This is Bertrand Russell (or Bertie as we call him) on our windowsill, checking out the neighbourhood.
I mentioned previously that Sam was a bit obsessed with fermenting things. During the summer this extended to bread and he made Bertie, our sourdough starter (or baby as I call it below). Bertie contributes a lot to our weekly pizza dinners, as well as an occasional loaf.
You won't regret making your very own baby—sourdough pizza crust is, if time consuming (almost two weeks to make the starter, and about a day to make the dough), exceptionally delicious. Method below.
Fill a 2 litre mason jar with 500 ml water and 250 grams flour. Mix thoroughly.
Cover the jar with cheesecloth, securing it with a rubber band.
For the next ten days you have to feed your sourdough baby every day. Give it two tablespoons each flour and water and mix well.
On day eleven, or the day before using, you can prime your sourdough baby by giving it two tablespoons each flour and water in the morning, afternoon, and before bed. Then it is ready to use.
From this point onward, move your baby into a container with a proper lid and keep it in the fridge. Take it out every couple of days and feed it two tablespoons each flour and water. It should keep indefinitely. For more information on parenting sourdough babies, check out the resources at the bottom of the page.
And for those who prefer a visual guide, see below.
Now here is the method for making your own pizza dough. This makes enough for four baking sheet sized pizzas—if you're not hosting a pizza party, just freeze the leftover dough.
First thing in the morning
Mix until ragged: 550 ml water, 200 g sourdough starter, 850 g flour.
Rest 20 minutes
Sprinkle 15 g salt over the dough and knead (with flour) for 5-10 minutes. Cover with a damp dish towel.
Rest 1 ½ to 2 hours
Fold every 30 minutes.
Rest 6-8 hours
Divide the dough into four balls.
Rest 1 ½ to 2 hours
You're ready to roll out your pizza dough.
Top, bake, and enjoy.
Recipe for Pizza Williams, with pear and bacon, here.