April 17, 2013

Neapolitan Pizza Dough Recipe

Gluten— the protein complex in wheat that becomes tangled into sticky, stretchy dough when you knead flour with water—is crucial to a great crust. Bread flours need a large fraction of high-quality gluten to act as a binder. The more gluten in the flour, the more elastic the dough, and the firmer the baked crust will be. Kneading the dough liberates starches that are attached to the proteins and allows the gluten to form networks that make the dough strong and stretchy. When you let the dough rest, the networks relax.

All yeast-leavened doughs­—but pizza dough in particular—benefit from higher levels of gluten. So we tried adding more gluten, in its purified form. We found that the addition of as little as 0.5% of vital wheat gluten (as in the recipe below) produces a dough that requires less kneading and yields just the right amount of chewiness when baked.

This dough is best when rolled thin and cooked quickly at a very high temperature. For best results, use our baking steel.

—Adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home

Recipe Tags

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Neopolitan Pizza Dough (3)

Not Enough Flour

Mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.

folding

Stretching the surface layer develops a network of gluten that traps air inside the ball, resulting in a lighter, more blistered crust.

Step 4  balls

Coat the balls lightly with oil, cover them with plastic wrap, and allow them to rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

Marinated Cherry Tomato, Prosciutto, Parmesean, Arugula

We devote a whole chapter to pizza dough, sauce, and toppings.

Sugar Balls

 

This recipe also makes excellent dough for doughnut holes.

Pretzel

 

We’ve also used this dough to make “Everything” Pretzels, Garlic Knots, and Breadsticks.

Tips & Substitutions

Steps 1 - 3
  • We recommend Antico Caputo brand 00 wheat flour, which is used by most pizzerias in Naples to create elastic doughs. You can find it in stores or online. You can use all-purpose flour, but you may need to include up to 10% more water.
  • You can make variations of this dough by using other flours. In Modernist Cuisine at Home, we include variations of this recipe using quinoa flour and buckwheat flour. You will need to adjust the amount of gluten used depending on what flour you substitute for the 00 flour. We also have several other pizza dough recipes, such as Rustic Pizza Dough, Poolish, and No-Knead Pizza Dough.
  • The added gluten creates a chewier crust than you could achieve without it.
  • We use Bob's Red Mill brand vital wheat gluten, which is readily available in most grocery stores and online.
  • Mix the ingredients together with the hook attachment of a stand mixer.
  • Allowing the gluten to relax between kneads creates especially smooth, stretchy dough.
  • The finished dough should pull away from the sides, but not the bottom of the mixing bowl. If the dough clings to the bowl's sides, sprinkle a teaspoon of flour, and continue mixing. Repeat as needed until the sides of the bowl are clean.
  • You can also knead the dough by hand. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together. Then knead the dough on a cool steel or marble surface (if possible) for about 7-8 minutes. The dough will stick to your hands, but try not to add extra flour. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, and then continue kneading for another 7–-8 minutes. It should feel springy and smooth. If it is still sticky, sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour and fully incorporate it.
Steps 4 & 5
  • This recipe makes four pizzas, so cut the dough into four equal chunks.
  • Use a well-floured surface when cutting the dough into chunks.
  • Stretch and roll each piece into a smooth, even ball. It is important to stretch the dough's surface layers in order to develop a network of gluten that traps air inside the ball, which results in a lighter, more blistered crust.
  • For a more complex flavor, refrigerate the dough ball overnight. Either way, it is important to let the dough rest for at least an hour at room temperature before using it.
  • If you are not using all four pieces of dough right away, you can freeze the sections individually. They will keep for up to three months when frozen.
  • Alternatively, use the dough for other applications. In Modernist Cuisine at Home, we use this dough for Breadsticks, Garlic Knots, "Everything" Pretzels, and Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Holes.
  • Try this dough with our Classic Pizza Sauce recipe.
  • Follow these tips to stretch out the dough and build the perfect pizza.

Discussion

  1. Ryan Stenson April 17, 2013 Reply

    Do you have any guidance for pizza dough using natural leaveners (sourdough starter)? Most great pizzerias make their neapolitan pizza that way, not using yeast.

