Makes 2 medium dough balls about 275g, or 3 small dough balls about 180g
This is my go-to dough that has come from hours of experimenting with different recipes – taking inspiration from Naples to New York. It makes a versatile dough which works well in the home oven, whether you are cooking in a pan or on a pizza stone. The best pizzas come from resting the dough for longer times, where fermentation adds deeper flavors and the texture mellows. But this dough works suprisingly well at shorter rise times too – making great pizzas provided it cooks as fast as possible in a very hot oven.
In Naples they start with the water and dissolve the other ingredients in one by one. I let it rest for 25 mins which allows the flour to absorb water, and then only needs a minimal kneading phase. This keeps the dough perfectly soft on the inside, but crunchy on the outside when baked.
Flavor and texture are improved as the yeast ferments. It only contains a small amount of yeast which allows the dough to be kept at room temperature to develop slowly. While the dough can be used at the minimal rise times, it is better to rest it for 6-7 hours. Alternatively it can be put in the fridge, which slows down things even further – after 24 hours in the fridge it is at its optimum. Remember that warmer environments will cause to the dough to ferment faster and become soft and bubbly. Leaving it out of the fridge for longer than 7-8 hours will mean it becomes very weak.
Try mixing the dough in the morning and allow it to rise at room temperature to be used that evening. Alternatively, mix it in the evening and store it in the fridge for the next evening. After a few practices you’ll be churning them out like a pro.
Too sticky? Let the dough rest a bit longer to allow the flour to absorb the water fully.
Dough tearing? Weak dough could be from a flour with not enough protein, or a dough that was left to ferment for too long – especially if it’s warm.
Shrinks back when stretching? Give it more time to rest after it is balled into individual dough balls.
Weighing the smaller ingredients is much more accurate than using volumes. Get yourself a digital scales like this one which makes things a lot easier.
Bakers ratios are calculated as percentages of the weight of the flour. From these you can multiply up or down. Need 4 pizzas? Just multiply the recipe by 2.
This recipe uses a fairly high amount of water at 66%, which stops the pizza drying out in the longer cooking of a home oven. As you advance, try push it to 70% which makes a crisp outer crust but a moist interior – but the dough is harder to work with.
It has olive oil as an optional ingredient as it also stops the pizza from drying out when baked for extended periods. If you are cooking pizza very quickly, say under 4 minutes, then it’s not needed.
Flour: 100%, water: 66%, yeast: 0.1%, salt: 2.5% and optional 2% oil.
- 330g Bread Or Pizza Flour with 11-13.5% protein (2 ½ cups)
- 218ml Tepid Water (1 cup minus 1 tbsp)
- 8.25g Fine Sea Salt (1 ½ tsp)
- 0.33g Active Dry/Instant Yeast (⅒ tsp or 2 pinches)
- 6.6g olive oil (½ tbsp) - Optional but recommended for longer baking times to prevent drying.
- Pour the water into a mixing bowl, add the salt and mix to dissolve. Add the yeast and let it hydrate on the surface for 30 seconds before mixing into the water. Then drop the flour on top but hold back on the oil if you are using it.
- Use your finger tips of one hand to stir the mixture and bring it together to a ball. To get all the flour wet, use the thumb and first finger like a pincer to cut the dough up a few times then bring back to a ball. Pinch and flip for 30 seconds until no dry flour remains. Add the olive oil if using and do this again for 30 seconds.
- Cover the dough and let it sit for 25 minutes. This lets the flour absorb the water fully and become smooth. It's important because the dough is too sticky to knead straight away.
- Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and give it a fine dusting of flour. Knead it for 1 minute with the base of your palm, pushing away and folding it back. It will be sticky but don't add too much extra flour - doing so will make the dough more dense. One minute of kneading is enough to build some gluten to become stretchy, but not make the pizza tough and bready.
- Wipe out the mixing bowl, add a few drops of oil and place the dough back inside. Coat the dough very lightly to prevent sticking, then cover again so it's air tight. Let it rise for 1-2 hours to get the yeast started - 2 hours is best unless your house is very warm.
- Push the air out of the dough with your hands but don't knead or tear the dough. Cut it into 2 equal pieces. Use scales if you want to be exact - about 275 grams each.
- Form a ball by taking two edges, stretching out slighting and bringing together. Spin it and repeat a few times. This forms a tight face on the top which makes for a good pizza later on, and a side with the seams which should be pinched closed. Transfer the ball to the worktop seam side down, place your hand on top and roll in circular motions to tighten the face and make it a perfect ball.
- Repeat with each ball and place them in a lightly floured, flat container for the second rise. An airtight box, a few dinner plates or sheet pan with plastic wrap work well. Ensure the balls are floured on top otherwise they will stick - they will increase in diameter so space a few inches apart. It's crucial to keep the balls as round as possible while they rise otherwise it's very hard to make a round pizza in the end.
- Let the dough balls rise at room temperature for 2-6 hours or 24-48 hours in the fridge - the cold slows down fermentation. They will have superior flavor and texture with a longer fermentation at either temperature. But at room temperature, the balls may become weak and gassy after a total of 7-8 hours, so move to the fridge to hold for any longer.
- Heat your oven to its highest setting for at least 30 minutes. Remember that cold dough balls need 1-2 hours to warm up to room temperature before use.
- Stretch or roll the dough very thin on a worktop with lots of flour. Add your favorite toppings and then transfer to the oven on a baking sheet, or better, use a preheated pizza stone and peel. Cook until the crust is fully golden, usually 7-10 minutes depending on the oven. Rotate the pizza halfway if it browns on one side.