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Pizza Dough

I know how great the lure of dough from the grocery store must be, and I won’t hate you if you turn to it out of lack of time or planning. (A pound of frozen dough should be enough for two pizzas.) But it will not give you the kind of crisp, beautiful, flavorful crust mine will. The moisture content will be different, and so will the texture. The cooking time may be different. Also, beware of additives lurking in the stuff. It will be decidedly inferior. Why turn to the premade when mine is so easy to make? Yes, my recipe does have to be started a day ahead, but then it just sits, on its own, until the next day when it is prepared and waiting for your creation.

While I’m not picky about the flour—either bread flour or all-purpose is fine—what does concern me is how the dough is handled. Treat it gently so the dough holds its character, its texture. When you get around to shaping the disk for a pie, go easy as you stretch it to allow it to retain a bit of bumpiness (I think of it as blistering), so not all of the gas is smashed out of the fermented dough. I prefer to hold off on shaping the ball until just before topping it. If it’s going to sit for a while—more than a couple of minutes—cover it with a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out.

I offer you two approaches for shaping. The simpler one, executed completely on the work surface, is slower than the second, where you lift the disk in the air and stretch it by rotating it on your knuckles. Lifting it into the air to shape it is more fun, too.–Jim Lahey

LC Flinging Dough Like A Fool, Er, Boss Note

We know you’ve always wanted to fling pizza dough like a boss. And Jim Lahey is going to help you get there. We just want to caution that it may not come naturally to you at first fling. It may instead feel that you’re something of a dough-flinging fool at first. Not to worry. It’ll happen. You just need to practice. If you’re the wallflower sort of home cook, Lahey also offers a nonflinging option that allows the dough to remain safely grounded on the counter as you stretch it. But the flinging instructions are still there, as are the inspired and really quite informational photos below, just in case…speaking of inspired, whatever plans you’ve got for this dough, we strongly encourage you to diss them for Lahey’s white pizza.

  • Shape the dough into cute little rounds
  • Let the dough rest, seam side down
  • Cover the dough with a damp cloth
  • Gently streeeeeetch the dough into a circle
  • Take the dough aloft, supporting it with your knuckles
  • Gently streeeeeetch the dough, supporting its outer edges with your knuckles
  • Continue to streeeeeetch the dough simply by rotating it with your knuckles
  • Keep on streeeeeetching the dough, gently tugging—not pulling—it wider and wider
  • Fling that dough like the boss that you are

Special Equipment: Pizza stone and peel

Pizza Dough Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 18 H
  • Makes 4 pizzas

Ingredients

  • 17 1/2 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups tepid water

Directions

  • 1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, thoroughly mix the ingredients.
  • 2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the dough rise at room temperature for 18 hours, or until it has more than doubled. Figure room temperature is about 72°F (22°C). 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 portions. Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, 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 4 folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn it seam side down. The dough may be sticky and wet as you work with it, but that’s okay. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour. Place the dough on the lightly floured work surface and repeat with the remaining portions of dough. (If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic wrap 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.)
  • 4. To delicately shape the dough on the work surface: Take 1 ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Then press it down and gently stretch it out to 6 to 8 inches. Very carefully continue the process, massaging it into a roundish disk of 10 to 12 inches, stroking and shaping with the palms of your hands and with your fingers. Don’t handle it more than necessary, though; you want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered. Flour a peel and lift the disk onto the center.

    To fling the dough in the air like a boss: Take 1 ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Then press it down and gently stretch it out to 6 to 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 tugging it wider and wider until the disk reaches 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Set the disk on a well-floured peel.
  • 5. The dough is now ready to be topped. You can store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Don’t freeze the dough.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Variation

  • I’ve found over the years that I personally prefer less whole wheat in the mixture than others might. Too much of it, to my taste, makes the crust gritty. To make whole wheat pizza dough, use 2/3 white flour to 1/3 whole wheat, and double the yeast used.
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