    • Mark Palmer May 26, 2013 Reply

      Ryan, you might be interested in page 299 of MCH and the Poolish recipe. I just took my first crack at it last night, so mine’s just a day old and I have not used any of it yet.

    • Jim March 27, 2015 Reply

      Sourdough starter contains yeast. So yes, they use yeast.

  2. wli888 May 15, 2013 Reply

    I made this recipe a couple of days ago. Outstanding!

  3. The Professor May 29, 2013 Reply

    You can’t have a Neapolitan pizza dough if it isn’t Flour, Water, and Salt. Period.

    All this other crap is what the Italians were thinking about when they made the law on what Neapolitan pizza is.

    The whole premise behind a Neapolitan pizza is tradition and quality in your ingredients.

    • Mr. PG May 30, 2013 Reply

      Seems a bit harsh, Prof!

      • MarkD June 2, 2013 Reply

        The honey/agave really isn’t necessary. It provides an easy to metabolize food for the yeast, it will help the crust to brown faster, and it will impart a slight sweetness to the crust. I’m trying it first time with the honey. We’ll see if I omit it next time.

        As the the gluten, as I understand it, the italians actually add a small amount of american all-purpose flour to their recipes to increase the protein content. The gluten does this as well. So, strictly speaking, gluten isn’t an ingredient that would allow the crust to be “authentic”, but it does exactly the same thing as the small amount of american all-purpose flour that is added anyway. I say, no big deal.

        • BG January 30, 2014 Reply

          Not sure where in Italy they add American all purpose flour to their dough. I can assure you it is not in Napoli.

      • Derek Jones August 6, 2015 Reply

        Totally agreed. It’s simply pizza dough and not Neapolitan. Also 00 flour has the least amount of gluten of all the flours it’s called cake flour in the US. Using 00 flour and then adding gluten doesn’t make any sense. You might as well use regular flour. Pizza dough made with 00 flour is easier to work and easier to stretch thin.

    • Frank February 2, 2014 Reply

      Aye, that’s true. However, the whole premise behind modernist cooking is making things taste amazing, even if you have to leave tradition in the dust. I’d give this recipe a try before typing in officious comments.

      • Derek Jones August 6, 2015 Reply

        Neapolitan dough is a very specific dough you can’t change the ingredients and still call it Neapolitan. It’s simply pizza dough and not Neapolitan.

  4. BPalermo June 14, 2013 Reply

    My 84 year old Italian mother in law, born in Catagna, outside of Naples, who barely speaks English, uses flour, salt, water. No more. The crust is light, crisp yet tender, to die for. She says secret is to not “beata it upa so much and usa gooot flour, and a nota too much.”

  5. Enz August 15, 2013 Reply

    You are missing HUGE amounts of flavor if you are not slow fermenting the dough for 24 hours in the refrigerator. It slows down the yeast and allows enzymes and local lactobacyllus to join the party. One thing the enzymes do is convert some of the starch into sugars that promote browning. The lactobacylli bring flavor.

  6. JeanL August 17, 2013 Reply

    To the professor and BPalermo…….what do you mean, flour, water, salt and nothing more….what about yeast???
    Thanks!!

  7. Russelfer August 24, 2013 Reply

    I did not have any gluten, pizza dough still turned out great. We have made four batches so far. Thanks!

  8. nasim December 17, 2013 Reply

    Hey., Je suis un Iranien. M en amour avec la cuisine. Décidé familiariser avec la cuisine française que je suis tombé sur votre site. Été assez bon, mais il manquait quelques photos du processus. Merci Zybatvn place.
    Brise de l’Iran

  9. Vinny D October 14, 2014 Reply

    When making ANYTHING Italian if u use the rite ingredients and proper methods u will have classic wonderful Italian food period – I am a chef and know for a fact there are plenty of ways to make something amazing by taking short cuts – but to make something TRULY AMAZING u must take your time and perfect what you are doing the Original way and it will be the best thing you ever tasted – Flour , yeast, water , salt – that is a classic wonderful pizza Crust – it takes about 48 hrs of resting after ur first proof to have the perfect pizza dough – Make ur dough , rest for at least 8 hours room temp break it down into even size balls and refrigerate for 48hr covered completely in plastic when ur ready to use bring to room temp for another 2 hr minimum and get to streching – u will then have the perfect pizza dough

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