Sourdough Pizza Crust

I’ve been making homemade pizza for quite some time. I’ve experimented with quite a few different recipes. I’ve also been making sourdough bread pretty regularly for about four or five months now. I’ve not bought bread in at least two or three months. I combined what I know about both and came up with what is now my favorite pizza dough recipe.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together:

  • 300 grams sourdough starter (approx 100% hydration)
  • 450 grams water
  • 3 tsp olive oil

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer combine:

  • 3 tsp salt
  • 850 grams bread flour

Begin the dough hook on low and allow it to mix until well combined (just a few minutes). Rest the dough for 15 minutes. Knead the dough again in the mixer at medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.

Divide the dough into six equal pieces (easiest to divide in half and then divide into threes).

Form each piece into a ball. Place on a silpat and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for approximately 5-6 hours.

Each round makes a 10-12 inch thin pizza crust.

Dust a wooden peel with flour. Press the dough ball into a disc, and then work with your hands to expand. Do not use a rolling pin.

Top the pizza with your favorite toppings and bake for 5-6 minutes at 550 degrees on a pizza stone.



About two years ago, I decided that I was going to embark upon a culinary adventure. I wanted to perfect the biscuit. A few years earlier, my sister-in-law had purchased me Alton Brown’s baking book for Christmas (a great gift, btw – Thanks again, Becky). In it, he talked about how he went through this arduous process of trying a million different biscuit recipes and finally arriving at a conclusion. I didn’t do so well when making what he called his favorite biscuit. I decided to start at the very simplest recipe (on the back of the White Lily flour bag) and go from there.

Over the course of that time (around 2 years or so), I experimented with many different ingredients and techniques. With confidence, I can say that both ingredients and technique are extremely important. You cannot divorce the two (as one of my graduate school professors liked to say).


I’ll probably never be able to completely resist the temptation to tinker with the recipe, but here it is as I make it right now.

  • 20 oz White Lily All Purpose Flour (yep, you’ve got to weigh it)
  • 8 teaspoons Clabber Girl Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (needs to be less than 6 months old)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I prefer kosher, but have used plain table salt with no difference)

Mix these dry ingredients together in a large bowl. No, I will not tell you how much 20 oz is in volume. If you want to get this right, you’re going to have to weigh it. Just mix it up with your hands or a large wooden spoon.

Now, add in

  • 4 tablespoons lard (There can be no substitute. Don’t even try it.)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (I’ve come back around on this one. Real butter reigns supreme).

With your fingers, cut the solid (hopefully very cold) fats into the dry mixture. You need to keep working it until you have a fairly fine, mealy texture. I find it helpful to first toss the tablespoon size chunks in the flour and then start breaking them up one at at a time. Once they’re broken down into smaller, I just start squishing it all with my fingers. I’ve tried this in a mixer, with a pastry cutting tool, and many other ways. Without a doubt, using your fingers is the easiest way to do this.

Now, in a separate bowl mix together the following:

  • 2 cups buttermilk (the full fat stuff, not low fat or nonfat)
  • 1 egg, beaten (unorthodox, I know, but trust me, this makes a huge difference)

Using an egg gives a little more structure to the biscuit. Without it, you’ll find that they taste great, but tend to crumble apart too easily. The egg acts as a culinary glue that binds it all together. I haven’t tried it with 2 yet, I suspect it would be too much – but I’m not opposed to trying it out.

Once the egg is thoroughly beaten into the buttermilk, add the wet mixture into the dry. With your hands, mix the two together. I suppose you could use a wooden spoon, but somehow I still think using your hands is easier. I would not recommend using a mixer for this. A mixer will be too rough with the dough. Biscuit dough is very delicate. If you handle it too much, the biscuits will be tough.

This produces a very wet dough. Sprinkle a coating of AP flour onto the top of the dough, then gently dump the dough onto a well-floured surface. Sprinkle a bit more flour on it now that it’s on there counter. Gently knead it just a few times until it just starts to hold together. Don’t overdo it.

Next, by hand, flatten the dough out until it’s about a half inch in height. Then, use a biscuit cutter to cut out the rounds. Be sure to use a cutter with a fairly sharp edge and don’t forget to dip it in flour before each cut.

Place the biscuits on a half sheet pan that had been lined with parchment paper. Dock each biscuit by lightly pressing your thumb into the middle of each biscuit, leaving a small dent ion each one.

Place the sheet pan in a 450 degree oven and check after 12 minutes. They’ll likely be done in 15. After removing from the oven, brush with melted butter (salted, real butter only, please). I know 450 sounds high for something like biscuits, but it works. I think it’s the fact that it’s such a wet dough that makes the higher temp work.

This recipe tends to make 15-20 biscuits for me, but that all depends on how efficient you are with rolling out the dough and what size biscuit cutter you use (I think mine is 2.5 inches).

