Sourdough Pizza “a taglio” Style

“A taglio” (ah TAH-lee-O) is the style of pizza sold throughout Rome.  Baked and displayed in large sheet pans, you pay for a slice cut to order.   There’s a lot to like about this dough.  For beginner’s this is an easy dough to mix.  It’s also extremely versatile.  Top it with just olive oil and salt and it makes a great focaccia.  Or add grapes and you get a version of schicciata a’ll uva. Cut the dough in half horizontally and say hello to great bread for a sandwich.  Whatever you do, it will be hard not eat it all when it comes out of the oven.

Purists will note that this formula does include a small amount of yeast.  If you live in a cold climate or are new to working with sourdough, this small amount of yeast will help the dough to get a good final rise. As you gain confidence working with this formula, feel free to omit the yeast.



450g Bread Flour (preferably King Arthur)

50g Whole Wheat flour

400g Tepid water (80% hydration)

100g Sourdough Starter (20%)

15g Sea salt (3%)

1.25g Lesaffre Saf-Instant yeast (.25%)


  1. Feed starter the night before you want to mix the dough.
  2. The following morning in a medium bowl add water followed by the starter.  The starter should float.  Next add both flours.  Mix by hand or with a spatula until a very shaggy dough forms.  There should be no loose flour in the bowl.
  3. Let dough mixture sit in a warm spot (68º-73º) for 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle yeast over the dough and perform a fold.  Here is a video on how to do a fold.  Turn the dough 90º and repeat.   When you’ve done four folds and gone around the dough 360º you will have completed what is called “one turn”.  Add salt and perform two more turns (8 folds and gone around the dough 720º).
  5. Let dough sit for 30 minutes and then perform two turns.  Let dough rest for another 30 minutes.  Repeat process twice more with 30 minutes of rest time in between.
  6. After the dough has rested for a total of two hours and received 9 turns, it should look billowy, spring back when poked, and release easily from the bowl.  If not, give the dough another two turns and 30 minutes to rest, preferably in a warm location.
  7. Flour the surface of a large, wooden cutting board.  Dump the dough on the surface and gently stretch it into a rectangular shape facing you.  Placing your hands  under the bottom third of both sides of the rectangle, gently stretch the dough to create “wings” and then fold the wings back in the lower middle section of the dough.  Repeat the same process with the top third of the dough.  Using a bench scraper and starting at the bottom of the dough, roll it forward to create a ball.  Place the ball back in your bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Can’t visualize what I’ve just written? No problem.  Here’s a link to help you out.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour but up to 3 to remove the chill.
  9. Generously oil a heavy duty sheet pan (13″x 18″) with extra virgin olive oil.
  10. While removing the from bowl, stretch the dough into a rectangular shape and quickly place on the sheet pan.
  11. Gently pull the sides of the dough and stretch to fill the sheet pan.  The dough will pull back.  Let it sit for 10 minutes and stretch it again.  Be careful not to tear or excessively poke the dough.
  12. Heat your oven to 500º
  13. Once your dough has been fully stretched out on the sheet pan drizzle olive oil and salt over the top and then place in the oven.
  14. For pizza bake until the dough until it is lightly golden brown (roughly 8 minutes).  Remove from the oven, add sauce and toppings, then put back in the oven to finish baking (4-5 minutes).
  15. For focaccia or bread bake until dough is gold brown through out (10-14 minutes depending on the oven).


Friday Night Sourdough Pizza Formula

Eight years ago I opened a wood fired, sourdough crust pizzeria.  The restaurant didn’t work out, but the dough formula still lives on.  The original formula was developed by Sarah “Biggie” Lemke, a talented baker now working in Europe, who I had the brief pleasure of working with.  Recently, I revisited her formula with the goal of creating a version anyone could make at home in a conventional oven.  Here is the result. This formula yields a light sourdough flavored crust.  It’s compatible with tomato sauce based pizzas and children’s palates.  If you want a stronger flavored dough, shoot me an email and I’ll send you a new formula.  Typically, I make pizza for my family on Friday nights.  Feel free to modify the timing to whatever night of the week works for you.  



1200g King Arthur (KA) Bread Flour

.35g  Lesafre Instant Red Yeast (IDY)

30g Sea Salt

10g Sugar (or honey)


Final Dough %

Flour 1000g (100%)

Poolish 400g (40%)

Starter 200g (20%)

Water 520g (52%)

Salt 30g (3%)

Sugar 10g (1%)


Total Hydration: 63%


Wednesday night 8PM

  1. Remove Sourdough Starter from the fridge. Feed starter.  Mix 25g starter with 50g of tepid water and 50g starter feed mixture (1:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and bread flour)  Cover with a small kitchen towel and let sit overnight in a warm area (72º).

