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Pizza That Proves It Can't All Be About the Water in Naples

Pizza That Proves It Can't All Be About the Water in Naples

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As if you needed more evidence that the Neapolitan pizza trend has taken over America, there's Flour + Water, a great neighborhood spot on the corner of Harrison and 20th, halfway to Potrero. But it's not just that owners David White and David Steele (longtime Mission residents) are doing Neapolitan pizza with Thomas McNaughton, their 2011 James Beard finalist for Rising Star Chef. They're doing great Neapolitan pies.

The baseline Pomodoro (heirloom tomatoes, gypsy peppers, stracciatella, basil, and arugula), and the spicy Salsiccia (tomato, sausage, gaeta olives, smoked mozzarella, and chile), both have super-thin crusts, the kind that make you realize that it can't just be all about what's in the water in New York and Naples. And for these reasons this dish made my list of most memorable meals of 2011.

Click for more of the Most Memorable Meals of 2011.

9 Ways to Make Pizza So You Won't Get Fat

Think you can't eat pizza and lose weight? Well, you better start believing. All it takes is making sure you do it the right way. One Italian pizza chef did, which helped him shed pounds and significantly improve his health. Pasquale Cozzolino, a native of Naples, Italy, is executive chef and co-owner of Ribalta pizzerias in Manhattan and Atlanta. He knew he had to lose a lot of weight but realized he could not abandon his daily pizza habit. So he figured out how to lose weight by eating pizza.

"I've tried typical dieting strategies before with no luck," says Cozzolino. "I was hungry all the time. The list of acceptable foods was depressingly limited, especially to a chef who loves flavor."

Cozzolino decided to figure out how to lose weight and still eat pizza every day. He experimented with ways to make pizza healthier and lower in calories, using techniques from back home in Naples, including using a fermented dough that was higher fiber. He would eat one small pizza for lunch every day. The rest of his meals were based on the Mediterranean diet.

"I focused my meals on fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and whole grains and using healthy fats like olive oil and avocado instead of saturated fats," says Cozzolino. "That's the way I used to eat in Italy before I came to New York and started eating fast-food and sugary processed foods."

It worked. In 9 months, the chef lost 114 pounds without giving up his favorite food—pizza. Cozzolino documents his miraculous health transformation in his book The Pizza Diet. In it you'll find 50 of the chef's recipes for more pizzas with innovative, healthful toppings.

In addition to following the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet, Cozzolino found simple hacks to help him lose weight while still eating pizza, including smart ways to cut calories from pies that you, too, can use for both takeout and homemade pizza. Here are some of his tricks, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.

Why We Love This

Four words: No knead and quick rise. We’ve made sure this recipe is as hands off as you can get – and if you’re using a KitchenAid mixer – even more so! There’s no waiting overnight, start your dough by lunch and it’ll be ready for dinner.

There’s nothing better than biting into your first piece of homemade pizza. Especially with a recipe straight from Naples itself. Once you try this, there’ll be no more trips to the supermarket for premade dough or bases. You’ve got this!

Pizza That Proves It Can't All Be About the Water in Naples - Recipes

Jeff Varasano's Famous New York Pizza Recipe

One of the 'Elite 8' Pizzerias in the US by Every Day with Rachael Ray
One of America's Perfect Pizzeria's: Zagat
And Many Other Awards

Main Restaurant Website

Last Updates (color coded so you can see new edits):
10/18/06 (Text changed in Purple)
11/6/2007 A few new Pizzeria Rankings - Some of the best pizza in NY is also the newest
03/13/08 Lots of new Pizzeria Rankings
04/10/08 - Minor edits to big table of pizzerias
6/24/08 Added a Google Map of the world's best pizzerias
5/2/12 Videos explaining the various styles of pizza
3/29/18 I'm releasing a huge Library of Video, These were recorded in 2011, but I've only release for staff training, until now!

Pizza is the most sensuous of foods. I get emails from around the world and one of the most common goes something like this: "Jeff, I had this one perfect pizza at a corner shop in Brooklyn in 1972 and I've been thinking about it ever since." I love that!. That's passion. Do you know how many forgettable meals have come and gone since then. What kind of pizza leaves a 35 year impression? Let me describe it to you. The crust is slightly charred. It has a crisp outer layer, but inside it's airy and light. The ingredients are not piled high, but instead are perfectly balanced. It's sweet, salty, full flavored but not greasy. The tomatoes burst with flavor. Each bite makes you hungrier for the next. If this is what you want, you've come to the right place.

This pizza is modeled after Patsy's on 117th street in NYC. I have been working on this for SIX years, but FINALLY I can report that I have achieved my goal. Many people have tried my pie and swear it is not only the best pizza they've ever had, but a clone of the original Patsy's recipe. This margarita pie is incredibly light and perfectly charred. It took just 2 minutes and 10 seconds to bake at 825F.

Reproducing this was no easy feat, but since moving to Atlanta what choice did I have? Dominos? It's been a bit of an obsession. I've had a lot of failed experiments. However now I can honestly say that the recipe is fully accurate and reproducible. The final breakthrough came in Jan 2005 when I finally got a handle on the proper mixing equipment and procedure. But do not think that following this will be easy. It's not. It will still take practice. Many others have confirmed that by following these steps they too have come to near perfection. This may be the most detailed, accurate and complete recipe on the net for making a true Pizza Napoletana. Pizza inspires passion. I've gotten about a thousand emails representing every continent. If you'd like to contact me, feel free to write at [email protected] . It may take a little time for me to respond, but I try to answer all emails personally. I'm going to start a photo gallery, so if you have some success, send me a photo and I'll add it for others to see!

At the bottom of this page, I have a List of the Best Pizzerias in the World which I've also places on this Google Map of The World's Best Pizzas. In addition I've created a second Google Map of Fan Favorites - places that have been recommended by fans of this site. I can't really vouch for these but if your in the area check them out and let me know your opinion.

This dough was hand kneaded and baked in just 1 minute 40 seconds

Me - Do I look happy or what?

Check out this perfect char

Even blurry pizzas are Tasty!. This pie baked in just 1 minute 40 seconds

What's better than a light springy crust with a perfect char

One of my best tasting pies ever:

Check out many more photos at the bottom.

I am going to add a lot more instructions and photos over the next couple of months, including specifics on how to culture the dough, so check back here occasionally. I may even do a few seconds of video here and there.

Let me start off by saying a few things. First, this is about a certain style of pizza. This site is about the kind of pizza that you can get at the oldest and best places in the U.S. or in Naples. This is not about Chicago style or California Style or trying to reproduce Papa John's garlic sauce. This is about making a pie that's as close to Patsy's or Luzzo's or Pepe's or some of the top Brick Oven places. Not that these pies are all identical - but they share certain basics in common.

Second, I want to say that there is a LOT of misinformation out there. Take a tour of the World's top pizza places (there's a list at the bottom of this page). None of these places publish their recipes. They don't write books. You are not going to see any of these places represented at the "U.S. pizza championship" where they compete at dough tossing or who makes the best smoke pork mango pizza.. The real pizza places are not at some trade show out in Vegas where they hawk automatic sauce dispensers and conveyor belt ovens. But somehow though, all the attendees of these shows declare themselves experts and write books and spread the same false ideas. There are about a hundred books and internet recipes that claim to give an authentic or secret pizza dough recipe. Oddly, while many claim to be secret or special, they are practically all the same. Here it is in summary. If you see this recipe, run screaming:

Sprinkle a yeast packet into warm water between 105-115 F and put in a teaspoon of sugar to feed it. Wait for it to foam up or 'proof'. Add all your flour to a Kitchen Aid heavy duty mixer, then add the yeast and salt. Now mix until it pulls away from the side of the bowl. Coat with oil and leave in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 1-2 hours. Punch down, spread on a peel with some cornmeal to keep it from sticking and put it on the magical pizza stone that will make this taste just like Sally's in your 500F oven.

