Pizza Dough (Cook’s Illustrated)

This pizza dough recipe has been a favorite of mine for years now.  It does require a bit of planning, rise time is a minimum of 90 minutes, but it is definitely well worth the wait.  The recipe as it is written calls for kneading the dough in a 11cup food processor, my food processor is not quite that big so I always opt for the stand mixer directions which are below.  There are also directions provided for kneading the dough by hand which is often fun to do.  Whatever way you knead it this dough is sure to please. 

The directions for the dough are below but there are no directions on what to do once the dough is made.  How do you turn that light fluffy pizza dough into a delicious crispy pizza pie?  I have found that in order to get a really crisp pizza the oven, and your cooking surface, need to be screaming hot, a minimum of 475 degrees.  Stoneware is my preferred choice for cooking pizza, stones hold heat very well and make for one heck of a crispy crust.  I usually prepare my pizzas on a pizza peel heavily dusted with cornmeal and then transfer it into the oven by sliding the pizza off of the peel and onto the hot stone.  If you do not have, or are scared of the thought of using a pizza peel, parchment paper can also be used.  The nice thing about parchment paper is that it is oven safe so it can go right onto the stone.  If your oven has been preheated to the correct temperature the pizza only requires a short 10 minute cook time.

Pizza Dough – Cook’s Illustrated

We find the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough. However, only a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups can handle this much dough. You can also knead this dough by hand or in a standing mixer (see the variations that follow). Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp. If you want to make pizza dough in the morning and let it rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at cool room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, which will take 6 to 8 hours.

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by h and for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

-Makes enough dough for 3 medium pizzas-

As seen in Baking Illustrated, pages 153-155

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3 comments to Pizza Dough (Cook’s Illustrated)

  • I’m always looking for a new pizza dough recipe to try! This one sounds great!

  • I have made this pizza crust recipe and it is SO good! Better than any restaurant pizza dough I have ever had! Nice pick!
    I stumbled upon your blog on Bake Space and I am diggin’ it. Congrats on the new(ish) site!

  • Colleen

    Hi..just wanted to tell you that I have been making my pizza’s for over 20 years on a pizza stone. I preheat the stone in a 450 oven (just turn on the stove and put the stone in while its heating up) and while it’s heating, I get all my pizza toppings ready…hot stone out of the oven..sprinkle with cornmeal. I stretch my dough by hand until it’s big enough to cover the surface of the stone. Add my toppings and back into the 450 oven for 15 mins. I cut it up right on the stone and believe me it stays hot for a long time and has “never ever” stuck to the stone. Pizza slides right off, with no problem.

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