The sourdough secrets for perfect loaves and Pizzas

Wheat free bread with reduced gluten due to the fermentation process.

This recipe makes a small loaf of bread and 2 – 3 flat breads that can be used as pita bread or rolled out very thin to make a crispy pizza. It is best to use an empty plastic 5 litre ice cream tub with a tight sealing lid. Fermentation takes place with an open top (aerobic) and the second stage is anaerobic, the lid is on tight to trap the carbon dioxide that aerates the dough. In the 3rd stage, when salt is added, it kills the yeast and the bread or pizza may become heavy. So I add some baking powder and this guarantees a lighter texture. The loaf rises in the dish inside the plastic box with the lid on tight.

the perfect loaf

When the risen loaf is nice and big, rub on some olive oil. It can be baked like normal bread. Otherwise, like me, just cook it for 7 minutes in a microwave oven. This traps in the air and cooks the inside for a perfect slice of bread. The loaves can be frozen or kept in the fridge. To cheat, place the loaf under the grill for a few minutes to impress the crowds. Hot, crusty moreish homemade bread!

Pizzas can be hard and leathery with sourdough, so add the baking powder and work the wad of wet dough with rice flour in your hands and knead in the dry flour. Then flatten it on the table and roll it out into a thin disc. Keep adding the rice flour for that authentic effect. Keep the dough balls in the fridge – very handy for lazy week-end meals. The thin rounds of dough can be frozen between sheets of plastic.                                                            

Ready to bake: For a less soggy pizza, you can spray the base with olive or coconut oil and pre-bake it for a few minutes before adding the toppings. Flammkuchen can be made from the same dough. It is a German flatbread similar to a pizza, but sour cream, onions and bacon are used instead of the usual cheese and tomato. 


The basic slow sourdough bread/ pizza method is really worth the time and fuss

1 Soaking mixture: Mix up and leave in a warm place in an open container for 1 – 2 hours

2 cups warm water

1 x 10 g instant yeast sachet with 2 teaspoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of Amasi/kefir/yoghurt (optional add a teaspoon of liquid probiotics or sauerkraut juice as well)

1 cup ground up flaxseed (linseed)

½ cup rye flour for “culturing” or inoculating

2 Dough mixture: Stir the soaked mixture and add the flour

½ cup of oat bran (or quinoa or rice flour)

2 cups of rye flour

Mix it round and round with a fork and snap the lid of the container shut. It must be airtight and then leave it to rise for at least 1 – 2 hours in the hot sun or in a warm place. It can be left for longer, even an extra day and night - the longer the better.

3: The punch and rise stage: Using a fork, mix in

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder (cheating!)

1 cup rye flour

Dip your hands into cornflour or rice flour. Pinch off 2/3 of the dough and knead it with more flour, to prevent your hands from sticking. Place the kneaded dough into a small (500ml) bread tin or a glass bread dish lined with greased baking paper. Return it to the plastic dish, lid on firmly for the last rise. It takes half an hour – but the longer the better!

4: The make and bake process: The dough is sticky, so we work it by hand with added dry flour  

Bake the little loaf in a very hot oven for about 20 minutes.

7 minutes in the microthe perfect loaf

Alternatively, 7 minutes in a microwave oven produces a fantastic result. Tip it out of the dish, remove the paper and allow it to cool down and firm up. Just before the guests arrive, place it in a very hot over, or under the grill for a minute or so. They will appreciate the smell of freshly baked bread and you already know it turned out OK! If you cook it for longer it will become very hard.

The other piece of dough is for making flat breads or pizza. You can keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge or proceed by adding flour, flattening it and rolling it.

Pita bread. To cheat, form it into 2 x 1cm thick discs and microwave each one for 1 – 2 minutes for instant pita breads.  Otherwise, pop them onto a baking tray and bake for a few minutes in a very hot oven. Eat them fresh, or they become very chewy. Cut in half horizontally to make 2 slices.

sourdough pita bread

Pizza or flammkuchen. Tip some rice flour or cornflour onto the kitchen counter and work a small ball of dough into it, flattening, folding and kneading it into a disc. Keep it well floured and roll out into a thin disc. Place it onto an oiled or floured baking sheet and add the toppings. I prefer to rub on some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pre-bake it for a few minutes so when you spread on the tomato sauce it does not go gooey.

Sourdough pizzaCredit: Sue Visser

sourdough flatbread

Add grated cheese, olive, mushroom slices, peppers, etc. Grill or bake in a very hot oven for a few minutes or use a traditional wood fired oven – lucky you!

The base for flammkuchen is made the same way. Some of them are made into large squares and placed on a baking sheet. They are cut into squares and enjoyed with beer or wine.  Instead of tomato you spread on some sour cream or crème fraiche.

If you have cottage cheese or make it from Amasi, use that instead, but mix it with a little oil. Fried bacon and onion is the traditional topping, but vegetarians can enjoy their favourites artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms and so on. Bake it like a pizza and enjoy!

A quick gluten-free pizza if you want to skip fermentation?

Gluten free pizza

Mix a cup of Ace instant mealie (corn) meal with 1/2 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup kefir or Amasi or yoghurt or beer. Add 1 teaspoon baking powder and a tablespoon of canola oil. Mix, press out onto a baking sheet, add toppings and eat. this only take 1/2 hour, so no need to fuss about with fermentation when you are in a hurry!

Mini pizzasCredit: Sue Visser