I assure you, this will not make anything like a real pizza. It's weird - even chefs whose other recipes all come out pretty good, like Emeril, simply pass around more or less this same terrible recipe.

Pizza is a true specialty item and a real art. It takes passion to make it right. I wasn't a restaurateur when I started out. But I did have a passion for doing this right. I'm not going to give you the 'easy home version'. I'm going to give you the version that makes the best pie I know how to make, even if it takes a bit more effort (ok, more than just a bit)

There are a lot of variables for such a simple food. But these 3 FAR outweigh the others:

The kind of yeast culture or "starter" used along with proper fermentation technique

All other factors pale in comparison to these 3. I know that people fuss over the brand of flour, the kind of sauce, etc. I discuss all of these things, but if you don't have the 3 fundamentals above handled, you will be limited.

1- It's all in the crust. My dough is just water, salt, flour and yeast. I use no dough conditioners, sugars, oils, malts, corn meal, flavorings or anything else. These violate the "Vera Pizza Napoletana" rules and I doubt that Patsy's or any great brick oven place uses these things. I've only recently begun to measure the actual "baker's percents" of the ingredients. Use this awesome spreadsheet to help you. The sheet allows you to track your experiments. Here's a basic set of ratios. The truth is that a lot of these recipes look the same and that you can vary these ingredients by several percentage points and it's not going to make a huge difference. You really have to learn the technique, which I'm going to explain in as much detail as I can, and then go by feel. Really, I just measure the water and salt and the rest is pretty flexible. The amount of flour is really, "add until it feels right." The amount of Sourdough starter can range from 3% to 20% and not affect the end product all that much. Weights are in grams. I also show this as both "Baker's Percents" (This has flour as 100% by definition and then all the other ingredients as their proportionate weight against of the flour) and using the Italian method which actually makes more sense to me, of showing the base as 1000 grams of water and all the other ingredients in proportion to that. Both methods are attempts to make the recipes scalable. Note that the addition of the poolish, which is half water, half flour, actually makes this a bit wetter, around 65% hydration . Note that this table had an error on it which was corrected on 11/30/06:

Ingredient 1 Pie 3 Pies 5 Pies Baker's % Grams Per Liter of Water
Filtered Water 110.00 330.00 550.00 65.50% 1,000
King Arthur Bread flour, or Caputo Pizzeria flour 168.00 510.00 850.00 100.00% 1,527
Kosher or Sea Salt 6.00 18.00 30.00 3.50% 55
Sourdough yeast culture (as a battery poolish) 15.00 45.00 60.00 9.00% 136
Instant Dry yeast - Optional 0.50 1.50 2.50 0.25% 4.50
Total 299.50

If you use Caputo or any 00 flour, you may find that it takes a lot more flour for the given amount of water. Probably a baker's % of 60% or so. One reason I like to feel the dough rather than strictly measure the percent hydration is that with feel you don't have to worry about the type of flour so much. A Caputo and a Bread will feel the same when they are done, even though one might have 60% water and the other 65%. It's the feel that I shoot for, not the number. I vary wetness based on my heat - higher the oven temp, the wetter I want the dough.

I've heard it said that NY has the best pizza because of the water. This is a myth. Get over it. It's not the water. The water is one of a hundred factors. I filter my whole house with a huge 5 stage system, so I use that. If I didn't have that I'd spring for a $1 bottle of Dasani. That will do it too.

Salt only the final dough, never your permanent sourdough culture. For that matter, your culture is fed only water (filtered or Dasani) and flour. Never add any other kind of yeast, salt, sugar or anything else to your permanent culture.

I use a sourdough culture that I got from what is probably the best pizza in the USA - Patsy's Pizza on 117th street in NYC. The place has been there for 80 years. The 'battery poolish' is about 50/50 water and flour.

Buy the book "Classic Sourdoughs" by Ed Wood from to learn how to use a sourdough starter. The term sourdough does not necessarily mean that this has a San Francisco Sourdough flavor. The term sourdough just means any yeast other than "baker's yeast" which is what comes in the dry or cake form. There are 1000's of types of yeast. But the commercial products are all the same strain ( Saccharomyces cerevisiae) regardless of the brand you buy or whether it's dry or cake form. Commercial or "baker's yeast" gives a fast, predictable rise, but is lacking in flavor. All other yeasts are called sourdough. San Francisco sourdough is one strain. But there are 1000's of others. I doesn't have to taste sour, like San Francisco, to be called sourdough. It's just a term. You can "create your own" culture by leaving some flour water out on the counter. There are lots of kinds of yeast in the air in your kitchen right now and one of them will set up shop eventually in your flour water and begin growing. What will it taste like? Well, it's like setting a trap for an animal and waiting for dinner. It could be a pheasant. It could be a rat. You have no way of knowing. Do yourself a favor and skip this part and just buy or obtain a known high quality starter. sells strains from the world's best bakeries. I've seen many bogus things about the use of starters. A classic is that you can start a wild culture by setting out some flour, water and baker's yeast and the baker's yeast will 'attract' other yeasts. This is alchemy. It's like saying I put out dandelions and they attracted peaches. It makes no sense. Another myth is that you can get the same flavor out of packaged yeast as you can out of a sourdough culture if you handle it right. This is also alchemy. Can you get parsley to taste like thyme if you handle it right? These are distinct organism, like spices, that all have a different flavor. If you use a starter, and you should, then learn from Ed Wood.

A sourdough starter actually consists of 2 separate organisms which exist in a symbiotic relationship. There is the yeast and the lactobacilli. Here's the cliff notes version of what's happening: All flavor really comes from the lactobacilli, all the puff from yeast. The yeast operate well at high temp. The lactobacilli at any temp. Therefore, to develop highly flavored dough put it in the fridge. The yeast will be mostly dormant, giving time for the lactobacilli to produce flavor. The flavor takes a day or more. So you have to keep the yeast on ice that long. Then you take it out of the fridge and let the yeast take over and produce gas. The yeast only needs an hour or two to do this part. This can happen very quickly in a warmer. There is no need for a gradual rise, because at this point the flavor is there. You can smell the alcohol in the dough. The yeast are just adding the bubbles at this point. This technique of refrigeration is called a "cold rise". There are warm rise methods that work too, but I have not gotten the best results with them after numerous attempts. In Naples they virtually all use a warm rise, so I don't doubt the technique can be made to work well. I may revisit this section later.

The lactobacilli and yeast exist in pairs. Not every flavorful lactobacilli has a competent yeast partner. You may find that you've got a culture that has a great flavor, but the puff is not there. No problem. Give it a boost with plain old Baker's yeast, which has little taste but plenty of puff. I use 1/8 teaspoon of instant dry yeast for each batch of 3-5 pies, to give it an extra rise, but 100% of the flavor is from the Patsy's culture.

