Rustic Pizza Crust Recipe

Homemade Pizza Margherita

This easy overnight method is our favorite no-fuss way to make pizza. The accurate temperature control of the Proofer helps ensure dinner is ready on time.

Our rustic pizza dough develops wonderful rich flavors by fermenting at a range of temperatures, from an overnight in the fridge through a slow, warm rise in the Proofer. It is a pleasure to handle and forms a nicely raised rim with a crisp crust and open crumb. The addition of a small amount of whole wheat flour adds a subtle, clean wheat flavor and helps tenderize the crumb, but doesn’t cause the crust to be dense, bitter or mealy. The crust is so delicious it is addictive, even without toppings.

Printable Recipe          recette imprimable

Timing:  Mix the dough the night before baking, then divide and rise the dough the next day after lunch. Because the Proofer helps produce a predictable rise, this recipe includes a timetable that takes the guesswork out of rising dough and timing a meal. Scroll down, and there’s a “Quick Crust” variation at the end for times when mixing the dough ahead of time isn’t possible.

Yield:  Makes about 15 oz / 425 g of dough, enough for two 10-12″ / 25-30 cm thin crust pizzas.

rustic_pizza_TIMELINE

Volume Ounces Grams Baker’s
Percentage
Unbleached all-purpose flour* 2 C, lightly spooned 8.25 234    92.9%
Whole wheat flour 2 T 0.65   18      7.1%
Water, ice cold ¾ C 6.30 179    71.0%
Instant yeast ½ tsp 0.06  1.6      0.6%
Salt 1 tsp 0.21  6      2.2%
Olive oil, for kneading and coating containers
Semolina, for coating the underside of the pizza (optional)

*Preferably an unbleached all-purpose flour with 10-10.5% protein and containing malted barley flour or malting enzymes. In the U.S., Gold Medal Unbleached AP, Hecker’s Unbleached AP, or Pillsbury Unbleached AP work well in this recipe.

Equipment:  Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer, pizza stone, medium bowl.

Mix ingredients.  Before measuring the water, add ice and chill.  (Cold water slows yeast activity so enzymes have time to work, and also causes some of the yeast to release glutathione, which makes the dough easier to stretch.) Measure or weigh the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk or stir until well combined. Measure or weigh the chilled water, add to dry mixture and mix just until all the flour is moistened. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to hydrate the flour and begin chilling the dough.

Stretch and Fold.  Lightly oil a clean bowl, your hands, and a work surface with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and stretch it into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle like a business letter, then rotate the dough and stretch and fold again, so that all four sides of the dough have been folded to the center. Do this a second time, stretching the dough and folding all four sides to the center. The dough should feel noticeably firmer and smoother.

Retard the dough. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and turn it over so that it is lightly coated with oil. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least six, or up to 30 hours.

Folded pizza dough to develop structure

Choose a timetable.  From the chart below, choose a fermentation temperature and its corresponding time to remove the dough from the refrigerator. For example, if you would like to bake the pizzas at 6 pm, then setting the proofer to 75 °F / 24 °C would mean taking the dough out of the refrigerator 4.5 hours ahead of baking, at about 1:30 pm.

Pre-shape the pizzas.  Set up the Proofer with water in the tray and the rack in place. Set the thermostat to the temperature in the table, below, that corresponds to the time you would like to like to remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Pre-shaping pizza dough

 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, scrape it out onto a lightly oiled surface and cut it into two pieces with a sharp knife.  Shape each piece into a ball by drawing all the edges up, then pinching seams gently to close. Place the dough balls seam side down on a 9 x 13″ / 23 x 33 cm pan or put each ball into a bowl.

Proof the pre-shaped crusts.  Set the container(s) with the dough balls in the Proofer and allow the dough to relax and ferment until about doubled in size. A gentle poke with your finger should produce an indent that fills in slowly. Approximate proofing times are listed in the table, below.

