Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough + Margherita Pie

By • March 20, 2012 • 60 Comments

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Author Notes: Jim Lahey has refined his revolutionary no-knead bread technique for pizza and, astonishingly, it's even easier. Though Lahey loves smart, unusual toppings like charred thai eggplant with bonito flakes, shiitake with walnut onion puree, and cheese piled with spinach leaves, here we went with his version of the classic Margherita Pie. Lahey would want you to feel free to tinker, and to feel free to freeze the dough. Adapted very slightly from My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home (Clarkson Potter, March 2012).Genius Recipes

Makes four 12-inch pizza crusts

Making the Dough

  • 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 unsifted cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 350 grams (11/2 cups) water
  1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix thoroughly. We find it easiest to start with the spoon, then switch to your hands (see slideshow).
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
  3. Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center, then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn't actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
  4. If you don't intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

Assembling and Baking the Margherita Pie

  • 4 balls pizza dough from above
  • 1 28-ounce can best quality peeled Italian tomatoes (or fresh, peeled Roma tomatoes, if they're in season)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into large chunks
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Put the pizza stone on a rack in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
  2. Shaping the disk (Method 1): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 10-12 inches. Don't worry if it's not round. Don't handle it more than necessary; you want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered. Flour the peel (or an unrimmed baking sheet) and lay the disk onto the center. It is now ready to be topped.
  3. Shaping the disk (Method 2): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 6-8 inches. Supporting the disk with your knuckles toward the outer edge and lifting it above the work surface, keep stretching the dough by rotating it with your knuckles, gently pulling it wider until the disk reaches 10-12 inches. Set the disk on a well-floured peel (or unrimmed baking sheet). It is now ready to be topped.
  4. Drain tomatoes and pass through a food mill or just squish them with your hands -- it's messy but fun. Stir in the olive oil and salt. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  5. Switch the oven to broil for 10 minutes. With the dough on the peel, spoon the tomato sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Distribute 10 to 12 hunks of mozzarella (about 7 ounces) on top.
  6. With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes under gas (somewhat longer with an electric oven), until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
  7. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Sprinkle the Parmigiano and salt evenly over the pizza. Distribute the basil on top. Slice and serve immediately.
Jump to Comments (60)

Comments (60) Questions (8)

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27 days ago Crickett Hoffman

Cast iron skillet. You can do the toppings edge to edge and no worries about it falling off the pizza peel and shaping is a breeze. Put the dough in and let it settle.

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4 months ago Gloria Vargas de Piaggio

Will try it soon

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4 months ago Linda Taylor

I made this pizza dough recently and I love it. EASY. It froze well too!

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7 months ago Sara S.

I have a Jim Lahey pizza dough recipe I use that is basically the same amounts for each ingredient (except a bit more yeast) but doesn't use the 18 hour rest time. It just says to rest for a couple of hours. Is this one better? I like the convenience of the other one (from the My Bread book).

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7 months ago Julie Martenson

These posts read like a sad love fest for us glutton challenged. Do ay of you have suggestions? I would love to try this recipe packaged glutton free pizza crusts are horrifying.

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7 months ago Olivia

Hi, Julie:

Good gluten-free pizza dough can be hard to come by, but I've found a recipe that is quite good (and I can eat gluten): http://gfboulange.blogspot.... It takes some planning and a few ingredients/equipment that might be rare for even a gluten-free pantry (notably psyllium, pectin and a kitchen scale), but is ultimately pretty easy (and kneadable to boot!).

This recipe seems to be popular with those in the gluten-free community, though it was too dry and cracker-like for my taste: http://glutenfreegirl.com...

Also, the pizza dough recipes from the Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread cookbook look promising, though I have yet to try them.

Good luck and happy pizza making!

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7 months ago Julie Martenson

Thanks Olivia, I will give it a shot.

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about 1 month ago Hector Lahera

Olivia, Julie wrote glutton challenged, which below a pizza recipe, and from a reader of Food 52, is easy to understand. I too have the all same problems.

