Pizza Dough

by Coltrane

I originally took an interest in pizza dough when my mom got me an Oster bread machine.  (Thanks mom.)  I began by using the recipe that came with the bread machine.  My initial attempts all tasted like cardboard.  I started messing with the ratios of water, flour, yeast, oil, and salt.  I tried adding and removing varying amounts of sugar or honey.

One of the difficulties with this learning process is that almost every recipe calls for differing amounts each ingredient, and there’s no standardized order of ingredients.  It makes it a lot harder to visualize the way that the recipes compare and contrast.

The two charts below are an attempt to give some order, so that it’s easier to see how the recipes differ.  All of the recipes have been scaled to ~3 cups of flour.  This will make one large, thin-crust pizza or two smaller pizzas.  All of the Peter Reinhart recipes are somewhat approximated — his recipes call for 5 cups of flour.  I divided those all in half, making for some very odd looking measurements.

.   Bread Machine Smitten Kitchen Joy Smitten (updated) Batali (FN)
. Flour 3 cups AP 3 cups AP 3.5-4 c  AP 3 cups AP 3.5 cups AP
. Water 7/8 to 1 cup 1 cup 1-1/3 cups 3/4 cup 3/4 cup
. Other Liquid       1/4c white wine 1/4c light wine
. Yeast 1.5 tsp active 1.5 tsp active 2.25 tsp active 1.5 tsp active 2 TBP active
. Salt .5 tsp 2 tsp 1 TBP 2 tsp 1 tsp
. Oil 2 TBP 1 TBP 2 TBP 2 TBP 1 TBP + 1 tsp
. Sugar     1 TBP (optional) 1 tsp 1 TBP Honey
. Mix 1 20 min 2 min 10 min   6-8 min
. Rise 1 20 min 60-120 (double) 60-90 (double)   45 min
. Mix 2 .5 min punch down punch down    
. Rise 2 50 min 10-15 min 10-15 min    
. Refrigerate          
 Peter Reinhart recipes:
.   Neopolitan Neo-Neopolitan NY Style Americana
. Flour 2.5 cups AP 2.5 cups Bread 2.5 c Bread 2.5 c Bread
. Water 1 cup minus 1 TBP 1c minus 1.5 TBP 7/8 cup 3/8 cup
. Other Liquid       1/2 cup milk
. Yeast .5 tsp instant .5 tsp instant 3/4 tsp instant 1 tsp instant
. Salt 1.5 tsp 1.5 tsp 1.75 tsp 1.75 tsp
. Oil   1 TBP 1.5 TBP 2 TBP
. Sugar     3/4 TBP 1.5 TBP
. Mix 1 4 min 4 min 4 min 4 min
. Rise 1 5 min 5 min 5 min 5 min
. Mix 2 shape shape shape shape
. Rise 2 30 min 15 min 15 min 15 min
. Refrigerate Overnight Overnight Overnight Overnight
.   Rise 1.5 Hours Rise 1 Hour Rise 1 Hour Rise 1 Hour
.   Fridge 2 Hour Fridge 2 Hour Fridge 2 Hour Fridge 2 Hour

The Links:

Smitten Kitchen “Really Simple

Smitten Kitchen “Pizza, Updated

The Joy of Cooking

Batali’s Food Network recipe.  Note that it calls for 1.5 ounces of fresh yeast.  The quantity in the recipe is an approximation of the amount of active yeast required instead.

Peter Reinhart’s American Pie

A yeast conversion chart.

One TBP of table salt = Two TBP of Kosher salt.  The recipes above use Kosher salt.  Adjust accordingly.

Use unbleached flour.  Feel free to try substituting bread flour for all-purpose flour and vice-versa.

What I think I’ve learned:

1.  The Oster recipe tasted like cardboard for two main reasons:  There’ s very little salt in the recipe and the rise in the machine is fast and warm.

2.  The longer the rise, the better the taste.   I never let any dough rise at any temperature above about 75-78 degrees.  A longer rise lets enzymes work and create more complex flavors.

3.  Dough can live in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.   Ideally it will be removed from the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to take the chill off before use.

4.  Read the actual recipes in the links.  Every approach is a different and they all can be considered valid.

5.  The Mario recipe calls for a lot of yeast and a short rise.  There are lots of other flavors happening in that one, masking the short rise.

6.  Fats and sugars promote browning and crispness.  This applies if they’re in the dough or on the outside of the dough.  Try brushing olive oil on the edge of the pizza before or during cooking.

7.  One unit of instant yeast = 1.25 units of active yeast.  Going the other way, 1 unit of active yeast = .8 units of instant yeast.  (Instant yeast is 25% “stronger”.)  I prefer instant yeast, as it doesn’t need to be “bloomed” (pre-soaked with water and sugar.)  Active yeast should be “bloomed”.


I’m currently using the “Simple” Smitten Kitchen recipe.  I’m not using a pizza stone or anything like that.  Here’s my method:

A:  Turn oven up to 11.  Let the oven preheat at least 10 minutes so that the oven becomes hot, not just the air inside the oven.   Longer is better.

B:  Lightly oil a sheet pan (or broiler pan).  Stretch dough out on the oiled pan.  (Optional, brush the dough with a light coating of oil on top.)  The oil sort of fries the bottom, helping to give a crisp crust.

C:  Add all toppings except cheese.  I will often partially saute the toppings in advance as I’m not a fan of raw veggies on a pizza.  This is a good way to add more flavor too.

D:  Insert the sheet pan on the bottom rack, cook 10 minutes.

E:  Open the oven and quickly add the cheese, cook about another 6 minutes.  Adding the cheese at the half-way point prevents burning.   Turn the pizza at this point if it looks like it’s not browning evenly.

F:  Remove and let cool for a couple of  minutes to let the pizza set up.

G:  Eat!

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