Sunday, 9 October 2011

A lesson in pizza dough.

  • Lesson #1 - Do not use really old yeast.
  • Lesson # 2 - Do not work too much flour into your dough when pressing out pizza rounds - this will make them tough. 
  • Lesson # 3 - Carefully pushing out the dough with your hands is better than using a rolling pin for keeping air pockets in the dough.
  • Lesson # 4 - Use flour, not oil, to press out pizza rounds. Especially do not use flour then oil to press out dough.
  • Lesson # 5 - Keep dough covered so it does not dry out - at every stage.
  • Lesson # 6 - Cook your pizza at the top of the oven, highest temperature possible, preheated for at least 45 minutes if you have a stone. 
  • Lesson # 7 - Don't follow recipes blindly. Not everyone measures flour the same way so 2 cups of flour in a recipe is more of a guide then an absolute. Also, the pace with which your dough rises is dependent on the temperature of your kitchen or the place you store it, so you be the judge. 

Pizza Dough Recipe

Makes 2 x large (12") or 3 x medium (8") pizzas
*Read notes and variations at bottom

  • 1 cup cold water 
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 2 tsp active dry rapid rise yeast
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour - organic is best! (more if necessary and extra for pressing out dough)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 

  1. Stir honey or sugar into water and sprinkle in the yeast. 
  2. Mix in the oil and salt and 2.5 cups of flour. Make sure the dough is not too dry otherwise your crust will also be dry, so adjust with flour or water as needed.
  3. Knead for 5 - 10 minutes until you have a slightly sticky ball.
  4. Lightly coat dough in olive oil. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 24 – 72 hours (the longer, the richer the flavor).
  5. Take the dough out of the fridge about an hour before you are ready to press out the dough. 
  6. Preheat your oven to BAKE not broil, at the highest temperature possible (probably 500F - 550F) with pizza stone as close to the top of the oven as possible. If your oven is really hot the pizza will cook really fast. The faster it cooks, the moister your pizza dough will be. Preheating your oven is an essential part of this process.
  7. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions.
  8. Press out the dough with your hands using all-purpose flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter and to your hands. 
  9. Transfer flattened pizza dough to a baking sheet sprinkled with flour, semolina flour or corn meal.
  10. Let dough rise about 20 minutes under a kitchen hand towel (timing depends on your preference and the temperature of your kitchen). The dough should rise and puff up. If you want a thinner crust then don’t let rise for very long.
  11. Make sauce and prepare toppings. 
  12. Top pizza with sauce and other toppings, I do not add the cheese yet at this point. 
  13. Keeping your pizza on the pan, place it on the pizza stone and let cook a minute or two, until the dough firms up.
  14. Very quickly, take the pizza out, add the cheese and slide it off of the pan onto the stone. Having the first 2 minutes of cook time ensures your dough is firm enough to not collapse as you struggle to get it on the stone.
  15. Continue to cook until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese melts (as little as 3 minutes, maybe up to 5 or 7 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is and how close your pizza is to the top of the oven. 

Whole wheat variation
  • Exchanging 1 cup of regular flour for 1 cup of whole wheat PASTRY flour makes for a surprisingly amazing pizza crust. However pastry flour prefers less kneading so don’t knead for 8 – 10 minutes, instead just work the dough to mix well then leave it to incubate in the fridge over night. Also, when pressing out the rounds use as little working and kneading as possible.

Other notes
  • You can mix the dough in a bread machine if you have one, or a dough mixer, or use your hands, it shouldn’t matter. As long as you have relatively new, active rapid rise yeast then your dough should rise.
  • For a faster pizza dough you may use room temperature or warm water instead of cold water and let the dough rise covered (so it doesn’t dry out) for an hour or until doubled in size. 
  • You may also use cold water and let the pizza dough rise in a cool place for several hours i.e. mix dough in the morning and make pizza in the evening. Just do not use warm water if leaving at room temperature for a long time. 
  • I have a pizza pan without a raised edge which makes it easy to slide the pizza off and back out of the oven with. If you don’t have a stone or a good strategy for doing this then just use a pan for the whole process, it still works pretty well as long as your oven rack is still at the top of the oven. 
  • Cooking your pizza at the top of the oven is important because the heat reflects off of the top of the oven and allows even cooking on top and bottom of the pizza. Also it prevents your crust from burning because the rack is placed high away from the bottom element. 
  • To take the pizza out I slide the pan back under the pizza. Using flour to press out the dough makes this sliding process easy. I never slide the raw pizza right onto the stone because it never ends well. This process has been critical for me to make good pizzas. 
  • One more tip is to not let your dough dry out while you are making pizzas. I made this mistake for my third pizza of a batch. I had pressed it out into a round before I had a cool pan to put it on. It sat on my counter for a while. Then I transferred it to my pan, but it deflated so I had to let it re-rise. This pizza turned out dry and not so perfect; so be careful. 


  1. Hey Andrea, I tried this pizza dough recipe last night and it turned out great! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes on here :)


  2. Awesome! I love getting feedback and am glad it worked out :)