There are 2 ways to ferment the dough: you can use a 'warm rise' or a 'cold rise'. The warm rise is harder. You simply leave it out at room temp and wait for it to rise. This is hard to control because it could take 10 hours or 24 hours. Tiny, tiny variations in room temp and the amount of yeast you started with will make all the difference. And if it's not risen optimally when you use it, the dough may end up flat and lacking in oven spring. So timing a pizza party this way is hard. By far the easier way to ferment the dough is the cold rise. And the results are just as good if not better. I prefer to age my dough at least 2-3 days in the fridge. I've aged it up to 6 days with good results. However, my culture is very mild. With some cultures 24 hours is the right amount of time and 2 days would be too much.. You have to get to know your culture. They are all different.. 24 hours is the minimum with a cold rise. There's more on this technique down below.

2- Flour: There is a lot of emphasis put on using the right type of flour. Personally, I think this focus is misplaced. Of course, it's important to use high quality ingredients. But improving your dough making technique is much, much more important than hunting down the exact right type of flour. The truth is that almost all flours sold are pretty high quality especially compared to what was available 60 years ago when Patsy Lancieri was making amazing pizza. That alone should tell you something. I currently use either using King Arthur Bread Flour or a blend of this with Caputo Pizzeria flour. I actually think that you can buy any bread flour available at your local supermarket and you'll be ok.

Let me give you a quick flour primer. You can do a lot more internet research if you want, but here's the basics. There are two variables I want to focus on, the Percentage of Protein or 'gluten' and the type of mill. This chart will give you some typical ranges. However, there are no governing standards, so some vendors may call their flour High Gluten, for example, even though the product would fit into another category in this chart:

Giusto, King Arthur, Gold Medal, White Lily

Giusto, King Arthur, Gold Medal, White Lily

Giusto, King Arthur Sir Lancelot, Gold Medal All Trumps

Lately I've gone back to using King Arthur Bread Flour. I've used AP successfully as well. The kneading seems to be more critical. Most pizza places in NYC use Hi Gluten Flour and many internet sources insist that Hi Gluten Flour is necessary to make real NY pizza. This information sent a lot of people off ordering expensive mail order flours. However, according to pizza guru Evelyn Solomon, the old timers used flour in the 12% range, which would be a bread flour. This confirmed what my own tests had shown me all along. Bread flour from the supermarket is just fine for making pizza. It has certainly been proven that you don't need high gluten flour to make highly structured bread. Ed Wood from makes great artisan bread using AP. In Naples they use 00 flour which has less gluten than AP. I've had great and horrible pies with all kinds of flours from all kinds of pizzerias. And I've made great and d horrible pies with all kinds of flours myself. Kneading and overall technique is more important than the flour in my opinion.

Since putting up this site I've been urged to try other flours. I've made pies with at least 20 flours including these:

King Arthur All Purpose (KA AP) - 11.7% Protein

King Arthur Bread (KA Bread) - 12.7% protein

King Arthur Sir Lancelot (KASL) aka Hi Gluten - 14.2% Protein

Gold Medal Bread Flour (formerly labeled Harvest King) - 12.5% protein

Caputo Pizzeria 00 (11.5%, but also a finer mill)

Giusto's Artisan Unbleached - 11-11.5% protein

White Lily Bread Flour - 12.5 % protein

I can make a nearly identical pie with any of these except for the Italian 00 flour. It's mostly technique. I'm not saying that the type of flour makes no difference, but I am saying that it's a small difference and I've had great pies from restaurants with varying types of flour. Don't get too hung up on it. One is not 'better' than the other, it depends on the style you want. Currently I use a 50/50 blend of Caputo and KA Bread. Caputo gives bigger bubbles and a lighter spring. But I prefer to mix it with Bread flour to give it more strength. In Naples, the dough is very soft and hard to hold and often eaten with a knife and fork. NY street pizza is easily folded and held. They typically use a strong Hi Gluten Flour. My pies are closer to the Neapolitan, but not quite. You can still hold it, but sometimes it flops a bit at the tip.

The 00 has a finer mill and also it will absorb much less water than the other flours. The 00 flour really is quite different than the others. If you are baking at under 750F, you should really not use 00. It will never brown and you'll have much more luck with another flour.

The ratio of Flour and water can dramatically change the characteristics of the dough. Having said that though, I don't measure my "% hydration". I do it strictly by feel. Lately my dough has been much much wetter than ever before. Wetter dough stretches easier with less pull back. It seems to develop faster in the fridge. And it provides more steam for more puff in the final baked crust. The higher the temperature of the oven, the wetter the dough should be. At super high heats needed to make a pie in 2 minutes or less, you need a lot of moisture to keep it from burning and sticking to the baking surface.

3- Kneading - This is one of the most important steps. Follow along carefully. There are 100 recipes on the net that say you dump all the ingredients together, turn the machine on and you will have a great dough. It's not true. But once you understand these steps your dough will transform into something smooth and amazing.

Kitchen Aid Mixer vs. Electrolux DLX mixer:

I started a little revolution on when I dumped by Kitchen Aid Mixer and bought an Electrolux DLX mixer. The DLX is a MUCH better machine. However, if you follow ALL the techniques here, you can get a good dough out of a Kitchen Aid. The DLX is easier to use. You can make a dozen pies or more in it at a clip, no problem. And you can really just let it do it's work alone. With the KA you sometimes have to stop it and pull the dough off the hook and continue. So I like the DLX. But I know many of you have already bought Kitchen Aids. As long as you follow the process carefully, you should be OK. The DLX takes a while to get used to, but now I'm really rocking with it. See Dough.htm for early experiments. Join for info on the DLX and how to use it. I use a DLX with the Roller and Scrapper attachments. I will put up photos of this process at some point. Some one else has posted a video of a DLX

The Wet-Kneading Technique with Autolyse

I call this process Wet-Kneading. It's the key to great dough:

Autolyse - Autolyse is a fancy word that just means one simple thing. The flour and water should sit together for at least 20 minutes before kneading begins. It's a CRITICAL step. Some say that you should mix just the flour and water together, then after 20 minutes add the salt and yeast, then mix. Others say you can add all the ingredients at the beginning. I have found very little difference.

Pour all the ingredients into the mixer, except just use 75% of the flour for now. So all of the water, salt, poolish (Video of Poolish), Instant dry Yeast (if used) and 75% of the flour are put into the mixer. Everything should be room temperature or a bit cooler.

There is no need to dissolve the yeast in warm water or feed it sugar. 'Proofing' the yeast was probably required decades ago, but I've never had yeast that didn't activate. The yeast feeds on the flour so you don't need to put in sugar. The proofing step that you see in many recipes is really an old wives tale at this point.

Mix on lowest speed for 1-2 minutes or until completely blended. At this stage you should have a mix that is drier than a batter, but wetter than a dough. Closer to batter probably.

Cover and Let it rest for 20 minutes. One of the most important things I've found is that these rest periods have a huge impact on the final product. I've seen so much arguing online about the proper flour for making pizza. "You need super high protein flour to get the right structure for a pizza dough". People argue endlessly about brands and minor changes in flour blends, types of water, etc. A lot of this is myth and a big waste of time. The autolyse period is FAR more important to creating structured gluten development than is the starting protein percentage. Autolyse and knead properly and AP flour will produce a great pizza with a lot of structure. Do these steps poorly and bread or high gluten flour will not help you at ALL. This step reminds me of mixing pie dough. After you add the water to pie dough, it's crumbly. But after sitting for 20 minutes, it's a dough. The water takes time to soak in, and when it does it transforms the pie dough. It's really a similar thing here with pizza dough

Start Mixing on Low speed for 8 minutes. 5 minutes into it start adding flour gradually.

