Making Pizza Dough

See Also: Grilled Sourdough Pizza Recipe (below)

Pizza critics often contend that it’s the quality of the crust that makes the pizza. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to make an excellent pizza crust at home with a simple pizza dough recipe as long as you follow a couple of easy, yet critical, instructions to get that great crust.

They are…

1. Crank up the temperature of your oven to the highest heat it will reach. Most home ovens will not exceed 500 to 550 degrees, but that is plenty sufficient as long as you also…

2. Use a quality baking stone and give it time to reach full heat saturation. By “a quality baking stone”, I mean a thick stone with good heat retention and heat transfer qualities. If yours doesn’t fit this description, any baking stone is better than none. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Many people even find quarry tiles purchased at their local building supply store for a few dollars quite satisfactory.

The rest comes with a little practice. Once you’ve made a few pizzas, you’ll develop a good feel for the dough and for the baking characteristics of your oven and baking stone. I’m reluctant to claim that the pizza I make in my kitchen oven or outdoor grill is as good as or better than the award winning wood fired pizza available in town. So I won’t . But it’s close enough that I haven’t felt the usual compulsion to buy theirs in a long time.

If you want everyone at your house to be happy, make one of these crusts, put on your favorite toppings and follow the simple baking instructions. Making exceptionally good pizza is easily within reach. I hope these videos inspire you to give it a try.

The pizza dough I make in this video could hardly have been faster or easier. The “appreciation-to-effort ratio” on this one is excellent. In other words, you’ll chalk up some serious points with your spouse, kids and guests without knocking yourself out.

This recipe makes two 12-14″ thin crust pizzas and calls for:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose or bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup luke warm water
  • Your choice of toppings

Before making this pizza, you may also want to watch the following sourdough pizza video.

Grilled Sourdough Pizza

Given my obsession with sourdough starter, doesn’t it figure that I would include a sourdough pizza crust recipe here as well? You bet! And predictably I think it’s fit for the Gods.

This recipe is more involved and may take a little getting used to because of the addition of the sourdough starter. If you haven’t worked with sourdough before, you’re facing a bit of a learning curve. But if you’re already baking bread with it, then you’ll find this recipe almost as easy as the one above.

This recipe also makes two 12-14″ thin crust pizzas and calls for:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1-3 Tbs water (see video)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • Toppings

More elaborate recipes may coax more flavor from the grains and possibly improve on the texture and consistency of the crust. But as with the no knead bread recipes, I think these pizza recipes and methods strike the right balance of time, effort and quality that’s suited to the typical harried lifestyle we tend to live.

Breadtopia reader comment:

The “sour dough workout” shouldn’t be a joke. I found that when “air kneading” I got the same exercise for my arthritic hands as I do with my little ball of soft “clay stuff.” Thanks for a great new recipe. Pizza dough has always been a failure for me, but I love my sour dough and this worked great; both eating and exercising.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have a pizza peel, prepare your pizza on the back of a cookie sheet spinkled with corn meal.
  • From the comments below, Ed suggests: “Try a little semolina flour in your pizza next time. It makes the crust a bit chewy and gives it a nutty flavor”. Thanks Ed!
  • Another great tip from Connie Dove’s comments below: Prepare the crusts on top of upside down cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment (works better than semolina or bread crumbs). Slide paper & pizza into oven/grill and once the pizza has been on the stone for a half minute, the parchment paper slips right out from beneath!
  • Scroll down (or click here) to the Feb. 12, 2008 post by Fonseca for some great info on converting this recipe to all whole wheat.
  • News Flash (8 Nov, 2009). Thanks to Mike Gallaher for scoring this great looking pizza dough recipe, and to “hipkip” for sharing his pizza sauce recipe just below Mike’s posting. (Clicking links will take you directly to their posts below.)

