I am someone who gets heck-bent on perfecting my current hobby. That current hobby happens to be Homemade New York Style Pizza Dough at the moment.
Today I want to share with you all of my trials and triumphs on this current quest for the ultimate Neapolitan pizza dough recipe.
At the same time, I don’t want to bore you with all of my blah, blah, blah so if you want to cut to the chase you can watch the video I put together below and also jump right into the ingredient list and instructions below the video.
I will tell you, however, I am totally thrilled with this authentic pizza dough recipe and technique.
Famous New York Pizza Dough Recipe
500 grams of High-Protein Bread Flour
1 1/2 Cups Water
3/4 teaspoon of Yeast
2 teaspoons Salt
Step 1. Ask her out and treat her like a lady.
Step 2. Weigh out 500 grams of flour. (see more below in the main instructions)
Step 3. Warm 1 1/2 Cups of water to lukewarm temperature.
Step 4. Add 3/4 teaspoon of any bread yeast to water.
Step 5. Wait 5 minutes.
Step 6. Stir the water and yeast.
Step 7. Add the water and yeast mixture to the flour.
Step 8. Mix until incorporated.
Step 9. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.
Step 10. Add 2 teaspoons of salt.
Step 11. Knead in a mixer for 10-12 minutes or by hand for 15-20 minutes.
Step 12. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 90 minutes.
Step 13. Punch down and make a log of the dough 12 inches long by 2 inches wide by 2 inches tall.
Step 14. Cut the log into 3 or 4 equal portions.
Step 15. Shape the dough into balls and place into a greased container that has a lid.
Step 16. Preheat oven to it’s highest temperature.
Step 17. Either leave the containers of dough at room temperature (covered) for 30-45 minutes or refrigerate immediately (max 4 days).
Step 18. After 30-45 minutes turn the container upside down over floured surface until dough falls out.
Step 19. Gently shape the dough. (see the video for this)
Step 20. Place the shaped dough on a floured and cornmeal covered pizza peel. Or a cooking sheet if that’s what you have.
Step 21. Add sauce lightly to the pizza.
Step 22. Add cheese.
Step 23. Add additional toppings.
Step 24. Shake the pizza peel until the pizza starts to move freely.
Step 25. Open the oven and quickly slide the pizza off of the peel and onto the pizza stone or ideally a pizza steel.
Step 26. Bake for 5 minutes as hot as your oven will go.
Step 27. Rotate pizza and bake until ready. Usually 3- 5 minutes more for a total baking time of 8-10 minutes.
Step 28. Let it cool for a minute or two and enjoy.
Makes three 14″ to 16″ pizza crusts or four 10″ to 12″ pizza crusts
Now the long version.
Weighing out the flour
Flour weighs differently at different humidity levels, at different packing methods and at different degrees of fineness from the mill.
What might be a cup of the same brand in Arizona might weigh differently than that same cup in Washington State.
This could be the reason why if you make the perfect pizza dough and then try to recreate it 6 months later with different flours you get a completely different result.
As far as flour goes, we are having great results by mixing Italian Naples Caputo 00 Pizzeria flour with quality bread flour like Bob’s Red Mills Artisan Bread Flour or King Arthur’s Bread Flour.
At first, when I excitedly received the Caputo 00 flour, I made a 100% Caputo 00 dough. It was delicious but it just was a bit tough when biting the crust. I want it a bit tough but it was too much.
The answer was to mix either the Bob’s Red Mills or the King Arthur Bread flours 50/50 with the Caputo flour. You can read more about these two flours in the Caputo 00 link above.
Using the scale I measure in 1/2 cup of the Caputo 00 then a 1/2 cup of one of the others until I hit 500 grams for this recipe.
My dough is now consistent every time.
Yeast and Water
I measure out a splash more than 1 1/2 cups of water and then add that to a small pot to warm up on the stove. I mentioned baby bottle warm in the video but I guess around 90-100 degrees would be more accurate.
After the water has warmed and is not too hot I put it back into the measuring cup (or it’s own bowl) and then add 3/4 teaspoons of yeast.
Currently, I am using Fleischmann’s yeast. It’s not the rapid rise or any of the other versions just the plain jane version. I have tried the rapid and quick and such and I get the same results.
This dough is at it’s best when it has been in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days and by then I’m not sure rapid yeast makes a difference.
If you make this pizza dough to use for the same day it doesn’t make much difference either. It doubles in size no matter what version of the yeast.
I leave the yeast in with the warm water for about 5 minutes before adding it to the flour.
