Italian

Pizza Dough You Can't Mess Up

April  6, 2016

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Like many a young New Yorker, I find myself longing for pizza quite often, particularly the warm, gooey, chewy masterpiece over at Roberta’s. But I can’t count myself lucky enough to live in the Roberta’s delivery zone (you, too?), nor can I stomach a two-hour wait every time I want to scarf down a whole pizza. So I recreated the masterpiece at home, beginning with the crust—perhaps the most magical part.

Photo by Alpha Smoot

I shy away from yeast and nearly all pizza dough recipes include it, so making dough from scratch felt daunting. Yet armed with 5 ingredients—pizza flour, all-purpose flour, dry active yeast, sea salt, and extra-virgin olive oil—plus a damp cloth, a little time, and a lightly floured work surface, a pizza that's crunchy, chewy, and crispy in all the right places is within reach.

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Top Comment:
“The photo of the white pizza is very unappetizing. Starch on top of starch reminds of paste glue from elementary school. Am I dating myself? However, the others look fine. Good article too. Homemade is the best!”
— I_Fortuna
Comment

Here's how to do it:

First, make the dough (and figure out what pizza flour is).

Pizza flour (aka Italian flour, or 00 flour) is what makes this pizza dough a notch above most homemade varieties. You should be able to find it in your local grocery or online.

In a big bowl, combine 1 part 00 flour to 1 part all-purpose flour with a pinch of salt. How much flour you use depends on how many pizzas you want to make: A cup total will yield two 10-inch pizzas.

Follow with dry active yeast (I use a teaspoon per cup of flour). Add 1 part lukewarm water to the flour mixture and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Knead until just combined, cover with a damp cloth, and let rest for 15 minutes, which you can use to text your friends about the excellent pizza dough you are making.

Dough! Photo by Alpha Smoot

Knead.

When you return, knead the dough for a few minutes, until it feels smooth and relatively easy to handle. If you used a cup of flour or more, separate it into two balls of dough—one crust for now, one for later. If you used less than a cup of flour, you’ll have one crust. Shape the crust(s) into a ball, and leave to rest on a very heavily floured surface. Pop it in the fridge for at least 8 hours (though you can leave it there for up to a day).

Dough ball! Photo by Alpha Smoot

Shape it, don’t break it.

Here comes the fun part—the shaping! Play with your dough, remembering to generously coat each side in flour as you toss and stretch it like the pizza twirler of your childhood dreams. Half sport, half interpretive dance, you can stretch your dough with fists, elbows, or fingertips. You will find your pizza is ready when it measures about 10 to 12 inches around—don’t forget to generously flour the bottom, so it doesn’t get stuck to your pizza stone.

More: How to stretch pizza dough.

No circle, no problem. Photo by Alpha Smoot

Top it.

Top with whatever you have on hand—I like a heaping ladleful of tomato sauce, burrata, a bunch of basil, prosciutto, pepperoncini, red onion and garlic, though the options abound:

Bake it.

Heat your oven to the highest it’ll go—500°F for me. Once your pizza topping spree has concluded, bake your pie in the very oven on a pizza stone or a baking sheet for 5 or so minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

As fast as delivery? Not quite. As satisfying? Perhaps even more so. If your dough yields two crusts, you can freeze the second once stretched and return to it up to a week later, armed with different toppings and an insatiable hunger for pizza.

Better than Roberta's? Photo by Alpha Smoot

Tell us: How do you top your homemade pizza?

We teamed up with Prosciutto di Parma—that all-natural, 100% Italian, soft, buttery prosciutto—to talk all things Italy, all week long.

19 Comments

Francesca April 8, 2016
That pizza looks very lack lustre and unappealing. I thought I might find out something new by opening this page, but alas, here is another badly cooked home made pizza. I generally rely on bakers flour for all my pizza bases. Bakers flour has a high gluten content and is much 'stronger' than plain flour or AP flour. I also use the recipe from the classic " The Italian Baker" by Carol Filed very reliable. The recipe can be found on my blog. https://almostitalian.wordpress.com/tag/carol-field/
 
I_Fortuna April 8, 2016
The photo of the white pizza is very unappetizing. Starch on top of starch reminds of paste glue from elementary school. Am I dating myself?<br />However, the others look fine. Good article too. <br />Homemade is the best!
 
LisaD April 8, 2016
Could you please say what exactly is on the delicious looking square pizza pictured? That photo has started turning up in my ads on other websites (the magic of the internet!) and is going to haunt my dreams. Potatoes for sure, but what else?
 
Connor B. April 8, 2016
Recipe here! https://food52.com/recipes/4467-white-potato-pizza
 
Steve B. April 8, 2016
Ok, last question, who knows how to make sour dough bread, that's good and strong??
 
I_Fortuna April 8, 2016
You can buy an heirloom sourdough culture online or making your own starter is very easy. There are several recipes online. It takes patience to get the sourdough really sour. I am assuming that you want bread like the famous San Francisco sourdough which is typically very strong. It is my favorite.<br />Here is a link to an heirloom starter.<br />http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/store/product/donnas-sourdough-culture/
 
Steve B. April 8, 2016
Connor, Steve from Gatlinburg, can you share your Father's killer dough recipe? I cook & eat pizza in my sleep!!
 
Connor B. April 8, 2016
Sure! I'll have to ask him for it but I'll follow up once in my posession....if he'll share it with me
 
aargersi April 7, 2016
Re: the parts - it shakes out to 2 c flour 1 c water (or 1 c flour 1/2 c water) is that correct?
 
Tasha April 6, 2016
Can this dough be frozen?
 
Lizzie G. April 6, 2016
I feel like my pizza dough is ALWAYS getting too puffy probably because I use too much yeast. Do you feel like this happens to you at all? I usually let the dough rest for much longer so maybe this is my issue.
 
Author Comment
Zoe P. April 6, 2016
Hm, do you use the 00 flour? when I switched it made a huge difference. letting the dough rest for 15 min after initially combining the ingredients allows the gluten to develop too and makes the dough easier to work with down the line.
 
I_Fortuna April 8, 2016
I am not sure why you think "too puffy" is a problem. Just punch it down and knead it a few times then don't let it rise again and it will be fine. I let my dough proof overnight in a warm room, knead it a few times, spread it out, top it and bake it at 500 degrees. I like my dough puffy so I don't get a gummy mess.
 
judy April 6, 2016
Good suggestions: would like to see the recipe in standard format at the end. Reading through all the chat when I am making a recipe means that I am not likely to try it.
 
Jane K. April 6, 2016
ugh now I want to have a pizza party
 
Connor B. April 6, 2016
My dad has a killer pizza dough recipe, but I definitely want to try this out and do a comparison with him. Thanks for this, loved it!
 
Lizzie G. April 6, 2016
Love this!!
 
Shelley M. April 6, 2016
pizza flour? Great, one more thing I have to buy.<br />
 
Smaug April 6, 2016
Just use all purpose, 00 flour is just soft wheat flour, it's not a big deal.