For a super thin & crispy crust:

Marty (a Breadtopia reader) has developed a method for making a cracker thin pizza crust. So if you like a thin and very crispy crust, give this a try…

Special equipment needed:

  • Dough Docker (a fork could be used but the docker really puts a lot of holes in the dough quickly)
  • Pizza screen (I use a screen, it has the advantage of being very light weight, and no peel is needed).
  • Or a Pizza stone
  • Pizza peel, if using a pizza stone.

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Roll out your favorite pizza dough, very thin.
  • Place dough on pizza screen(or a pizza peel if using a pizza stone).
  • Using the dough docker (or forks), pierce the dough, make sure there are a lot of holes!  This will keep the crust from puffing up.
  • When oven is heated up thoroughly, quickly place the dough in oven (or on stone, if using)
  • cook for 3 minutes.
  • Take crust out of the oven, and flip upside down, and return to oven, cook for 3 minutes more.
  • Take crust out of oven, the crust should be light brown and crispy.
  • Top with your favorite toppings and return to oven.
  • Continue cooking for another 5 to 8 minutes.

The crust will be thin and cracker-like and very crispy!

{ 225 comments… read them below or add one }

nick lewis February 20, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Note on the saf yeast. The only Costco I have found Saf is in Greenville, SC, although I have never found at any other on either coast, however, Sams club has had saf in a twin pack in every store I’ve ever looked in.

On another note, this is the site that has taught me the joy of baking bread.

Thanks,

Nivk

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Laurie February 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Thanks David:) I have never seen saf at costco, or any other store in my area, so I was pretty happy to find it-didn’t realize others had a better line on it…I would love to have a Christmas tree shop here! I miss them.

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David Cavanagh February 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Laurie
If you are a member of a club store like a Sam’s Club or BJ’s, you can usually find instant teast in 1 lb. bags in these kinds of stores. Also have seen it in “Christmas Tree Shops”,which are popular in the NE.

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David Cavanagh February 19, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Eric
I recently made bagels from the recipe in Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” book, and they came out fantastic. They were truely bagel shop quality. One ingredient I did use which I think added greatly was malted barley syrup. I have a friend who was been trying his hand at beermaking, so I had access to the barley syrup. Hope you get around to doing a bagel video, and do try the barley syrup. You do a great service to us baking novices. Keep up the great work.

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Laurie February 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Since you mention SAF instant yeast in the pizza video, I thought I’d post this here-please put it wherever you think it will help most! The SAF website says that the only retailer of their yeast in CA is Trader Joe’s. My TJ’s only had packets, not the brick, so I thought I’d have to buy it over the net. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the SAF brick in my local Smart & Final warehouse store today for only $2.85, less than I can get it online! I bought the only two they had left on the shelf & plan to freeze one :)

Hope this helps…

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susan February 4, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I love the bread videos. ! So excited about the whole grain and seed variations. I am going to try preheating a clay pot for the no kneed bread and if it breaks, it breaks! Wish me luck.
Thanks!

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susan February 4, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I love the bread videos. Finally! Easy, realistic and fun. I can’t wait to experiment with whole grains and seeds. Thank you.

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Jon February 3, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I guess I need to experiment with saving a little dough and freezing it. I wonder, could you make dough using sourdough starter AND commercial yeast and then freeze?

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Breadtopia February 3, 2009 at 7:05 am

Hi Mark,

Yes, a video on Pita would be great. I hope to get to that before too awfully long. But it probably will be. ;)

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Breadtopia February 3, 2009 at 6:28 am

Hi Ron,

Regarding baking no knead bread on a stone. You can, but the signature artisan style crust (whatever that means) develops when the dough bakes in a closed vessel like a Dutch oven or covered stoneware baker.

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Breadtopia February 2, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Freezing sourdough doesn’t work well. But freezing dough leavened with instant yeast should. I haven’t gone beyond a few months in the freezer though, so can’t speak from personal experience beyond that.

Maybe we’ll hear from others on this.

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Jon January 28, 2009 at 9:29 pm

How long can you freeze the dough again? I have nothing but bad luck with freezing dough. Never seems to rise again after I take it out. Can sourdough be frozen as well?

