For the pizza bases
- 500g strong white flour, plus extra for flouring
- 10g salt
- 300g sourdough starter
- 250ml lukewarm water
- Vegetable oil, for greasing
- 60g instant polenta or semolina
For the tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, very finely chopped
- 2 x 400g cans or cartons chopped tomatoes
- 2 tsp Italian mixed dried herbs
- Salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
- Dash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
For the toppings
- 400g grated mozzarella cheese
- Pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, peppers, roasted artichokes, aubergine, olives etc.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sourdough starter and water. Bring together with your hand and use a dough scraper if you have one. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, without adding extra flour. The dough may be sticky at first.
- Continue kneading until the dough is very stretchy. To test it, you should be able to stretch the dough so that it’s thin enough to see through.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it prove for 2½-3 hours – sourdough bread takes a lot longer to rise than normal yeast bread.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onions for 5-6 minutes until very soft. Add the tomatoes and herbs. Simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until thickened and reduced. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, and add a dash of balsamic vinegar if desired. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C/Gas 8.
- Knock back your dough by turning it out onto a clean work surface and kneading it roughly for a few minutes. Portion into four equal parts, then stretch and shape into four flat discs about 30cm across. Sprinkle four baking sheets generously with instant polenta or semolina and place each pizza base onto a baking sheet – you may have to bake in batches.
- Share the tomato sauce between the bases and spread out evenly. Add toppings of your choice, then sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Finish with Parmesan shavings and basil leaves.
Tips: Cool and freeze any pizza that you don’t need – cut into wedges and pack individually. If you’re a fan of sourdough, find out how to make your own sourdough starter.