If you’re looking for a super easy, sourdough-style pizza dough recipe, you’ve found it. It’s soft and airy with an incredibly puffy crust and delicious flavour. In short, it’s amazing. It also doesn’t require kneading which definitely makes it a winner in my book.
Ok, I didn’t set out to make a dough that fooled my friends into thinking it was sourdough but I guess that’s what this is?!
I have played around A LOT with pizza dough recipes. And I’ve never been 100% happy with the ones I’ve tried. Maybe they’ve been tricky to handle, lacking flavour, sometimes dense and just really not hitting ALL the notes I’m after. I want my pizza to be like the ones you get in Italy. That means a super flavoursome, chewy, airy crust with a thin base that can hold toppings well. If you’ve tried sourdough bases before, you’ll know that they’re like this. But a sourdough base, while delicious, takes a long time to make and requires a lot of pre-planning.
This recipe mimics the sourdough quality in a fraction of the time.
Whether you’re cooking in your oven, or you have an Ooni pizza oven (I’m lucky enough to have one and it’s AMAZING), this dough will work wonderfully and give you the perfect pizza every time.
In this post – everything you need for making the best homemade pizza base
You just need FOUR ingredients to make this base, and they’re all things I bet you already have.
- Flour. You can use plain flour, bread flour or 00 flour.
- Instant yeast. I like instant yeast because it’s super easy to use, but use active if that’s what you have. You’ll just need to ‘bloom’ the yeast before you add it to the other ingredients in a little water.
- Salt. Essential for flavour.
- Water. Make sure it’s lukewarm as that’ll help the yeast activate and the dough will rise quicker.
The secret to a light and airy pizza base
If you’re wondering why the dough doesn’t have to be kneaded but still turns out light and airy, it’s because it has a high water content – or high hydration. That just means the water content relative to the amount of flour is high. The result is that it can be mixed easily and still get that glorious puffy crust we’re after. I’m using a similar technique to my easy no-knead focaccia – giving the dough a couple of ‘stretch and folds’ to develop strength without actually kneading. So not only does this taste AMAZING, but it’s incredibly easy to pull together.
The biggest secret though is to not handle the dough too much. You want to let those wonderful air bubbles do all the heavy lifting. If you roll out the dough with a rolling pin, you’ll deflate the bubbles that are there to make your dough light and puffy. That’s why you really don’t need to do much to the dough when you’re shaping it – you’ll actually let gravity do most of the work. And don’t touch the crust!
How to make the pizza dough
Start by mixing the flour, instant yeast, salt and water in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula. You want to end up with a cohesive dough but it doesn’t have to be super smooth at this point. Now perform the first round of ‘stretch and folds’ With your hand in a ‘C’ shape, scoop down the side of the bowl to reach underneath the dough. Gently pull the dough up until you start to feel resistance, then fold it back down over itself into the middle of the dough. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat on the other 3 sides.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave for 5 minutes. Do this stretch and fold process one more time, then cover the bowl with cling film and let rise until doubled in size. I like taking a photo of the dough on my phone at this point so I can easily see how much it’s risen – the time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen so I find this helps!
Once your dough has risen, it should look super bubbly and will wobble if you give the bowl a shake. Now you can shape it into balls. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and make sure you have some more flour nearby. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size of the pizzas you want to make. To form little balls, gently pull up one side of the dough (much like you did with the stretch and folds), and fold it back on itself. Repeat with all sides of the dough, then flip the dough over. With floured hands (use as much as you need!) cup the dough and gently rotate it, pulling against the surface as you do to create tension in the dough and tighten it up. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
At this point, get your toppings ready because you’re going to form your bases. As I talked about above, you want to handle the dough as little as possible to get that lovely bubbly crust. Generously flour your surface, then gently press the middle of one of your dough balls out into a small circle. With floured hands, pick the dough up and kind of let it hang off your hands to let gravity do some of the work here. Carefully rotate the dough through your hands to move it all the way around. It’ll keep stretching as you do this.
PRO TIP: Don’t touch the crust! That’s why you’re pressing out the middle of the dough and then letting gravity stretch it. Not touching the crust at the edges means you’ll end up with a billowy, puffy result after baking.
