Home-Baked Sourdough Bread – At Last!

Never would have thought I could obtain these results in my regular oven and without special equipment. But after 11 months of weekly baking, fresh sourdough loaves have become a reliable tradition in our family.

I’ve been thinking of posting my method for a while, but only now feel confident that it’s sufficiently streamlined and repeatable–hence this blog post today!

It all began when my co-worker, Jules, kindly gave me part of her sourdough starter, which came from a restaurateur she knew along with their recipe. Baking bread, though, is very much something that one has to tune to their own equipment, method, and of course liking. Over time, I’ve been refining my technique to the point where I’ve been getting consistent results. But by no means is this the only way to bake bread at home and it can certainly be improved.

First, though, you may be wondering – okay, where do I get my own starter? Well, unfortunately, I can’t really help you with that. It is possible to grow it from scratch, but it’s not easy because it is made of a stable symbiotic mixture of yeast and lactobacilli. My friend Mark Preston describes the process in detail, but as you can read it’s a very difficult route that will take a lot of time (and money!) Instead, I recommend asking a baker if they can sell you a piece of their levain starter – or a piece of their uncooked, unsalted sourdough. Speaking of which, there are different kinds of sourdough, each with a different flavor and level of sourness. I like a very mildly sour sourdough, but more sourness (possibly an acquired taste), is appreciated by many (famous is San Francisco’s sourdough, which also names its bacterial culture).

So, say you were able to get a hold of some good sourdough starter, what should it look like? The starter is made of living microorganisms that need feeding and produce by-products. The metabolic process is slower at low temperatures and accelerates with heat. If kept in the fridge, after 5-7 days your sourdough starter will be hungry–it will look bubbly, may have liquid on the top (left image below), and it will smell a bit like beer.

Ripe sourdough starter ready to be fed (left). Feed consisting of 100 g of strong flour and 100 g of water (right).

If you forget to feed your starter, after a couple of weeks it will start to go bad. It’s possible to rescue a starved starter by repeated splitting and feeding, but sometimes it may be too late. If one knows they’re not going to be able to feed for ten or more days, it’s possible to slow down the starter’s metabolism almost completely by freezing it. However, freezing, just like starvation, causes some damage and the thawed starter will need some repeated splitting and feeding to fully come back to life. If at all possible, I recommend treating your starter like a pet and either taking it on vacation with you or arranging for someone to care for it during your absence.



  • Plastic mixing jar.
  • High precision kitchen scale.
  • Air-tight tub for storing.


  • 100 g starter to be fed.
  • 100 g high-gluten ‘strong’ flour.
  • 100 g regular tap water, or non-carbonated bottled mineral water if your tap water is especially soft, or very chlorinated. The recipe below assumes water at room temperature.


  • Use or dispose of all but 100 g of starter.
  • Mix 100 g flour and 100 g water and stir energetically.
  • Incorporate the 100 g of starter into the mix, stirring from bottom to top.
  • Put the mix in an air-tight container and keep it in the fridge for 5-8 days undisturbed.

Now that your starter has been fed, you are left with some excess starter that is ripe and ready to be used! The instructions below assume you have about 150 g of ripe starter. If you don’t have enough, keep feeding your starter weekly until you have enough feed leftover to bake with.



  • Proving basket. Using a wooden (rattan) banneton is essential to allow the dough to undergo its final slow rise without drying out while forming a “skin” – the beginning of your bread’s crust. I use a 20 cm round basket, similar to this one. If the basket comes with linen lining, the latter can be used to smooth out the basket’s walls. Since I like seeing the basket rings in the final product, I use the lining as a lid during proving.
  • Cast iron casserole, a.k.a. Dutch oven. A 4.7 liters one will work perfectly for the recipe I’m about to describe. A casserole is essential when baking in a standard oven because it creates an enclosed space that fills with steam during baking, allowing the bread to do its final rise and cook through without burning. A double-dutch oven (resting on its shallow pan) or a spun-iron baking cloche can also be used and are preferable to the casserole because they allow easier access.
From left to right: cast-iron casserole, double-Dutch oven, spun-iron baking cloche.
  • Scoring blade (optional), similar to this one. A very sharp paring knife can also be used.
  • Cooling rack (optional). Two wooden spoons placed flat on a cutting board can also be used to support the loaf while it cools down.


