Pizza Dough: What I've Learned

Doughs it matter?

Watching the Adam Ragusea New York-style pizza dough recipe inspired me to make pizza at home, something that I never thought I was capable of. Now, about 3 batches of pizza later, I think I’ve got most of the big details sorted out. Credit also to Andrew Rea for his pan pizza recipe which really helped me with kneading and shaping techniques.

The prep time is about 3 hours, and I don’t do overnight refrigerator rises (I plan to, one day, when I’m more patient and can remember to mix the dough the night before I want the pizza)


I use the regular wheat flour, 150g per pizza. I usually make 3–4 pizzas so it’s usually 450g or 600g. I don’t have a scale, so I use a measuring cup, sue me!

Water, sugar and yeast

I first take 100ml of water, mix it with half a packet of dry yeast (about 7.5g), and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well and let it activate for at least 30 minutes (but longer is better). This will foam up and overtop your container so make sure you put it on a large enough jar or something.


I’m currently going for 60% hydration. This results in a very sticky dough but I really like the taste and crunchy fluffiness of the final product.

60% hydration means you add 60% of your flour weight in water. For example if you have 100g of flour, you add 60g (or 60ml–isn’t SI lovely!) of water. For 600g of flour, this means adding 360ml of water.

But, remember that you already added 100ml to the yeast mixture. So do make sure to take that into account. You can just top up the yeast mixture with 260ml of water and add the whole shebang to the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon of salt and two tablespoons of olive oil (I usually substitute with pol thel because I am not made out of money).

Mix, mix, mix. You can check Babish for ways to knead without breaking your back. I used to knead with my hands, but now I just use the mixer attachment in my immersion blender and small bursts to get the thing kneaded.

Let it rest for 2 hours with a wet cloth on top of the bowl. This step is called the bulk ferment.


After letting your dough rise, break it into 3 or 4 parts. I really eyeball this and don’t really care about accuracy at this point.

Now, the tricky part of actual shaping. The dough is sticky af and will stick to anything, and I am currently experimenting with oil paper sheets cut into circles, like what Adam Ragusea does sometimes. Update: The oil paper sticks like glue to the batter (hey, paappa and sau kola in essence), so a better alternative I have found is aluminium foil! Comes right off when the pizza cools.

You drop the dough balls into a bowl of flour, and dust your fingers with flour as well. Drop the balls onto the oil paper and taking care not to deflate the edge (cornice) use your fingers to push down and flatten the middle. Doing this and expanding the pizza to your required size is the least fun part of the whole process for me, and I have not perfected it at all. After you’re done making a fool of yourself, let it rest and rise for another 1 hour.


Now is a good time to get started on the sauce. I just chop up one onion (or two), and smash a clove or two of garlic. I mix in about 2 tomatoes per pizza, so for 4 you’d need 8 tomatoes. It’s a good idea to drop the tomatoes in a hot water bath and peel off the skins if that’s your thing. People also remove the seeds. I do neither of these things because I am lazy and I don’t want to throw stuff away. Drop everything into a pan (onions and garlic first) with oil, add water and tomato sauce as desired, and mix well over medium heat. Once it looks good season with salt and pepper, and then put everything in a jar and use an immersion blender to mix it all in.


Don’t get pre-shredded motz. Shred your own motz. American YouTubers swear by adjectives (“low moisture”, “full fat”), but we don’t really have much variety here right? Get whatever mozzarella you can and just shred it into a bowl.

Other toppings

I’ve tried olives, sausages, and bacon. They all work well.


Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Apply the sauce first, then the cheese, then drop any other toppings. Brush your crust with some oil if you want things to look fancy. Slide your oil paper’d pizza onto a baking pan to bake1. Your cook time will depend on your oven and other factors I guess, but for me it’s usually between 15–20 minutes. I know it’s done when the toppings are getting burnt and the crust starts looking brown (if the crust is still white I’d advice keeping it in for a bit more). The oil paper should come right off now that the pizza is baked. Update: It doesn't.

Keep experimenting, and I’m sure you’ll find better ways of doing things. For example if you want a more burnt bottom you can try a small trick I do and use a roti pan on the stove to burn the bottom (this can happen before you put it in the oven).

  1. Does anyone have pizza stones or pizza steels here? If you have one you can use that. 

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