Homemade Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough After Pre-Bake


Fear Conquered: Homemade Pizza Dough

I suspect dough is always a journey. It starts life as completely separate ingredients that look nothing like the final living endpoint. Flour, water, oil, yeast, sugar - so simple and unremarkable inside their respective canisters and bottles. Yet together. Well, together something remarkable and almost unbelievable.

I grew up making dough. For quite a few years, I made the bread for our family in our big Bosch mixer.  And as a child, dough baffled me. Sometimes it would rise to form perfectly shaped loaves with a beautiful dome. Other times, flattened, caved bricks dense enough to be confused with clay. I never knew quite what I had done wrong. And I never seemed able to duplicate my random successes.

I'm still baffled by dough - but not for the same reasons. Now I marvel at the beautiful simplicity of just a few ingredients breathing life into elastic, living dough. At how gluten strands form through the simple act of kneading. At how tiny dried pellets of yeast bloom into a mushrooming froth. At how a simple cool night in the refrigerator enriches the scent and flavor of just about any dough.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Every time I handle dough, I journey back to those early confused years where I waited anxiously to discover what kind of bread I had baked - beautifully domed or tragically concave. And every time I arrive at a new successful dough, I can't help but beam with happiness. I can't help but inhale the scent and cradle the pliable softness in my palms. I learn something new each time I combine those simple, unremarkable ingredients together - because I'm convinced dough is a journey.

This pizza dough I'm sharing is no less of a journey, and this simple dough took me on a 5-month journey before I arrived at this happy place. The right amount of flour, water, honey, yeast and vinegar. The right knead time, the right rise method, the right baking method. As I write this now, this dough feels a lot like a good friend who always comes through. The kind of friend I should aspire to be. The kind of friend I know everyone could use.

Growing up, I didn't eat much pizza. On rare occasions, my dad would bring home a pre-made pizza crust (the kind that's already baked but lacks toppings) and we'd make "homemade pizza" with canned tomato paste, grated mozzarella cheese and sliced bell pepper. If we were lucky, Dad remembered to grab a pack of pepperoni slices. If not, we ate veggie pizza smothered in cheese.

The only times I remember having takeout pizza were at friends' birthday parties or church functions. In fact, I didn't discover Dominos' thin crust pizzas until I was in my last year of college - a fellow intern couldn't believe I'd never had Dominos and decided to rectify the problem. And it wasn't until a few years ago when I saw my friend Dan make a pizza from fresh pizza dough (from a local Italian store) that I became brave enough to try rolling out my very own pizza crust.

Pizza Dough, Formed into a Ball

It was one of those store-bought doughs that prompted this journey to homemade pizza dough. I had tried a few different brands of frozen pizza dough, and each time there was something wrong with the flavor or texture. Sometimes it was bitter. Sometimes it was completely flavorless. And sometimes the dough refused to puff up with bubbles as any good pizza dough should. So I set out to make my own.

This good friend is my version of homemade pizza dough. It's packed with flavor, it's easy to make and it freezes/thaws beautifully. I find myself rushing to finish a slice of pizza just to get to that leftover bare edge. To savor the taste of crisp, chewy pizza crust. This is the friend that helps me forget the pizzas of my past and only remember our journey together. It's a journey I hope you'll take...


Photo Tutorial

Warm Water
Heat 1 2/3 cups water to 100-110F (I use the microwave)

Dissolving Honey in Hot Water
Add warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer and dissolve 2 Tablespoons of honey in the water.

Yeast Sprinkled over Honey and Water
Sprinkle 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast over the water and honey.

Mixing Yeast with Fingers
Dissolve the yeast in the water with your fingers.

Yeast Mixed into Water and Honey
Allow yeast to bloom in warm water for a few minutes while you sift the flour.

Sifted Bread Flour
Sift 5 cups unbleached bread flour into a large bowl.

1 Cup of Flour Added to Yeast Water
Sprinkle 1 cup of sifted flour over the yeast/water mixture.

Olive Oil Added to Bowl
Add 1/2 cup olive oil.

Mixing Dough Together with Dough Hook
Combine the ingredients together on low mixer speed using the dough hook attachment.