From what I picked up on the internets, Salt hinders gluten formation. We need gluten to give the dough its bite, crust, crumb and to make it work-able when we are forming it into the crust.
Kneading is part of the process. So is time.
Mix the water/yeast mixture into the pizza flour (just enough to incorporate it) and cover it up with a towel or plastic wrap. Then set the timer for 20 minutes. This allows the flour to soak up the water so gluten formation can begin.
After the dough has soaked for 20 minutes it is time to add 2 teaspoons of salt and start the kneading process.
If you have a mixer, great. We totally stumbled on a great deal on a KitchenAid mixer, but before that, I just had to knead it by hand. More on that in the next section about hydration.
Hydration Levels of the Pizza Dough
I have been told that this pizza recipe would run about 65% hydration.
That doesn’t mean much to me as far as the science but what it does mean is that in a really hot oven the outside gets crispy and browned and the inside of the crust stays moist.
This makes it hard to knead by hand due to needing to add flour all of the time to keep it from sticking to your hands.
The good news is I have tried it both ways and we are somewhat splitting hairs here.
The moral of the story is if you are kneading by hand try not to overdo the flour you need to keep it from sticking.
Pizza Peels a.k.a. Pizza Paddles
When we first started out I purchased this aluminum pizza peel off of Amazon. And it was terrible at first. However, it would come to be one of my favorites and I will tell you why in a sec.
My first pizza on it I just sprinkled some cornmeal. When it was time to transfer it to the oven it stuck on the peel like nobody’s business.
I made a mess and toppings went everywhere on the super hot pizza stone. We didn’t have a pizza steel yet.
So the next time I used it I floured and spread a handful of cornmeal on it. It still stuck and made a mess.
So back to online shopping, I researched and found this wooden pizza peel and purchased it. Most of my search was focused on high-ratings and size. This wooden peel has a good number of both.
With this wood peel just cover it with a nice sprinkling of flour and cornmeal.
You still can’t push on the dough once it is on the peel. Or it will stick. So once it’s shaped it’s done. Try to resist reshaping it on the peel.
Watch the how-video above to see how we shake the peel to get it moving on the board as we transfer it to the oven. Never stop shaking.
Now the great thing about the aluminum peel is that it is really thin. So it is great for scooping up the pizza when it has been in the oven for the first 5 minutes.
I have to give ours a spin around that time as our oven doesn’t bake very evenly.
Then the thin peel is great for removing it from the oven.
Pizza Steels VS Pizza Stones
This is not the greatest photo but I’ll tell you the story. First off, my wife brought home the pizza stone from our local Target.
It was fun but it was really hard to clean. I had to leave it in the oven to slowly cool and then if any toppings fell off or sauce went through the center of the pizza dough (because I stretched it too thin) those toppings and sauce would massively stick to the stone (the one she purchased was kind of porous so yours might be sealed smooth).
This made clean up a nightmare. Then I had to make sure not to bang it around and break it while cleaning.
Then I had to heat it up slowly in the oven so it wouldn’t bust.
I went back to researching and found that it wasn’t a stone I was needing but a pizza steel.
Just a boring 1/8″ to 1/4″ flat plate of steel that has been seasoned.
I bought the one I linked to above and love it.
I use a clean putty knife to scrape it off and cleanup is a breeze.
I guess the thicker the better when it comes to pizza steels but ours is around 3/16″ thick and it does a great job blackening and charring the bottom of the crust (at 550 degrees Fahrenheit). The pizza never sticks. We love it.
I also picked up in my web searches to use the pizza stone on a rack above the steel to help generate downward radiant heat.
This works a charm and melts the cheese and browns the top crust evenly as the bottom of the crust does its thing.
I preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes. You can actually tell a difference between preheating for 30 minutes and preheating for an hour or so.
Long preheats and the pizza gets checked and spun at 5 minutes and is usually ready in 7-8 minutes total baking time.
Short preheats usually take around 9-10 minutes to be perfectly baked.
Containers and Storing Pizza Dough
While the dough is waiting for its initial 90-minute rise I like to go ahead and lightly oil some plastic containers with lids with olive oil.
I make sure to oil the lids as well as the dough will rise up into them.
3 days in the refrigerator seems to be the magic number with this dough.
It will ferment and even almost get a sour dough’ish (very mild) taste.
It stays easy to work.
Even if I am going to make the dough that same day I place it in the refrigerator for until the oven is completely preheated so the dough is a bit chilled.
It is slower to get away from you when you are shaping it the cooler it is.
Using these containers you can refrigerate for 4-5 days or freeze for 6 months.