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ron January 28, 2009 at 9:04 am

eric,can you cook no knead bread on a stone rather than in a dutch oven container. thanks

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Mark January 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm

First time making this pizza dough. Used a whole-wheat/all purpose flour blend similar to what you demonstrate in the video. Turned out awesome. I feel like I’ve been ripped off all these years buying soggy cardboard in a box.

I baked the crust 3 minutes per side before placing the toppings on it. However, I forgot to punch it will holes using a fork and as you can imagine I had a balloon in my oven. I was able to salvage it by popping the bubble with a fork. I flipped the crust and used my fork to put holes on the flip side and it all worked out. As I was baking this it reminded me of the homemade pita bread from this wonderful Lebanese restaurant. How about a recipe and video for making for pita?

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Breadtopia January 11, 2009 at 11:00 am

I don’t know.

For those wondering what a dough docker is, it’s a little roller you roll over your pizza dough to poke holes in it to keep those big air pockets from forming during baking. Poking with a fork works too.

Personally, I love those air pockets. The dough gets delightfully light and crispy.

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Brenda McCormick January 11, 2009 at 10:47 am

When are you going to add a dough docker to your product line? bren

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Breadtopia January 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Hi Gia,

Adding toppings after the crust has had a head start baking is a good technique. It really helps when you want a crispier (or at least better browned) crust before the toppings are done.

Using a cast iron pan can work well too. I use a cast iron pan for deep dish pizzas in particular.

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Gia December 29, 2008 at 9:48 am

I want to make this pizza! Alas I do not have a stone. What can I do at lower temps.? Bake crust for awhile then add topings? Is it even worth during it that way? What about using a pan (not stone) that could see 500 degrees?

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Breadtopia October 31, 2008 at 9:48 am

I use approximately equal weights of flour and water, not equal volumes, which makes it thicker.

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kristen October 31, 2008 at 9:39 am

Just wondering why your starter is so thick. When I feed mine equal parts of flour and water it’s much thinner and I live in a very dry climate. Do you feed it more flour than water?

thanks.

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Breadtopia October 14, 2008 at 9:49 am

Hi Robin,

A bagel recipe and video is one of the many I’d love to do but I have no idea when I might get it done. It sure seems like their aught to be many recipes (that include boiling) on the net.

Thanks for asking.

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Robin October 13, 2008 at 7:46 pm

I have just discovered your site and have ENJOYED it greatly as well as learning a lOT! (have already begun my sourdough starter as i write)
my main question for you:

Do you have a bagel recipe and/ or a video on the making of them?? a lady i spoke with at one of our events talked about making bagels and i would love to try but cannot find a recipe that matches her description (she broils them at some point in the process)

any help would be greatly appreciated.

thank you
Robin in So. Cal.

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Breadtopia September 21, 2008 at 8:38 am

When the crust finishes way ahead of the toppings, I found it helps to use some kind of insulation under the stone. You just have to play around with different things to see what works for your situation. Sometimes just a cookie sheet is enough or all the way up to a couple bricks. It’ll probably be something in between.

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John September 18, 2008 at 8:58 pm

What did I do wrong? In your video you mentioned that commercial pizza ovens are 700 degrees and a major challenge for the home cook is the lack of heat. I tried to solve that problem, unsuccessfully.

I have a big grill, and put a pizza stone on and left it for over 30 minutes on high. I got the grill up to over 600 degrees! I transferred the pizza on to the stone, and 8 minutes later went to retrieve it and the toppings looked perfectly cooked, but the pizza was COMPLETELY burned! The entire bottom of the pizza was black. What a shame! Any suggestions?

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Breadtopia September 15, 2008 at 11:28 am

Oops, forgot to address your question about grilling pizza. Yes, I would say cooking pizza in any kind of barbecue grill would qualify as “grilling”. And doing so on a stone is the way to go. You just have to be sure your stone can tolerate the high temps and possible contact with flames. Most can’t.