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10 months ago lladue

Couple of questions, has anyone made the pizza dough the King Arthurs high gluten flour? Has anyone used the dough in a high temp wood fired oven, i.e 800-900 deg. My pizza's take about 90 seconds to bake.

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11 months ago Colleeeeen

No one has said anything about the cheese (that I can find). I have never, ever been able to get mozzarella, no matter the kind (store-bought in plastic, little balls floating in water, fresh-made from the farmer's market) to come out looking like this. White and flat with only tiny bubbles if any, and gadzooks, the little brown crispy spots? Hellllpppp. Mine is always yellowish and gummy. Is it the cheese, the cooking time, the cooking temp, what? I will die searching for the answer. Have tried ricotta too.

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11 months ago Robert Ruiz

You know that ball of mozzarella that's hard like rubber? Don't use that one. Use the ball that's not floating in liquid but looks like the ball of rubber, only it's softer. It may just be the way you're putting the mozzarella on top. To get it to look like the picture I imagine it was grated into thin pieces (not a powder) and sprinkled here and there with fingertips. I, however, just pull it off in chunks and lay here and there artfully.

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11 months ago Colleeeeen

I've tried that cheese and also slices, but not "chunks" like these instructions and you suggest. Something to try!

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11 months ago Robert Ruiz

I just tear it apart with my fingers into small pieces and drop here and there until it looks evenly covered. The little brown spots will appear in time whether you plan it or not. How much you want determines when you pull the pizza out of the oven, considering whether the other toppings are done as well. The closer to the broiler the faster you're going to get brown spots on the pizza. If using the oven feature instead of the broiler it's more a function of how long before they begin to appear.

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about 1 month ago Girl Cristini

The mozza that Robert was talking about (I think) is called "Mozzarella di Bufala;" it's mozza made from a specific kind of waterbuffalo. Make sure it's the real stuff, from Italy (in Campagna). It tends to be on the pricey side, but it tastes like heaven. It's great fresh, with salad and some Lahey no-knead bread, too!

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12 months ago SJB

Has anyone experimented with longer fermentation times? Through a series of mishaps, I had dough in my fridge for 8 days. During that time, it sat out for 8 hours at room temp on two different occasions, (plans kept changing.) This morning I baked a quick breakfast pizza with the well aged dough. It was just fantastic. Nice chew , and a crisp crunchy crust. I may have found what I've looking for in a pizza crust. The dough was a little sour and perhaps not as elastic as the normal Leahy dough, but my, it was tasty.

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11 months ago bruce Murray

There is a book, "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day" where their recipe is similar. and they say the dough can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. I've found that after a week it starts to "weep" and lose water. But the breads and pizzas are very good.

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about 1 year ago LeeLeeBee

This is the only pizza crust recipe I'll ever use again - it's incredible. As my boyfriend said, "Oh man, it's just like REAL PIZZA!" I just use a normal baking sheet and the pies are gorgeous - don't hesitate to make this recipe if you don't have a stone, steel, peel, or other equipment.

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about 1 year ago LeeLeeBee

I'm sure many of you have seen this post, but Deb Perelman has adapted Jim's recipe for three different rise times (more in line with "normal" working hours) and makes the case for aged mozzarella.

http://smittenkitchen.com...

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over 1 year ago Willl

Y'all need to invest into a baking steel, no more cracking and miles better than a stone.

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over 1 year ago Robert Ruiz

Absolutely agree. My results improved dramatically with a Baking Steel and I've gone from making a pizza a couple times a year to almost once a week. (Now I'm on homemade pasta.) Incidentally, using semolina flour on the pizza peel makes the pizzas slide right off. You can get the Baking Steel at Sur la Table with their logo on it, but made by Baking Steel. The results with a Baking Steel are stellar. For anyone interested, see:

http://slice.seriouseats...

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over 1 year ago Melissa

If I use tipo 00 flour, would I use less water to make the dough, since the flour is finer than ll-purpose?

