Yes, I’m making sourdough crackers almost every weekend. That just means I have to let my starter sit out over night so I can make a pizza dough, some pretzels, or bread loaf as well. This has slowed our pizza proliferation, but it definitely hasn’t stopped it. You might also notice a shift in our pizza ingredients. My wife has been converting our diet to pescatarian or what some might call the Mediterranean diet. That means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with fish, nuts, and legumes as the main protein sources. That means less dairy and generally, no red meat though I still get some chicken or turkey when we eat out. For us, this isn’t a diet from a standpoint of trying to lose weight or that we might do for only a while. This is part of our goal of eating healthier. The challenge is to eat well but explore new food and enjoy it. I think these pizzas continue in that vane. I also hope they challenge you to consider new and different foods that you might not think about trying. Don’t forget about the most important element, the ciders. My goal is to make cider that taste great but also has positive health contributions as well. Remember my motto, everything in moderation whether that is dessert or cider.
As always, here is my basic sourdough crust recipe. I adapt it by using different flours, adding nuts, spices, fruit or other adjuncts, and even processing it differently by bulking it up, letting it rise, or adding some sweeteners, like honey. The possibilities are like the pizza toppings, endless. This is the base recipe I use.
Sourdough Pizza Dough
Servings: 10-12 Inch Pizza
- 210-230 Grams Sourdough Starter
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Organic All-Purpose Flour
- Water as Required
- Mix starter, oil, salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl by hand.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes. If too dry, add teaspoon of water. This dough should be relatively dry.
- Cover and let set for 1 hour.
- Use or freeze. If freezing, set the dough in the refrigerator the day before you plan to use it and on the counter 1-2 hours before you use it.
Here are my three standard crusts depending on thickness and crunch.
- Crumpet Crust: Add 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda to this crust along with 2 ounces of water. This creates a bulkier crust that has pretzel flavors. It’s great for heartier pizzas. Add additional flour to maintain the consistency.
- Cracker Crust: Replace the regular flour with semolina flour, which creates a thinner and cracker-like crust. I have also found the replacing the all-purpose flour with rye flour will create a thinner crispy style crust.
- Standard Crust: Make as outlined above for a medium thickness with some crunch and some chew.
Here is a list of the last 4 pizzas that we have made as well as the hard ciders we paired with them. For reference, we homemake most of the ingredients as well as use organic so I don’t specifically call this out. You can find many of these ingredients at your local grocery or specialty shop id you don’t want to make the sauces an other topping but where is the fun in that!
Poblano Lime Creme Pizza with Prickly Cider
- Barley Sourdough
- Poblano Pesto Sauce
- Zucchini, Thinly Sliced
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Feta Cheese, Crumbled
- Cilantro, Chopped
- Paprika, Smoked
- Lime Creme Sauce
Poblano Pesto Sauce:
- 2 Poblano Peppers, Roasted
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Roasted
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro
- 4 Ounces Feta Cheese, Crumbled
- Salt and Pepper
Roast the poblanos and garlic; De-stem and seed the poblano; Squeeze out the garlic; Add oil, feta, and cilantro; Blend.
Lime Creme Sauce:
- 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoon Cilantro, Chopped
- Zest from 1 Lime
- Juice From 1 Lime
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, salt, red chili flakes, lime zest, and juice; Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
I again used some organic barley flour, which tends to make a crispier crust. The crust included some smoked paprika, which was also sprinkled on top of the pizza as a finishing touch. The pesto and lime creme sauce both have bold flavors with some spiciness. Overall the pizza is relatively light with its thin and crispy crust, zucchini, and pumpkin seeds. The feta adds some saltiness but it’s a fairly anti-pizza pizza. It’s not full of lots of stringy and gooey cheese or even meats but, the pesto is rich and flavorful and pulls together all the other ingredients. This is a great pizza to serve with a fresh salad and maybe even a sourdough breadstick.
