I’ve been making a lot of this NY style pizza dough recipe …. The obsession started a while back, and I’ve finally found a recipe that I love the best! After years of experiments (and I mean years!), I am now using this recipe based on recommendations from the many fine pizza makers at www.pizzamaking.com and the Dough Doctor, Tom Lehmann.
Making pizza dough at home
Making NY style pizza dough is definitely somewhat of an art form. There are so many variables that can be changed aside from the ingredients alone. For example, these variables include:
- oven temperature
- temperature of the water used to make the dough
- proofing methods (room temp vs cold rise)
- order of adding the ingredients (yes, this makes a big difference!)
- mixing time
- use of autolyse
- use of poolish (I don’t do this or the one before, although I have in the past)
And then of course, the toppings which can be simple or as complex as you’d like. But don’t worry too much about all of this – my method is easy and straightforward. Plus, you will make better dough than 99% of the pizza chains out there. You will not want take out anymore!
My favorite pizza dough: the big secret is how you proof the dough
My all-time favorite dough is NY style dough, which really is classic pizza dough that is stretched out into a thin crust pizza. This type of pizza dough contains water, flour, salt, instant yeast, and olive oil (and sugar especially when baking in a home oven, to help browning).
After it is mixed, it is proofed (left to rise/ferment) in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 72 hours (it can also be frozen). I’ve used the dough up to 5 or 6 days afterwards, so you can essentially prepare dough for the week.
This recipe produces a crisp yet foldable crust that is tender, light, and flavorful and will make enough for four 14-inch pizzas. You can easily double or half the recipe to make 2 or 8 pizzas.
Fourteen tips for success when making NY style pizza at home:
Tip 1: Choosing the flour
Use high-quality flour – I like to use King Arthur’s all purpose or bread flour; higher protein (ie, bread) flours work best. However, I prefer all-purpose flour because I like a lighter, airy crust.
Tip 2: Adding the yeast
Do not add instant dry yeast (IDY) directly to cold or cool water – you may shock the yeast (add the IDY to your flour instead) (please note that IDY differs from active dry yeast, which must be activated by adding it to water).
Tip 3: How much yeast?
Use only enough yeast to “get the job done” – yeast eats the sugar in your flour to produce its leavening effects – I find that if you use too much, your dough will be tasteless (this is just my opinion); however, it is a fact, that too much yeast can make your dough taste bad. Most recipes out there, some of them in well known, published books contain too much yeast!
Tip 4: Cold ferment that pizza dough!
Always use your refrigerator. The best NY style doughs “ferment” or “cure” in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to
48 72 hours. This is called a “cold rise” (vs warm rise on your kitchen counter).
The refrigerator is used to retard (or slow) the dough’s fermentation, allowing that distinctive flavor to come through (ever wonder why some pizza crust tastes different than others, despite the fact that they are both made from just about the same exact ingredients? – this is a big reason why!)
When your dough rises too quickly, the flavor will not develop optimally. Slow rise = MUCH better flavor.
Tip 5: Weigh those ingredients!
Use a scale to weigh the flour instead of using a measuring cup – it is much more accurate and will yield superior results. I’ll admit, I resisted doing this for a loooong time. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did and your dough will be more consistent and much improved.
Tip 6: Add oil last
Mix the oil in as the last step, after the flour has all been incorporated. This is important to allow the flour to hydrate properly.
Tip 7: Flour your dough balls
Before tossing or opening your dough balls, flour them *very* well on each side (if you are a beginner) to ensure they do not stick to your counter or pizza peel. I sometimes use a bit more flour after I begin spreading them.
Tip 8: Keeping those rims a bit puffy
Take care not to “degas” the rim of your pizza as you are spreading your dough! Do NOT ever use a rolling pin! There are many different methods to spread/open your dough ball. I hope to add a few pictures someday of this process.