That size of containers is made for cutting this recipe into 4 dough balls.
If you just cut into 3 portions the dough will expand and pop the lid off. Then air will dry out portions of the dough and you will have to tear them off and throw them away.
Lightly flour your working surface and make a log out of the dough.
I use a bread knife to cut out 3 or 4 (as equal as possible) portions.
I then dust my hands with flour and start shaping each portion into a ball.
It’s okay to smash the dough at this point so I just use my hands to make a ball and keep tucking the dough under until I have nice smooth ball.
Then it goes into the container with the tucked side down.
Shaping the Pizza Dough
So now we are where the rubber meets the road.
After the dough has risen 30-45 minutes at room temperature it’s time to shape it before stretching.
If it’s coming out of the refrigerator I just let it warm up at room temps for about 15 minutes tops.
Sprinkle some flour down and then invert your container over it.
There is no more grabbing the dough at this point. We want every air bubble the yeast has created to stay intact for our outside crust to have that awesome spongy inside.
The dough should fall out of the container, eventually, as we have oiled it.
If it doesn’t pick a corner and help it just a bit.
Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and dust your hands as well.
Take your hand and start at the edge of the circle of dough and start pushing in with your fingers to begin forming the outer crust. If you want a thin outer edge then make it a thin ring around the dough. If you want a massive fluffy edge then make it about 1″ thick or so.
It’s okay to mash the areas where you want the crust thin just not the edges.
Stretching the Pizza Dough (New York Style!)
Prepare your pizza peel with flour and cornmeal.
Dust your knuckles and raise the pizza dough, so the dough is upside down, keeping your hands together and your fingers bent inwards. Basically making a little hat out of the dough for your hands knuckles up.
Start gently stretching out the dough by moving your hands and knuckles outward while giving the dough a bit of a spin.
(you really have to watch the video for this…)
Keep stretching and focus on the areas closest to the edge without affecting your edge crust too much.
Even though when you started, the middle of the dough was thick it will get thin fast.
The warmer the dough the easier it is to get away from you as it’s weight will pull it down make it super thin until it rips.
Repairing rips is the pits so just don’t let it get away from you.
Keep slowly spinning the dough and working it out until it’s the size and thickness you are after.
It is perfectly fine to pretty dang thin as surprisingly it will still have some thickness when it’s baked.
Fold your dough out on your prepared peel or cookie sheet.
You got this!
Adding Sauce and Toppings to the Pizza
Mezzetta® makes a really good pizza sauce. It’s not sweet, though, if that is what you like. I think as far as store bought sauce it is the closest to New York style pizza sauce.
My next venture is fire-roasting garlic and tomatoes and making my own sauce but I’m not there yet.
True Neapolitan pizza bakes in sometimes less than 90 seconds at 900 to 1100 degrees.
It is topped with only fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.
It is also usually quite heavy on the sauce.
I have found, though, that too much sauce is not to my liking. I spread the sauce on lightly and this helps keep my middle crust (which I like really thin) from getting too soggy.
After the sauce goes the cheese.
After the cheese goes the toppings.
If you have wet toppings (like pineapple) then wring them out in a cloth or paper towel and try to try them out a bit.
Just my opinion but I love red onions and garlic on just about every combination.
I also like to finely chop all of my ingredients.
Taking the Pizza to the Oven
It’s really helpful not to push the ingredients into the dough too much.
This helps with sticking to the peel on the way to the oven.
Start shaking the peel on your way to the oven and get it moving by shaking it so it’s already broken free from the peel by the time you get there.
I try to open the oven door and close it as fast as possible so I don’t lose heat.
Keep shaking the pizza on the peel as you let it slide off the beveled edge of the peel.
Check the pizza in no more than 5 minutes and give it a spin if your oven doesn’t heat evenly.
I use the thin peel for removing the pizza when it’s finished baking and for rotating the pizza. The thick peel just pushes it back deeper into the oven.
Wow. That’s it. You’ve got it.
Don’t let it cool too long!
I would love to hear of variations on what you have come up with or other tips you have to offer. Leave them below in the comments so I can incorporate them with my tests.
Here is a Q & A from what others have asked.
How do you store homemade pizza dough?
Wrapped in olive oiled plastic wrap or in your olive oiled container with a lid.
6 months in the freezer.
5 days in the refrigerator.
How do you make homemade pizza dough with thin crust?
This recipe makes a thin crust dough. It just depends on how thin you stretch it and how small your edges are.
Can you freeze homemade pizza dough?
Yes. 6 months in a tightly sealed oiled container or oiled plastic wrap or oiled freezer bag.