Adding More Flour
Slowly add 2 cups of the sifted flour.

Adding White Vinegar
Add 2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar to the mixture.

Adding Kosher Salt
Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt.

Loose Dough Mixed and Ready for More Flour
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.

Adding More Flour
With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add remaining sifted flour to the dough.

Pizza Dough Before Kneading
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Pizza Dough, Partway Thru Knead
On low speed, knead the dough for 15 minutes, stopping the mixer every 5 minutes to scrape down the sides, bottom and dough hook.

Pizza Dough At End of Knead
After kneading, the final dough should be smooth and elastic.

Dividing Pizza Dough
If you plan to freeze some of the dough for later, divide the dough into pieces (up to 4 pieces).

Wrapped Piece of Pizza Dough
Wrap each piece you plan to freeze in plastic wrap, then seal in an airtight freezer bag and freeze.

Pizza Dough Covered with Plastic Wrap
Place remaining dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap.

Homemade Pizza Dough
Refrigerate dough for at least 12 hours (up to 24 hours), deflating the dough once or twice.

Pizza Dough Turned Out on Floured Board
To make the pizza crust, turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Pizza Dough Shaped into a Ball
Gather dough into a tight ball.

Pressing Out Pizza Dough with Fingers
Using your fingertips, press out dough, during the dough as you work.

Pizza Dough Patted Out with Fingers
Gradually, the dough will stretch into a flattened circle.

Stretching Pizza Dough Over Knuckles
You can also toss/spin the dough to stretch it for a thinner crust.

Rolling Pizza Dough
If you prefer (as I do), you can also use a rolling pin to stretch out the dough.

Pizza Dough fully Stretched
Continue to stretch the dough until you achieve a 12-inch diameter circle, allowing the dough to rest for 5 minutes if it resists stretching or continues to shrink back.

Round Pizza Pan
Once the dough is sufficiently stretched, you are ready to bake. You will need either a pizza stone or a ventilated pizza pan.

Pizza Dough Transfer to Pizza Pan
If using a ventilated pizza pan (as I do), transfer the dough to the pizza pan. If you're using a pizza stone, transfer the pizza dough to the pizza peel (used to transfer the pizza to and from the hot pizza stone).

Brushing Pizza Crust with Garlic Oil
Brush the dough with olive oil (I used garlic-infused olive oil).

Pizza Dough After Pre-Bake
Pre-bake pizza crust for 3-4 minutes at 475F. If air pockets puff up, you can gently deflate these with a spatula.

Sliced Pepperoni Spread Over Cheese
Add desired toppings to the pre-baked crust.

Pepperoni Pizza Before Toasting Under Broiler
Bake pizza for another 8-9 minutes at 475F for a crisp crust. Slice and serve immediately.


Homemade Pizza Dough

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 12 hr 30 min
     Cook Time: 12 min

Ingredients (yields 4x12-inch crusts)
  • 1 2/3 cups purified water, warmed (105℉ - 115℉)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 5 cups unbleached bread flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Combine the warm water, honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment; allow the yeast to bloom while sifting the flour
  2. Sprinkle 1 cup of the sifted flour over the bloomed yeast mixture, then add the olive oil. With the mixer on low speed, add the vinegar and another 2 cups of flour; when the flour is mostly incorporated, add the salt
  3. Shut off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl. On the lowest speed, gradually mix in the remaining flour, then allow the dough to kneed for 15 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl and dough hook every 5 minutes
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap. If you do not plan to use all of the dough at once, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and wrap the pieces you do not intend to use in plastic wrap and seal in freezer bags; freeze this dough for up to 2 months
  5. Let the dough rise in refrigerator for at least 12 hours (up to 24 hours), deflating the dough every now and then; if using frozen dough, allow the dough to defrost in the refrigerator for 12 hours before using
  6. Preheat the oven to 475℉; divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (if you did not freeze a portion of this dough already) and work with one piece of the dough at a time, keeping the remaining quarters covered in the refrigerator; form each piece of dough into a smooth ball. With your finger tips, press out the dough into a flattened disc, stretching the dough as you work; allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes if it resists stretching
  7. For a thinner crust, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough further, again allowing the dough to rest if it resists stretching or flattening. You can also work the dough over your knuckles and toss/spin the dough to help stretch it out
  8. Transfer the stretched and shaped dough to a ventilated pizza pan and brush with olive oil; bake for 3-4 minutes
  9. Add any desired toppings and bake for another 8-9 minutes for a crisp crust
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2012 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
  • Vinegar: The vinegar really perks up the flavor of this dough - and it doesn't taste like vinegar when baked. It simply adds depth of flavor to the already slightly fermented refrigerated dough. I've tried this recipe without the vinegar and it's just not as flavorful. So add the vinegar.
  • Honey: My friend Sabrina and I recently had a discussion about savory doughs that include honey (or other sweeteners) - we both agree that unless we want something truly sweet, we're not interested in sweetened savory doughs. That being said, the honey here does sweeten the dough ever so slightly - but the real purpose is to provide the yeast with some food so it can work it's magic. If you find the final dough to be too sweet, try using just 1 1/2 Tablespoons instead of the full two.

