Perfect Pizza Dough

The quest for perfect homemade pizza dough–I thought–was over. Through a great recipe my sister Erica found on a food blog, I was under the impression that we had arrived. I posted the recipe here and called it a day. And then, Christmas happened . . . and I discovered that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

With all three of us girls staying at my parents’ house, spouses and children included, the burden of cooking couldn’t fall only on Mom and Dad. So just like we’ve done in family vacations past, we distributed days and each couple took a few turns at the stove. Erica and Dave announced that they were making pizza using a new recipe that Erica had discovered here, and folks, this pizza crust blew the other one far, far away. This pizza crust is hereby declared the Winner of Winners.

Erica and Dave are also declared the Winners of Winners.

The crust is chewy and bubbly and perfect. Here it is uncooked . . .

. . . and here it is after about 12 minutes on the pizza stone.

It has to be prepped the day before because it hangs out and rises for 18 hours. But don’t be intimidated by that! It rises all by its lonesome with no effort from you, and the results are so spectacular that even if it did require babysitting during its lengthy rising time, it would still be worth it.

(Speaking of babysitting, time to insert a random picture of me and Alice.)

Top that there with pepperoni if you have a pepperoni-obsessed husband like I do . . .

. . . or spread a thin layer of Boursin over the dough instead of tomato sauce, and toss on some ham and asparagus for a pizza that sends me to the moon.

I will now show you the lore of this genius who crafted the recipe. Jim Lahey, I owe you big time for sharing this with the world.


(Makes 6 pizzas)

7 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp salt
½ tsp active dry yeast
3 cups water

Making the dough

  1. Whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon and add 3 cups of water little by little.
  2. Mix dough with your hands and shape it into a rough ball. If the dough isn’t coming together, add 1 TBS of water at a time until it comes together.
  3. Put the ball of dough into a large clean bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 18 hours at room temperature (about 72 F) in a draft free area. The dough should double in size and form tiny bubbles on the surface during this time.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and dump the dough onto it. Shape it into a rough rectangle and divide it into 6 equal portions.
  5. Taking the portions one at a time, gather the 4 corners towards the center, creating a ball. Let the ball rest on your work surface seam-side down, dust the top with flour, and cover with a damp towel. Let all the portions rest in this way for 1 hour. (To make ahead: you can make the dough up to this point 3 days ahead. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to bake, unwrap the dough and let it rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours on a floured surface, covered with a damp towel.)

Making the pizzas

  1. When the dough has 1 hour of rest remaining, preheat a pizza stone in the oven at 450 F in the upper third of the oven. (If you’re using a baking sheet, keep the rack in the middle of the oven and don’t preheat the sheet).
  2. Taking the first portion of dough, lift the dough off the work surface and gently stretch it with your fingers into a 10-12’’ disk, moving the dough through your hands in a circular fashion and letting gravity help stretch it. Take care not to squash the air bubbles inside.

Here’s how I do it, gently pushing the air bubbles towards the edge of the circle:


    3. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and gently stretch it a little further. Add desired toppings. (Note: don’t load it down too heavily—light on the toppings makes for a much better pizza.

    4. Slide the pizza still on the parchment paper onto the pizza stone or baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes, until dough is thoroughly baked and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven, cut and serve!
    5. Let the pizza stone reheat for a few minutes between pizzas, and repeat with remaining portions of dough.

    Guys, if pizza even remotely appeals to you, you’ve got to try this one! Seriously. Jimmy-boy done did good.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Perfect Pizza Dough

6 thoughts on “Perfect Pizza Dough

  1. Twinky Satterthwaite

    What?!?! Only one picture of Alice?????

    Heidi lets her dough rise from the day before in the fridge for more like 24 hours I believe….I remember her saying that a slow rise using a small amount of yeast was important. Of course, that was in Alaska and in such a different location it has to be done a little differently…. =)

  2. Megan

    Mmm…..sounds really good. We’re gonna be making pizza soon, but I was gonna try a NY style dough first, which is also a cold rise (in the fridge), but that one says to have the water temp around 85deg, I noticed you didn’t mention water temp, did you just use room temp, cold water, other?

    I’m off to make English muffins, so we can have homemade eggs benedict for lunch!

  3. Suzie

    I thought you had posted the perfect one before but, I’m glad you found one even better! It looks fantastic. I can’t wait to give it a shot :)

  4. Dave

    A little tip – if you don’t have a pizza stone (or just want a more colored/charred crust), you can use the other side of a cast iron skillet to bake your pizza on. Just make sure to leave it in the oven for 30 mins or so at a high temp to heat up well.


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