Before our trip to Florence, I told Karen the first thing we had to indulge in was Neapolitan pizza. And of course, a heaping plate of mind blowing truffle pasta. There is something about Italian pizza that many, including me, have tried to emulate – but have fallen short. But that sure hasn’t deter me from testing pizza dough recipe after pizza dough recipe, searching for that perfect crust. I’m excited to share that artisan baker Ken Forkish‘s “Same Day Straight Pizza Dough” formula comes pretty darn close.

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I should warn you that Ken’s recipe is pretty tedious compared to some of the recipes I’ve used in the past – especially when it comes to the mixing part. The physical part of making the dough actually doesn’t take long at all – it’s the amount of time you’ll need to let the dough rest throughout the process that requires a bit of pre-planning. But the fermentation allows the dough to develop some amazing flavors, making this pizza dough recipe my favorite thus far.

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Fill a medium sized bowl with 3 cups of warm water. Separate 3 tablespoons of the water into a cup and add 1/2 tsp of instant dried yeast. Set aside.

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Combine flour and the remaining water into a large bowl. If you can use super fine, soft white 00 flour, you should!

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Mix by hand. Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

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Sprinkle salt over the dough. Mix the yeast mixture with your finger and pour over the dough.

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Then start to mix by hand, wetting your hands before mixing to prevent the dough from sticking. Ken’s mixing method is a bit complex but I think just folding and cutting a few times is sufficient. You can try pinching the dough with your index and thumb, to simulate a dough mixing attachment, as Ken suggests. As long as the salt, yeast and dough is well incorporated, all is good. Lift the dough and drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of the bowl. Place the dough back in the bowl and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 6 hours.

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The dough should now be at least double it’s volume. With floured hands, pull the dough onto large floured surface. Shape it into a long oval shape and with a dough scraper or knife, cut it into 5 equal pieces.

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Shape each piece into a medium-tight ball. I like to just rub the palms of my hands, over the top and to the bottom of the dough, a few times. You’ll notice a ball shape taking place.

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Lay the  dough balls on a floured baking sheet and sprinkle flour over the tops. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 60 minutes. Refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes before you shape the dough makes it easier to handle. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible. Mine only goes up to 525 degrees but if you can get it up to 600 degrees, that is better. And of course, a hot wood burning stove is even better. The oven should preheat for at least 45 minutes – with a pizza stone inside.

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Lay the dough ball on a floured surface and punch the middle with your fingers a couple if times. Repeat on the other side. The position both fists inside the rim of the pizza and turn the dough gently, letting gravity thin out the dough.

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Keep doing this until the dough is thin. If you develop any holes, just pinch the dough together to patch them up.

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Transfer the dough to a floured pizza peel. And top with your favorite sauce and toppings. When your oven has pre-heated, carefully slide the pizza onto the pizza stone.

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Bake for 5-6 minutes and then switch to the broil setting and broil for 1-2 minutes. Watch the pizza carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn too quickly. You’ll want a few spots of char but not too much! Side the pizza off the stone onto a cutting board or large plate.

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Slice and eat immediately. And dream of Italy . . .

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(images by HonestlyYUM; recipe adapted by Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast)

The Perfect Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1000g (7 3/4 cups) of 00 or white flour
  • 3 cups of warm water
  • 1 1/4 tbsp of fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp of instant dried yeast

Directions:

  • Fill a large bowl with 3 cups of warm water
  • Put 2 grams of yeast into a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons of the warm water. Set aside.
  • Combine the flour and the rest of the water into a large bowl. Mix with hands until incorporated. Let rest for 30 minutes, covered.
  • Sprinkle 1 1/4 tbsp of salt and yeast mixture over the dough. Mix with wet hands to incorporate all the ingredients.
  • Drizzle bottom of bowl and top of dough with olive oil. Cover and let rest for at least 6 hours.
  • Preheat oven to highest temperature up to 600 degrees. Preheat for at least 45 minutes with a pizza stone inside the oven.
  • With floured hand, scoop dough onto a large floured surface. Shape into an oval and cut into 5 equal pieces.
  • Shape each piece into a medium-tight ball and place on a floured baking sheet. Top with a sprinkle of flour, cover and let rest for 60 minutes.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes before shaping the balls.
  • Shape the balls by punching each side with fingers. Roll fists under the rim of the dough to allow the dough to stretch naturally.
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured pizza peel and top with your favorite sauce and toppings.
  • Gently slide the dough onto the pizza stone and bake for 5 minutes. Then broil for 1-2 minutes.
  • Slice and serve!