NOTE: These quantities make a ~800 g loaf (about 20 cm in diameter, 12 cm tall) that fits in a 4.7 l casserole.

  • 150 g ripe sourdough starter.
  • 150 g strong flour and 150 g water for the first rise.
  • 330 g strong flour and 150 g water for the second rise.
  • 1 tablespoon rice or semolina flour as a coating for the proving basket.

NOTE: The quantities above correspond to a 67% hydration (the ratio between water and flour). Higher hydration (e.g.: 80%) results in a lighter sourdough with a thinner and crunchier crust. However, high hydration also means a stickier dough during preparation which requires a lot of technique! Since I posted this article, I have been practicing increasing hydration to 72% by reducing the amount of flour for the second rise from 330 to 300 g. The improvement is noticeable, but the proportions above still yield a fantastic product that is also very easy to obtain.


NOTE: I’m presenting the slow-rise version of this recipe. It can be shortened by reducing or removing the resting time in the fridge, replacing it with a shorter resting time outside of the fridge (8 hours in the fridge equal to about 1 hour outside of it). However, I should warn you that, for reasons beyond my understanding, slow-risen bread will look and taste better!

Day 1

  • Mix 150 g flour + 150 g water then incorporate 150 g starter and leave out of fridge 4-6 hrs (4 hrs on a hot summer day, 6 hrs in winter). After this time, the mix should look quite bubbly and have roughly doubled in size. Put it in the fridge overnight in an airtight container.
The first rise, before and after.

Day 2

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 330 g strong flour and 10 g table salt. Then add 150 g water and the risen mix from Day 1. Mix as best as you can in the mixing bowl by using a big spoon (can use a food processor as well for this step.) Let it rest at room temperature for half an hour.
Strong flour and salt are weighed and combined. Then, the risen dough from day 1 is added, along with more water.
  • Place the dough on a stainless steel or stone worktop and knead every half hour for 2 additional hours.
  • Roll the dough onto itself to create surface tension as demonstrated in the video below.
  • Brush the proving basket generously and thoroughly with semolina or rice flour. These are preferable to regular wheat flour as the latter tends to become moist and stick to the basket during proving (a quite unfortunate event!)
  • Put the dough in the basket upside down (seam up), and leave in the fridge for 8 hrs or overnight to prove covered with a towel or linen lid. After this time, the dough should have increased in volume by about 50%.
Sourdough, second rise
The folded dough is placed in a proving basket. Then, after a slow rise at a low temperature, the dough is ready to be baked.