The result is usually much better than using an oven since you can often get the temperature much higher. Plus there’s the less tangible benefit of the smoke and use of charcoal (if using charcoal) to get the results that only an outdoor grill can seem to impart.

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Breadtopia September 15, 2008 at 11:21 am

Hi John,

I’ve used semolina flour on pizza peels too with good results. The semolina flour I’m thinking of is pretty granular like cornmeal but less course.

That cloth apparatus thing you’re referring to is entirely different thing. It’s a product I sell that works in a pretty unique way. There are some videos on this page which show it better: http://www.breadtopia.com/super-peel-in-action/

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John September 15, 2008 at 6:59 am

Dear Eric,

I am following your website from China, and am proud to tell you that even the Beijing air can make your sourdough starter from scratch. I bet you wouldn’t guess that from reading CNN reports about the air here.

I make pizza quite often here and my secrets to share are: semolina, honey (both of which were mentioned by previous readers) and chopped fresh rosemary – try this!

My question for you: I finally managed to get my hands on a pizza stone and a peel. But I can’t find the cornmeal that is recommended to put on the peel to prevent sticking. Can you suggest any alternatives? What’s on your peel – it looks like you have some kind of cloth apparatus attached?

Another question: I hear a lot of people talk about “grilled pizza” or “bbq pizza” – is your method the same thing? Does putting a pizza stone on a bbq count as grilling it? Is the result any different than using an oven?

Thanks.

John

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breadtopia July 6, 2008 at 5:50 am

What a wonderful story, Jeri, thanks so much for sharing it.

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Jeri July 4, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Wow. Stumbled upon your site three days ago. Since then I’ve mixed up some sourdough starter (it’s doing fabulous…nice sour smell, can’t wait to bake that first loaf!) and made grilled pizza. The pizza was outstanding. I made three pies, the first one should have gone back on the grill for a few more minutes but it disappeared too quick. I left the second one on longer, but the middle still wasn’t crispy. The third one was almost perfect. My dad has cancer and not much appetite anymore. He ate FIVE big slices of veggie pizza. My husband, Larry, almost cried when Dad took home the leftover slices. I had to promise to make it again the next day. That time I pre-grilled the crust and it was perfect. Crispy, chewy crust even in the middle. Thanks for great videos and excellent website.

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breadtopia June 4, 2008 at 11:17 am

Hi Ron & Susan,

I would increase it a lot faster. How much you add depends somewhat on how much you have to start with, but as a broad rule of thumb you can easily double to quadruple the amount of starter you’re starting with.

If you need 2 cups of starter, you want to end up with more than that so you have some left over after taking out 2 cups. So, for example, if you have a cup of starter you could add 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water and it should be good to use in several hours.

I almost always use approximately equal weights of flour and water rather than equal volumes. I just like the consistency of the starter that way.

Also, if you’re making, say, 3 cups of starter, it’s going to rise to more than that at its peak so you want to use a good sized bowl or very large jar sufficient to accommodate that much starter. And when you measure out your 2 cups of starter, you’re measuring out the starter in its mixed up state, sans air bubbles, not its poofy state.

This long winded answer is no doubt more than you needed (or wanted), but figured parts of it might be useful to others too.

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Susan & Ron June 4, 2008 at 10:53 am

Dear Eric,
We were wondering how much to feed the starter when we need 2 cups of starter. Do we just put in 1/3 c of flour and that amount of water until we have two cups?
Thanks for the video’s and all your instruction we made our starter without a hitch.
Ron & susan

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breadtopia May 16, 2008 at 4:02 am

Yes, the higher protein flours like bread flour make it harder to roll out. Most bread books will tell you that if you let the dough rest for 10 minutes or so while you’re in the midst of rolling it out, it will relax and let you roll it out further when you resume. That works.

I guess you’d use bread flour over all purpose for pizza dough if you like a chewier crust that’s also easier to get a rise out of.

I use the same recipe for thick and thin crust by just rolling it out in different thicknesses. So, yes, for thicker crust pizza I make a larger batch.

