It's funny that a carb lover such as myself has never known the pleasures of sourdough starter til now. Since I had some room temp. starter after making my pancakes a couple days prior, I impulsively decided to make pizza dough. I only had a cup of AP flour on hand and wanted to get my dough proofing ASAP, so I ended up making a dough ball w/ 1 c. of starter, 1 c. of AP flour, and salt. Oiled lightly and let proof in a bowl covered w/ a cloth. Checked on it about 90 min. later and it looked like it hadn't budged...no poof, no expansion, sad. So I made pasta for dinner hoping it would be ready the next day...
My patience paid off, as it had doubled by day two. I was going to make my favorite thin-crust pizza margherita when an old CH thread drifted into my consciousness...Dommy's report on homemade Chicago deep-dish pizza (see link)! I've been wanting to make it and use some of the great tips by hounds, including baking in a cast iron skillet. My result is pictured below, and having eaten authentic Chicago pizza a long time ago (Gino's East, IIRC), I will not even compare it to the real deal. Mine was tasty and satisfying, but there's definitely room for improvement in both the assembly and dough depts.
First, I knew my dough was problematic when I started stretching it out. It was very soft and fragile (never was refrigerated) instead of elastic and resilient. It was also too small for the purposes of deep-dish pizza in a 10" cast iron skillet, but I forged on. Lightly coated my pan w/ olive oil, sprinkled some cornmeal on bottom, and set the dough ball inside the pan and pressed w/ my fingers til it filled up the pan and drifted up the sides about an inch. It was quite thin by this point, but oh well, the confetti of toppings and gooey cheese should help, I figured.
I prepared all of my toppings in a mise en place fashion. Sauteed: mild Italian sausage squeezed from its casing; then sliced red onions; then sliced sweet bell pepper. Chopped: garlic; rapini; fresh basil. Sliced (not grated) whole milk mozz cheese and opened the box of store-bought POMI marinara sauce. I had read different variations on layering and decided to go w/ this order from bottom up: sausage, onions, garlic, bell peppers (on half), rapini on half (w/ the bell peppers) and basil on other half, mozz, sauce, grated parmesan.
My pizza stone had been pre-heating on the lower third rack for at least 30 min. in a 500F oven. Placed skillet directly on top and baked for 10 min., then reduced oven to 425F and baked for another 20 min. til edges were browned and sauce and cheese were mildly bubbling. The skillet worked beautifully! Set on counter to rest while I made a salad to add a healthy element to the meal.
How did it taste? Well, the crust was very, very tough when I cut it and didn't rise at all. I knew this was coming, so wasn't that disappointed but more determined to master pizza dough next time. The layers of flavor were very tasty though, and the rapini was a welcomed green addition, lending a hint of bitterness to balance the sweet, tart, and salty. The sliced mozz under the sauce definitely served as a dam to prevent the crust from getting soggy; however, the sauce dried out a bit in the oven, making it too salty w/ the added parmesan. Next time, I'm going to try grated mozz and add a little more sauce.
Like Dommy's version, mine wasn't perfect but was satisfying and made for tasty leftovers! Thanks for the inspiration Dommy, and I won't rest til I can achieve the perfect pizza crust w/ my starter! Any tips appreciated.
PS. Next sourdough starter tale...olive bread!