the loaf was a nice dark brown color and the internal temp 187.7 F.  I read that enriched bread (which this is) is done between 185-190 F and you can let it go until 205 F if you want a really crunchy crust.  This time I decided to remove it a littler earlier to see what kind of difference it would make (last week’s was around 195 F).

After slicing, I noted that the bread was just slightly underdone.  If you look at the cross-sectional view of the crumb, you’ll notice at the bottom part of the bread, the crumb is a bit collapsed and not well-aerated like the rest of the bread.  Next time I’ll probably try to get it closer to 190 F internal temperature.

Slightly underdone

This bread turned out good, still a little weaker than I’d like for a sandwich bread.  I wonder if I toasted it before making my sandwich if it would hold up a little better.  The wife said that it is softer than last week’s effort.

In other news, we were able to top our pizza with some homegrown arugula.  We decided to try some lettuces this year in our raised vegetable beds.  This was a first and out of the 4, the arugula is the only one that grew well.  There was a different lettuce that initially grew well then one day was all gone.  I am suspicious the local wild turkey came over and chomped it all away.

Homegrown arugula


100% Whole wheat bread

Since I’m starting to feel more comfortable with bread making, I decided I should try my hand at making something that is a little healthier.  We had switched from buying bread to me making tortillas for wraps for our lunches (less dense, less calories).  Somewhere along the way I started to get interested in making bread and I want to try to keep this new hobby as healthy as possible.  I most definitely will not stop making other white breads and such, just thought I should try to do some healthy breads.


  • 100% Whole wheat bread – 240 g
  • Water – 240 g
  • Instant yeast – 2 g

Remaining formula

  • 100% Whole wheat bread – 480 g
  • Water – 480 g
  • Olive oil – 50 g
  • Honey – 75 g
  • Instant yeast – 3 g
  • Salt – 3 tsp

I must have done something wrong with my conversions because this created an almost 100% hydration dough.  And it all just went downhill from there.

The poolish came out fine as above.  However, I then mixed up the poolish and the above remaining ingredients.  As I was doing this, I was thinking to myself that this hydration was a bit high.  I let the dough do its normal rest and then did the stretch and fold method for 3 minutes, then let it rest.  I repeated the stretch and fold method at 25 minute intervals but the dough just did not seem to be coming together, it remained a very moist and weak structure.

I finally gave up on it developing any sort of strength and form.  I elected to throw it into my breadpan and see what would happen.  As expected, it didn’t turn out great.  There was no good proofing and oven spring and it came out as an inedible brick.

The above happened on Saturday.  I worked Sunday and so to make myself feel better I whipped up a quick white bread boule (I did add a little whole wheat flour into it).

This bread had the following formula:


  • 170 g bread flour
  • 170 g water
  • 1/4 tsp (2g) instant yeast

Remaining mixture

  • 100 g bread flour + 30 g whole wheat flour
  • 180 g water
  • 10 g salt
  • 3 g instant yeast

I mixed the poolish (overnight in fridge) with the remaining mixture and then let it sit for 30 minutes to allow some autlyse (let the flour absorb all the water).  I then followed the Richard Bertinet slap and fold.  I feel like I’m getting a better hold of this kneading method as the dough started to form up and come together after only about 10-12 minutes of kneading.  I formed it into a ball and then let it bulk ferment for about 1.5 hours.  It’s been warm here and the bread probably didn’t need to ferment that long but I also needed to fit my long run in so I let it go a little longer.  I did 2 stretch and folds with 10 minutes between them.  By now the dough had developed good gluten and structure.  I was able to form the dough into a nice boule and did the drag method on the counter to create a nicely tensioned top portion of dough.  I then placed it into a well floured cloth in a bowl to let it proof.  After about 1 hour of proofing, I tossed it into my pre-heated dutch oven (450 F) and covered it.  I let it cook for 20 minutes covered then removed the lid and turned the heat to 425 F and let it go another 20 minutes.  By then it had a nice brown crust and I checked its internal temp (~195F).

Looks good!

Overall I’m happy that I seem to have the basics down.  Now I just need to work some more on the whole wheat stuff.  I think that tweaking the hydration level will probably allow me to create a better product next time.  I should have paid attention that I was creating an essentially 100% hydration dough.

For dinner I also did pizza and I’m getting better at developing pizza dough that isn’t too loose.  I think one problem I’ve been having in the past is that I let the dough go way past what it should (over-proofing).  Before I had just been blindly following someone’s recommendation on the Jim Lahey No-knead but now I actually am listening more to the dough.


2014 Rock’n’Roll San Francisco Half Marathon Race Recap

Race Summary: Quick, efficient expo.  Early morning bus ride through the city to reach the start.  Hilly course with good amount of on-course support and spectators.  Beautiful run across the Golden Gate Bridge.

This was my 2nd RnR SF half marathon.  I also ran the inaugural race the year before.  For the second year of the race, the organizers decided to completely change the course.

Since I’m in Sac, SF is only a short 1.5-3 hour drive, depending on the traffic.  We love going to the city, though parking and driving there is not the easiest.  Since we were bringing the dog, we found a dog friendly hotel near Union Square.  Even though it is the touristy spot, it was located where I could walk to the finish line (shuttles took us to the start from the finish line) and actually is in a decent location to a lot of restaurants.