This part is critical and it's something that I did not understand at all until relatively recently: Even if the dough is very sticky - that is it does not have enough flour in it to form a ball and it is still halfway between a batter and a dough - it is still working. This is where MOST of the kneading occurs. The gluten IS working at this point even though it's not a dough yet.

If you are using a KA, and you lift the hook, the dough should fall off by itself. The hook should look like its going through the dough, and not pushing the dough around. It should be that wet until nearly the end.

With the DLX you can play with the scrapper and the roller, pressing them together to allow the dough to extrude through the gaps. This really works the dough. The DLX mechanism is totally different than a regular mixer.

After the first 6-8 minutes increase the speed of the mixer slightly. I never go higher than 1/3 of the dial on my mixer. Keep in mind that in the old days they mixed this by hand (Anthony at Una Pizza Napoletana in NYC still does). You should add most of the remaining flour. But you still want a very wet dough, so don't go crazy.

At some point during this process the dough should be getting much firmer and should form more of a ball. Mix another minute or so a this stage You may find that the dough is sticking to the roller /hook and not really working too much at this point. This is why it's so important to do most of the mixing at the earlier, wetter stages. Once the dough is at this point, it is done. My recommendation is this: DON'T BE A SLAVE TO RECIPES AND PERCENTAGES . It's fine to use the spreadsheet or other measures as a guideline, but you have to judge how much flour goes into the dough by feeling it. Do NOT force more flour into the mix just to reach a number. If the dough feels good and soft and you still have flour you have not put in, don't sweat it. Leave it out. In the end you need a wet dough. In fact, even the dough has formed more of ball, if you let it sit, it should spread out a little and look a little limp. This is what you want, not a tight ball, but a slack, wet soft dough.

One of the best ways to see how your dough is doing is to sprinkle a little flour on in and just feel it. It should feel baby bottom soft. If you don't sprinkle flour it will just feel sticky and not look smooth. But sprinkle a tiny bit of flour and now its soft and smooth. This is what you want. This is a much gentler recipe than most and it shows in the final dough.

With Hi Gluten flours a commercial mixer and a dry dough, you will find that the dough is tough to work and consequently both the machine and the dough will get very hot. Commercial bakers compensate by starting with cool water and by measuring the temperature of the dough as they go. The procedures I'm outlining don't require this. The wet knead technique and the lower protein all but eliminates the friction. You can expect the dough to heat only about 3-4 F while mixing, so it's not an issue.

Let it rest for 15-20 minutes. If you were to do a window pane test before the rest, you might be disappointed. Afterwards it will test well:

Much talk on the web says that the dough's extensibility/elasticity will be affected by how long the dough rises and at what temp and the kind of yeast. In my opinion, these are very, very minor factors. The mixing/kneading process and the hydration are 90% of the battle. After the dough has been kneaded and rested for a few minutes, the deed is done. It's either going to spread well or it isn't. You can't fix it that much at this point by adjusting rise times and temps. If you find that your dough is not extensible enough or rips when you stretch it, odds are HIGH that it has not been autolysed long enough, not kneaded well enough and/or it's too dry. If you are using a Kitchen Aid Mixer you may notice that the ball sticks to the hook and kind of just spins around and doesn't seem to be really working. Mixing an extra 20 minutes seems to do nothing because it's just spinning helplessly on the hook. Ugh. Mix at a wetter more pliable stage and you can fix this problem

Pour out onto a floured surface and portion into balls with a scrapper. I use a digital scale. The dough at this point should be extremely soft and highly elastic. I use 310g per 13" pie. The more elastic the dough, the less you need.

I store the dough in individual 5 cup Glad plastic containers as you see below. I wipe them with an oiled paper towel - super thin coating. This will help them come out of the container. But I don't want any oil in the dough. The rules for "Vera Pizza Napoletana" say no oil. I probably have literally one or two drops per ball. Oil the container and not the dough. You only need a drop or two of oil cover a whole container - you can kind of polish it with oil using a paper towel. In contrast, you'd need a teaspoon to oil the dough because you can't spread it so thin. Also the ball would probably need oil on both sides, which is bad because by oiling the top of the dough (which will end up being the bottom of the pizza), you are going to get oil on your pizza stone which will burn at high temps in an unpleasant way. Since you want to minimize the amount of oil, oil the container. For similar reasons, I don't use zip loc bags. Use a container.

How wet should the dough be? I think many will be surprised to see just how wet I have my dough. With each of these, you can click the photo to enlarge. I'm showing these because I want you to get a sense of how that dough should look and feel. This high level of hydration is not necessarily best for low temperature ovens. But if you are cooking at 800F, like Patsy's, this is what you want:

This dough has rested for 20 minutes in my DLX mixer. You can see how wet it is. This is enough for 6 balls of dough.

It almost pours out (with a little push from a spatula). But you can see how easily it stretches and how wet it still is. I don't know the %hydration of this dough but it is 65% or higher, I'm sure.

This is the unshaped mass. Next I sprinkle a little bit of flour on it and knead it by hand for 30 seconds, just to reshape it.

In just a few seconds it looks totally different. The outside is drier because it has been sprinkled with flour. Inside it is still very wet and as I cut it with a dough scrapper into balls, I have to sprinkle a little more, just to keep it from sticking to my hands.

I cut it and put it into these easy to find Glad containers. They cost about $1 each at the supermarket..
I've got like 15 of them. They are perfectly sized for individual dough's. I strongly prefer these to plastic bags. They are sealable and that keeps in the moisture. They stack easily in the fridge, and the dough comes out easily and without deflating the dough in the process. I spread the container with a drop or two of olive oil.

This is how the final ball looks when it goes into the fridge

I let them rest another 10 minutes, then put them in the Fridge for 1-6 days. If your dough is very wet it may start out as a nice looking tight ball, but over time in the fridge it looks like it's sinking into a disk. This may appear worrisome. When you see dough sinking there may be several causes. Dough that is 'slack' - overworked and/or old, will sink like this. But if you've followed these instructions this is not the reason your dough is sinking. The sinking is caused by the fact that the dough is very wet. Don't worry about it. It's probably going to be very good.

This is the dough several days later. It's been sitting out warming up for about an hour. Notice that it has not risen that much. It does have more volume - probably about 50% more than the dough above. But it's also changed shape - it's so wet and soft and when it rises it kind of just spreads out. This is what you want. This dough is ready for baking.

Most recipes say that the dough should double in size. This is WAY too much. In total the dough should expand by about 50% in volume. It would seem like the more yeast bubbles in the dough, the lighter the pizza will be. This is the intuitive guess. But it's not true. The yeast starts the bubbles, but it's really steam that blows the bubbles up. If the yeast creates bubbles that are too big, they become weak and simply pop when the steam comes resulting in a flat dense, less springy crust. Think of blowing a bubble with bubble gum. How tight is a 2 inch bubble? It depends: As you start with a small bubble and blow it up to 2 inches it's strong and tight. But at 4 inches it's reached it's peak.. Now if it shrinks back to 2 inches, it'll be very weak. So a 2 inch bubble is strong on the way up and weak on the way down. You want bubbles on the way up. If the dough is risen high, the bubbles are big and the dough will have a weaker structure and will collapse when heat creates steam. The lightest crust will come from a wet dough (wet = a lot of steam), with a modest amount of rise (bubbles formed, but small and strong). Some people start with a warm rise for 6 hours or so, and then move the dough to the fridge. I'm not a huge fan of this method. Once the bubbles are formed, I don't want the dough to get cold and have the bubbles shrink. This weakens their structure. What you want is a steady slow rise, with no reversals. Always expanding, just very, very slowly.

