This dough is easiest to handle if well chilled so keep it in the refrigerator before handling it and right up until it is to be cooked.
makes six 9-inch pizzas
- 2 pound (7 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 package (about 2 tablespoon) active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
- semolina flour (optional)
Combine the flour, sugar or honey, salt, yeast, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add 2 ½ cups cool (60 to 65 degrees F) water. With a large spoon or the paddle attachment of the electric mixer on low speed, mix until the dough comes together in a coarse ball, 2 to 3 minutes by hand or 1 to 2 minutes in the mixer. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Knead the dough: If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, either by hand on a lightly floured work surface or with the mixer’s dough hook on medium-low speed. As you knead, add more flour or water as needed to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple, and fairly tacky but not sticky. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should peel off easily and cleanly. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides.
Chill the dough: Lightly oil a bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat it with the oil, cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. It will rise slowly in the refrigerator but will stop growing once completely chilled. If the plastic bulges, release the carbon dioxide buildup by lifting one edge of the plastic wrap and then reseal. Use the dough for pizzas, calzones, or stromboli as directed in the recipes.
Make Ahead Tips
It’s best to mix the dough at least a day before you plan to bake. The dough keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. To freeze the dough: After kneading the dough, divide it into 6 pieces for pizzas or calzones or 4 pieces for stromboli. Freeze each ball in its own zip-top freezer bag. They’ll ferment somewhat in the freezer, and this counts as the rise. Before using, thaw completely in their bags overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Then treat the dough exactly as you would regular overnighted dough, continuing with the directions for making pizzas, calzones, or stromboli.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough: Replace 25% to 50% of the flour with an equal amount of whole wheat flour. It may be necessary to add more all-purpose flour as you knead. Your goal is to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple, and fairly tacky but not sticky. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to sides of the bowl.
Cornmeal Pizza Dough: Replace 25% to 50% of the flour with an equal amount of cornmeal. Start with the same water as in regular dough and adjust from there, adding more flour until the dough, when poked with a clean finger, peels off easily and cleanly. You may need to add up to 10 Tbs. of flour to get the right consistency: supple and tacky (almost but not quite sticky). The amount of extra flour will depend on the type of cornmeal. Polenta, for instance, absorbs much more slowly than fine grind cornmeal. Because cornmeal often takes a little longer to fully hydrate, you’ll find that the dough will firm up slightly as it cools in the fridge.