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over 1 year ago Robert Ruiz

I just made pizza dough with 00 flour and using the same proportions I used with All-Purpose I found I had to add more flour to get it dry enough and not sticky. Just start with the recipe as written and add more flour or more water. It's really the end result that guides you. Too sticky to work with, add a little flour. Too dry, add some water. I had to add MORE flour using 00.

(By the way, anyone in San Francisco, 00 flour is dirt cheap bought in bulk at Rainbow Grocery.)

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over 1 year ago Melissa

Gee Thanks Robert!! I've been making lots of pizza but just used Tipo 00 flour and i love it. It's $3.50 CDN up here in BC for 1 kg.

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over 1 year ago Robert Ruiz

Caputo 00 flour is getting easy to find in better U.S. grocery stores (or on Amazon). Caputo Semola (Semolina) sprinkled/rubbed onto a pizza peel makes the pizza slide right off (it's also on Amazon. Incidentally, "tipo" just means "type" in Italian, so just 00 flour is what most bakers call it here in the U.S.

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over 1 year ago Robert Ruiz

If planning to freeze, keep this in mind:

HuffPost: Your dough can be refrigerated (raw) for up to 3 days, but it can't be frozen. Explain to us why not.

Jim Lahey: You can freeze it but you need to use the right strain of yeast that survives freezing temperatures, like SAF Gold Instant Yeast. The dough will also change a bit, but you can get a pretty decent end result.

Found at:

http://www.huffingtonpost...

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over 1 year ago Ananiese

Can I grill this pizza dough?

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over 1 year ago Lluigi

I have tried it on a gas grill and it turned out excellant.

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over 1 year ago Dima Haddad

I always use olive oil in my pizza dough, but this looks very delicious!

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over 1 year ago Chloe8

Never made a pizza dough before. Nice.

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over 1 year ago sel

i use a cast iron flat grill...i heat good and hot, throw my pizza dough on it, flip it and do the same. then i add my sauce and cheeses etc...finally, into the oven on broil, melt that cheese till gooey. Cast iron does not crack...and makes a great crust. Sel..[email protected]

P.S. i love to drizzled evoo on the pizza just before it goes into the broiler...

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about 1 month ago Hector Lahera

sel, thanks a million. Why didn't I think of that?! Into the garbage, then, the poor broken pizza stone... And keeping the cast iron grill in the oven as a heat sink, will save space elsewhere. Three problems with one stone... so to speak.

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over 1 year ago SourTony

About pizza stones: I got a round one with a wire rack/handle about 10 years ago. It cracked in two almost immediately. But that doesn't matter: just put the two pieces on the rack, the pizza or bread or whatever on the stone, and bake.

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over 1 year ago Robert Ruiz

Check out the Baking Steel. Your results will improve dramatically.

http://slice.seriouseats...

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over 1 year ago patricia

Has anyone tried this on a gas grill? I just got a Weber and would like try grilling pizza on it.

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11 months ago karen81

I have grilled pizza on grill grates and using a pizza stone for the grill. Both produce amazing results if you create a hot zone for direct heat and a cool zone for indirect heat. For the grill grates option, once you get your grill marks on both sides on the hot zone it needs to be moved to the cool zone to melt the cheese. About two years ago I purchased a granite grill stone from William Sononma and I have not gone back to the grill grates. I start with the stone on the grill cold (very important or it will crack) and get the grill as high as 575 degrees for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to low directly under the stone and leave it on high on the burners on the ends not under the stone. This techique produces amazing results plus it does not heat up the house when it is 90 degrees in the summer.

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over 1 year ago natjanewoo

Would it be alright to use whey leftover from Ricotta-making in place of the water here? I saw this mentioned in the "Whey Cool" article, but have never made pizza dough before, and am apprehensive about deviating away from the recipe...

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over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I haven't tried that, but I think it would probably turn out great. Maybe someone else on this thread has tried it and can pipe up!

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almost 2 years ago lunalovegood

This crust was delicious! It was exactly what I was looking for- perfectly chewy and flavorful. It reminded me of the crust Whole Foods has. Mmmmm.

