One time, many years ago, I decided in a fit of ambition to make my own pizza dough. I kneaded the dough, I let it rise, I kneaded it again, and I made a very nice slab of cardboard. It was sort of like a pizza-sized Carr’s cracker.
I never tried to make my own dough again. Pizzas are a regular part of the dinner rotation, but I’d buy frozen or find semi-decent fresh at the deli counter, with varying results.
But with this pizza dough, I can put the past behind me.
The recipe comes from Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. By some miracle of either industriousness or extreme laziness, he discovered that you can just put the ingredients together in a bowl and “let time do the work.” No kneading. Nada. The only catch is that you have to start it a day ahead of time.
The dough is delicious. It’s flavorful. You can roll it out thin for a crisp crust or leave it thick for a pillowy, chewy crust. The texture is great. And with this recipe you can make six dough balls at once, stick ’em in the freezer, and pull them out whenever you need them.
No-Knead Pizza Dough (from Jim Lahey)
This recipe makes about 6 small (8 in) pizzas. Remember that you have to start it a day ahead of time.
- 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour (1000 grams, if you have a kitchen scale), plus more for dusting and working with the dough.
- 4 teaspoons salt (he calls for fine sea salt, I used kosher salt. Just try to avoid regular table salt).
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 cups warm water
1. Mix together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hand. It will be sticky and sort of shaggy-looking.
2. At this point Lahey says to transfer it to a clean bowl, but I just leave it in the same mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft free area. As an interesting aside, if you are making kefir, you should keep bread dough on the other side of the room or the yeasts will cross-contaminate and then lord knows what will happen in your kitchen.
3. Go and live your life. Come back tomorrow (or 18-24 hours later). You’ll know the dough is ready when the surface is covered in little bubbles and the dough has doubled in size.
4. Transfer the dough to a large well-floured surface. Dust it with flour and mold it into a sort of blobby rectangle. Using a dough scraper or a knife, divide the dough into six equal pieces. If you have a kitchen scale, it helps to weigh them to make sure they are all about the same.
5. To roll each blob into a neat dough ball, grab a corner and tuck it into the center. Repeat with the other corners, then gently flip over so it’s seam side down. Tuck any stray edges underneath. Keep dusting with flour if they are getting sticky or unwieldy.
6. Let dough balls rest for about an hour, covered in plastic wrap or a damp towel. At this point you can either turn them into pizza, or store them for later. Wrap them separately in plastic wrap and you can keep them for up to 3 days in your fridge, or freeze them.* When you are ready to use them, let them come to room temperature before shaping.
For a great pizza recipe, see: Pizza with Lemon and Brussels Sprouts
* It’s best to freeze them right away, rather than letting them sit in the fridge for a few days and then freezing them. To freeze, I have been wrapping them separately in parchment paper and then putting them in a ziploc freezer bag. You can also use plastic wrap. Some people recommend coating them lightly in olive oil before wrapping them so they don’t get sticky, but I haven’t tried this.