Day 3

  • With the proofing basket still in the fridge, preheat the oven with the cast-iron casserole inside for about 30 mins at 250℃ (480℉).
  • Take the proving basket out of the fridge, and flip it on a sheet of grease-free parchment paper.
  • Score the top with a sharp knife or razor blade. These cuts will expand during cooking allowing excess CO2 to escape and the crust to expand for the final in-oven rise. I like to make one big cut, at least 5 mm (1/4”) deep, and shallower cuts as a decoration. Bread scoring is a difficult and fascinating art, I only lately have started to obtain decent results – don’t be upset if your bread breaks in all the wrong places!
Sourdough scoring
Before baking, the risen sourdough is scored with a sharp blade.
  • Lifting by the parchment paper, place the dough into the super-hot casserole. This operation is easier if using a baking cloche or a double Dutch oven because they have a shallower bottom.
  • Immediately, put the lid on, put the casserole back in the oven, and bake for 40 minutes at 250℃ (480℉).
  • Remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes lowering the temperature to 230℃ (450℉) if you have a fan oven, or maintaining 250℃ (480℉) otherwise.
Sourdough baking
The sourdough ball is placed in the hot casserole. After baking, the sourdough loaf is ready!
Baking in a double dutch oven
As an easier alternative, the dough can be baked in a cast-iron double-dutch oven (using its deep pan as a lid). The parchment paper is then optional.
  • After baking, lifting by the parchment paper, place the loaf on the wire rack to let it cool for at least half an hour before cutting into it. If the rise was sufficiently uniform, the scoring cuts will have uniformly expanded.
Sourdough cooling
The baked loaf cools down on a wire rack.
  • Allow the proving basket to dry in warm air (I leave mine near the oven as the bread bakes), then brush off the excess flour using a dedicated hard brush. If some of the dough is stuck to it, the basket can be washed in cold water without any detergents and then allowed to air-dry.
Sourdough slice
The resulting sourdough should have a spongy texture.

If things go well, your loaf should be fragrant, slightly chewy, and should have air bubbles of varying sizes trapped in it.

Using flour that is not very strong or mixing in whole-wheat flours will produce smaller, more uniform bubbles and a mealier texture. Small bubbles and a tougher, denser loaf may also result from an under proved or over proved fermentation, or the effect of machine kneading.

Home-Baked Sourdough Bread – At Last!

Total Time: 2 hours

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Home-Baked Sourdough Bread – At Last!


  • 150 g ripe sourdough starter
  • 480 g strong flour
  • 300 g water
  • A generous tablespoon of rice or semolina flour (recommended).


  1. Follow the steps above.

Preserving baked bread

If the loaf is left whole, the crust will provide a natural barrier that will keep the bread fresh for a day. A slightly stale loaf will regain its fragrance if warmed up in the oven, or in a toaster if sliced. If the bread is not going to be consumed within the day, I recommend freezing it in halves or quarters as soon as it has cooled down. Allow the frozen loaf to thaw at room temperature for one hour, or for 5 minutes in the microwave set to the lowest power setting before consuming it.

Other Sourdough Recipes

The recipe I described is very much like a blank canvas! Different kinds of flours can be mixed in (e.g. whole wheat, spelt, sprouted grains), as well as other ingredients added (olives, nuts, dried figs, shredded cheese.) A tablespoon of olive oil will result in a softer loaf that will stay fresh for longer.

Cheese sourdough bread
One of my favorite variations is to add half a cup of shredded sharp cheddar into the last fold!

What about sourdough pizza, pretzels, waffles, donuts? Yes, please! All of those and more are possible and delicious. I’ve been using my coworker Zoe’s pizza recipe with great results, please see below for the instructions. I’ve also experimented with other sourdough preparations, but my results are still inconsistent. I’ll report back when I’ll know more–please continue to send me your recipes!

Zoe’s Sourdough Pizza

  • Ingredients:
    – 30 g mature starter
    – 380 g strong flour
    – 250 ml water
    – 10 g olive oil
    – 10 g salt
  • Mix the starter, the water, and the olive oil together separately first. Whisk together.
  • Add to the flour and the salt.
  • Mix and leave uncovered for an hour or two.
  • Fold it a bit.
  • Cover and leave out of the fridge for ~24hrs.
  • Shape the dough into 2 balls and leave to rise for 2 hrs before cooking.
  • Stretching – it literally falls right out into a pizza shape.
  • Cooking:
    • If using a pizza stone, leave it in the oven for it to heat up slowly to 250℃ (480℉). Slide the stretched dough with toppings onto the stone. Bake for 2-3 minutes, turn it around, bake for another 2 mins.
    • If using a perforated pizza tray, bake for 7-8 minutes at 240℃ (460℉) or until the cheese is bubbly.

