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

By • March 20, 2012 • 54 Comments



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 (54)

Comments (54) Questions (8)

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2 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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3 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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3 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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3 months ago Julie Martenson

Thanks Olivia, I will give it a shot.

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6 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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7 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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7 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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7 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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7 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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7 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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7 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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9 months 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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9 months 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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11 months ago Willl

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

Stringio

11 months 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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12 months 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?

Stringio

12 months 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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12 months 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.

Stringio

11 months 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.

Stringio

12 months 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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about 1 year ago Ananiese

Can I grill this pizza dough?

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about 1 year ago Lluigi

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

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about 1 year ago Dima Haddad

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

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about 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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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.

Stringio

11 months 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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7 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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over 1 year 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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over 1 year 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!

Stringio

11 months ago Robert Ruiz

Inside an oven with just the light on works.