One of the most important things to know about making your own pizza dough is how fermentation works and why it matters so much. Fermenting a batch of dough together over a number of days helps create huge flavor and a good rise. It also makes it easier to work with, reducing the chances of dough sticking to the countertop, peel, or stone. Grab your stand mixer and favorite kitchen apron because things are about to get doughy!
Rise of the Dough
Fermentation is an ancient practice, most likely discovered by a drunken Egyptian. The theory is that, after running out of water, an Egyptian baker used beer to bake their bread, introducing yeast to the dough, and proper dough to the world! Yeast digests the carbohydrates in the dough, expelling gas as they’re doing it. This paired with the strengthening of the gluten proteins in the dough, leads to the kind of pizza dough texture we’re used to: firm dough, with light airy pockets throughout.
Fresh Dough vs. Fermented Dough
To put it simply, fermentation is the process of using yeast to age dough. Using this process properly will give your dough the capability to rise like it should during the baking process. Fermentation also plays a huge part in developing good flavor and texture in your dough.
When you take a freshly made batch of dough and turn it into pizza, the dough hasn’t had any time to rest and begin fermentation.
Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt
You can use our Pizzacraft 00 Pizza Flour base, or make your own! When I make pizza dough I always try to keep it simple. Flour, water, yeast and salt are my four go-to ingredients. I’ve seen plenty of dough recipes containing oil, sugar, malt, and other ingredients that taste great, but personally I’ve always felt that simple is best when it comes to pizza. Keeping with this idea, we’re going to explore this method of fermentation using a simple dough recipe. Let’s take a look at the ingredients:
Basic Pizza Dough Recipe:
4 to 4 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour (updated on 7/17/17)
2 cups lukewarm water
1 packet active yeast
2 ½ tsp. kosher salt
First, mix all of the ingredients; it should be sticky and rough. A mixer comes in handy here if you have one, but you can definitely work the dough by hand. Wait 10 minutes for the water to absorb, and then knead the dough by hand for 10-12 minutes on a silicone rolling mat (or 8-10 minutes in a mixer). Put the dough in a clean bowl with a lid or kitchen towel over the top and place in the fridge for 24 hours or longer.
After 24 hours, remove dough and separate into desired size for your pizza using a dough scraper. Cover with cling wrap (cover, do not wrap them up, to allow the dough to rise a bit more if it wants to) and let sit for an additional 2 hours. If your dough always forms unwanted bubbles while cooking, try lightly piercing it with a fork or a dough docker before adding toppings to deflate any air bubbles that occur during baking. Then you’re ready to make fresh, homemade pizza.
Depending on the activity of the yeast, the temperature of your fridge, length of fermenting time, and your personal preferences, you can get a range of different textures and flavors out of your dough! Be sure to experiment (it's fun!) and let us know what your optimal result looks and tastes like in the comments.
Check out how to make whole wheat dough.