Sourdough Breadsticks

Breadsticks, or ‘grissini’ in Italian, are another, quicker, preparation that can make use of a sourdough starter.

  • Ingredients:
    – 150 g mature starter
    – 300 g strong flour
    – 50 g butter, melted
    – 5 g salt
    – 2 g sugar
    – 1 Tbsp rosemary (chopped, optional)
    – 1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
    – 1/4 tsp black pepper (ground, optional)
    – 1 Tbsp milk or beaten egg (optional)
    – 1 Tbsp coarse salt (optional)
  • Feed the starter with 150 g of flour and 150 g of water at room temperature.
  • Let it grow for 3-4 hours outside of the fridge until it almost doubles in volume. Can rest overnight in the fridge if unable to bake on the same day.
  • Add the rest of the flour, the salt, and the sugar, mixing as much as possible in a bowl.
  • Work in the melted butter, then continue kneading by hand on a working surface. If desired, add chopped rosemary, or oregano, and/or black pepper.
  • Divide the dough in half, then in half again, and again until you obtain 8 balls of roughly equal size. Roll them into cylinders.
  • Warm up the oven to 225℃ (430℉).
  • Let the cylinders rest for 10 minutes for the gluten strands to relax, then pull them gently to make them thinner and longer, and cut them in half.
  • Lay the cylinders on a baking sheet previously covered in parchment paper.
  • If desired, brush them with milk or beaten eggs, then sprinkle with coarse salt.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until the tips darken considerably.
bread sticks
Cracked pepper and oregano breadsticks, brushed with milk and sprinkled with coarse salt.

Piadina Romagnola

Piadina is a traditional flatbread from the Italian historical region of Romagna.

The name piadina (plural: piadine) is a diminutive form of piada (used interchangeably to refer to the same preparation), which originates from the Greek pláthanon: “long dish, baking tray.” Since 2014, ‘piadina’ is registered as Protected Geographical Indication (Indicazione Geografica Protetta, or IGP, in Italian.)

Traditionally, piadina is made of flour, water, salt, and a small amount of lard (strutto in Italian). For a vegetarian recipe, the lard can be substituted with olive oil or margarine. Through the centuries, from a simple bread alternative, piadina has become an iconic symbol of the Romagna region and a widely popular product. Nowadays, it can be enjoyed in special establishments called Piadinerie (plural of Piadineria), which can also be found in big northern Italian cities outside of the Romagna region.

The piadina can be served as a kind of bread to accompany meals, but it’s more commonly enjoyed folded in half and filled with various cheeses, cold cuts, or roasted vegetables. One of the most popular fillings is Squacquerone (a fresh cheese which has a protected designation of origin from Romagna), prosciutto crudo (dry-cured ham), and rocket (arugula).

Having grown up in the province of Milan, I only became familiar with piadina during one of my family’s summer trips to the Adriatic seaside resort of Emilia-Romagna, a popular destination for Italian and north European tourists who are looking for long sandy beaches, shallow Mediterranean waters, amazing food, and exciting nightlife. I remember trying my first piadina in a small theme park called Fiabilandia, in Rivazzurra di Rimini. It was filled with prosciutto crudo, and for me, it was a welcome revelation—one of the first of the many kinds of Italian regional food that I went on to discover!

This recipe was given to me by a friend who was born in Romagna. It makes use of a small amount of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which acts as a raising agent by releasing carbon dioxide at temperatures above 80 °C, making a light, friable flatbread.

Besides cooking, baking soda has many other uses as summarized in this comprehensive article.

