I’ve subscribed to the Sustain Real Bread Campaign for 3 years now and eagerly look forward to their quarterly issue of their True Loaf magazine, stuffed full of inspirational stories of artisan bakers and their campaign to provide our daily bread, minus the additives and over-production which has unfortunately become commonplace with what should be the most simplest of staples.
Sustain’s definition of real bread: “Real Bread is that made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives”
I’m marking the beginning of Real Bread week with a sourdough pizza, using my sourdough starter culture.
I’ve written before how, although sourdough can be time consuming to maintain, the slow proving can be used to your advantage as the dough will be very forgiving if you leave it to prove all day or over-night. If you tried to make a yeast risen dough after work, you would’t be eating until 10pm. Make this dough the night before and leave to prove and ripen in the fridge until you’re ready.
Do we need a beer pairing? Well based on name and concept alone, why not a bottle of Toast Ale. Toast is 5%er brewed with the addition of surplus bread (about 25g/half a slice per bottle) that would otherwise go to waste, with proceeds going to the Feedback charity, aiming to reduce food waste. @Hackneybrewery even released their recipe so we might give this a go at some point.
For the Pizza Base (makes 1 big):
- Sourdough culture – 150g
- Strong white flour – 150g
- Plain white flour – 100g
- Salt – 1/5 tsp
- Water – 200g (warm)
- Olive Oil – 1 tblsp
- Polenta (for shaping)
- Combine the culture, flours, olive oil, salt and water in a bowl then knead for 15 minutes by hand or 10 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook attachment.
- Cover with a tea-towel and leave for 3 hours, or overnight/all day in the fridge, to best suit your timings (bring up to room temperature before using)
For the base sauce:
- Tinned tomatoes (preferably decent quality like Tuscan Cirio) – 1 tin
- Shallots – 3 (finely sliced)
- Garlic – 1 clove
- Olive oil (as much as you dare)
- Woucestershire Sauce – 5 glugs
- Gently heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped shallots. Cook really slowly, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. The shallots should become traslucent without burning.
- Peel and squash the garlic clove and stir in to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, about 5 glugs (2 tablespoons) of worcesterhsire sauce, salt and pepper and simmer on a medium heat until it becomes a thick sticky sauce. Stir occasionally and turn down the heat if it starts to stick.
- Blend the sauce in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth and it’s good to go.
Shaping and Baking:
- Preheat your oven as hot as it will go. Preheat a pizza stone if you have one, or a large baking sheet
- Sprinkle some polenta onto your work surface and then shape the dough into a ball, removing any excess depending on the size or number of pizzas you’re going for. The polenta gives a fantastic texture to the base and prevents sticking
- Shape the pizza base – roll out with a rolling pin or have a go at tossing it if you dare (I’ve never managed this!) My preferred method is to roll into a small circle, then grab one edge between your index fingers and thumbs and let the dough stretch under its own weight, quickly moving around the circle so that it stretches out evenly
- Prepare your chosen pizza toppings (I used mozzarella, spinach, anchovies, finely chopped peppers and aubergine)
- Remove your pizza stone/baking sheet, sprinkle with some polenta and quickly transfer the pizza base to the stone/tray and paint on a good layer of the tomato sauce avoiding a boarder around the rim, encouraging it to rise a bit during baking
- Bake until done!
Left over dough and sauce?
Flatten the dough out, paint it with a goodly dollop of the tomato sauce and roll it back up (sauce to the inside). Leave to prove whilst your pizza bakes then pop it in the oven after for 30 to 40 minutes and you’ve got a tasty luncheon loaf for tomorrow.
Good luck! Simon.