Thursday morning 8AM

  1. Feed starter. Mix 50g of starter with 100g of tepid water and 100g starter feed mixture. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm area (70º).
  2. Make Poolish. Mix 225g of KA bread flour with 225g of tepid water and .35g of Instant Dry Yeast.  Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm area (72º).

Thursday night 7PM

  1. In a large bowl add 400g of Poolish with 200g of starter (save leftover starter in fridge). Add 500g of tepid water.  Break up starter and Poolish in the water.  Add 1000g of KA bread flour.  Mix until dough is shaggy but there is no loose flour.  Pinch unhydrated clumps of flour. 
  2. Allow shaggy mixture to sit for 30min covered with a towel
  3. (7:30PM) Sprinkle 10g of sugar and 30g of fine sea salt over dough.  Using your thumb and index finger squeeze dough and mix in sugar/salt combination.  Continue to pinch dough until sugar/salt is combined with the dough.  
  4. (8:00PM)  Remove dough from bowl onto a floured wooden surface.  Knead dough for 1-2 minutes.  Place dough back in the bowl.
  5. (8:30PM) Remove dough from bowl onto a floured wooden surface.  Knead dough for 1-2 minutes.  Place dough back in the bowl.
  6. (9:00PM) Peform the “poke test” and “window pane” test.  If dough fails both tests, knead dough for 1-2 minutes and give it another 30 minutes to rest.  If dough passes both tests, scale (250-300g) and ball dough.  Place dough balls in a proofing box and store in your refrigerator. 

Friday afternoon 1PM

  1. Remove dough from the refrigerator.  Let dough sit at warm room temperature (72º) for 4-6 hours.  Bake and enjoy! 

Grilled Pizza: Dough Recipe

Want to make amazing pizza at home? No need for a backyard brick oven. Grilled Pizza is where its at.


Here’s a simple formula for grilled pizza.  This dough formula call for 70% hydration, which can be challenging to manage for new pizza makers.  You can reduce the hydration down to 66% and still get good results. I did this last month for my in laws.  They loved it.  You will too.


1000g King Arthur All Purpose Flour

700g  Water (preferably 90º)

20g Sea Salt

6g Instant Dry Yeast

10g Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1. In a large bowl combine yeast and water.  Mix for 20 seconds with a whisk.  Add flour and salt.  Mix by hand or with a wooden paddle until combined.  Do not over mix or knead.  Dough should be shaggy but fully combined.  Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 30 minutes in a warm spot (70º-74º)


2. Perform your first fold.  A fold is a simple technique for mixing dough which relies more on time than physical effort.   To perform a fold pick a corner of the dough.   Lift the corner of the dough in the air and then “fold” it into the middle.  Here is a video.  Once you’ve done one fold, turn the bowl 90 degrees and do your next fold.  Do this for a total of four times until you are back to the corner where you started.  You have just completed one “turn” of your dough.  Four folds = one turn.  Let dough rest for 30 minutes.


3. Perform two turns (8 folds).  Let dough rest for 30 minutes.


4. Perform two more turns.  Let dough rest for 30 minutes.


5. Dough should be smooth by this point and pass both the “poke” and “window pane” test.  If not, perform two more turn and let dough rest another 30 minutes.  Otherwise, cut the dough into clumps weighing 250-300g each.   Shape each clump into smooth dough balls.  Place the dough balls in a dough proofing box and apply a light coating of olive oil.  Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.


6. 2-3 hours before you want to use the dough remove the dough proofing box from the refrigerator and let it sit in a warm place in your kitchen. Dough is ready when it’s expanded slightly in volume, is close to room temperature and pliable.







The Foundation of Great Pizza Dough (Geeky)

Good pizza starts with good math.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  The subject of this post isn’t the most exciting.

But its important.

If you’re serious about making good pizza at home you need to weigh ingredients.  And work with Baker’s Percentages.

Let me explain.

Weight is Best

Professional bakers and pizzaiuolos don’t measure ingredients by volume.

Scooping ingredients into a cup is both messy and inaccurate.

Flour, for example, settles.  This means that the weight of one cup of sifted flour is different than non sifted.

