Recipe: Alexandra Stafford’s Neapolitanish Pizza Dough

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When it comes to pizza crusts, there are rules around what can be called a “Neapolitan” crust, according to Alexandra Stafford, author of the new “Pizza Night: Deliciously Doable Recipes for Pizza and Salad” (Clarkson Potter, $30).

“True Neapolitan pizza is made with only flour, water, salt and yeast in specified ratios to produce a dough that measures 55% to 62% hydration. Moreover, it must be baked in a wood-burning oven at 900 degrees for 60 to 90 seconds,” she writes.

So her pizza crust, while “Neapolitan in spirit” is, rather, Neapolitanish. It comes out “thin but not paper thin with a slightly ballooned rim” and has a higher hydration, at 77%, since being cooked in a home oven means the dough cooks at a much lower temperature for a longer period of time.

Neapolitanish Pizza Dough

“Pizza Night: Deliciously Doable Recipes for Pizza and Salad” by Alexandra Stafford (Clarkson Potter, $30) was published April 16. (Courtesy Clarkson Potter)

Timeline: 2½ to 3 daysMakes four 245- to 250-gram balls


550 grams (about 4¼ cups) bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

15 grams salt

2 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast

425 to 450 grams (1¾ to 2 cups) cold water (about 60 degrees)

Extra-virgin olive oil


Note: If you live in a humid environment or are new to pizza making, start with 425 grams of water. The dough may feel dry immediately after mixing, but as the dough rises, the flour will continue to hydrate, and when you turn out the dough to portion it, it will feel much wetter and stickier. If you are an experienced pizza maker and don’t mind working with a higher hydration dough, you can use 450 grams of water to start.

Mix the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and use a spatula to mix until the dough comes together, forming a sticky dough ball. If the dough is dry, use your hands to gently knead it in the bowl until it comes together. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold: Fill a small bowl with water. Dip one hand into the bowl of water, then use the dry hand to stabilize the bowl while you grab an edge of the dough with your wet hand, pull up and fold it toward the center. Repeat this stretching and folding motion 8 to 10 times, turning the bowl 90 degrees after each set. By the end, the dough should transform from shaggy in texture to smooth and cohesive. Pour about 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the dough and use your hands to rub it all over. Cover the bowl tightly and let the dough rise at room temperature until it has nearly doubled in volume, 6 to 10 hours. The time will varydepending on the time of year and the temperature of your kitchen.

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Portion the dough: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 4 equal portions, roughly 245 to 250 grams each. Using flour as needed, form each portion into a ball by grabbing the edges of the dough and pulling them toward the center to create a rough ball. Then flip the ball over, cup both your hands around the dough and drag it toward you, creating tension as you pull. Repeat this cupping and dragging until you have a tight ball.

Store the dough: Place the dough balls in individual airtight containers and transfer to the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

— Courtesy Alexandra Stafford, “Pizza Night: Deliciously Doable Recipes for Pizza and Salad,” (Clarkson Potter, $30).

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