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almost 2 years ago cheese1227

This is great pizza dough! My only problem was finding a place in my drafty old housebin maine that was a consistant 72 degrees for 18 hours!

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over 1 year ago Robert Ruiz

Inside an oven with just the light on works.

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almost 2 years ago Cookhacker

After the dough is shaped, I always spread a thin coating of olive oil on the top before adding the sauce and toppings. This seems to "seal" the dough and helps prevent it from absorbing the sauce and becoming soggy. Also, make sure the olive oil covers the entire disk...it really helps brown and flavor the edges of the crust.
Cookhacker

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over 1 year ago natjanewoo

Great piece of advice! I brushed the entire crust in olive oil before blind baking it, pre-toppings. Perfect results without a pizza stone.

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almost 2 years ago Feby

This is a great recipe, although you should note about the amount of water used, especially in a high humidity place like where I live. The first time I made it, the dough was very-very wet. I had to add 1.5 to 2 cups for me to handle it. The second time, I used only 300 grams of water, and it was perfect. I only dipped my fingers once or twice when I gather the dough together. This time, it was perfect.

As I read from another comment, I kept the dough in the fridge and baked it on the 3rd day, and it was better than the first day. I kept some dough to be baked on the 7th day...and it was even better!

Another tip that I read, since I don't have a pizza stone, I baked the pie without topping for 4 minutes, then I add the tomato sauce and cheese, put it back in the oven and baked for another 4. The bottom of the crust was crunchy and delicious. It was a bit soggy when I put the sauce + cheese without the blind baking.

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over 1 year ago natjanewoo

Thanks so much for your recommendation of blind baking the crust. I did this, as I also am without a pizza stone, and the crust was perfectly crispy all over.

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over 1 year ago jonas

Feby, the recipe is intentionally very "wet" (70% hydration). It is the large amount of water that substitutes for kneading/gluten development. . In short, wet hands will not stick to wet dough and use the "stretch and fold" technique to create the ball )http://www.youtube.com...). I put parchment paper on my peel or work area as well.

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almost 2 years ago Xena22

The whole wheat pizza dough looks good but I wouldn't refer to it as whole wheat since the amount is a skimpy 1/4 cup for the recipe. I would increase the whole wheat to a cup or more. I use the white flour to just lighten up the whole wheat. 1/3 white and 2/3's whole wheat. It also a lot healthier for you.

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almost 2 years ago Cookhacker

I agree with you. One of the great things about the recipe is that it is very adaptable. It seems to work well with whatever proportions you like. Even if the crust doesn't double in size (it may not rise as well, depending on how much whole wheat you use, and you may need to add a little more water to get the proper consistency) but as long as you try and keep the total volume of flour to starter at a 1 to 1 ratio, it always turns out a great crust. Another thing you can do is let it rise overnight in the refrigerator, and like all sourdough bread, it will develop a more tangy, sourdough flavor because of the longer proofing time.

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almost 2 years ago Cookhacker

I tried this last night and it really is a great, simple foolproof recipe. Like some of the others mentioned on this thread, I also cracked my pizza stone a few weeks back. I purchased one of the new baking steels that are available now online, and not only are they virtually indestructible (although very heavy!), they produce an even better crust than any stone I've ever used. My favorite crust, although it takes a little kneading, is this Sourdough Whole Wheat crust...it's pretty much foolproof also and makes a very crispy, thin tasty crust.

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almost 2 years ago greenchilegal

Gretchen. I've not made this pizza, but have made no-knead bread. As far as I know it shouldn't be a problem to leave yeast packets unrefrigerated. Also, based on my experience making the no-knead bread, the rapid rise yeast works better for this application. Also, not sure what time you made it last night, but unless you made is early evening, you were probably only 10-12 hours into it at the time of your post. That and the temp of your room and the non-rapid rise yeast may just be causing a slow rise. If I were you, I'd give it a little more time. Good luck.

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almost 2 years ago Gretchen S.