My oven takes about 80 minutes to heat up. The dough finishes rising in about the same time. So I take the dough out and start the oven at the same time. 80 minutes might seem like a fast rise, but the real development is done in the fridge. Here is where experience will make a difference - I look at my dough a few hours before bake time and I make an assessment. If the dough has not risen much in the fridge I will take it out earlier than 80 minutes. If it's risen too much, I leave it in the fridge till a few minutes before bake. It really takes a good eye. You can make a last minute adjustment to speed it up by warming it. Before I turn my bottom oven on the cleaning cycle, I warm up my top oven to about 95F. If I think I need to speed up the dough, I can then place it in the 95F environment for while before baking. It's a little harder to make an adjustment the other way. If I find that it's rising too fast and my oven won't be ready for an hour, I'm kind of out of luck. I could chill it, but it's going to weaken if I do that. So I try to err on the side where I still have some control.

The softer the dough, the faster the rise. It's simply easier for small amounts of carbon dioxide to push up on a softer dough. If the dough falls a little after rising, you've waited too long and you will find it's past it's prime. Ideally you should use it well before it's at it's peak. This takes experience. You are better off working with a dough that is under risen, than over risen.

Over risen dough (don't do this).

When you spread the dough, you will find that it's not great for spinning over your head. It would have been really great at this when you first did the windowpane test. But now that it has risen it's soft like butter and just stretches easily. Don't worry about the spin. If you want to impress everyone with spin, make a drier dough with a hi gluten flour and more salt and let it age for just a few hours and you can spin all you want.

Never use a rolling pin or knead the dough or man handle it. You are just popping the bubbles and will have a flat dough.

Build a little rim for yourself with your fingers,. then spread the dough. Can you see how smooth this dough looks?

Spread the dough on the counter and then move to the peel. Marble is the perfect surface for spreading dough. One goal is to use very little bench flour, especially if you are cooking over 800F. At high temps, the flour will turn bitter, so you are better off shaping on the counter, then moving to the peel, which will result in less bench flour. With a very wet dough this takes some practice. You don't necessarily have to use a lot of bench flour, but it does have to be even. You don't want the dough sticking to the peel, of course. I put flour in a bowl and dunk the dough lightly, getting all sides including the edge, then move it to the granite counter. I put just a tiny amount on the peel, which I spread evenly with my hands. When I move from the counter to the peel, most of the flour on the dough shakes off.. Once on the peel, shake it every once in a while to make sure the dough is not stuck. Always shake it just before placing it in the oven, otherwise you may find that it's stuck to the peel and falling off unevenly onto the stone. At that point you probably can't recover well and you'll make a mess. So always shake just beforehand. When I make the pie, I work quickly, so as not to let the moisture in the dough come out through the tiny dry flour coating. Then, and this is important, I shake the peel prior to putting it in the oven, just to make certain it's loose. In fact, you can shake it at any time during the process. If you are taking too long to put on the toppings or there is some delay, shake again. Make sure it never sticks. Don't resort to using too much flour or any cornmeal or semolina. It just takes practice to use very little flour, yet still keep it from sticking.

If you've made the dough correctly you should be able to spread it with no problem. If it is pulling back on you and trying to shrink, you have not mixed it enough. If you've done half the steps above, you should not be experiencing this problem at all though.

You can spread the dough a bit at a time. Do it half way, then wait 10-15 seconds, then spread a little more, then a little more. Be gentle with it.

This photo is from the same pie as this one. This pie was very interesting for many reasons. Although I have a lot of practice handling wet dough, this is the first time I've tried to hand knead in at least 5 years.

I started in bowl with 75% of the Flour (KA Bread), the salt, water, poolish and a pinch of IDY. I did a 12 minute autolyse, 6 minute hand mix with a spoon, adding flour along the way and 15 minute post mix rest. Then I hand kneaded for 1 minute. Did another 5 minute rest (It didn't feel smooth, so I wanted to rest it again), then another 30 second hand knead, then shape. I'm guessing it was a 65-66% hydration, same as the dough photos above. I know that is very high for a hand kneaded dough and it takes some practice. But it didn't stick to my hands at all because I've gotten used to how to handle high hydration dough. The trick is to keep the outside dry with just the thinnest coating of flour. Actually, I only keep the side near my hands coated, the other side is wet. Then I pull the dough expanding the dry side and close it in towards the wet side. This is repeated over and over. As the dry side stretches, it gets a little wetter, then your just dip in in flour again and continue. This baked for 1:40. The cheese, unfortunately, was Polly-O dry mozz as I was desperate.

4- The Oven: I've got my oven cranked up to over 800 F. Use this section with caution: i.e. no lawyers please. I'm just telling you here what I did. I'm not telling you what you should do. You are responsible for whatever you choose to do. In Naples, Italy they have been cooking pizza at very high temperatures for a long time. There are some real physics going on here. The tradition is to cook with a brick oven. I don't have a brick oven. So this is what I do:

On most ovens the electronics won't let you go above 500F, about 300 degrees short of what is needed. (Try baking cookies at 75 instead of 375 and see how it goes). The heat is needed to quickly char the crust before it has a chance to dry out and turn into a biscuit. At this temp the pizza takes 2 - 3 min to cook (a diff of only 25F can change the cook time by 50%). It is charred, yet soft. At 500F it takes 20 minutes to get only blond in color and any more time in the oven and it will dry out. I've cook good pizzas at temps under 725F, but never a great one. The cabinet of most ovens is obviously designed for serious heat because the cleaning cycle will top out at over 975 which is the max reading on my Raytec digital infrared thermometer. The outside of the cabinet doesn't even get up to 85F when the oven is at 800 inside. So I clipped off the lock using garden shears so I could run it on the cleaning cycle. I pushed a piece of aluminum foil into the door latch (the door light switch) so that electronics don't think I've broken some rule by opening the door when it thinks it's locked. Brick ovens are domed shaped. Heat rises. There is more heat on top than on the bottom. A brick oven with a floor of 800F might have a ceiling of 1200F or more, just a foot above. This is essential. The top of the pizza is wet and not in direct contact with the stone, so it will cook slower. Therefore, to cook evenly, the top of the oven should be hotter than the stone. To achieve this, I cover the pizza stone top and bottom with loose fitting foil. This keeps it cool as the rest of the oven heats up. When I take a digital read of the stone, I point it at the foil and it actually reads the heat reflected from the top of the oven. When it hits 850, I take the foil off the top with tongs and then read the stone. It's about 700-725. Now I make my pizza. As I prep, the oven will get up to 800Floor, 900+ Top. Perfect for pizza. Different ovens have different heat distributions. I experimented extensively with foil to redistribute the heat. I tried using one layer, multiple layers and I adjusted the amount I used on the top and the bottom. I also played with using the shiny side up or down, etc. Eventually, I worked out a simple system for myself. Some have tried to get high heat using a grill. This can produce high heat, but all from the bottom. One could adjust the differential, by playing games with foil. But an oven with heat from above is better.

The exact temp needed depends on the type of flour and the amount of water. The more protein, the quicker it burns. Hi Gluten flour may burn at these temps. In general, I recommend higher gluten flours for lower temp ovens. This will yield a more NYC style pie. For a more Neapolitan pie I recommend lower protein flours and a hotter oven. I use Bread rather than KASL at these high temps. Caputo Pizzeria 00 flour has even less protein than KA bread. See my report below. Also the drier it is the more it burns. So in general, at high temps you need a very wet dough.