I went with my namesake cider, Prickly Cider. The prickly pear flavor is distinct and fruity. It’s has some tartness that helps clear your palate. If you are looking for commercial options, consider a hopped cider. The grass, hay, citrus aromas from many hopped ciders will go well with the bold pesto base of this pizza.
Deep Cheese Pizza with Black & Gold Cider
- Double Sourdough (Use twice the oil, flour, 1/2 cup of water and let it rise)
- Tomato Sauce
- Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
- Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
- Provolone Cheese, Sliced
- Muenster Cheese, Sliced
- Basil, Chopped
- Fresh Ground Pepper
We created another Chicago inspired pizza stuffed with cheese. It is layers of tomato sauce with fresh chopped basil covered in cheese. We do two layers of this before adding the top crust. This is folded into the bottom crust at the edges and one last layer of tomato sauce, basil, and cheese is added. Make sure to use some Parmesan on top to help give it that golden color. We topped ours with a little fresh ground pepper. You will want to let this one sit and cool slightly or all that cheese will come running out when you cut it. Serve a nice fresh salad as an appetizer once this comes out of the oven. This cheesy goodness will be great with just about any cider. We paired ours with my Black & Gold. It’s a slightly tart and fruity cider with some astringency.
Maltese “Ftira” Pizza & Bubbles Cider
- Maltese Sourdough – Add 50ml water and additional flour
- Tomato Paste
- Garlic, Diced
- Sweet Potatoes, Roasted
- Tomatoes, Chopped
- Black Olives, Sliced
- Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- Basil, Chopped
Here is another Mediterranean inspired pizza. This one is from the small island country of Malta located just below Sicily. Ftira is a classic sandwich on Malta using sourdough bread and usually containing tuna. We opted for anchovies instead of the tuna but kept many of the other components like the tomato paste, tomatoes, olives, and capers. We substituted roasted sweet potato for the sliced boiled potato to add more flavor, which also gives a balance to the saltiness from many of the other toppings. It’s a hearty and flavorful pescatarian pizza option. I paired it with my experiment gone wrong cider, Bubbles. You should look for a Pet Nat cider or sparkling cider. If you are making your own, bottle it before fermentation completes and let it age on the lees to allow the autolysis process to evolve the flavors.
White ’shroo Pizza & Black Magic Cider
- Truffle Sourdough
- Truffle Oil
- Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
- Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced
- Ricotta Cheese, Dollops
- Salt and Pepper
This pizza idea started by thinking about the best way to use some dried truffles. We made a truffle pizza with them as a topping but I thought about incorporating them directly into the dough. We also had some truffle oil. Yes, truffle oil is supposed to be used after cooking to impart flavor but we decided to try adding it to the dough to further incorporate that truffle umami flavor. It was worth a try. It worked and we created White ’shroo Pizza. This pizza takes cremini mushrooms lays them on truffle oil, covers that with mozzarella and dollops of ricotta, and sprinkles it all with thyme and oregano. Cheesy, textured, chewing goodness. Pair it with a Black Magic Cider for a fruity yet phenolic cider with a moderate acidic yet palate cleansing finish. Let’s be honest, with this pizza, slap almost any cider with it and you will have a winning pair.
You might remember that I cook my pizzas at 500F (260C) on a pizza steel. This allows me to get a nice crunch and chew combination. It also means the pizzas cook rather quickly. You don’t need a steel or stone but if you have a sourdough starter, they make a great additional to the kitchen for all your bread baking needs. If you haven’t tried hard cider, I strongly encourage you to pair it with your next pizza. You might enjoy it enough to try making it. My book explores my cider journey and while it is focused on how to make hard cider, it also covers apples, cider history, and food. However, check out the recipe “My First Cider” located in my recipes section if you want to take a first step along your own cider journey.
I hope this post inspires you to make your own pizza and cider pairings. If you enjoy reading about cider and how to make, follow me.
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