I really enjoy biscuit making now. It’s funny how so many people are afraid of trying to make them, but I really enjoy it. I find it’s one of my go-to recipes that I’m confident will always turn out just fine.

Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out for you.

Chicken and Dumplings

Several months ago, I got a craving for chicken and dumplings. My mom fixed it sometimes when we were a kid, but I don’t remember liking or disliking it. I was a pretty picky eater as a kid. Still, I remembered it being warm and creamy – no vegetables or anything chunky – just chicken and dumplings. That’s the ultimate comfort food for a picky eater/child.

While no longer a picky eater, I still wanted that simple back-to-basics approach to chicken and dumplings. Nothing fancy here. I did my usual thing and went to the Food Network website and did a recipe search. There were so many variations that it would make your head swim. I searched elsewhere and found the same.

Eventually, I tried a recipe, liked it, and modified it. I’ve now got it pretty close to perfection. Since recipes are meant to be shared, and there’s a very good chance that I’ll lose my piece of paper with all my notes on it, I’ll post my recipe here.

Chicken and Dumplings

Combine the following ingredients:

  • 270 grams White Lilly AP Flour (that’s about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (I like Clabber Girl the best)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix these together, then stir in about 10 oz of full fat buttermilk. I like the PET brand the best, though I haven’t tried the Mayfield brand. Usually 10 oz is enough, but it needs to be a fairly wet dough – a bit wetter than your average biscuit dough. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes (do not skip this step).

While the dough is resting, bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil.

Next, flour your rolling surface and gently roll out your dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. This doesn’t have to be precise, just try to make the dough a uniform thickness as much as possible.

Now, slice the dough into dumplings. I like to use my pizza cutter for this.

Add the dumplings to the boiling stock slowly. I use a spatula to transfer them over from the counter. The excess flour that you used to keep the dough from sticking to the counter will help thicken the sauce.

Once all the dumplings have been transferred in, add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream. I’ve never actually measured this, so give it your best guess.

Next, add in the cooked, shredded chicken. Stir it up, allow it to cook if you want it to thicken a bit, but chances are it’s already about right.

Serve up in bowls and top with fresh cracked pepper.

Losing weight

I’m on the quest to lose weight again. I’m keeping a private journal of my daily progress, but don’t want to bore everyone with my daily log of what I eat and so on. Last year, my wife and I each had a physical as part of the life insurance application process. When I got the results of the bloodwork, I was shocked at how bad my cholesterol and triglycerides were. I’m now paying a small fee each year so that in the event that I die, my family will be well taken care of. Naturally, life insurance is one investment from which no one wishes an early return. I’m trying to take care of my family, but it occured to me that taking care of myself was a big part of that. I did some reading and eventually settled on the South Beach diet. I didn’t do the thing, but just bought the book and lived by the basic principles. I don’t like having to follow set menus or specific rules, but rather live by general guidelines (ironic from a BJU grad, don’t you think?). It worked well for me and I lost 40 lbs in a few months.

Summer rolled around and with the hecticness of grad school, I went off the official diet. I tried to live by the “do as little damage as possible” philosophy, and that worked well for a few months. After several months, my eating habits in no way resembled those that let me lose so much weight. It took me about 4 months to lose 40 lbs. In the 8 months or so since then, I’ve gained back 15. I’m on a quest to now lose 25 pounds, bringing me down a total of 50lbs from where I started a little over a year ago.

To be honest, I’m not caught up in the numbers of weight loss. I am however, very concerned with the daily consequences of it. I want my pants to fit better, I want to look and feel better. I want and need to be healthier. I’m certain that this time around, I’ll need to add an exercise component. Any suggestions on that one?

I’ll keep you all posted from time to time on my progress. Weekly, perhaps?

Morning Coffee

Morning coffee is the elixir of life. Just twenty minutes ago, I was a complete zombie, staggering around in relative darkness. Now, after a mere quarter of my mug of coffee gone, I am sitting down writing coherent (I hope) thoughts. I really wish that I had the discipline to go to bed early and get up early. For me, the hard part is going to bed early. I?m going to experiment with it tonight and see what happens. If I go to bed by 10:30, am I capable of getting up at 5:30? I guess I?ll just have to wait and find out. Its amazing how quiet it is in the morning. Not just in my house, but in the neighborhood as well. When I had to leave the house at 6:30 on a Saturday to go take a test for NBPTS a few weeks ago, the silence in the neighborhood was almost shocking. Yet somehow, it was really, really nice. Maybe I?m a morning person who just stays up too late. As a kid, I always got up really early and prided myself in that fact. GI Joe coming on in the morning is a great motivator for a young boy. If I can end up getting more work done in the morning, spend more time with my family in the evening, and actually get 7 hours of sleep in on top of it all, this would be an even more powerful motivator. Let?s see what happens.