Piadina Romagnola

Yield: 4 piadine

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Piadina Romagnola


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or 1 1/6 if using unsalted margarine*)
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) (salted) margarine, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup Squacquerone cheese (which can be substituted with Quark)
  • one handful of rocket
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. In an electric mixer using the dough blade, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Add the margarine and mix until evenly combined.
  3. Slowly add the water, mix until the dough forms a mass around the hook. Knead until smooth, 5 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Wrap the balls in saran wrap and let them rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a thin disc, 7 inches in diameter. If you want perfectly round piadine, press a similar sized lid onto the rolled dough, then remove the excess around the edges.
  6. Warm up a non-stick pan on the small burner, at a medium heat. Allow 5-10 minutes for the pan to reach a stable temperature.
  7. Cook one piadina at a time, for about 2-3 minutes on each side. If big bubbles begin to form, flip the piadina sooner to keep the bubbles from growing. Continue cooking, flipping as necessary, until lightly browned small blisters appear on the side in contact with the heat.
  8. Remove the piadina from the heat and let it cool until lukewarm, then fold it in half and fill it with the cheese, rocket, and cherry tomatoes.


* Salted margarine contains 7 mg of sodium per gram, therefore 2 oz of margarine contain 400 mg of sodium, which correspond to 1/6 teaspoon of salt.




Home-Style Pizza Competition

An unusual post for this blog, today. Three friends of mine have just competed in a pizza cook-off, and I had the honor to be the head judge 🙂

The contestants were responsible for bringing their own ingredients, including their pizza dough (which they made beforehand). To cook the pizzas, they all used the same oven, set at its maximum temperature (550 °F), with the same pizza stone.

We had two challenges: the first was on ingredients and technique; the second on the choice of the toppings.

For the first challenge, everyone made their best Margherita. Here is what each did.

The first contestant, Stefano, brought a slowly-leavened pizza dough which he had raising in his fridge for 2 full days (see below for his recipe). He used canned, peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes (which he seasoned with salt and olive oil), and fresh “bocconcini” mozzarella. The pizza was assembled and cooked for 7 minutes (until the mozzarella started to become bubbly).

The second contestant, Sandro, used his 1-day leavened dough. He blanched and strained fresh Roma tomatoes, which he then seasoned with herbs, salt, and olive oil. He also used fresh “bocconcini” mozzarella, but he adopted the strategy to add it to the pizza only during the last 2 minutes of cooking (out of the 8 minutes total). He then finished the pizza with basil leaves.

The third contestant, Samuele, also made a 1-day leavened dough. He used canned Molisana strained tomatoes, with some added salt. He used “bocconcini” mozzarella, added at the beginning of cooking, like Stefano’s. He finished his pizza with basil, a hint of Parmigiano, and a generous amount of olive oil.

Here is how this challenge went.

All three contestants used a bit too much tomato sauce. Stefano had the best dough of all three. Sandro’s dough was a close second. Stefano’s tomatoes were good but slightly under-seasoned. Sandro’s tomatoes had the most flavor but were a bit watery (possibly because he used fresh tomatoes). Samuele’s tomatoes were the best of all three, although he put a little too much salt on them. Overall, Sandro’s mozzarella tasted best: being it cooked just slightly, it kept its milkiness, tasting more authentic. Overall, Sandro won this challenge.

For the second challenge, the contestants were asked to show off their best toppings.

Stefano went with a proven combination: speck and fontina. He prepared his Margherita base, with fontina mixed in with the mozzarella. Half-way through the cooking, he topped up the pizza with slices of speck.

Sandro also used his Margherita base, to which he added sautéed onions and gorgonzola cheese. After the pizza was cooked, he topped it off with raw prosciutto.

At this point, we were all too full, and Samuele decided to drop out of the competition 🙂

Overall Sandro’s toppings were considered more creative and with a more distinct flavor then Stefano’s; also because Stefano’s fontina was too mild and we couldn’t really taste it. Sandro also won the second competition!

Stefano's Pizza Dough

#Stefano's Pizza Dough


     Quantities per person.