The expo was at the Moscone center and as per usual with RnR races, it was efficient.  I didn’t have time to explore the expo because the wife and dog were waiting outside the building.  But I do appreciate the quick packet pickup.

For my usual pre-race pizza dinner, we ended up at Pizzeria Delfina in the Mission District.  Originally we were going to try out Flour & Water, but the wait was too long.  This pizza joint is located adjacent to their italian restaurant Delfina in a small location.  The kitchen took up about half the space and there were a few small tables as well as a long counter.  Somehow we wound up getting seated at the counter after only a 5 minute wait.

Race morning I woke up super early as per my usual routine.  The hotel didn’t have in-room coffee so around 4 am, I ran across the street to a 24/7 pharmacy and picked up some nasty tasting coffee.  I then made my way to the finish line at Civic Center Plaza.  There I boarded a bus to the very west side of SF (northwest corner of Golden Gate Park).  I sat next to an older gentleman who said he had done a ton of Rock’n’Roll races.  We discussed some of the races that we had both done.

The start line had plenty of porta potties and there was no wait should you need to relieve yourself, which I liked.  My friend and her husband were also running the race but they were running late and we didn’t end up seeing each other.

All RnR races have corral starts.  I lined up in my corral and we were off.  The beginning of this race is a little disheartening.  You run about 1/4 mile and make a right turn and face your first hill.  This is a long slow upwards climb so its best to mentally prepare for hills.  Also because we were running through many neighborhoods, there is a noticeable dearth of bands on this course compared to other RnR races.  We wound our way along the western coast of SF and towards the Golden Gate Bridge around mile 4.  I had run across the bridge the previous year at the inaugural RnR SF race and knew the bridge is not flat.  Many people were stopping when they reached the bridge to take a selfie.  Since I had done this last year with my friends, this race I kept pushing and tried to pick up my pace since I had a slow start with the early hills.  After crossing over the bridge and back, you then run along the north end of SF past Crissy Field, the Palace of Fine Arts, and down towards Fort Mason.  Upon passing Fort Mason, we hung a right onto Polk Avenue and headed south towards the finish.  This was a little deceptive because there were a few more hills in this area prior to a downhill to the finish.  By mile 11 at Fort Mason, my legs were pretty shot with the up and down hills and I was just hanging on to finish.

Final chip time: 2:16:34

I felt good about that time given all the hills.

2014 medal (below) compared to 2013 medal (above)



No-knead pizza dough

I’ve been making pizza from scratch now for a little over a year.  I started by doing a search for no-knead bread/pizza dough because I wanted something simple that also didn’t require a lot of technical expertise.  I’ve been delving into the science behind baking and yeast and all that jazz.  My pizza dough has been evolving over the last year.  Sometimes the dough is too soft and pliable, sometimes it is thicker.  I believe I’ve found a good compromise between the no-knead method and some folding/shaping that provides a decent amount of structure to the dough.

I start with Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe.  After reading some other blogs, I added in more salt than the original recipe  mostly because the original is underseasoned and Jim Lahey himself pretty much admitted that it could use more salt.

  • 500 grams (3-4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 350 grams (1 ½ cups) water

I recently bought a digital kitchen scale so have been using weight (instead of measured cups) to create my dough recipes.  I think this is a more accurate method and have had good results with this compared to going by the other measurements.

I combine the above ingredients into a mixing bowl, make sure it is all well incorporated and let it sit overnight (12-18 hours) at room temperature.  This method doesn’t require the normal kneading (10-20 minutes) because as the yeast work on the flour and create the gases, they also are kneading themselves (this is why you have to let it sit for so long).

Flour, water,  yeast, salt – the night before

The next day you have this risen dough full of gas.

The next day (full of gas)

Rather than just shaping this into the dough balls for pizza (as in the original recipe), I poured the mixture out onto a floured surface.  Here I then stretch the dough in all directions while lightly degassing it.  Then I fold the dough in thirds horizontally (like an envelope), then vertically in thirds, flip the dough, then place it back into the bowl for another 45-60 minutes.  I repeated this process twice and each time you can feel the dough firming up and getting more structure.

Ready to roll out into pizza


As in the picture above, I then divided the dough into 4 and shaped 2 of them into balls (the other 2 I shape into balls, wrap in plastic then freeze).  I then let these dough balls proof for another 30-45 minutes.

After reading about the various ways to roll out, toss, twirl pizza dough, I’ve come up with a method that works for me.  I take the ball and put it on a lightly floured surface.  Then flatten the dough out and run my fingers about 1 inch from the edge of the dough flattening the dough in the center of the ball and lightly stretching it out into a disc shape.  I continue this around the entire circumference of the dough.  Then I hold one end (the right side) with my right hand and use my left hand to stretch the left side of the dough disc.  Flip the dough over and stretch the right side.  Continue until the disc is stretched out.  At this time you can then pick up the dough and using your knuckles continue to stretch and thin out the dough – leaving the outer 1 inch edge alone so that it forms a night puffy crust.

I make a simple tomato sauce for my pizza using canned San Marzano tomatoes, some basil and some garlic.  Sometimes I’ll add in some tomato paste to thicken up the sauce.

I usually top the pizza with some combination of mushrooms, zucchinis, prosciutto, and/or pepperoni.

This last time I managed some good air pockets in my crust.

Big air pockets in the curst

Bon Appétit!