How to make a classic Margherita pizza with sourdough crust

Cherry tomatoes take Melanie Johnson to Italy for this week’s recipe.

Fresh cherry tomatoes are one of the highlights of the season, and lend themselves to all sorts of dishes.

These can be effortlessly simple: a good glug of olive oil with two cloves of grated garlic, half a teaspoon of chilli flakes and 250g of cherry tomatoes, cooked until soft, with 200g of white crab meat then added makes a quick, simply dish. Once mixed, remove from the heat, mix in some freshly-cooked angel hair pasta and serve with some basil to garnish.

Below is something that’s even more of a crowd-pleaser: a delicious pizza recipe.

Recipe: Margherita pizza with sourdough crust


Serves 4

For the pizza dough (if you want to make your own)

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  • 125g sourdough starter (you can buy this or make your own in advance)
  • 425ml water
  • 650g bread flour
  • 1tbspn sea salt
  • 1tbspn olive oil

For the tomato topping

  • 2kg cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3tbspn dried oregano
  • A splash of olive oil
  • A handful of basil
  • 1tbspn tomato sauce
  • 600g mozzarella, coarsely grated. For best results, don’t buy pre-grated
  • 1tbspn sea salt
  • 500g cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Fresh basil to serve



Prepare the pizza dough by feeding your sourdough starter with flour and water the day before you plan to make it, so it becomes active. Once bubbling, whisk together the sourdough starter and water. Add this to the flour and mix until just coming together. Rest for 30 minutes. Add the salt and oil, mix again and rest for a further half an hour.

Tip onto a clean surface and knead for about 5–10 minutes to develop the gluten. Shape into a ball. Cover and return every 30 minutes to pull it out and fold back onto itself four times. Divide the dough in four and roll into smooth balls. Place them on a tray, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 24–48 hours. Remove from the fridge an hour before you plan to bake the pizza.

Preheat your oven to 160˚C fan/180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Place the tomatoes onto a baking sheet with the red-onion wedges, garlic cloves and dried oregano, then drizzle over olive oil. Mix everything to coat. Roast in the oven for maximum flavour for 45 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and squeeze out the garlic from their skins before adding everything to a processor, including the basil and a squeeze of tomato sauce. Process until smooth. If there is too much liquid (the water content in tomatoes can vary), simply place in a saucepan and cook gently to reduce. Store in glass jars until ready to make your pizza.

Salting the mozzarella first means you won’t end up with a ‘soupy’ pizza, so grate the mozzarella yourself and then sprinkle over the salt. Place on kitchen paper and leave for an hour.

Preheat your oven to 220˚C fan/240˚C/450˚F/gas mark 8. Take the balls of dough and stretch them out with your hands as much as you can to create four even-sized pizzas. Spoon over the tomato sauce, scatter over the grated mozzarella and season well. Arrange the cherry tomatoes, still on the vine, on the top and give the pizzas a final drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the oven (or, ideally, a pizza oven, if you have one) and cook until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes. Scatter with fresh basil leaves just before serving.