Tip 9: Baking pizza in a home oven
Ensure that your oven is preheated for a sufficient amount of time (about 1 hour) and bake the pizza within 6 to 8 inches of the top of your oven (ie, your broiler) so that the tops browns sufficiently in conjunction with the bottom of the pizza.
Do not place the stone near the bottom of your oven. I made this mistake for too many years.
After your stone has been preheated sufficiently, the heat from the stone will cook the pizza from the bottom and you can switch the broiler on if you find you need more browning on the top (I now use the broiler to bake my pizzas…more on this sometime in the future).
If you find that your cheese is browning well before your rim attains sufficient color, use partially frozen cheese (ie, place shredded cheese in the freezer while the oven is heating up) and cold sauce or you can drizzle just a bit of olive oil on top of cheese.
Tip 10: Use a pizza stone or steel
Use a pizza stone if you have one. The stone with draw moisture out of the dough and produce a beautifully crisp crust. I use a pizza steel because my stones kept breaking.
Tip 11: Use just the right amount of sauce
Do not use too much pizza sauce – it will make your pizza soggy
Tip 12: Find the right kind of cheese
Do not use low fat cheese to top your pizza or pre-shredded cheese (the former will not melt sufficiently and the latter contains additives that prevent the cheese from sticking together and therefore does not melt very well). The best is low-moisture, whole milk mozzarella.
If you must use pre-shredded cheese, I’ve found that adding the sauce on top of the cheese helps with the melting. Also, do not use too much cheese; apply it sparingly so that you can achieve that mottled NY pizza appearance.
Tip 13: Flour your pizza peel
Use semolina or flour on the bottom of your pizza peel to prevent the pizza dough from sticking but be careful not to overdo it because it will burn.
Tip 14: Learn to launch that pizza
Give the pizza peel a few very small quick jerks to make sure the pizza will easily slide off your pizza peel before attempting to transfer pizza to the oven, and more importantly, rub flour into the peel before placing the dough on top.
How to stretch the pizza dough
A nice video (from The GoodFellas Pizza School of NY), showing how to stretch the dough:
Questions? Please see my NY Pizza FAQ
The Best New York Style Pizza Dough
- 6 cups (6 cups) flour, all purpose or bread 28 oz (796 grams)
- 2 ¼ cups (2 ¼ cups) water 17.4 oz (493 grams or mls) Luke cold (means "barely cold")
- 1 teaspoon (1 tsp) instant dry yeast (3.5 grams)
- 2.5 teaspoons (2.5 tsp) salt (15.6 grams)
- 2 teaspoons (2 tsp) sugar (7.8 grams)
- 1 tablespoon (1 tbs) olive oil (11.8 ml)
To mix the dough
- Place water in mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix salt and yeast (and sugar if using) into flour
- Combine flour/salt/yeast mixture into water and mix until all the flour has been incorporated.
- After flour has been totally incorporated, add oil and knead for about 4 to 5 minutes (see note)
- Test final dough temperature, which should ideally be between high 70s to low 80s (optional)
Diving the dough and letting it rise
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces (using a digital scale if possible; each ball should weigh 11.5 oz [~326 grams]), shape into a ball, and place in greased, sealed quart-sized container or oiled/greased freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours (After much experimenting, I have concluded that I like 3 days best but day 2 is good too).
Assembling and baking the pizzas
- The following day, remove your dough balls within 1 hour or less of baking and allow the dough to come to room temperature. (the dough will tend to blister more if the dough has not been allowed to come to room temperature however, I often bake coldish dough without problems, just some bubbling)
- In the meantime, place your pizza stone in oven and preheat at 550 degrees (depending on thickness of your stone and your oven’s power) for at least 1 hour
- Open each dough ball using care not to degas, transfer to a pre-floured pizza peel (or on parchment paper), and top with your favorite sauce, cheese, or other toppings.
- Transfer pizza from peel to oven or slide parchment paper onto preheated pizza pan/stone and bake for 4 to 6 minutes each until browned on top and cheese has melted but not burned.