  • Pizza Stone: If you own a baking (or pizza) stone, definitely bake your pizza using the stone. However, I do not own a baking stone and in a small apartment kitchen, I don't plan to make room for one. Besides, if I use a pizza stone, then I have to use a peel in order to transfer the pizza to the stone and that's yet ANOTHER thing I have to store. So I prefer a ventilated pizza pan which works wonderfully for me.
  • Rolling Pin: No doubt native Italians would smack me good for using a rolling pin to stretch pizza dough - after all, it's not pastry dough! But I'll be honest - I'm not at all good at tossing or spinning my pizza dough through the air and yet I want a really thin crust. Because crispy, chewy crust is the reason I love pizza (well, that and the cheese). So I use a rolling pin and will suffer the consequences.

    Rolling Pizza Dough
  • Pre-bake: Here's another thing that most good pizza makers won't do - but then there's no real need to pre-bake a crust if you have access to an industrial grade pizza oven with a hot stone surface. And room to store peels. Thus I always pre-bake my crust because otherwise the toppings end up burning before the crust is sufficiently crisp. If you own a pizza stone or if you prefer a softer crust, skip the pre-bake step.

    Pizza Dough After Pre-Bake
  • Bread Flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content and thus forms stronger gluten strands during kneading. So I recommend unbleached bread flour for this recipe. You could probably get away with all purpose flour in a pinch, but the final dough will be different.
  • Sticky: This dough is a bit sticky even after kneading for 15 minutes. And that's the way you want it to be. As it chills in the refrigerator, it will become easier to work with and by the time you're ready to roll it out, you will only need to use a tiny sprinkling of flour. So resist the urge to add more flour when you remove it from the mixing bowl.

    Pizza Dough, Finished Kneading
  • Kneading: You really do need to knead this dough as indicated in the instructions. The little pauses to scrape down the mixer bowl during the knead cycle actually allows the dough and gluten a chance to rest briefly. This helps the gluten along and it gives your poor mixer a cool-down break. By the end of the knead cycle, your dough will be very soft and elastic.
  • Olive Oil: I like to use a garlic-infused olive oil for brushing over my pizza dough before pre-baking, but that's a personal preference. Olive oil promotes browning over the surface and is what helps give the crust added flavor. So for best results, don't skip brushing your dough with olive oil.

    Pizza Crust Ready to be Brushed with Garlic Oil
  • No Mixer: If you want to make this dough without a mixer, follow the same steps but use a spatula or wooden spoon and a big bowl to mix together the initial ingredients. When you get to Step 3, add the flour 1 cup at a time and use your fingers to work the dough together if it becomes too stiff for the spatula or spoon. Sprinkle the final cup of flour over your kneading surface and knead in the flour by hand for 15-20 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may need to add a little more flour using this method, but chill times remain the same.

I love sharing so I've entered this recipe into the following collections:
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  1. Great tutorial! And nothing beats homemade pizza dough!