    • 200 g all purpose flour
    • 125 g cold water
    • 5 g salt
    • 1.5 g fresh yeast (or 0.7 g dry yeast)


    1. I mix water and yeast until the yeast is fully melted. I then add half of the flour. I mix well, then add the salt. Finally, I slowly incorporate the rest of the flour, a bit at a time (it needs to be kneaded well, I use Kitchen Aid for at least 15 minutes).
    2. I then store it in the fridge for 2 days in a sealed container. I add a film of olive oil to keep the dough from developing a crust.
    3. The day of the pizza, I take it out of the fridge. I let it rest for another hour, then I divide it in equal portions, one per person. I put each portion in a different container to do the final leavening at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours.

    Panino, the Italian Sandwich

    In Italy, just like in all Europe and North America, a ‘panino’ (Italian for sandwich) is a popular lunch option, and in some cases also a quick dinner alternative. Italian bars often press-grill their sandwiches to enhance the flavors, turn the bread more fragrant and crunchy, and melt any cheese. However, at home, or when bakery-fresh bread is available, the Italians enjoy non-grilled sandwiches just the same.

    This article describes both styles of Italian sandwich: the world-famous grilled sandwich (known as Panini) and the less known un-grilled version.

    Going back to the word “panini”, in Italian it refers to all sandwiches – and it’s plural. «One sandwich» translates as ‘un panino’ (from ‘pane’, bread). «Two sandwiches» translates as ‘due panini’ and shouldn’t be re-pluralized as Paninis – it causes native Italians to cringe!

    A “Panini” press

    Grilled panini are prepared in a “Panini” press (called ‘piastra’, literally: plate). In Italy, they generally feature established combinations of fillings, though these combinations don’t have universally assigned names. Common types of bread used are: ciabatta, francesino (a small French-style roll), and in some cases focaccia. Classic fillings combinations are:

    • mozzarella, tomato (plus arugula and/or prosciutto cotto or crudo);
    • prosciutto cotto or crudo, fontina, salsa rosa (“pink sauce”, made of mayonnaise, ketchup and whiskey);
    • prosciutto cotto or crudo, brie (plus lettuce and/or tomato);
    • prosciutto cotto, brie, olive tapenade;
    • prosciutto crudo or bresaola, goat cheese or stracchino (plus lettuce and/or tomato);
    • speck (smoked cured prosciutto from Tyrol), brie, salsa rosa;
    • speck, goat cheese, arugula;
    • grilled vegetables and cheese (see below for a recipe).

    When Italian panini are offered outside of Italy, they tend to differ quite substantially. The biggest no-no’s are the use of:

    • More than one kind of meat (although it may happen in some cases, this is very unlikely in Italy);
    • Large amounts of meat (in Italy, more than a few slices would be considered overpowering);
    • Too many ingredients (in Italy, it’s never more than 3 or 4 in total);
    • Any kind of dressing (oil and vinegar are for salads, not for sandwiches!);
    • Honey-mustard, barbecue sauce, spicy mayo (since they don’t exist in Italy).

    For un-grilled Italian sandwiches, bread rolls that are light and crunchy are generally used (for instance the michetta, known in some parts of Italy as ‘rosetta’ or ‘tartaruga’). As far as fillings go, they generally include one feature ingredient, for instance:

    • prosciutto ‘crudo’ (raw, cured pork);
    • prosciutto ‘cotto’ (Italian ham);
    • coppa, also known as capicollo (also cured pork);
    • salame (cured sausage);
    • Italian bologna (not to be confused with Baloney!) and other kinds of mortadella;
    • pancetta (Italian bacon);
    • bresaola (cured beef);
    • porchetta.

    Sometimes, fresh greens and/or cheese may be added to complement the flavor. For instance, prosciutto crudo may be had with ‘stracchino‘ and arugula; prosciutto cotto with fontina. Other classic options include cold frittata (e.g.: with herbs or roasted zucchini), or cold breaded veal cutlet.


    Now, onto the recipe for the grilled panino in the picture above – a slight variation on the grilled vegetables and cheese theme, thanks to the addition of spicy roasted onions.