I make sure that I cover any oven glass loosely with 2 layers of foil because it will shatter if a drop of sauce gets on it. With the foil it's fine. I make sure the foil is loose. If it's fitted to the glass, it will transfer heat too quickly and the glass is still in jeopardy. Another problem is that once the cleaning cycle starts, it just pumps heat into the oven and I can't reduce the temp. If I get a late start (my guests are late or my dough needs another 30 minutes to rise), I can't just shut off the oven and then start it up again in 15 minutes. Once I cancel the cleaning cycle, I can't start it up again until the oven cools below 500F (at least on my Kitchen Aid oven). Therefore I have to wait and cycle back around. It's like an hour ordeal. But I have worked around these issues and I now have enough experience that I can pretty much control my temperature. I can cool the stone, for example, by placing a metal sheet pan on it for a minute or so. It will absorb a tremendous amount of heat very quickly. I never do this with Teflon which releases unseen toxic chemicals over 600F. I Remove this pan with the peel, rather than with oven mitts to prevent burns. Occasionally I also place something in the door jam, like a meat mallet, for a few minutes to let heat out.

Brick Oven vs. Other Ovens : I have a list of my favorite pizza restaurants at the bottom. All but one of these use coal fired brick ovens. But interestingly, the number 1 place uses a regular old gas fired oven that you see in any pizza store in NYC. This is Johnny's in Mt. Vernon, NY. Worth a pilgrimage for sure. They also use dry sliced Mozzarella instead of fresh. Go figure. That place is an enigma. They are also very secretive. I can tell you they definitely use a sourdough culture because I obtained it from pizza place across the street (yeasts can take over a neighborhood) but it died out. I'm going to get it again someday.

Mmmmm. You don't need a brick oven to perfectly char a pizza. This was done in an electric.

Patsy's is #2 on my list. It used to be #1 but my last 3 trips to were disappointing. There is a new guy working the oven and the pies are coming out like dry crispy flatbreads. It was NOT good. And I saw a review in a magazine that had a photo of a Patsy's pie and that one also looked dry and crispy and the article even described it that way. Yuck!. The reviewer at also mentioned that he might downgrade Patsy's if they slip any more . So this means that Johnny's, which used to be tied with Patsy's, now sits alone at the top of my list. I've got it as Johnny's, Patsy's, Sally's, Luzzo's, Una Pizza Napoletana, me, then Sac's. Frankly, if they don't shoot the new cook, Patsy's could drop from my top 5 because right now it's resting on it's laurels. Lombardi's is just OK in my book. Nods for history, but too thick and gummy. Grimaldi's and John's are not in my top 10 either. But the original Totonno's is up there somewhere.

Back to the Brick oven thing. I once bought a Patsy's dough and rushed it home to my oven in Atlanta and baked it. The dough itself was incredible. It was the most windowpaning, blistering and elastic dough I've ever seen, by a wide margin. Very impressive. But when I baked it, it was just ok. It tasted a little flat. It had less of a charred flavor even though it had a charred color. It actually tasted exactly like my own pies tasted at that time. By that was a long time ago. My own latest pies have overcome a lot of this. I'm aging my dough longer than Patsy's and I think that is making up for some of the difference. My opinion is that the coal and the fire adds about 10-20% but the rest is the heat distribution. If you can get that right in a regular oven, you are going to be thrilled with the results. Johnny's proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. My latest pies are nearly perfect too. Some of these pies look & tasted just like a Patsy's pie, I'm not sure you could tell the difference. And believe me, I notice small differences or I wouldn't have come this far. These latest pies are really, really close. The photos above, as well as those below are good examples. I can't get advantages of the brick oven, but I make up for it by aging the dough longer and this imparts extra flavor.

Of course, if you do have access to brick oven, especially one that uses coal, by all means use it. But LEARN to use it. I've seen too many brick oven places that make terrible pizza. Why? Because they think that having the oven is all they need to do. You still have to have everything else right. And I've even seen brick ovens where the heat is not right. I just saw a place with a Brick oven that had it set to 395F. Such a total waste of time. The oven does not work by magically transmitting brick flavor into the dough. It works by generating more heat than a regular oven. At least that's 90% of it. Yes there is a dryness to the wood burning and a smokiness and these are advantages of a brick oven. But mostly it's the super high heat that is important. Go the extra mile and get yourself the right digital thermometer and work the oven correctly. This will take a lot of practice. Check out Frankie G's cool brick oven and video.

My first Brick Oven Experience : I just tried a friend's brick oven. We had a lot of trouble holding the temp right and most of the pies were cooked at 500-600F. So I'm not done experimenting yet. But I can say this: a 7 minute pie in a brick oven does taste better than a 7 min pie in an electric. So there definitely is something good going on in that oven. It has to do with the dryness of the bake. I will post more on this as I make progress.

Dec 2006: I've now made 5 Brick oven batches. I'll fill in more detail later, but here's a photo of a 57 second pie. It looks pretty cool, but it was by no means my favorite pie:

5- I use a Raytec digital thermometer. I notice that every spot in my oven is a different temperature. I've learned what's going on inside. These brands are much cheaper than the Raytec. I haven't used them, but they look fine to me and are much cheaper, under $60:

6- Dry mozzarella cheese : This step is totally optional and I don't do this anymore. Early on I was having problems with my mozzarella cheese breaking down due to the high heat. I was also having problems with the sauce sogging up the dough. So I used dry boars head mozzarella, sliced on a machine under the sauce. This protected the dough. But I've since improved both my sauce and wet mozzarella management so I don't use dry cheese anymore. However, I should note that the only pie that I've tasted that might actually be better than Patsy's is Johnny's in Mt. Vernon. They use only dry sliced cheese. I'm not sure of the brand, but it is fantastic. Patsy's does not use this step, nor is it true Neapolitan.

7- Lay fresh basil right on the dry cheese or sauce. It's important that the leaves get a bit wet or they'll just burn. Just tap the tops with the bottom of the sauce spoon to moisten. Basil is great fresh out of an herb garden. I will post more on this someday. Don't wash your basil. It just kills it.

You can put the basil on before the pie bakes or after

8 - Sauce: For years I was so focused on the dough that I let the sauce lapse. I just didn't do much with it. But now I feel that my dough is consistently great, I have focused more on the sauce and it has really transformed into something wonderful. The key step is something I call 'Tomato Rinsing".

But first let's start with the tomatoes themselves. There is a lot of talk about buying tomatoes grown in the San Marzano Valley which has rich volcanic soil. Others claim the region is now polluted. I don't know. All I know is what I taste. I've not been too impressed with San Marzanos I've tried. These are in rough order with the best at the top.

NASA says Kepler spacecraft proves it can find Earth-like planets

NASA’s planet-hunting spacecraft, Kepler, has made radical new discoveries about a hellish planet a thousand light years away -- proof, scientists say, that the craft will be able to carry out its mission of finding other Earths in our galaxy, provided they exist.

NASA scientists released Kepler’s analysis Thursday of an already known “hot Jupiter” planet called HAT-P-7b in the constellation Cygnus. The spacecraft mapped the planet’s orbit and gave new details about its hazy, ozone-like atmosphere, where temperatures climb as high as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The analysis proves that Kepler’s onboard telescope and light-detecting instruments are at least 100 times more precise than the ground-based detectors that originally found HAT-P-7b, the scientists said at a briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington. That should be good enough to spot any pint-sized planets -- about the size of Earth -- in a star’s so-called habitable zone, where temperatures are warm enough for water to be liquid but not so hot as to torch the planet’s surface.

