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Sunday Cooking Lesson: Perfect Pizza Dough - A Family Feast

Sunday Cooking Lesson: Perfect Pizza Dough

Note: This is a two day process but the end results are amazing! In order to activate the gluten but not allow the yeast to activate, you must use ice cold water and flour and let the dough sit overnight in your refrigerator. (For the best quality dough, refrigerate the flour and water for one hour before beginning.) The reason the dough needs to be as cold as possible is so the yeast does not activate until the next day when you are ready use the dough. This delayed fermentation technique is called L’ancienne – and using a small amount of yeast in this recipe allows the dough to leaven without eating up all the sugar during fermentation. As well this recipe uses olive oil to tenderize the dough. The result is a thin golden crust that is crispy on the bottom and edges but still chewy and tender. Pizza dough perfection!

Yield: 6 dough balls 1x
Prep: 12 hours 15 minsTotal: 12 hours 15 minutes


  • 4 ½ cups cold bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt (use table salt not Kosher)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to coat dough balls
  • 1 ¾ cups ice cold water
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • Corn meal to dust the pizza peel


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift in cold flour, salt and yeast. Place paddle onto mixer and mix to incorporate dry ingredients.
  2. In a 2 cup measure, fill to 1 ¾ full with the ice cold water then bring up to two cups with the ¼ cup of the oil.
  3. Turn the mixer on low and slowly but steadily add in the full two cups of the liquid. Once the dry and wet are together and a dough starts to form, replace the paddle with a dough hook and turn to medium.
  4. The dough should just stick to the bottom of the bowl as it turns and not come up off the bottom. If too wet, add a little flour. If too dry, add a little water. Once you have it perfect, keep the speed on medium and knead for six minutes.
  5. Remove the dough to a floured surface and with a knife, dough cutter or bench scraper, cut into six equal pieces. They should each be seven ounces, give or take a little.
  6. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and brush with olive oil to coat. With your hands, form each piece of dough into a rough ball. Place each dough ball on parchment and brush the tops and sides of each ball with more olive oil.
  7. Place all six balls into a gallon zip lock bag and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. Note: At this point, you can freeze any dough balls you do not plan on using the next day by sealing them in sandwich sized zip lock bags and freezing for up to three months.
  9. Two hours before you plan on cooking your pizza, remove the dough balls from the refrigerator, flatten to ½ inch thick and about five inches in diameter. Place on a floured surface (does not have to be very warm like it would to rise bread dough, just room temperature). Brush or mist with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap then a towel and let sit for two hours.
  10. Forty five minutes before making pizza, heat oven to its highest temperature and place a pizza stone in the center of the oven. (A pizza stone is crucial to a perfect pizza however if you do not own one, place an upside down sheet pan in the oven and use that as your stone.). The oven and the stone need to be the hottest you can get them.
  11. When you are ready to cook, using a bench scraper, scrape up one dough ball at a time and place on a floured surface. Dip your hands in flour and using a circular motion, flatten the dough and stretch until it is about eight inches. If the dough stretches back, cover it with a towel and let it sit for ten minutes to relax the gluten. If you are comfortable flipping in the air to stretch to the final size, do that now or use a rolling pin to get the dough to your perfect size and thickness, between 9 and 12 inches.
  12. Dust the pizza peel with regular corn meal. This will allow the finished pizza to slide off onto the stone. Gently lift the dough circle onto the peel and top with your favorite sauce, cheese and pizza toppings. For our demonstration, we used our own home made pizza sauce (see recipe here), fresh mozzarella and handpicked fresh basil but you can top with your favorite combinations.
  13. Open the oven door and quickly slide the pizza onto the stone with a jerking motion. Do a little at a time and once the corner catches, the peel should slide right out. Close the oven door quickly and if cooking at 550 degrees, the pizza should be done in about seven minutes. Adjust as needed depending on your oven’s highest temperature.
  14. Use a pair of tongs, and slide the cooked pizza onto a pan and then onto a cutting board where you will cut into wedges and serve.
  15. If you are pulling dough from the freezer, they still will need to sit overnight in the refrigerator to get the gluten working. Then follow the remaining steps above.

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