This artisan pizza dough will give you a billowy soft crust, blistered bubbles and a crispy bottom. It uses a high hydration and long fermentation time for maximum flavor and the perfect crackly, chewy texture.
I think it’s safe to say that pizza dough is one of the most important parts of a good pizza. The crust is the foundation (literally) of flavor and texture– you should make it as delicious as you can.
So what exactly does it mean to have the best pizza crust? For me, a great artisan pizza has a complex flavor, big bubbles, a creamy crumb and crispy edges. Believe it or not, you can achieve all of these qualities in your home oven with stunning results.
There are 3 big factors that contribute to high quality artisan pizza dough:
- High hydration dough: I prefer to use a dough that is around 75% hydration (the percent of water relative to the amount of flour). This will encourage a lot of gas bubbles, a chewy crust and a complex flavor. But the dough won’t be so sticky that it feels impossible to work with. The dough will also have enough structure to be shaped into a pizza and slid off the peel.
- Long bulk fermentation: a small amount of yeast and a slow fermentation will help develop flavor and strength. This pizza dough ferments for about 6 hours at room temperature. For maximum flavor, you can let it slowly ferment in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- A surface that can get really hot: This could be a baking steel, pizza stone, inverted baking sheet or cast iron pan, or even an unglazed tile. These surfaces are preheated in your oven to absorb as much heat as possible. The result is a gorgeous artisan pizza with a crackly crisp crust and spots of char.
Note on flour: Yes, high quality 00 flour will give you delicate flavor, chew, and delicious results. I’m a huge proponent of using the best ingredients I can find. But in the case of great artisan pizza dough, flour type is second to the key techniques outlined above. If you can’t find 00 flour, any good all purpose flour will work just fine!
advice for making artisan pizza dough by hand:
The high hydration dough is a huge part of what makes this crust so chewy, crispy and delicious– but it takes some getting used to. It’s a wet, slack, sticky dough that may be a far cry from what you usually work with.
Once you learn how to handle it (and taste the finished pizza), I promise you won’t look back to the denser doughs you’ve made in the past. Here’s what I’ve found to be the most helpful:
- Lightly wet your hand when you’re initially mixing the dough and performing the fold. This will minimize sticking and make the process much easier.
- Use a kitchen scale! This is the best way to guarantee consistency and great results. Everyone scoops flour differently, and flour itself varies enough to throw off volume measurement quite a bit. I’ve approximated volume measurements, but it’s really just an estimate when it comes to bread baking.
- The dough is “folded” one time, about an hour after mixing, to develop the gluten and give the dough some structure. No kneading in the traditional sense is performed.
- Lightly grease the bulk fermentation container to prevent sticking. Also make sure to lightly grease the shaped dough balls and the plate they’re stored on. This prevents a dry, tough skin from forming on the dough as it proofs, and it also minimizes sticking (especially if you plan on refrigerating the dough for a day or two).
- Water temperature and ambient temperature play a very important role in the timing of the bulk fermentation. Cooler temperatures cause a slower fermentation and a longer rise time, while the opposite is true for warm temperatures. In general, it’s best to watch the dough rather than the clock. Follow the loose timing guideline in the recipe, but make decisions based on how the dough is rising in your specific environment. To learn more about manipulating temperatures and to hone your bread skills, I highly suggest reading Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish. I’ve adapted his bread techniques here and in a number of my favorite bread recipes– he’s the king of artisan baking.
- Here’s a great video on how to shape the dough into a ball. You want to create enough tension that the ball holds its own shape, but you don’t want to overwork it and lose much of the gas that has built up.
how to make this artisan pizza dough ahead of time
This pizza dough can be made, shaped into a ball and refrigerated for up to 2 days. It couldn’t be easier to make pizza for a crowd when you have your dough all ready to go.
Here’s an example timeline:
9:00 AM: mix flour and water, hydrate yeast
9:30 AM: mix in yeast and salt
10:30 AM: fold dough and transfer to lightly oiled container
3:30 PM: divide and shape dough into balls, let rest 30 minutes
4:00 PM: cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. It could be later that evening for dinner, or anytime in the 2 days that follow. As a bonus, I find the chilled dough is easier to work with!
how to make this pizza dough for a crowd
This artisan pizza dough can be halved, doubled, tripled– you name it. The recipe scales very easily, as long as you have a container that can accommodate the mass of dough.
