4 cups (500 grams) ‘00’ flour. (most common brand is Caputo available in specialty food stores or online)
4 teaspoons salt (10 grams)
½ teaspoon active dry yeast (not rapid rise) (3 grams)
1 ½ cups plus 3 tablespoons water (325 grams)
Note: In baking of any type, exact adherence to formulas is the goal. The volume measure work well, however if a digital scale is available, it will increase the accuracy of the recipe.
Place flour in a mixing bowl, add the remaining dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients with flour, and then add the water. If you are planning to bake the dough the same day as mixing it, use room temperature water. If you are making the dough for use the next day, use cold water (55 degrees F).
Mix the dough by hand for 3 to 4 minutes. The ingredients should be well-combined and the consistency sticky. There may be some small lumps, but this is acceptable. Imagine very thick pancake batter, or biscuit mix. Allow the dough to rest in the bowl, covered for 15 minutes to allow the water to become fully absorbed by the flour. The final consistency will remain sticky – this dough is for well-hydrated dough to be baked at high temperature.
Next, you will knead the dough gently for 5 minutes on a well-floured surface. Form a single ball and place the dough back in the bowl (well-floured) and cover. Allow to proof for 1 1/2 hours or until almost doubled in size.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Do not push all the air out of the dough. Divide it into three equal pieces. Form each of the dough pieces into a ball by folding the dough into itself in your hands with the goal of stretching the outer layer of dough to form a tight ‘skin’. (go to Youtube to watch a demo – enter ‘balling pizza dough)
If using the dough the same day, allow the dough to rest covered at room temperature for at least an hour. This will provide a final proof and relax the dough to facilitate stretching. If using the dough the following day, place in refrigerator covered overnight.
A word about pizza dough: the dough will develop more fully and turn out with a browner bake when ‘retarded’ overnight. Retarding dough is simply the process of slowing down the proofing process. This happens under refrigeration. If you wish to retard your dough, place the final balls on a well-floured tray or cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic to prevent drying out and crusting. The optimum method for overnight dough storage is using individual food storage containers (like Tupperware) that are deep enough to allow the dough to rise by approximately 50% of its original size – place a dough ball inside individual well-floured food containers and cover.
If retarding the overnight, remove dough 1 hour prior to baking to allow it to become more extensible.
Place dough on floured peel. Gently flatten the dough slightly, but do not push all the air out – bubbles are good, add a rustic look and nice black char in the Neapolitan tradition. Depress the pizza dough around the circumference to form what will bake as a nice raised edge. Then lift the dough and gently stretch to form a pizza 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Lightly flour the peel again and place the dough on the peel. Top as desired.
Bake on a pizza stone pre-heated at your oven’s highest temperature 500 or 550 degrees F until slight char is achieved.