Agreenchilegal: You were right! I put it on top of the rad in my kitchen. The heat from the rad + the strong southern exposure helped it puff up (despite the fact it's was only ten degrees F today). It didn't puff up and fill the whole bowl but it looks suitable enough that I will give it a try. If it doesn't work out it's early enough to call in some take-away. I'll let you know how it goes. Thank you for your reply!! :-)

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almost 2 years ago Gretchen S.

I've never made dough before so I figured this was a good place to start. I made the dough last night (for tonight) and peeked beneath the dish towel this AM only to see the dough hasn't risen a smidge. This is bad, right?

When I got home from the store the other day I missed the yeast in one of the bags and it sat at room temp for a few hours until I discovered it was missing from the fridge. Did I kill my yeast? If so, that would explain the non-puffy dough. I think. Any input would be appreciated!

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almost 2 years ago Greenbeetlegirl

Your yeast could be old? Expired? I have had similar results when unknowingly using old yeast... Just a thought :)

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about 2 years ago AmazonVal

I love this recipe and it makes perfect pizza. Luckily my gas oven heats to 550 degrees, so I just bake for 8 minutes and do not have to mess around with the broiler. Great, now I want pizza.

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about 2 years ago smhorowitz

I've been experimenting with Lahey's book and the dough, and I've discovered two new things that might be useful for some of you.
First, I have a gas stove with a bottom broiler that doesn't have room for a stone or a pan or anything. The heating element is on the bottom, too. So I just set the rack on the lowest rung of the stove, and heated the stone at 500 for as long as I could, up to an hour. Worked great. Didn't bother with the broiler method he recommends. (Using the top rack does not work well at all.)
Two, I discovered that the longer the individual balls of dough sit in the fridge, wrapped up, the better they get. Each day, it got better. By the third day, I was getting amazingly thin, charred, chewy crust (i.e. four days after actually starting the dough). I wonder how much more than 3 days these little suckers will keep improving? Next batch, will hold one back for four or five days.

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over 2 years ago daisybrain

Well, since I didn't read the cooking instructions I didn't crack my stone. I did however find this recipe to be wonderfully easy and I didn't have to wash the Kitchen Aid. Next time I may add a little less salt but overall the results were delicious. One good thing. I had some extra dough that I placed into a container and put into the fridge where it continued to grow. 10 days later it made another yummy pie. One not so good thing, this dough is sticky and no amount of corn meal allowed it to slide off my peel. My first pie was a mess. I solved the problem with parchment and now I'm very happy.

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over 2 years ago ellenu

This was the best pizza dough I have ever tried, too. And it's a very forgiving recipe. I made some changes--replaced 1.5 cups of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat, and another 1/2 cup with semolina flour. And I ran out of time and only let it rise for about 13 hours. It still turned out a crust that is better than 95% of the pizzerias in town, and once you get the hang of making the pizza rounds, it's not too difficult. I found a video of lahey demonstrating the technique--think it was on serious eats--and that was helpful. I also used basic pans instead of a pizza stone, and I can't imagine the crust could have turned out any better than it did. Thanks for a great recipe.

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over 2 years ago ellenu

Oh, and I baked it at 500 degrees for about 10 min. or so, until the cheese was bubbly and browning, instead of broiling.

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over 2 years ago cam2201

I followed the directions regarding preheating and broiling exactly, and my pizza stone cracked as well. It was an older stone (and therefore likely brittle) so I'm sure 40+ minutes of extremely high heat was more than it could handle. Still, perhaps it'd be helpful to post a warning that this method is too intense unless you have a fairly new pizza stone.

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over 2 years ago ejessee

I made this recipe tonight and it cracked my pizza stone and the dough was raw on the inside... what did I do wrong?

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over 2 years ago sunflourbaking

This is hands down the best pizza dough that I have ever tried. But, I would recommend following the baking directions detailed at http://www.epicurious.com.... By simply using a baking sheet, you can have thin, bubbly, wood fired pizza at home.