“Kepler has the ability to detect Earth-sized planets,” Alan Boss, an astrophysicist with the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said at the briefing. “The question that remains is: How many Earths are there?”

Kepler, which was launched in March, is the first spacecraft with a mission to find potentially habitable worlds. Over the next few years, as it circles the sun in an Earth-trailing orbit, it will scan 100,000 stars in the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra, looking for planets.

Of the previously discovered 350 or so extrasolar planets -- those that lie outside our solar system -- none is a candidate for the “Goldilocks” planet, where things are just right for life to gain a foothold. Teams in Europe and the United States have found several super-Earths, planets that are slightly larger than our home planet. But all are either too close to their star and thus baking hells like Venus, or too far away and therefore ice-cube worlds like Pluto.

Since the launch of Kepler, controllers have spent most of their time tuning its sophisticated instruments, which are designed to detect the tiniest variations in light from a star thousands of light-years away that might indicate a planet orbiting it. Only in the last few weeks has the science team begun putting Kepler through its paces, gathering data.

Most extrasolar planets are detected by measuring the dimming of the light from their parent stars, which is caused by the planets passing in front of them. This is known as a transit. By determining the degree of dimming and how far away the star is from Earth, scientists can find out how big the planet is, even if they can’t see it directly.

The challenge of finding an Earth-sized planet at the right distance from its star is illustrated by the fact that a planet the size of Jupiter blocks out 1% of a typical star’s light, whereas one the size of the Earth blocks 100 times less, or .01%.

HAT-P-7b was discovered last year by Earth-based instruments. It was classified as a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting only 4 million miles from its star -- so close that a year on HAT-P-7b is only two Earth days long. At that distance, the planet glows from the heat as it circles its star.

Kepler’s instruments detected the same dip in starlight as Earth-based observers did as HAT-P-7b crossed in front of its parent star. But Kepler was able to do more. It also detected a second small dip when the planet went behind the star, which is known as an occultation.

Because that dimming is a hundred times smaller than the dimming caused by the transit, the scientific team became convinced that Earth-sized planets are within reach of Kepler.

Kepler’s instruments showed that the planet HAT-P-7b is absorbing a “huge amount of energy” from its star, according to Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This could be caused by particles high in the planet’s atmosphere, or some sort of ozone-like haze.

She emphasized that all of these findings came from only 10 days of observing.

“These exquisite data are just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Kepler will ultimately be judged, however, on whether it will help answer one of humankind’s grandest questions: Are we alone?

Answering that question is going to take time. Because it will take three orbits to confirm a planet’s existence, it might be 2012 before any major discovery is announced, said Bill Borucki, a space scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.

Already, Borucki said, “we are finding signals that could be planets.” But he cautioned patience. He said that he wanted to avoid what happened in the early days of research on extrasolar planets, when scientists prematurely announced discoveries they later had to retract.

Pizza Dough Calculator

Flour, water, salt yeast and a blazing hot wood-fired oven. That’s how the very first pizzas were made, and it’s how they’re still doing it today in Naples.

The best Neapolitan pizza should have a big, beautiful crust that’s slightly crispy and is covered with little dark spots caused by the sizzling heat. The centre of the pizza should be thin and mostly soft and have just a few delicious toppings combined with a gentle touch of smoke from the wood-fired oven.

Ingredients ratio

  • Proofing at room temperature (min 6 - max 24 hours) or cold fermenting (min 8 - max 72 hours)
  • Oven temperature: 400 - 550°C / 750 - 1020℉.
  • Baking time: 1 – 4 mins.

New York pizza (American)

When Italians started immigrating to America, they took their beloved pizza with them to the USA. Most Italians started making pizza in coal or gas ovens that weren’t as hot as the wood-fired ovens in Italy. This meant that the pizza needed more time to bake and that the recipe had to be adjusted to the longer baking time. This is how the New York pizza was born.

When stretching out a New York pizza you will leave it slightly thicker than a Neapolitan or a Roman pizza.

It takes between 8 and 15 minutes to bake.

A Neapolitan pizza would dry out during this period. The New Yorker doesn’t because of its key ingredients: oil & sugar. The oil protects the dough from drying out and the sugar helps the crust to brown more evenly, giving it more flavour.

Ingredients ratio

  • Tipo 00 or bread flour: 100%
  • Sugar: 2%
  • Salt: 1.5%
  • Fresh yeast: 0.4%
  • Olive oil: 2.5%
  • Water: 55% - 65%


  • Proofing at room temperature (min 6 - max 24 hours) or cold fermenting (min 8 - max 72 hours)
  • Oven temperature: 200 – 300°C / 400 - 580℉.
  • Baking time: 8 - 15 min s.

Sicilian pizza

also known as sfincione , focaccia, thick-crust, deep-dish or pan pizza

The Sicilian pizza is a very versatile pizza that goes by lots of different names, depending on the region, city, or country where it’s made. Though the name and the toppings may vary a lot, the basics stay the same.

These pizzas have a thicker, softer, and more bread-like texture than the Neapolitan, Roman or New York pizza. They’re baked in a pan or baking tray that’s coated heavily with olive oil. As the oil heats up in the oven, it will fry the base of the pizza, making it super crispy and delicious.

Ingredients ratio

  • Tipo 00 or bread flour: 100%
  • Salt: 2%
  • Yeast: 1.5 %
  • Olive oil: 1.5%
  • Water: 55% - 85%


  • Proofing at room temperature (min 6 - max 24 hours) or cold fermenting (min 8 - max 72 hours)
  • Oven temperature: 250 - 280°C /480 - 540 ℉.
  • Baking time: 15 - 20 mins.

Pizza Canotto

There is a new pizza in town! It is called the "Canotto", which translates to inflatable boat.
This pizza is an offshoot of the famous pizza Napoletana, it's made out of the same four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast, and it's baked in a blazing hot wood-fired oven.
It has the same soft and wet centre like the Neapolitan pizza, the only difference is that the crust of the Canotto is much much bigger and is filled with air just like an inflatable boat.

Ingredients ratio


  • Cold fermenting (min 24 - max 72 hours)
  • Oven temperature: 450 - 520°C / 840 - 950℉.
  • Baking time: 1 – 3 mins.

If you want to make a pizza Canotto there are several steps you need to take. I will explain all 6 steps to you in my YouTube video: How to make a Canotto

Neapolitan & American pizza

When making pizza, you’ll first need to make the dough balls before they can be turned into those delicious wood-fired pieces of heaven.

The sizing of dough balls for Neapolitan and American pizza is pretty similar. Pizzas come in small, medium and large sizes. The calculator is set for medium pizzas. If you’re planning to make your pizzas a different size, you can change this setting.

The figure below shows the right dough ball weight for the different pizza sizes. As you can see, the calculator adds a bit of weight for the American pizza, because the American pizza is supposed to be a bit thicker than the Neapolitan.

S Pizza = Ø 16 CM/6 INCH

M Pizza = Ø 28CM/ 11 INCH

L Pizza = Ø 34CM/ 13 INCH

Sicilian pizza

also known as sfincione, focaccia, thick-crust, deep-dish or pan pizza.

