Friday, August 16, 2013

Eighteen hour pizza crust

I'm always looking to improve my home-made pizza crust. The recipe I've been using for the past couple of years came from our friend Tom in Illinois (the proud owner of a wood-fired pizza oven) and it's been my favorite. Until now.

Our first "My Pizza" with thin-sliced ham, potato, béchamel sauce, and hot home-grown banana peppers.

Tom and Harriett recently visited us and brought with them a book called "My Pizza" by Jim Lahey. Mr. Lahey's pizza crust is very close to Tom's recipe, but is a little simpler in that it doesn't get kneaded. He says to put flour, water, and yeast in a bowl, mix it up, and let it sit covered at room temperature for eighteen hours. At the end of that time, he says to divide the dough, fold it over itself once or twice, and make your pizza. Naturally, you have to plan in advance. I start the dough at six in the evening so it's ready for the next day's lunch.

I tried it, and wow! Both Ken and I decided it's the best at-home crust we've had. It's tender and the outside crisps up very nicely in the oven. The crust develops those little charred blisters that are so delicious. I've made the recipe twice now. Each batch makes four individual pizzas; we each eat one for a meal, then refrigerate the remaining dough for another meal a couple of days later (the crust holds for up to three days in the fridge).

***UPDATE: Several readers asked for the recipe, so here it is (I've edited it a bit from the book's version).

18 Hour Pizza Dough
Jim Lahey

500 grams all purpose flour
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1.      In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt.
2.      Add water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands.
3.      Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rise at room temperature for 18 hours (more when it’s cold, less when it’s hot).
When it’s time to bake: preheat the oven and baking stone to 275ºC (that's as hot as my oven gets).
Take the dough from the bowl and cut it into 4 equal parts and shape them: pull and make 4 folds then shape each portion into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
Use right away or wrap the balls in plastic and refrigerate up to 3 days. Let refrigerated dough rest at room temperature for 2-3 hours before using.
Roll a ball out and place it onto a peel. (I use a little semolina on the peel to keep the dough from sticking.)  Sauce and top the pie quickly.
Bake the pizza on the stone until it’s done. Toss a couple of teaspoons of water onto the oven floor to make steam.
Take the pie out of the oven, slice it, and serve.


  1. PIZZA! One of my favorite meals. And very underrated by the home cook. This white Pizza looks so good.

  2. who DOESN'T like pizza?!?

    please to be sharing recipe, martha? :)

  3. Great effort, I'm salivating already - I think potato on Pizza is the best thing but you would die for Sue's desert on today's blog Walt (check it out)

  4. Isn't that a great way to work with yeast? The long slow rise gives so much more flavor.

  5. Yum, yum, pizza.....don't think I could use an 18 hour dough recipe though, I haven't the patience.

  6. Hello Walt
    Would appreciate getting the quantities and type of flour please. Thank you - Y is looking for a good recipe for the dough

  7. I just read Leon's blog with Sue's wonderful desert, now your pizza! I haven't had breakfast yet which will make my oatmeal very unsatisfying.
    Do you use just mozzarella or mix mozzarella and gruyere on top? This looks really good Walt and as "The Beaver" wrote, the complete recipe would be

  8. Oh yes! I can smell this over the internet! We've always used bread dough we buy from the boulangerie, but I could try this. Did you use regular flour (type 45 or 55)? Or did you use a whole flour? May I share the link to this post on fb?

    1. ellen, I use standard type 55 most of the time. Yesterday I did a batch with semi-complète and it worked fine, just a little denser result.

  9. Pizza is always a possibility with me. Yours looks delish and I would order it, easily! Yes, please share that 18-hour dough recipe!

  10. A great looking pizza, Walt! The white pizza with potato is a favorite with our dinner guests. Though ours doesn't have ham on it...

  11. My local library has that book, and happily lets you reserve via website. So I'll get it early next week most likely. Thanks for the tip.

  12. Walt, this looks so good, I just bought the book, so I can try to make it!

  13. I confess - I've been making a batch of (topped) pizzas using Tom's dough recipe - for the freezer. The results seem perfectly fine to me (though I'm no gourmet).

    1. autolycus, I've had great success freezing Tom's dough, although I've not done it topped. Good idea!


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