This has been a recipe in the making for a while now, and I couldn’t be more excited to share this amazing pizza dough with you! It requires 30 minutes of your time on night one while the remainder of the time is left untouched (rising & fermenting). The next day, you will need to make the final dough with the pre-ferment and with more water, flour, and salt, let it rise for a few more hours. By the time you are ready to make dinner, this dough will be ready for pizza night.
When we moved to Bloomsburg, PA a few years ago for Jake’s fellowship training, it was difficult to find a decent and healthy pizza for our Friday movie-nights-in. That’s when I went on a mission to find the best pizza dough possible that could feel like we were “eating out or ordering in”.
I knew I wanted a flavorful pizza dough with tons of texture and micro-bubbles… So, after doing some research, making a poolish dough seemed like the easiest route. Poolish means the dough is a pre-ferment consisting of only yeast, flour, and water, which is then added to the final dough (salt, and more flour and water). While it does take about a day n a half to make the final pizza dough, it’s totally worth it.
Some notes about making Poolish pizza dough at home work:
- Make the poolish pre-ferment the night before by allowing it to ferment untouched for 12 to 14-hours. If you will be home all day, then I would aim to make the poolish around 8-9 PM. If you won’t be around during the day, I recommend making the poolish around 5-5 PM. The reasoning behind this is fermentation. If you the dough ferments (rests) too long, the final product will have an excess of alcohol (an overdeveloped flavor). If the dough does not ferment (rests) long enough, the sweet flavors won’t fully develop. Therefore, fermenting time is key. A good pizza is when you eat the crust. If you ever found yourself eating everything but the crust, then it’s most likely, the dough did not have enough flavor, or the flavor was not delightful.
- Store poolish in the microwave with the light on underneath. This keeps the dough warm while it ferments (rests). The temperature of the dough plays an important role when the dough is rising and developing its flavors. It also encourages rapid reproduction of yeast (sugar in / gas out) and a quicker fermentation process.
- Use about 1/8 tsp of yeast. Why? Even though you are using several cups of flour, the small amount of yeast used during the fermentation process = a more complex flavor of the final dough. Unlike cinnamon rolls that require tablespoons of yeast, the fermentation/rising process is shorter than poolish. That’s why you require more yeast when making cinnamon rolls.
- Fold the dough together by hand. Do Not Use a Mixer. Once you mix with a spatula to combine, start using your hands to fold the dough. This allows you to control the flavor. If you a stand mixer with the bread attachment, the dough folds more rapidly that will result in a dense dough. Fold the dough by grabbing underneath the dough, pulling it and then folding it on top. Work in a circle by folding the dough.
- Do not add more flour if your dough seems “too wet.” This is key. It increases the flavor profile of the final product. Trust me. Yes, it’s harder to mix the dough, but the trick is to make your hands wet so the dough does not stick to your hands when folding. When I first started experimenting, I made a wet dough and a dry dough. It’s tempting to add more flour, but don’t waste your flour for the pre-ferment. Leave the dough on the wet side. Continue to fold for about 10 minutes and the batter turns into a sticky wet dough. It almost resembles cake batter.
- One final rise is a must after you divide into 2 dough balls. One the final dough has rest for about 6 hours, you will need to flour the surface, fold the dough one and then cut it in the center to make to even. Fold both dough balls once and place on the baking sheet for one last rise (30 minutes).
- Do not knead the final dough before making pizza! This is so important. I learned this the first time I made dough. I kneaded it before I started rolling the dough. The dough becomes dense and doesn’t stretch. If you knead it, the gluten structure will be destroyed and you will lose the gas (aka you won’t have those beautiful pizza bubbles). If you accidentally knead the dough and you aren’t able to shape it, I recommend folding the dough once, place it on a baking sheet on the top of the preheating stove and rest for another 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate the final dough before using (not required, but I recommend it). After you divided the dough into 2 balls and allow them to rise for 30 minutes, I recommend adding them to plastic bags and refrigerating them for about 12 hours (max 24 hours). Why? Because cold fermentation yields a more complex flavor and aftertaste. If you make this dough, use 1 the dough balls and store the other in the fridge for 2 days before freezing. That way, when you’re ready to make pizza again, you already have perfectly rich pizza dough ready.
I spent months perfecting this dough: finding the right amount of flour, water, yeast, and salt. This recipe makes 2 medium pizzas, or 1 large pizza – take your pick! If you prefer to make 1 medium pizza (8 slices), the remaining dough can be bagged up and put in the fridge for up to 24 hours and then into the freezer for up to 1 month.
You will be AMAZED and will truly enjoy making pizza at home. Friends and family also are obsessed with how good the dough tastes after it’s baked to perfection. 100% enjoyable, so I hope you are inspired and love this pizza dough!