You can also wrap your container in plastic wrap.
Homemade pizza dough calories?
There are around 1800 calories in this recipe.
Around 83% of those are fast carbohydrates.
Around 4% of those are fat calories.
Around 13% are from protein. (hence high-protein bread flour)
So if you made three pizza’s from this recipe and cut it into 8 slices you would be looking at around 75 calories per slice just in crust.
How do you make homemade pizza dough without a mixer?
Well, you just get to it. Use a wooden spoon for your initial mixing. Then do an internet search for how to knead the dough.
Is this the chewy New York style pizza dough?
Yes. Crisp on the outside but chewy inside and throughout.
How do you bake homemade pizza dough?
Turn your oven up as high as it will go.
Why is there only four ingredients in your pizza dough?
That’s the Neapolitan purest style. Which to me makes it the most authentic pizza dough recipe.
Is this the best pizza dough recipe in the world?
Not sure about that. But it is a very good one for New York and Neapolitan style crust.
What is the taste of homemade pizza dough?
Amazing. It will make it really hard to go back to any other pizza.
Mixing homemade pizza dough or any bread dough for that matter is a total pain in my (hands, arms, shoulders, back, lol).
Not that I am knocking the awesome experience of kneading dough, it’s just that I don’t seem to have enough drive to consistently work the dough as much as is necessary.
I had looked on the internet and found some good deals but the higher-horsepower KitchenAid mixers were just out of my price range. I had almost broken down and decided to pick up the entry model at our local Walmart for $223.97.
I called my wife and told her what I was thinking about purchasing and thankfully she talked me into waiting it out just a bit longer and continuing my research. (Actually, now I remember it was because all Walmart had was the white version and she thought it would be hard to clean)
I went back home disappointed that I couldn’t start on all of those bakery projects I had imagined myself creating and continued my quest searching on Amazon.
And somehow there I found it.
So for the same price of the Walmart Classic Plus (white) 4.5 Quart 275 watt we were able to buy the Professional 5 Plus 5-Quart Stand Mixer 450 watt off Amazon.
Excitedly, I hollered at my wife to come check it out. She was impressed but wanted to look at the other colors (other than Empire Red). And here is why I say we totally scored.
The same model in other colors USED or RECONDITIONED was $300 and up. So I jumped on it.
The price fluctuates a bunch at Amazon so keep an eye out and wait a few days for changes to happen with the colors and prices.
First off you have to make sure you carefully check the dimensions of the prospective pizza peel or pizza paddle you are thinking of purchasing.
It’s easy to see one online and think it looks great but get it home and it’s 12 inches wide and useless for homemade pizza.
My first peel I purchased has a twist to its story. It is large enough and looks really cool (which makes me look really cool) but it’s made of aluminum (with a wood handle) and no matter how much I would flour and cornmeal it, my pizza dough would stick.
It’s just too smooth and polished. I found myself disappointed and using our cutting board instead which is a disaster as it’s not beveled and the pizza loses toppings and gets jacked up trying to put it on the pizza steel.
However, now that I have replaced it with our wooden peel I use the aluminum one for removing the pizza as it’s so thin and perfect. The wooden peel that is great for putting the pizza “in” would just push it back when taking it out.
So now I am glad I have both. Here is a picture of the first peel we bought.
If you can only get one pizza peel definitely get a wooden one with a beveled edge. It’s hard to slide the dough off of a mirror finish like the peel above has (but its great for getting it out and pulling it out to rotate your pizza).
What you want is this one. This is the wooden peel we love. It’s the perfect size, shape, and bevel.
Exited to get started in the world of pizza making or possibly at that time just heating up Digiorno’s we quickly found that a pizza stone is a pain in the butt.
First, you had to make sure not to bang it around, then you had to make sure not to have any moisture in it, then you had to slowly heat it to keep it from busting, then you had to let it cool off slowly.
And then to end all, if sauce or toppings got on it there was hell to pay when it came time to cleaning.
So what is a pizza steel, you might ask?
Ahhh. This Pizza Steel (link to Amazon) is what we bought after researching how folks were getting that perfect pizza crust. We are so glad we found this information and have been perfecting our pizza ever since.
I think ours is around 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick. Of course the thicker the better but ours is the one linked above and it does great. It comes pre-seasoned and ready to get to work.
Nowadays, to help get the oven as hot as possible I use our pizza stone just a few inches above the pizza steel to help create a mini oven inside the oven. It does help bake the pizza faster and we love the results.
You can find out more and watch a video of the pizza steel in action by clicking on the first link in this article.