The sizing of this pizza is a bit different, since this pizza isn’t baked on the stone in your oven, but in a baking tray/pan that goes into your oven. Seeing as everyone has different baking trays, you can’t just talk about small or medium pizzas.

For a 25x20cm / 10x8-inch baking tray, you’ll need to make 650 grams of dough. If your baking tray is bigger or smaller, you’ll have to play around with the weight until you find the perfect recipe for your baking pan.


You produce flour by grinding grain, primarily wheat. There are two types of grain: a hard and a soft type. Hard grain is ground into a yellow flour, which is best for making pasta, and soft grain is ground into a white flour, which is great for bread and pizza. For the best possible pizza dough, you need a very fine white flour that can only be obtained after a long and slow process of grinding and sifting the wheat. The finest flour you can buy is known as tipo 00.

Due to its fineness, tipo 00 flour can absorb very large amounts of water, ranging from 50% all the way up to 100%. This allows your pizza to stay nice and crispy, without drying out in the oven.

If you can't find tipo 00 flour, you can use regular bread flour. You should never use all-purpose or cake flour. If you use bread flour, which hasn't been sieved as finely as tipo 00, you won't be able to use as much water. It's still possible to make pretty good pizzas with normal bread flour, but I'd recommend only using between 50% and 60% water to prevent the dough from getting soupy.

Amount of water

The pizza dough calculator assumes that you’re using tipo 00 flour. If this is the case, you won’t need to make any changes to the water percentage indicated.

In case you’re using regular bread flour, it would be wise to set the parameter between 50% and 55%, since regular bread flower can’t absorb large quantities of water. If you don’t use less water with bread flour, Your dough will get wet and soupy.

Salt mainly adds flavour to your dough, but it also protects the dough against the effects of harmful bacteria and strengthens the gluten structure within the dough.

During the baking process, salt will give the crust a nice brown colour.

I would recommend using sea salt or kosher salt instead of table salt. Table salt is highly processed and only contains a fraction of the beneficial minerals that sea and kosher salt have.

What is yeast?

Yeast is a single-celled organism that is invisible to the naked eye.

This organism feeds on the sugars and starch in your dough and releases gases that create little air pockets in the dough, which will make it rise and give it great flavour.

Why is there so little yeast in pizza dough?

That’s because pizza dough is supposed to have a long, 8-hour rise. When you’re giving your dough this much time to rise, even a little bit of yeast will do the trick. You could speed up the process by adding more yeast, but I wouldn’t recommend that! A slow rise will enhance the dough’s flavour, while also making it more nutritional!

What if I use dry yeast instead of fresh yeast?

No problem. You can also use dry yeast. Just make sure to use half as much as the amount of fresh yeast recommended by the calculator. That’s because dry yeast is concentrated, so dry yeast is much more potent than the same amount of fresh yeast.


  • 2 bowls
  • A spoon
  • Scales that can measure grams
  • Flour, water, yeast, and salt

Go to the calculator, enter your preferred style and the number of pizzas you’d like to make.
Simply press the calculate button and BOOM! you’ll have a custom-made recipe.

1. First, take 2 bowls and add the amount of flour specified by the calculator to one of them.

2. Fill the second bowl with the amount of water the calculator tells you to use. Make sure that the water is cold enough(anywhere between 12℃ / 53℉ and 19℃ / 66℉ will do).

3. Add your salt (preferably kosher salt or sea salt), stir it into the water until it’s completely dissolved.

Now it’s time to dissolve the yeast in the water, but there’s one big problem: Yeast doesn’t like salty water, as the salt will damage the yeast. Which means your dough won’t rise the way it’s supposed to.

4. So, you take some of the flour from bowl number one (about 10%) and mix it into your salty water. You don’t have to be super accurate, but it is a very important step because the flour will protect the yeast against the salt, allowing it to do its job properly.

5. Ok. When you’ve stirred the salt and 10% of the flour into your water, you can add your fresh yeast. If you don’t have fresh yeast, you can use dry yeast, but make sure to use half of the amount recommended by the calculator. (yes, it’s a tiny amount, but trust me, it works!) When the yeast is stirred into the salty, flowery water you can add the rest of the flour to it.

6. Now all the ingredients are in the bowl, you can loosely mix them with a spoon or with your fingertips.

7. When everything is mixed together, you can start kneading the dough until it has an even, soft and elastic consistency. This usually takes about 8 to 20 minutes of kneading.


After the ingredients have been mixed and the dough has been kneaded, it’s time for proofing and rising!

There are two options on how to let your dough proof and rise:

Option 1: Room temperature (6-24 hours)

  1. After you knead the dough, you cover it with cling film or a damp towel and let it rest for 2 hours.
  2. After 2 hours have passed, you can portion the dough into balls (See the calculator to find out how large you should make your balls of dough)
  3. Cover the dough balls with cling film or a damp towel again and let them rise at room 18-21℃ temperature for 4-22 hours.
  4. Then make the pizzas.

Option 2: Next-level (8-72 hours)

When you’d like to make next-level dough that’s tastier, easier to digest and has a bigger rise on the crust then try this:

  1. After you knead your dough you can cold-proof it, meaning that you put it straight into the fridge (4 to 7) covered with cling film or a damp towel. Or even better, put it in an airtight container.
  2. Then leave it in the fridge for 8 to 72 hours.

When you take it out of the fridge, you place it on a lightly flowered tabletop so you can portion the dough into balls (Check the calculator to find out how large you should make your balls of dough).

3. The last step is very important, the dough has to be at room temperature before shaping it into pizzas so make sure to wait for 2 to 4 hours and then go go gooo!

Yesss! You’ve made your own pizza dough.

Hold up. Wait a minute. What has just happened? What is proofing/fermenting and why does this make next-level pizzas?

After you first mixed the ingredients, you set 2 processes in motion.

- In the first, the dough will start to rise because the yeast feeds on the sugars in the dough and produces gases that cause the dough to increase in size.

- The other process is called proofing or fermenting. In this process, bacteria break down starches into simpler sugars.

The two processes start at the same time, but proofing takes a lot longer because the bacteria have to break down all the starches to make an airy dough that’s easy to digest. That’s why real good dough needs at least 8 hours of rising and preferably even more time to proof.

Proofing your dough for a long time leads to a tastier, more complex flavour, more beautiful charring and a pizza that’s easier to digest. But you must stop the rising process by putting the dough in your fridge while the proofing process continues.

In and around Naples, the dish is known as pizza Rustica, pizza ripiena, or pizza chiena.

The different spellings and names come from the different Regions and dialects in Italian but they all mean the same thing. It's a stuffed pizza.

Pizza Rustica is layered with many imported types of meat, such as fresh genoa salami and traditional Italian cheeses.

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Why do I need olive oil

Oil is truly important when it comes to pizza dough and it’s a multi-functional ingredient when it comes to pizza dough production. Adding oil to your pizza can affect everything from the crispiness to flavor of the crust, as well as the way the dough handles during shaping. Other oils can be used as well, such as canola, sunflower or soybean, however, but they won’t add the same flavor as olive oil does.

In the end it comes down to what you’re using your pizza dough for. If you’re going the savory route, I recommend using olive oil, however if you want to make a dessert pizza try a sunflower or canola oil.

Watch how to make it

Here’s the recipe video to knead the dough by hand. See below for the 40 second food processor method. (PS Accidentally cut out sugar, oops! Will replace video shortly!)

And here’s the recipe video for the 40 second pizza dough. After the dough is made, the steps are exactly the same and the pizza crust comes out exactly the same!

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