Then there is the issue of where to measure.  Do you measure to the line on your measuring cup? Or just above it?  Are the ingredients flush or mounding? It’s never exactly the same.

To accurately measure ingredients, weight is better than volume.  Hands down.

Sadly, not all weight systems are the same.  Metric (grams) is more precise to work with than Imperial (ounces).   Let me show you why.

1 pound (Imperial) = 16 ounces (Imperial) or 16 units of measure per pound

1 pound (Imperial) = 454 grams (Metric) or 454 units of measure per pound

Yes, there are scales which measure in fractions of an ounce.  But most don’t.

And then there’s the fact that the entire professional baking world works in Metric.  If it’s good enough for them, it should be good for you.

2. The language of dough

Pick up a good pizza or bread book and you will quickly notice a few things.  Recipes are called “formulas”.  Formulas are written using grams or kilograms.  And ingredients are listed with a percentage next to them.  This last point might seem strange, but it’s actually the language of bakers.  It’s called “Baker’s Percentages”.  Yes, not the most creative name, but easy to remember.

What the heck is this and why is it so important?

Pizza dough has relatively few ingredients.  In it simplest form flour, water and salt is all you need.  Because the ingredient list is short, the relationship of the ingredients to one another is extremely important.  Baker’s percentages is a method of writing recipes that describes this relationship.

This is done by listing each ingredient as a percentage of the total weight of flour.

For beginners, this can be confusing to understand.

The cardinal rule for working with Baker’s Percentages is to use the weight of the flour as the benchmark for calculating the formula.  NOT the combined weight of the ingredients.

This means flour is always 100% of the formula regardless of the weight.

So let’s say you have a recipe which calls for 1000g of flour, 650g of water and 20g of salt.

Translate this recipe into Baker’s Percentages and this is what the formula looks like:

Flour: 100%

Water: 65%

Salt: 2%

In the example above I’ve made the flour weight 1000g to make the math easy.

To calculate the water percentage divide the weight of the flour (1000g) by the weight of the water (650g).  650/1000 = 65%

Do the same to get the salt percentage.  20/1000 = 2%


[If this still seems confusing check out a few more examples at the end of this post.]

Once you start working with Baker’s Percentages you quickly start to see the advantages.

First, its easier to write new dough recipes when you’re thinking about how ingredients relate to each other instead of in isolation.  The water to flour percentage, for example, is a such crucial relationship there’s even a term for it: “Dough Hydration”.

Second, Baker’s Percentages allows one to easily scale a recipe up or down and still be sure of having good results.

This means I can develop new dough formulas by testing small batches, but quickly calculate larger production batches when needed.

Let me show you.

Here’s a formula I’m currently working on.

[Since I’m using multiple flours, all of the flours have to add up to 100%.]


High Gluten Flour: 40%

High Extraction Flour: 50%

Whole Wheat Flour: 10%

Water: 65%

Salt: 3%

Yeast: .5%

Oil: 2%


Here’s how I calculate a small test batch formula using 2Kg (2000g) of flour.


High Gluten Flour:  2000 x .40 = 800g

High Extraction Flour: 2000 x .50 = 1000g

Whole Wheat Flour: 2000 x .10 = 200g

Water: 2000 x .65 = 1300g

Salt: 2000 x .03 = 60g

Yeast: 2000 x .005 = 10g

Oil: 2000 x .02 = 40g

When the time comes to make a large production batch, I plug in the new weight of the flour (could be 11Kg, 22Kg or even 44Kg) and then perform the exact math.

Make sense?

Ok, that enough for today.   As always, email me your questions.



Additional Baker’s Percentages Examples:



White Flour: 10000g  (100%)

Water: 6000g (60%)

Yeast: 30g (.3%)

Salt: 200g (2%)

Malt: 100g (1%)



White Flour: 900g (90%)

Whole Wheat Flour: 100g (10%)

Water: 600g (60%)

Sourdough Starter: 200g (20%)

Yeast: 2g (.2%)

Salt: 20g (2%)

Oil: 15g (1.5%)












Tools to Make Great Pizza at Home

If you want to make great pizza at home, you need the right tools for the job.

Fortunately, the list isn’t long or super expensive.  In fact, you can buy the basics for less than the cost of take out from your local hipster pizza joint.

Here’s what you need in order of importance:

The Basics 

1. Scale 

Water, flour, leavening and salt.  These are the building blocks for making great pizza.  Because we are working with so few ingredients, we need to be precise with the quantity of each ingredient in our dough formula.  This is especially true when you’re making pizza at home.   The smaller the batch, the smaller the margin of error.  So, to ensure accuracy we need to weigh out our ingredients.