    Ingredients for 2 panini
    – One small onion (sliced)
    – 2 bell peppers, red or yellow (seeded and each cut in 4 wedges)
    – 2 zucchini (sliced)
    – 100 g provolone, scamorza or fontina (sliced)
    – one handful of fresh arugula (washed and dried)
    – 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    – salt and cayenne pepper

    – In a non-stick pan, roast the onion in olive oil at medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and cayenne pepper.
    – Using a sandwich press, grill the bell peppers (lightly sprinkled with salt) for 20-30 minutes at medium heat.
    – When the peppers are ready, put them aside and peel off the skin (it should come off easily – if it doesn’t, let the peppers rest for 10 minutes in a sealed zip-lock while they are still warm).
    – Grill the zucchini (also sprinkled with salt) for 10-15 minutes at medium heat.
    – When the zucchini are ready, put them aside and roughly wipe the grill clean, while keeping it turned on.
    – Assemble the sandwich by layering the cheese, the grilled vegetables, and the roasted onions.
    – Warm up the sandwiches in the press until the cheese melts. Then add the fresh arugula and serve.

    More featured articles

    Home-Style Pizza

    Unless you have a brick oven in your backyard, you can’t quite make pizzeria-style pizza at home; the regular kitchen oven simply can’t reach high enough temperatures. It is, however, possible to approximate the flavors of a pizzeria-style pizza by using a few expedients.

    There is more than one way to make home-style pizza. A pizza stone, for instance, can work really well but it requires time and practice.  The method that I am about to describe makes use of a perforated pizza tray. I find it easier and quicker and the results, in my opinion, are comparable.

    As usual with Italian cuisine, quality and simplicity of the ingredients are essential. Pre-made bread shells, pizza sauce, and pizza mozzarella must be avoided! Here is what you need:

    Home-Style Pizza

    Yield: 2 servings

    Total Time: 30 minutes

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Home-Style Pizza


    • 1 perforated pizza pan
    • 450 g bread dough (from a bakery or bought frozen)
    • ¾ cup uncooked strained tomatoes (fresh or from a quality brand, e.g: Mutti, Pomì, Molisana)
    • 300 g fresh bocconcini mozzarella
    • some extra-virgin olive oil
    • one pinch of salt
    • one pinch of dried oregano (optional)
    • some fresh basil leaves (optional)
    • moderate amounts of your favorite toppings (I used capers and onions)


    1. First, warm up the oven to 450 °F (240 °C). Allow 15 minutes for the oven to fully reach its temperature.
    2. Flatten the bread dough into a disc that fits the pan. The dough should feel fluffy and slightly elastic. If it's too elastic, give it some time to relax its gluten strands.
    3. Unless you are using a non-stick pan, coat the pan very lightly with some olive oil, then transfer the dough onto it (1).
    4. Add the strained tomatoes, a pinch of salt, the oregano and any toppings that need to be fully cooked, e.g.: onions, fresh mushrooms, peppers (2).
    5. Half-bake the pizza base for 7 minutes. This allows the dough to cook through, without the weight and moisture of the cheese.
    6. While the base cooks, chop the mozzarella in small bites and prepare any additional toppings that don't need to be fully cooked, e.g.: capers, olives, ham.
    7. Remove the pan from the oven (3) and quickly add the cheese and the remaining toppings. Put the pan back in the oven.
    8. When the cheese is completely bubbly and starting to brown in some spots (after about 7-8 minutes), the pizza is ready (4).
    9. Add a drizzle of olive oil or of chili oil (if desired) and the basil leaves, serve immediately.


    The perforated pizza pan is essential to allow the dough to cook evenly without becoming crunchy. Its holes allow excess moisture and the CO2 produced by the leavening process to escape so that the dough can cook rapidly without forming bubbles. The thin aluminum allows the pan to match the temperature of the dough that lays on it, preventing any hardening.