Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough 8.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

May 1, 2019

Neapolitan pizza is considered the OG of the worldwide staple, and this recipe lives up to the tradition with a springy, flavorful crust. The dough's cold, slow rise in the refrigerator is a major contributor to its success.

The cooking starts in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top and finishes under the broiler. This ensures the bottom of the crust crisps up by the time the toppings and the rest of the pie are done. Because the broiler runs so hot, certain toppings, especially soft cheeses such as mozzarella, can overcook, so you might want to add them partway through baking.

A kitchen scale is helpful for weighing the main ingredients. We like using a bench scraper or large chef's knife to divide the dough.

See the related recipes for topping suggestions, or pick your own.

Make Ahead: The dough needs to rest for 30 minutes, then in the back of the refrigerator (so it's as cold as possible) for 20 to 30 hours, and for 2 hours at room temperature before shaping. The dough can be frozen after being shaped into balls following the first rise, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter for a few hours before proceeding with the second rise.


Servings:
8 - 16

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-16 servings; makes enough dough for four 10-inch pizzas

Ingredients
  • About 5 cups (590 grams) bread flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) instant yeast
  • About 1 2/3 cups (380 grams) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) sea salt
  • Olive oil, for greasing

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Directions

Combine the flour, yeast and cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment. Mix on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together and there is no trace of dry ingredients. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Return the bowl to the stand mixer; mix (still with the dough hook) on medium-low speed. Add the salt; mix on medium-low for 7 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Lightly flour your work surface. Turn out the dough there, shaping it into a tight ball. Use some oil to lightly grease a separate mixing bowl; transfer the dough, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 hours, and up to 30 hours.

Re-flour your work surface. Turn out the chilled dough there, allowing it to gently release from the bowl. Divide it into four equal portions; about 250 grams each.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil.

Work with one portion of dough at a time, pulling its corners toward the center so they meet; press lightly so they attach, but do not flatten. The dough will tighten up and take on a rounded shape. Flip over the dough so it is seam-side down. Gently cup the dough in your upturned hands. Carefully move it in circles, taking care to prevent any tears. This will help create a tight, even ball.

Repeat this process with the remaining portions of dough. Place the dough balls on the baking sheet. (At this point, the dough can be sealed in zip-top bags and frozen, for up to 3 months.) Brush them lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rest at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about 2 hours.

At least 30 minutes before baking, position a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element of the oven; preheat to 500 degrees or its highest numbered setting. Have your pizza toppings assembled and ready to go.

Place one dough ball on a well-floured surface, then sprinkle more flour on the dough itself. Starting in the center, work the dough into a small disk by pushing your fingers flat into the dough, leaving the edges untouched. Flip over the disk and continue until you have shaped it to about 8 inches in diameter.

Before you move on to stretching the dough, preheat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on the stove top over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Open the oven door for 10 seconds if you have an electric oven (this lets some heat escape to make sure the broiler will actually turn on even though the oven has reached its maximum temperature) and then turn on the broiler (to high, if you have a choice).

Drape the dough over the back of your hands and knuckles, being careful not to tear it. Gently rotate the dough, stretching it little by little until it is 10 inches in diameter.

Carefully transfer the dough to the hot skillet, smoothing it into place with your hands or by sliding and shaking the skillet (use a folded towel or oven mitt since it will be very hot). Add your toppings, leaving a 1/2- to 3/4-inch border around the edge. Give the dough an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute to cook; this will help ensure the bottom crust will be crisped.

Use oven mitts to transfer the skillet to the oven. Broil the pizza for a total of 3 to 5 minutes, rotating front to back halfway through, until the crust looks puffed and browned. Don't walk away. A little charring on the crust or toppings is okay, but even a few seconds too much will burn the pizza.

Remove the skillet from the oven, then use tongs to transfer the pizza to a wire rack to cool. After a few minutes, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut it into slices, and serve right away.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic Disappearing, and Lost Dishes," by Katie Parla (Clarkson Potter, 2019); baking method adapted from "Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone," by Marc Vetri and David Joachim (Ten Speed Press, 2018).

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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