  2. Lorraine @ Not Quite NigellaJuly 11, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    I didn't grow up making dough but I remember being amazed the first time that I made proper bread. I say proper because I never kneaded it enough so it didn't work but once i got a mixer with a dough hook, I became hooked on dough! :D And you roll your rounds out so perfectly JW!

  3. Fantastic post, JW - such amazing step-by-step photos. This should take the fear out of making pizza dough at home for anybody. And I, too, am amazed by dough. It's a glorious, living creature. =) Thanks so much for sharing it BYOB!

  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed and you're right - homemade is the best!

  5. It took me a lot of practice to roll out pizza dough like that. A lot of my early attempts were rather odd and misshapen ;) And you're right, the dough hook helps tremendously...

  6. Awww, thank you Heather - I think pizza dough may be my second favorite dough after brioche. It's so fantastic to work with...

  7. That round of dough looks so perfect and squishy. I have never seen vinegar added to dough like this, but it makes a lot of sense, so thanks for adding the comment on that.

  8. White wine vinegar is fairly mild in flavor to begin with, so it works well int he dough. Regular or balsamic vinegar would probably be a bit strong...

  9. This is a great post. I've made pizza dough before but the recipe I've used was quite similar to regular bread apart from the olive oil. I'm looking forward to giving this a go and am intrigued to see what effect the vinegar has on the taste

  10. Your instructions and photos are great, and I really love the 'how come' explanations for each of your different steps and ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing this with BYOB.

  11. I hope you do have a chance to try it and let me know how it turns out for you. I'm actually making a pizza with it tonight and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...

  12. I'm so glad you enjoyed and sometimes I find myself going back to my own tips to try and remember why I did something a certain way ;) It's a pleasure being part of BYOB...

  13. mjskit @ mjskitchen.comJuly 11, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    Your pizza dough looks a lot better than mine! I just started making my own pizza dough because the bakery at which I bought a delicious sourdough pizza crust shut down. It was a bummer, but then it also got me into making my own dough. So I'm on the hunt for the perfect dough and your recipe just got moved to the top of the list. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the process!

  14. Sourdough pizza crust sounds amazing! And that is sad that the bakery closed, especially with dough like that... I'm so happy you're thinking of trying this dough and be sure to let me know how it turns out...

  15. Could not miss this! I am really impressed by how this dough has turned out! Lovely beautiful colour and consistency. Well done Javelin!

  16. Thank you Alida! That means so much to me and I'm so glad you approve!

  17. I have never made a pizza dough in my life and the way you made it is inspiring to me because you made it look so easy. Thank you for the step by step instructions as I really appreciate it. I hope you are having an enjoyable week. ~ ray ~

  18. I'm so glad you found the post helpful, Ray. I myself was surprised at how easy it was to make the dough the first time I tried. I think the trickiest part is really the stretching/baking, not the actual prep...

  19. First of all... this is a WONDERFUL tutorial!

    Secondly, it sounds like it will be delicious. The fact that you stuck with this for 5 months before getting it perfected shows your dedication. So I trust this will be fantastic.

    I hate to ask... but can it be made in a bread machine?

    Thanks for sharing at my party this week!

    xoxo Bunny Jean
    Wednesdays Bunny Hop Party!

  20. I'm so glad you enjoyed, Jean and thanks for hosting the Bunny Hop party! Regarding making this in a bread machine, I'll be honest I haven't tested that method. I love my bread machine and use it quite often for a lot of breads, but the gluten formation is so critical to the elasticity of this dough, I doubt the bread machine will be able to work the dough vigorously enough. However, it's a great question and something I really should test...

  21. I am re-visiting to let you know that this post was inspirational and worked perfectly for my family celebration. My oldest son's birthday was on the 12th and I saw your post via BYOB and made this pizza crust for his choice of homemade pizza. The dough was beautiful and added to our birthday party. Thank you!

  22. Michelle, I'm am SOO happy right now - you should see the grin on my face! 1st, so happy the pizza crust could be part of your son's birthday and 2nd that it turned out for you! No matter how many times I test a recipe, there's always that nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, it won't work for the next person... Thank you so much for sharing!

  23. That is a great recipe I will try this in my pizza oven. I brought a oven from BBQ Spit Rotisseries last week.


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