Making pizza dough is very simple, and it’s one of my favorite things to make. I find that making pizza is fun. I also consider pizza one of the main three food groups after tacos and cheeseburgers. The problem I find is that most places make terrible pizza, and I have a tough time figuring out why because it’s so easy to do. I grew up in New Jersey and worked in a Stromboli joint growing up, so I know a few things about pizza.
I got this recipe ironically from my wife’s cousin, who was a chef for the show “Biggest Loser.” I made some modifications, but it was very similar to how we made it back in Jersey.
I always dreamed of living by the beach, and as an adult, I moved to Los Angeles after college to become a filmmaker. I couldn’t find good pizza in Los Angeles, and I found it perplexing. I did find a great authentic old school Italian Restaurant that I would frequent, and I became friendly with the chef. This was the kind of joint that local mafia guys would eat at, and I saw more than one Sopranos actors in there.
The chef told me that he used to be George Steinberners personal chef. You might know George as the owner of the New York Yankees. As a Yankee fan, I didn’t quiz him about the Yankees I wanted to know why Pizza sucked in California. What he told me were three things.
Why is Pizza better in NYC?
First I asked him if it was the water. That was the rumor, and he assured me that wasn’t the reason.
- The cheese. The best mozzarella cheese is regional and not available most of the time outside of the east coast. Some of the best cheese is only available in the NY area. I remember my dad taking me to an Italian deli as a child, where he would get fresh cheese to make Lasanga. Ok, so I believe that. Task #1 to make great pizza is to find a local dairy to buy cheese from.
- Real pizza sauce includes a tiny amount of minced anchovies. I found that hard to believe, but he assured me that is where the tangy flavor came from. I tend to like a sweeter sauce, so I have never tried this.
- Fresh-made daily pizza dough was the key. In California, labor is higher, and many restaurants find it cost-effective to use frozen dough. That should be criminal because it’s so easy to do and I find it hard to believe that the labor costs more than the product because making dough is very inexpensive. Even if you import high-quality flour and use premium olive oil.
What are the key elements of making great pizza dough?
The key is to use ingredients. I use pizza flour high protein flour that is imported from Italy. I use King Arthur flour for everything else, and I have used that also for pizza, and it’s fine, but I think using premium Italian pizza flour takes it up a notch. I get Caputo Double Zero 00 Flour from amazon in the 2.2 pound size because it saves me from weighing ingredients. I also use bottled alkaline water, not sure if that is needed, but I think my dough is better than any pizza place around. If you can find Polly-O cheese by Kraft foods, that is the perfect cheese. Unfortunately for me, they stopped selling that locally when the pandemic started, so I found a local dairy at a farmers market to source the perfect cheese. That’s important, according to New York chefs in the know. I can tell you that when I worked in that Stromboli joint, we grated the cheese fresh every morning, and it tasted so good shredded I could eat just that. So source good cheese, use alkaline water and buy premium high-protein flour, and you can master pizza making at home.
I know this is a none normal cooking method, but this is how I do it to get the water at the right temperature. You can’t boil the water, and you can’t use room-temperature water. So heat your pan until it sizzles with a drip of water. Then turn it off. I take the saucepan over to the mixer and add the water to the pan for a few seconds, which heats the water and helps the yeast activate.
Then I add the yeast and give it a mix with a form. You can whisk it up, I never use a whisk we did use a very large whisk at the pizza joint just to help the yeast activate.
In this picture, the dough is not smooth. I would let it go another minute, so it’s smooth and blended together perfectly.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it makes slightly smaller dough balls, so if you make your pizza thin enough, it will still fit on the pizza stone. My pizza stone is 14 x 14 I like to have a little space on the sizes. You’ll see in the actual pizza recipe that I like to get the pizza as thin as possible. What I do is divide the dough a few times. Split the dough in half, then in quarters, and then split the quarters. I’m avoiding using a scale. It feels like every time I pull out the scale, the battery is dead so I devised this method to avoid wasting time with a scale.
I find that for the homemade dough, the best thing to do is use sandwich zip-lock bags. This keeps it fresh and does require olive oil, so it doesn’t stick.
Never lead the dough out on the counter. I know many recipes call for the dough to rise on the counter for four hours, but this would not be New York-style dough if you didn’t do a slow rise in the refrigerator.
NY Pizza Dough
Perfect New York Pizza Dough is going to have a nice chewy texture and be crispy enough to fold in half after it’s baked.
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 24 Hours
- Total Time: 24 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 Servings 1x
- Category: Pizza
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Italian
- 2 cups Alkalyn Water
- 3/4 Teaspoon Dry Yeast
- 2 pounds Double Zero 00 Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- 1/4 cup Virgin Olive Oil
- Water should be warm, not room temperature, and not boiling. So I head a saucepan on high, and when it’s hot, I pour in the water to heat for a few seconds and then put it into the mixer.
- Add Yeast and mix it into the water.
- Let the yeast ferment for 5 minutes.
- Add half of the flour and salt.
- Mix on low setting until the powder is all gone.
- Add the rest of the flour and virgin olive oil and continue mixing until the dough forms a ball and has a nice smooth texture. (About 5 Minutes)
- Divide in half and then divide the half in half and again until you have 8 balls of dough.
- Form into balls and rub olive oil around the outside of the balls.
- Place each ball in a sandwich zip lock and refrigerate overnight.
Always let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator do not leave it out on the counter to speed up the process. 4 Hour rise is not NY dough!
If you cook your pizza on a pizza stone that is preheated and made thin enough, it should be perfect in 8 minutes at 500 degrees. This recipe is slightly smaller dough sizes because home ovens are small, and you want it thin enough and still able to fit on a pizza stone.