No, I haven’t used cake pans but I have used 10-12″ cast iron skillets.

Of course with all of this, there’s a million ways of doing everything and you can just take a little from here and a little from there and come up with what suits you best.

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sharon May 15, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Thank you for the quick response. I have used a bread flour when I have made my crusts before and rolling out the crust was difficult. Is that because it has more gluten? When looking at the many recipes I noticed that some call for the Bread Dough and others All-Purpose Flour. I’d like to understand why I would use one over the other.

Can the same recipe for your thin crust be used for a thick crust? Do we just use more of the dough? Have you used cake pans for thicker crusts? Thanks for your time.

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breadtopia May 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Hi Sharon.

Thanks!

The lactose sugar in milk enhances browning, but I’m not sure if that’s why anyone would add it to pizza dough. It also makes the dough more tender which might make it a little easier to roll out the dough without it wanting to spring back so much. This is more often accomplished with the a little oil.

For sauce, the vast majority of the time I totally take the easy way out and buy whatever organic bottled brand looks the most appetizing at the time.

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sharon May 15, 2008 at 8:56 am

I am going to make your basic pizza recipe today. I have been searching for the “Best Pizza Crust for thin pizza” I came across a reicpe that has milk added to it. It was the only one, do you know what that addition does for pizza dough in place of water?

I love all the comments from others and your video rocks! Do you have a favorite sauce recipe?

Thank you and I am going to recommend this site for others.

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breadtopia April 9, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Hi Kay,

I wish I could tell you I’m going to translate my videos into written instructions anytime in the foreseeable future, but I just don’t anticipate having the time to do it. I’ve got too many things on my “must do” list.

Ironically, several of the videos give a pretty good idea of how to get the dough from the basket to the cloche. I guess your best bet is to use a computer at the library or a friend with high speed access.

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breadtopia April 6, 2008 at 9:26 am

Hi Erika,

I think you would need a much wetter dough to make foccacia than the pizza dough recipe. I don’t have a recipe handy but I’m sure they’re available somewhere on the net.

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Kay April 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Hi Eric,

Just wondering if you might have put the sourdough pizza instructions in writing yet? I have dial-up and just can’t watch your videos from home. Also, just wanted you to know I have enjoyed “your” starter for many months now and have made many successful loaves (along with some failures). Most problems come when I turn the dough from the basket unto the LaCloche. Do you have any good tips for this delicate procedure? Many thanks, Kay

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Erika April 5, 2008 at 2:00 am

Eric, can I use the sourdough pizza dough recipe to make foccacio? Or do you have a recipe for that?

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breadtopia April 4, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Hi Javi,

You can use the dry yeast but I’m not sure how it converts. I think if you just play around with it you’ll get it solved pretty fast.

Good luck.

Eric

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javi April 4, 2008 at 4:29 am

hi eric, i want to ask you someting… (sorry for my english, i´m spanish)

sadly, i can´t find here in madrid instant yeast.. but i have dry yeast packets.. can i do your recipe with dry yeast?? quantity???

thanks… :-)

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breadtopia March 31, 2008 at 6:40 am

Hi Josh,

Great story. I’m so glad you are happy with your results. As for the dough you stored in the fridge, I wish I knew for sure what the trouble could be. It may just be a case of needing to roll it out thinner as you suggest. The next time you store dough, you might try freezing it instead. That may be the only way of being able to pick up (as close as possible to) where you left off. Of course you have to allow a few hours for thawing, but at least freezing will totally suspend the fermentation until you’re ready to use it again.

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Josh Schrader March 30, 2008 at 11:06 am

Eric,
Thanks a bunch for the video. My wife and I have had a 10 year running dialogue as to whether or not we could make a good pizza crust ourselves. Well, it took 10 years to find your video but well worth the wait! I stood in my kitchen last night with my laptop and watched your video several times as I threw together your recipe. A few hours later we were eating your pizza watching the NCAA basketball tourney beside ourselves that we could do such an amazing pizza at home! I know it sounds like I’m going overboard here but it really gave me a sense of accomplishment I don’t get everyday so thanks. I do have a question however. I split the dough in half and placed the second half in the frig in a oiled bowl in a bag. I took it out today and let it sit for about 45 mins. Cooked it and it was very thick with bubbles. What did I do wrong? I suspect I didnt roll it out as flat as I had previously. Thanks again.