I don’t care how good you are measuring ingredients with a cup or spoon.  It you want to make awesome pizza you need a scale.

Screw volume.  Focus on weight.  It’s what professional bakers and pizzaiolos do.  You can do it too.

A small digital scale, preferably one that measures in .1 gram units, costs $20.  Buy one.

2. Bench scraper

This is an indispensable tool for anyone who works with dough.  It’s also great for cleaning up.  I like these so much I have two at home.  And I give them as Christmas presents.

3. Cast iron pan

I know you own a pizza stone.  If you absolutely have to use it, go for it.

But here’s the truth about pizza stones:  They are a great trivet.   Or for roasting a chicken.  But when it comes to making great pizza at home a iron pan is much better.

Cast iron has a few clear advantages.

First, the heavy steel absorbs and distributes heat better than stone.  A pizza stone, depending on the thickness, requires a least one hour to preheat.  Cast iron pan? 3-5 minutes on the stovetop over a hot flame.

The second advantage of a cast iron pan is the shape.  The flared sides reflect heat directly on your crust (a.k.a cornicione).  Your flat pizza stone doesn’t.

Added bonus to the flared sides: You can squirt water against them to instantly create steam and achieve an extra crispy crust.

Lastly, a cast iron pan is much easier to handle (provided it has one) and using it to make pizza is just a lot less messy.  Sure, sliding a pizza on to stone deck may impart a sense of authenticity to the whole process, but do you know what doesn’t feel romantic? Cleaning up all of the flour and cornmeal that is required to effectively slide a pie into an oven.

4. Thermometer

Time and temperature are the “secret” ingredients for great pizza.

Unless you are spending time around hard core pizza geeks you won’t read much about temperature in the average home pizza dough recipe.

If you’re just starting out I recommend taking the temperature of your core ingredients.  It only takes 30 seconds and can help you avoid making overblown down.   Or dough that takes forever to rise.

5. Large Wooden Cutting board

Whether it’s for stretching dough or letting my pizza dough balls rest before baking them, I like using a wooden cutting board.  Wood absorbs moisture which can be helpful.  I also like the feel of stretching dough on wood.

6. Heavy Duty Sheet Pan

For making pan pizza or focaccia you will need a good heavy duty sheet pan.  When I say “heavy duty” I mean something that is thick and heavy enough to be used as a weapon if need be.

7. Doughmate Doughboxes

If you plan on making pizza often (you should) investing in professional grade pizza dough proofing trays is a good move.  Fortunately, Doughmate sells trays especially made for the home pizzaiuolo.   These trays are a smaller version of the professional trays used in every pizzeria and designed to fit in your home fridge.  They cost more than you want to pay, but are totally worth it.

8. Dough Docker

Its easy to overlook this handheld medieval looking torture contraption as an essential tool for making grilled pizza.  Sure, a fork can do the same job but this does it so much better.  And faster.  And it only costs $10.


Next Level

1. Good oven. 

There’s no way around this one.  If you have a shitty oven it will be nearly impossible to bake a great pizza. Don’t despair.  You don’t need a 10K Wolf convection oven. A decent oven that can achieve 550 degrees and has a broiler is great. If access to a good oven is not an option but a grill is, go with the grill.

2. Temperature gun

Ok, this item isn’t crucial but it’s extremely helpful.

Prices have also come way down.  Ten years ago a decent “temp gun” cost a few hundred dollars.  Today you can buy one for $50-$70.

A temp gun has become borderline indispensable when I make pizza in a cast iron pan.  By always getting an accurate read of the temperature of my pan I can assure the consistency of my bakes, pie after pie.  Plus, these are just cool to use.

3. Proofing box

If you live in a cold climate as I do, having a proofing box is very helpful.  Especially if you’re working with sourdough starter.  A decent proofing box will cost $170, so not cheap.  But if you’re baking every week, be it pizza or bread, then the investment is worth it.

For McGyver wannabes or those on a tight budget, good news: There are many DIY options on the internet.

4. Grain Mill

Go down the rabbit hole far enough and it won’t be long before you want to mill your own flour.  This will be a pricey habit.  Counter top grain mills start at $300 and can cost as much as a plane ticket to Europe.  You’ve been warned.


Ok, that’s it.

Questions? Having trouble sourcing one of the items above? Think I’m missing something?

Feel free to send me an email –