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Cold-Fermented Pizza Dough
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Cold Fermented Pizza Dough Recipe

My go-to pizza recipe for an outdoor oven or home oven. For the most accurate results, use a scale.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pizza, pizza dough
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Inactive Time 1 day 14 hours
Total Time 1 day 15 hours 40 minutes
Servings 6 230g pizza dough balls (10” - 12” pizzas)

Ingredients

  • 686 g 00 High-Protein Flour like Antimo Caputo (5 cups) | 100% | for outdoor pizza ovens be sure to use the Pizzeria Flour from Antimo Caputo, as it’s made for higher temperatures. for home ovens, use the classic 00 flour.
  • 20 g Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 3 1/2 teaspoons — if using any other brand of salt, use 50% less | 3%
  • 0.8 g Instant yeast 1/4 teaspoon | 0.12%
  • 425 g Lukewarm water 1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon | 62% | make sure to use lukewarm but not hot water as it will kill the yeast
  • 8 g Extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons | 1.2%
  • Semolina or 00 Flour for dusting

Instructions

Preparing the dough

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt, and yeast until combined with a wooden spoon.
  • Make a well in the center of the bowl and slowly add in the water and olive oil. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with your hands or the spoon until just combined. No dry bits should remain.
  • Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes at room temperature. This step is called autolyse — it helps hydrate the dough and kickstarts gluten formation. Thus, it makes kneading the dough much easier.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes
  • Perform 4 sets of stretch and fold, spaced apart by 30 minutes (see below for video). So the timeline will look like this:
    Stretch and Fold #1: perform 0 minutes after kneading, then let rest for 30 minutes covered
    Stretch and Fold #2: perform 30 minutes after stretch and fold #1, then let rest for 30 minutes covered
    Stretch and Fold #3: perform 30 minutes after stretch and fold #2, then let rest for 30 minutes covered
    Stretch and Fold #4: perform 30 minutes after stretch and fold #3. At this point the dough should be quite strong (when you stretch it, it should resist quite a bit) and show visible gas bubbling. If you’re not seeing this gas bubbling, let sit out for another hour or so until you observe this.
    What is a stretch and fold? A stretch and fold is where you pick up and stretch your dough and fold it onto the other side. It helps strengthen your dough without as much kneading — it’s a much more lax way to create gluten. If you imagine your dough as having four corners, one “set” of a stretch and fold means picking up the dough from one corner and folding it onto the opposite corner, then rotating the bowl 180 degrees and doing the same thing again. Next, rotate the bowl 90 degrees and stretch the dough on top of itself then turn the bowl 180 degrees and stretch again onto the other side. In total, each “set” involves rotating, stretching, and folding 4 times. Therefore, 4 sets means you’re stretching and folding sixteen times over the span of 2 hours. It sounds much more complicated than you might think - just take a look at the video below.
    First Stretch and Fold — Dough should be shaggier Last Stretch and Fold - Dough is bubblier, smooth, and resisting stretch
  • Cover dough and let sit in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
  • After 24 to 48 hours, take dough out of fridge. If your dough feels very cold to touch, let sit out for an hour to warm up slightly (it should still feel cold — i.e. 45F - 60F degrees is fine — but not frigid).
    Divide dough into 5 equal sections. Form each piece of dough into a ball, then place each ball in a large pizza container generously dusted with flour or oil. Alternatively, you can place each ball into an individual container (sometimes I use deli containers or a plate).
    Cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours up to an additional 24 hours. Note: The more tension you create in the pizza dough ball (i.e. the tighter the ball), the more gas you’ll trap leading to a bubblier, more circular pizza. When you loosely ball the pizza, you’ll lose that shape and the trapped gas.
    If you’d like to use the dough sooner, you can ball the pizza dough after your last stretch and fold and let sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours before using.

