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Alexandra Stafford’s Neapolitan-ish Pizza Dough

For a pizza to be considered truly Neapolitan, its production must adhere to strict rules ranging from the ingredients used in the dough to the fermentation and baking process. In short, true Neapolitan pizza is made with only flour, water, salt, and yeast in specified ratios to produce a dough that measures 55% to 62% hydration. Moreover, it must be baked in a wood-burning oven at 900 degrees F for 60 to 90 seconds. For these reasons, I am using “Neapolitanish” to describe this dough, which will produce a pizza that is Neapolitan in spirit: thin but not paper thin with a slightly ballooned rim. Like true Neapolitan pizza dough, this dough is made with only flour, water, salt, and yeast, but unlike true Neapolitan pizza dough, its hydration is 77%. The reason for this higher hydration is that in a home oven the dough cooks at a much lower temperature for a longer period of time, during which a significant amount of the water in the dough will evaporate. So, to prevent the dough from drying out, it needs more water in it at the start. To adapt this dough recipe to be used in an outdoor pizza oven, you’ll need to reduce the water slightly. I also recommend cooking the pizza at a slightly lower temperature range (650 to 750 F) for a slightly longer period of time (2½ to 3 minutes).

Photo by Eva Kolenko


Mix the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and use a spatula to mix until the dough comes together, forming a sticky dough ball. If the dough is dry, use your hands to gently knead it in the bowl until it comes together.

Cover the bowl with a towel and let rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Stretch & fold: Fill a small bowl with water. Dip one hand into the bowl of water, then use the dry hand to stabilize the bowl while you grab an edge of the dough with your wet hand, pull up, and fold it toward the center. Repeat this folding and stretching motion 8 to 10 times, turning the bowl 90 degrees after each set. By the end, the dough should transform from shaggy in texture to smooth and cohesive.

Pour about one teaspoon of olive oil over the dough and use your hands to rub it all over. Cover the bowl tightly and let the dough rise at room temperature until it has nearly doubled in volume, 6-10 hours. The time will vary depending on the time of year and the temperature of your kitchen.

Portion the dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 equal portions, roughly 245 to 250 grams each. Using flour as needed, form each portion into a ball by grabbing the edges of the dough and pulling them toward the center to create a rough ball. Then flip the ball over, cup both your hands around the dough, and drag it toward you, creating tension as you pull. Repeat this cupping and dragging until you have a tight ball.

Store the dough: Place the dough balls in individual airtight containers and transfer to the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

From Pizza Night by Alexandra Stafford. Excerpted by permission of ‎Clarkson Potter.

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