It’s now ready to be topped! I like to top my pizza on a piece of baking paper so I can easily transfer it into the oven. There’s nothing more disappointing than a topped pizza falling apart when you try to move it.
Cook for 10 – 15 minutes in a SUPER hot oven that’s been preheating for at least 45 minutes. I like to cook it right at the top of the oven to encourage those lovely blistered spots. Add any fresh garnishes and serve the pizza straight away.
How to make the dough work around your schedule
This is a SUPER forgiving dough.
- If you want your pizza on the same day. Follow the recipe below, and you’ll have gorgeous pizza ready within a couple of hours. Start making the dough 3 hours before you want to eat.
- If you want your pizza the next day (or the day after). Mix the dough, do the stretch and folds, then put the covered bowl in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook, take the dough out, shape, top and bake. You can keep the dough in the fridge for 2 days in this way.
- If you thought you wanted pizza the same day but actually your plans changed. If your dough has risen and you haven’t shaped the balls yet, pop the covered bowl in the fridge until you’re ready. If you’ve shaped the dough balls, pop them into lightly oiled, sealable containers and get them in the fridge too. Again, you can store them like this for up to 2 days.
And there are two added bonuses of giving your dough some fridge time:
- I find cold dough a lot easier to shape and work with. If you’re not used to high-hydration dough like this, you’ll probably find it easier to handle after being in the fridge.
- Fridge time allows the dough to develop even MORE flavour.
How to cook pizza at home for the best result
The main thing here is to make sure both your oven and whatever you’re cooking your pizza on are VERY hot. Ideally, you want your oven to be preheated for at LEAST 45 minutes, if not an hour, with whatever you’re cooking your pizza on inside.
I’ve tried three ways to cook pizza in the oven:
- Pizza stone. Stone retains heat incredibly well and gets really hot. That means when your base hits it, it’s going to start cooking quickly. The water will evaporate at speed, creating those airy bubbles we want. I find this to be the best of the three.
- Cast iron pan. Much like a pizza stone, cast iron retains heat really well and will get SUPER hot. That’s why it’s great for cooking bread and it works well here. This is my second choice for cooking pizza at home.
- An upside-down oven tray. This is a little hack for a makeshift pizza stone. Turning an oven tray over means you can easily slide on your pizza without it getting stuck on or misshapen by the edges. It’s not going to retain heat QUITE as well as a stone or cast iron, but it will do the job.
I have a whole post that breaks down my 5 top tips for making the best pizza at home so have a look at that if you’re after more tricks!
Why you should use a scale to measure your ingredients
I always use a digital scale when making anything bread-based, or doing any baking, because it means you’ll get accurate and precise measurements every time. A cup of flour, for example, can vary wildly in quantity depending on whether you scooped the flour into it, or spooned it in.
Often when you don’t get the results you’re after with baking, it’s because of this inconsistency. Using a scale just means you’ll be able to get the best results every time so I really recommend using one if you can. They’re pretty affordable – I use this digital scale from Amazon. The recipe below gives you the option to toggle between cups and grams in case you don’t have a scale.
Got a question?
Pizza is traditionally made with 00 flour – that’s flour that’s been super finely milled. I’ve used 00 flour, plain flour and bread flour in this recipe and have found them pretty interchangeable. Just choose any of those 3 and you’ll be absolutely fine.
I’m using instant yeast in this recipe – that’s yeast that can be added straight into the dry ingredients without having to be ‘bloomed’ in water first. If you don’t have instant yeast and you’re using active, dried yeast, you’ll need to sprinkle it on top of 100ml of the water in the recipe and let it sit for 10 minutes to activate. You’re looking for it to look foamy and cloudy. If you try to use active yeast like instant, you’ll end up with little granules of yeast throughout your pizza dough and it won’t rise properly.
You sure can. You can do this once you’ve shaped your dough into balls – freeze them in small, lightly oiled containers with a lid, or use a ziplock bag. They’ll last for 3 months this way and you’ll just need to thaw them in the fridge overnight before using them.
Three pizza recipes to try
Now you know how to make the best pizza base, it’s time for pizza night! These recipes are 3 of my absolute favourite pizzas.
If you liked this recipe, here are some others you might enjoy
Let me know how you get on with your pizza in the comments below!Print