Proofing pizza dough

Proofer
Temperature
Approximate Time
in Proofer
When to Take the Dough
out of the Refrigerator
70 °F / 21 °C     4 hrs 30 min   5 hrs 30 min before baking
75 °F / 24 °C     3 hrs 20 min   4 hrs 20 min before baking
80 °F / 27 °C     2 hrs 30 min   3 hrs 30 min before baking
85 °F / 29 °C     2 hrs 10 min   3 hrs 10 min before baking
85 °F / 29 °C, Quick Variation     1 hr 10 min   no refrigerator time

Preheat the oven.  One hour before baking, place a pizza stone in the middle of the oven and preheat to 500 °F / 260 °C. The goal is for the underside of the crust to be crisp and browned at the same time that the topping ingredients are cooked. If the pizzas are done on top but not browned enough underneath, next time move the stone to a lower position. And if they are getting too dark on the bottom before the tops are finished, move the stone to a higher rack.

Shape the crusts.  Sprinkle semolina (or flour) over a 12″ / 30 cm round piece of parchment, leaving the outer portion of the circle bare. (Baking on parchment helps keep the oven free of burnt semolina and dripped toppings.)

Keep the crust not being working on covered. Place a dough ball seam side down in the semolina, and with oiled fingertips tap the dough down to form a disc. Gently stretch the dough into shape, leaving a thicker rim at the edge and focusing on stretching rather than pressing down. This can be done either by stretching with oiled fingers from the top of the dough, or by sliding the underside of the dough over the backs of floured hands and stretching gently from side to side. When finished, cover the shaped crust and move to the other pizza.

Top and bake the pizzas.  If desired, cover the crusts and allow to proof for 30 minutes in order to create the most open crumb possible in the border of the pizzas (this is optional, but is built into the timetable). Add toppings and bake on the pizza stone for 7-10 minutes, using a peel or the back of a sheet pan to transfer the pizzas to the oven. About half way through the baking, rotate the pizzas to promote even browning and slide out the parchment so the pizza finishes baking directly on the stone.

Shaping pizza dough (step 2)

Variation- Quick Pizza Crust
This method creates a warmer dough that is ready to bake in just two hours.  The flavor is still good, though not as rich and fully developed as the mix-ahead version. With flavorful toppings the pizzas are delicious.

Use the same ingredients and procedure as above, except warm the water to lukewarm (about 100 °F / 38 °C), autolyse at room temperature for only ten minutes, and omit the refrigerator time. Directly after stretching and folding the dough, divide it in half, round into balls and transfer to a pan or bowls. Proof the pre-shaped crusts at 85 °F / 29 °C for about one hour and ten minutes, then shape and bake. If the optional 30 minute rise after the crust is stretched to its final shape is omitted, the pizzas can be ready to bake about two hours after mixing the dough.
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2017-05-12T14:41:33+00:00 Bread & Sourdough|8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Verna Mclaughlin May 27, 2015 at 1:17 am - Reply

    I’m intrigued with your method and will give it a try.

    I’ve been experimenting with the amount of time to let the shaped crust rise before topping and baking. I’ll try your 1/2 hour suggestion… and the addition of 2Tbl. whole wheat flour.

    I wonder why you don’t include King Arthur Flour. Is it because it doesn’t have the malting enzymes?

    • Julie May 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      King Arthur Flour is great and does have a touch of barley malt for enzymatic activity. However, it is higher in protein than the other flours mentioned, which can make the pizza crust a little chewy and harder to stretch into shape. If you would like to use KAF AP flour, increase the water by a tablespoon or two to keep the dough at the right consistency.

  2. Michele December 17, 2016 at 12:30 am - Reply

    What about the KAF “pizza flour blend”. Is that ready for these recipes above?

    • Diane January 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      Michele, You can try to substitute a gradual amount of the King Arthur Flour Pizza Flour Blend to start and increase if you are pleased with the results. FPB has a slightly higher protein (gluten available) which can make your crust more chewy and a little more difficult to shape the crust. You may need to add a little more water. If you have not made the crust yet, we suggest starting with the recipe as is and then substitute to taste. Most people prefer the recipe as written with excellent results. All the best in baking!

  3. Prashanti January 6, 2017 at 3:29 am - Reply

    If using Active Dry Yeast, how much should I substitute?

    Thanks

    • Diane January 27, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Prashanti, Yes, you can substitute Active Dry Yeast for Instant Yeast 1:1. We have noticed Active Dry is not quite as responsive with regard to dough rising as Instant Yeast but for this recipe it is fine. Thank you for your interest.

  4. moh @real recipe September 16, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Looks fabulous. Going to try this week on pizza night, thanks for testing it out for me

    • Diane September 25, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      Yes, the recipe is a customer favorite: simple instructions, easy dough to shape and delicious flavor.

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