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breadtopia March 20, 2008 at 11:40 am

I dunno! The yeast may have run its course by then, but I’m certainly not sure about that. Bread still rises in the fridge, just slowly. If the dough still has some kick to in 3 or 4 days, I guess you’d know if you knock it down and it rises yet again. I would think just letting it come to room temp would be sufficient. I’m just guessing on all this.

If you do give it a try, I hope you’ll let us know how it goes.

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Erika March 20, 2008 at 11:26 am

Thanks for your answer on freezing the dough. Since my dough had already risen and doubled, I decided not to freeze them, and stuck them in the refrigerator instead. I deflated each ball, sprayed a 1 qt. zip-lock baggy and the ball of dough with olive oil, and closed the bag. I plan to use the dough sometime in the next 3 to 4 days. Is that OK do do? The dough seems to be expanding in the refrigerator. When I plan to use it, do I let the dough rise to double again? Or do I just bring it to room temperature (how long?) and roll it out?

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breadtopia March 20, 2008 at 9:22 am

Mornin Jo-Ann (and Erika again),

I just rewrote my answer to Erika’s previous question above to hopefully be more clear on the thawing and proofing since you do want the dough to do its proofing thing.

For a thicker crust, letting it bake for a few minutes before applying the toppings is a good idea. I wouldn’t change the oven temperature though. You’ll have to just take a guess on the timing and learn from your results. But pizza is a lot more forgiving than bread so I don’t think you can go too far wrong even if it’s not perfect the first time.

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Jo-Ann March 20, 2008 at 7:08 am

Mornin Eric
Am getting ready to roll out some pizza using your great new video.[thanks again] My question is…….

The recipe, as you indicated, makes two 12-14″ thin crust pizzas. I happen to enjoy thicker crust pizza.
If I make, say, 2 9-10 inch pizzas… after I roll out and form the pizza shell, should I first put the pizza in the oven for 5-10 mins? to cook BEFORE I add my goodies? And at what temp. I wouldn’t want the dough to be doughy and uncooked.

Also, the above questions/comment from Erika and yourself..
Freezing 1/2 the dough. You say to freeze it right after mixing the dough. Upon taking it out and thawing it out, you mention to shape it right away. Therefore I take it that it doesn’t need to proof as did the fresh one?

thanks in advance
jo-ann

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breadtopia March 20, 2008 at 5:21 am

Hi Erika,

I think it’s better to freeze the dough right after you mix it up. Divide the dough up into balls the size you want them for each individual pizza, give a light coating of oil and wrap in plastic. When you want to use them, let them thaw out completely and rise. If I take them out of the freezer around breakfast time, they’re ready by noon time.  I then roll them out and let sit for a while longer (maybe 20-30 minutes) to get a little rise going again that was lost during the rolling out. This 20-30 minute rest is optional since you should see some decent oven spring once they hit the baking stone.

This is what I do and it works well.

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Erika March 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Can I get some details on freezing the pizza dough? Then defrosting and cooking… At what stage do I freeze the dough? I have the two balls of the sourdough pizza dough rising right now (and the dough turned out great! thanks to your very informative video) – after its doubled in size, do I deflate the dough and then wrap in plastic and freeze each ball? When I take it out of the freezer, do I defrost it first on the counter? And then do I have it rise it again in a bowl, before rolling it out and topping and cooking it? This information may have been covered elsewhere, but I’d appreciate a quick summary please.

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breadtopia March 18, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Hey Howie. Sure, there’s all kinds of sourdough rye recipes. You might want to check out Ed Wood’s book, Classic Sourdoughs.

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