Making the pizza

  • On the day you’d like to make the pizza, take the dough out at least 2-4 hours in advance (depending on the temperature of the room) until it reaches room temperature. Your dough is ready when it doesn’t feel cool to the touch and has spread out from a spherical ball into a flatter circle but still has some structure to it. If your dough sits out too long, it can overproof, making it more difficult to handle — you will likely see that it’s extremely bubbly and flattened.
  • 45 minutes before pizza dough is at room temperature, arrange oven racks to prepare for baking and preheat your oven to the highest setting (for me, that’s 550F). There are two main methods of cooking your pizza in the oven. I recommend trying both and seeing which method produces the best pizza for you. Regardless of which method you choose, preheat your oven with your baking tool of choice inside at least 45 minutes before baking at the hottest temperature it goes. THIS STEP IS CRITICAL as it ensures the oven stays as hot as possible so that the pizza cooks faster and doesn’t dry out. For a baking sheet or cast iron pan, place it upside down (this allows hot air to more directly reach the surface).
    ° Top rack method: For this method, put your baking tool of choice (steel, stone, baking sheet, cast iron) on the top rack of your oven. The top rack should be about 5-6 inches from the broiler. If your broiler is weak, you can move the top rack to be 2-3 inches from the broiler. Once you’re ready to form your pizza, switch the oven to the broil setting to preheat the broiler. When you’re ready to launch your pizza, you’ll broil it for 2 minutes, then turn off the broiler but keep the oven on at the hottest temperature until the pizza is finished cooking (an additional 1-2 minutes).
    ° Switching racks method: Put your baking tool of choice on the middle rack of your oven, and arrange your top rack so that it is 5-6 inches from the broiler. When you’re ready to launch your pizza, it’ll cook at the oven’s hottest temperature for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is browned on the middle rack. Then, you’ll turn the broiler on and transfer the pizza to the top rack to finish cooking for ~1-2 minutes.
  • Once your dough has come to room temperature, you’re ready to form the pizza.
    ° If using a pizza peel, flour the peel with semolina or AP flour. Carefully pick up the dough from its container and place onto the pizza peel (avoid degassing the dough as much as possible). The gentler you are with picking up the dough, the less likely you will have uneven spots creating tears when stretching — try your best not to squish the dough in any way. Flour the top and bottom of the dough. You don’t want the dough to stick to the peel. You can check that it’s not sticking by sliding the dough around the peel. If it is sticking, add a bit more flour to the bottom. I like to do this every minute or so to ensure my dough is not sticking, especially once I start adding the sauce and toppings.
    ° If you don’t have a peel, you can put the dough on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Form a rim for the crust by gently pressing your index finger around the perimeter of the dough, about 2/3” from the edge as shown in the examples below.
  • Once the rim has been formed, be careful not to deflate the outer edges, as this is what’s going to create the characteristic risen crust in the oven. To stretch the dough, there are two methods I recommend.
    ° Lift and stretch. Lift the dough and place your knuckles on the inside rim of the dough. Let the dough gently stretch by rotating your knuckles in a circle until it reaches the desired diameter.
    ° Triangle stretch. With the dough on the peel or parchment, make a triangle with both your index fingers and your thumbs and gently push outwards. Keep turning the dough and pushing outwards until you’ve stretched the whole dough (see below for my hand formation).
  • Add your base sauce (tomato sauce, olive oil, cream) using a ladle.
  • Top the pizza with desired toppings.
  • Launch pizza in the oven!
    ° If using a pizza peel, make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel before launching. If it is, add a bit more flour, then hold the handle of the peel and slide the dough around to ensure it’s not sticking at all. To launch, hold the peel parallel to your baking sheet/stone/steel and gently slide the pizza onto it. There’s no need to rush it; you can do this slowly to get the hang of it. Immediately close the oven and cook according to your desired method.
    ° If using parchment, carefully move the dough with parchment onto the baking surface of choice. If you’re having trouble picking it up, you can slide it onto a cutting board and gently slide the parchment off the cutting board into the oven.
    ° Note: Parchment paper will start to toast in the oven. It will be totally fine as long as the paper is a few inches from the broiler and there isn’t a large overhang, as the parchment can curl up and burn. I recommend trimming the parchment paper so that it’s only about 1 - 2” larger than the pizza itself to prevent any premature burning.

Notes

Regardless of what methods or tools you have, you may notice your pizza doesn’t cook perfectly evenly, especially with the broiler. Feel free to rotate the pizza 180 degrees halfway through the cooking process to ensure even charring.