As soon as my mom mentioned that she wanted to throw a pizza party for her and my sister’s birthdays (known collectively in our family as “the January birthdays”) I just knew that I’d be tasked with making the dough. That’s what I get for bragging about my sourdough pizza crust on this blog! Instead of whining about it, I decided to use this as an opportunity to do a pizza crust tasting. I’ve tried many different crust recipes over the years. However, because I am usually only cooking for Robert and myself, I typically just make one dough at a time – I never get to try the pizzas side by side to determine which crust I truly prefer. For our pizza party, we were planning on making five or six pizzas – assuming that one batch of dough makes two pizzas, this meant that I could try three different crust recipes.

I was really curious to see how a sourdough crust would measure up against a yeast-based crust so, for my first dough, I used the sourdough crust recipe that I wrote about in my last post. I followed the recipe as written except that this time I let the dough rest overnight in the refrigerator hoping that the long rest period would allow the dough to develop a more complex sourdough flavor. For my second dough, I used this recipe from Cooks Illustrated. This is an unusual recipe in that it calls for cake flour. Cake flour has a very low protein content which makes it a soft flour – it is ideal for delicate pastries and cookies but not so great for breads and, one would presume, pizza crusts. According to the folks at Cooks Illustrated, the cake flour makes it easier to replicate the thin, crisp crusts found in Neapolitan pizzerias. Finally, I made the basic pizza crust recipe from How to Cook Everything but, to keep things interesting, I followed the variation that calls for replacing 1/2 cup of the flour with 1/2 cup cornmeal. I didn’t have any cornmeal on hand so I ground up some coarse polenta instead.

We made three different pizzas: Margherita (mozzarella and basil), Italian sausage and sweet pepper, and delicata squash with gorgonzola and sage. The sausage and the squash pizzas were the favorites as far as toppings, but I was mostly interested to hear which crust my family liked best. The Cooks Illustrated crust was immediately declared the loser of the three. It was (not surprisingly) much softer than the other two, and it didn’t have much in the way of flavor. The cornmeal crust and the sourdough crust both had better flavor and a pleasantly chewy, crunchy texture. Members of my family were split as to which they preferred. Most agreed that the cornmeal crust had the best flavor overall, but it was too gritty for some (my fault for using polenta instead of true cornmeal – had I used a finely-ground cornmeal, the cornmeal crust surely would have been the winner.) The sourdough crust, while not quite as flavorful as the cornmeal crust (despite my extra long rest period), did have a better texture. Next time I make pizza, I might just have to split the difference and try a sourdough-cornmeal crust!


  1. hmmm okay! i’m letting my dough rise (i like to use my dehydrator–perfect for low, even temps!), so once it doubles i’ll get the pizza made! im still learning about developing that good flavor–mine’s been in the fridge for 4 days, so will that make a diff? i know the starter comes from one started a few years ago! so hopefully that helps, too :)

    Comment by josey — February 13, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  2. Hi Josey. Thanks for the comments! If you are interested in learning more about making bread using sourdough starter, there are a couple of websites that I like that I can point you to. One is Fresh Loaf and the other is Wild Yeast. It probably wouldn’t hurt to pick up a really good bread book since that would provide lots of background on using starter. I would love to be able give you lots of advice but I’m still pretty new at this myself. I don’t know too much beyond what you’ve already read in my blog posts. Let me know how your pizza dough turned out! By the way, I love your idea of using a dehydrator for rising. I don’t have one but, it’s always so cold in my apartment, I usually put my dough in the oven, which I turn to low for a minute or two just to warm up enough to get my dough going.

    Good luck!

    Comment by elliemay — February 15, 2009 @ 4:49 pm

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