We have big eaters around here, so I typically assume 1 dough recipe will feed 2 people with some leftovers for the next day. That’s 1 pizza/ person.
For smaller appetites, or if you’re serving the pizza with a salad and other dishes, you can get away with 1 dough recipe (2 pizzas) for 3- 4 people.
artisan pizza dough- crispy, chewy, bubbly crust
This artisan pizza dough will give you a billowy soft and chewy crust, blistered bubbles and a crispy bottom. It uses a high hydration and long fermentation time for maximum flavor.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 minutes
- Total Time: 8 hours
- Yield: 2 12-inch pizzas 1x
- Category: Pizza
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
- 500g (3 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp) all-purpose or 00 flour
- 375g (1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tbsp) warm water, divided
- 1g (1/4 tsp) instant yeast
- 10g (1 1/2 tsp) fine salt
Mix flour and all but 1 tablespoon of the water in a large bowl until just combined, then cover and set aside for 20- 30 minutes to rest. Sprinkle yeast over remaining warm water and set aside to hydrate.
Sprinkle salt over the surface of the dough. Stir yeast mixture and pour over dough. Lightly wet your hand, reach under the dough, and pull about a fourth of it over the top. Repeat until the center of the dough is covered. Then, using your thumb and forefinger as pincers, squeeze and pinch off big chunks of dough. It’s okay to wet your hand a few times to prevent sticking. Pinch through the dough five to six times, rotating the bowl as needed. Fold the dough over itself a few times. Repeat pinching and folding until the yeast, extra water and salt are fully incorporated and a shaggy dough is formed. Cover the bowl and lest rest about an hour.
Fold the dough one time to develop the gluten. Lightly wet your hand, reach underneath the dough and pull about a quarter of the dough up just until you feel resistance, then fold it over the center. Rotate the bowl and repeat this folding four to five times, or until the dough has tightened into a ball. Take the entire ball of dough and invert it into a clean, lightly greased bowl, so the seam is down and the top is smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, 5- 6 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape into a ball as follows. Stretch out a quarter of the dough just until you feel resistance, then fold it back over the center. Repeat stretching and folding the remaining three edges until the center is covered and a loose ball is formed. Turn the ball over so the seam is down and place it on an un-floured area. Cup your hands around the dough and gently pull it towards you, dragging the bottom along the counter to create a bit of tension. Rotate the ball 90 degrees and drag it a few inches towards you again. Repeat rotating and gently dragging until the top of the dough tightens up and the ball is round.
Transfer to a greased plate and repeat with remaining dough. Lightly oil the tops, cover and let rest at room temperature for about an hour. Preheat oven at this time. If not using right away, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready (for up to 2 days).
to make pizza:
Place pizza steel, stone, or inverted baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 500°F (or as high as it will go). Let oven heat up for at least 45 minutes. Generously flour a pizza peel and set aside. Alternatively, lightly grease a cast iron pan with olive oil and set aside.
Place one dough ball on a floured surface and flatten the middle into a large disk, leaving a thick 1-inch lip. Pick up the disk, and holding the thick edge, use gravity to gently shape the dough into a 12-inch circle. Lay on prepared pizza peel and adjust shape into a circle, being careful not to squish the outer edge. Jiggle the peel to make sure the dough isn’t sticking, and add more flour if it is. Alternatively, shape the dough to the size of your prepared cast iron pan, then place it inside.
Add sauce and toppings to pizza dough, leaving the 1-inch perimeter empty. Slide pizza onto the hot steel and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2- 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden and blistered. If using the cast iron pan, bake for 15- 20 minutes and broil for the last few minutes to get spots of char. Repeat with remaining pizza dough and toppings.
Recipe technique adapted from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish
- Serving Size: 1/4 of a 12″ pizza
- Calories: 228
- Sugar: 0.2g
- Sodium: 488mg
- Fat: 0.6g
- Saturated Fat: 0.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0.4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 48g
- Fiber: 1.7g
- Protein: 6.5g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: artisan pizza dough