Jim Lahey’s pizza dough allows you to create the sort of quality pizza crust at home that you’ve only ever experienced at the best of Italian bakeries and pizzerias. And it’s easier than you’d expect.
Jim Lahey's Pizza Dough
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 18 H
- Makes 4 batches/pizzas
Special Equipment: Pizza stone and peel
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.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 18 hours, or until it’s more than doubled.
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.)
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 boldly 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.
The dough is now ready to be slathered with sauce and toppings and baked. If it’s going to be more than a few minutes before you top and bake it, you can store the unshaped balls in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Don’t freeze the dough. Originally published October 22, 2013.
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.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I finally found the pizza dough recipe I've been seeking. This is so user-friendly. Mix 4 ingredients to form the dough, let it sit in a bowl overnight, and then later the next day, you have pizza for dinner. No need to take the temperature of the water and let something proof. No kneading. Nothing other than a few measurements and a stir.
The dough can be rolled very thinly. It also stretches very easily by hand. The finished product is delicious. Oh, and so very much better than the prepared dough you can buy in stores. Done deal.
What a simple, great-tasting bread dough. I used a bleached, all-purpose flour that I purchased in error. DO NOT USE A BLEACHED FLOUR. It’s far too weak to hold together while stretching the dough. I recommend bread flour or unbleached, all-purpose flour. Make certain that you make the dough the day before. Rushing the process, while tempting, will only serve to cheat yourself of the wonderful, complex flavor that can only be achieved with a small amount of patience. Every few hours, take a smell, and you will notice the difference each time.
This can be made on a floured pan in the absence of a stone, but I highly recommend a stone. They are well worth the modest investment. The author’s baking method (preheat and then broil) works VERY well. I chose to preheat the oven and stone to 500°F (260°C). I neither left the oven to preheat for a half hour nor left the broiler burning for 10 minutes. After all, 500°F is still 500°F, no matter how much energy you use.
As soon as my oven reached the prescribed temperature, I turned it to broil (high) and, after a couple of minutes, slid the bread onto the hot stone. When the bread came out of the oven, I put it on a cooling rack over waxed paper. I then used a high-quality olive oil that I had heated in the microwave with some of the rosemary and I tossed in some sun-dried tomato as well. I brushed the bloomed spices and olive oil generously on the crust so the flavors would be in every bite. As the author points out, this is a wonderful base for almost anything you can find—olives, feta, and sun-dried tomato or pepperoni and cheese or just oil and spices or herbs—to make the perfect pizza.