Mastering the art of making dough is the key to great pizza. A pizza is 90% dough so it stands to reason that its quality is of the utmost importance. It is the base on which you will build all your flavor.

When making dough with active yeast, you’re dealing with something that is very much alive. The yeast eats sugars in the dough and releases both carbon dioxide gas and a variety of compounds that produce flavor. Like in bread making, the C02 acts as a leavening agent to give your finished pizza a fluffy texture while the other byproducts impart a subtle tangy taste. This process is known as fermentation and your ability to control it will allow you control the flavor of your pizza.

Yeast is more active in warmer environments, so a fermenting dough left out on the counter will rise quite quickly. While this might seem like a great way to make pizza dough quickly, flavor takes time to develop, and for this, we want a cold ferment.

Active Time: 45 min

Total Time: 24 hours

Yield: 2 x 14″ pizza doughs

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (335 grams) Warm Water
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 1/2 cups (500grams) Bread Flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Salt

Tools:

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Wisk
  • Kitchen Scale (optional)
  • Plastic Wrap

Equipment for making pizza dough

Instructions:

You’ll notice the total time for this recipe is 24 hours, so plan ahead. One day is the minimum you should ferment your dough, but I personally like the additional flavor from 48 hours if you have the time.

Active dry yeast is alive but in a dormant state, so it needs to be “proofed” before it can get to work. Start by whisking together the water, sugar, yeast and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should fully dissolve and the mixture will have a bread like aroma, almost like beer.

Adding yeast and flour to wet ingredients

Add the flour and begin to fold the ingredients together. This can be done either by hand or with a large spoon.

Mixing wet and dry ingredients in pizza dough

Work the mixture until there are no dry spots and the dough looks relatively smooth. Next, cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. This allows the yeast a head start before adding the salt which would inhibit its development.

After 30 minutes, add the salt and fold it into the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying and put in the fridge for 24 hours.

Pizza dough after 24 hours of cold fermentation

Take the dough out of the fridge about 2 hours before you plan to make pizza. The dough will have doubled in size and will feel considerably softer and less dense than the day before.

Forming pizza dough into a round ball

Scrape the dough onto a generously floured work surface and flour your hands to prevent sticking. In order to form the dough into a perfectly round ball, fold it in half, turn it seam side down, and stretch the corners underneath. Gather the ends on the underside and pinch them together if they’re not sticking. Roll the dough in between your hands lightly to shape it.

Dividing pizza dough into individual portions

This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas approximately 14″ in diameter, so you’re going to divide the batch and repeat the same forming process with each half. Simply cut it in two with a large kitchen knife.

Forming pizza dough into individual balls

You’ll notice some visible bubbles on the dough in the last image above. While you want to form each as round and smooth as possible, bubbles and air pockets are welcome here. Those are signs that your yeast has been active and when baked they will form beautiful crispy bubbles on your crust.

Now, dust your dough with some extra flour and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. Let them sit until they approximately double in size. Depending on the temperature, this could take an hour or two. This second proofing makes the dough much easier to work with and will stretch to 14 to 16″ without springing back. It’s time to make pizza!