The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Novice Pizza Dough Maker Problem

Lindababy5's picture

Novice Pizza Dough Maker Problem

Hi all,

First, I just want to say that I love this site and I apologize if you've heard this story before, but I'm a little overwhelmed by the bread making process. I faithfully followed Peter Reinhart's American Pie napoletana recipe (weighing flour, taking temperature of water, etc). Everything looked great - it was nice and sticky, I lovingly placed my dough ball in a bowl brushed with olive oil and covered with plastic wrap for a nice overnight fermentation. When I woke up the next day, the dough was the same size. I took it out 2 hrs before baking to prepare it and it stayed the same size. As this is my first try, I wasn't sure if this was to be expected or not because PR doesn't go into great detail about it for THIS recipe. I baked according to instructions and the dough stayed flat and pale and wasn't flavorful at all. It wasn't terribly hard but it wasn't soft or crispy or anything good - not what I expected. What did I do wrong?

BTW, I used instant yeast,and I've read does not need to be dissolved in warm water before using so I mixed it with the dry ingredients before adding liquid.

One other question -- if I use 00flour instead of AP, do I use exactly the same amount, i.e, is it an equal exchange and do I need to make any adjustments to the yeast, water, etc.?

Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated!



Roo's picture

I am far from an expert on pizza dough as I am just making it on a regular basis.  I have had a lot of success with Peter Reinhart's American Pie napoletana recipe.

is your yeast fresh?  Try proofing it and see how it acts. I would look at that first before moving on.

How many times have you tried the recipe and does it happen everytime?  If you have only done it once, try it again and see if you get the same results.

I wish you luck and keep us informed.

Lindababy5's picture

Thanks, Roo! I suspected that might be a problem because NOTHING was happening; I will test the yeast. I should expect the dough to rise overnight, yes? Do you see it rising by approximate x% (25,50) and then does it rise again when you take it out to bring to room temp 2 hrs before cooking?

This was my first time - I was first discouraged and then of course, now I'm chomping at the bit to make it right! I was really intimidated by the process and this was a bit of a bummer, but I want to try again because I love the idea of it.

I will let you know, thanks!


Roo's picture

I would guess in the fridge it is about a 25-30% raise overnight.  Once out of the fridge I usually get a good raise in two hours.  Around double.  We keep our house slightly cold year round 68-73 degrees but on the counter in front of the window 2 hours to double is all it takes.

Glad to hear you are not discouraged to the point of giving up.  Once you get it to work for you it is a great dough to work with.

Lindababy5's picture

Yes, you've confirmed my suspicions/issues with the rise; I got nothing in the fridge and nothing on the proof. Nada. Thanks again, Roo!

As an aside, have you used PR's uncooked pizza sauce? The first night, I felt like the red wine vinegar made it too sweet but the second, I guess the flavors deepened and it was very nice.

mattie405's picture

I just finally got the PR book the other day. I make all our pizzas here at home and we are happy with them. I wouldn't use the 00 flour unless you have access to a high temp wood burning oven or a little electric one like we use that is capable of high temps, you need heat up in the 800 degree range to be able to use the 00 and have a pizza come out well, as far as I know that is. If you are using your regular oven you really need to allow it to heat up for a long time, typically I let ours heat up for at least an hour on 550 (its max) with a stone in it, after an hour I turn the broiler on for about 15 minutes to get that stone HOT, then switch it back to the bake cycle at 550. The stone needs to be blazing hot to drive out moisture and help the crust brown and crisp. It took me quite a while to manage to make some really good pizza but I had fun with the process. If your dough got no rise at all I would proof some of your yeast just to make sure it isn't dead........


Lindababy5's picture

Interesting - I've never heard of that being an issue with 00flour. In theory, is it s 1 to 1 exchange with AP? I might just try a little side-by-side comparison.

I followed all of the pointers in PR's book regarding pre-heating the oven for over an hour, cycling with the broiler and back to back at very high temp. It came down to the dough :(

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

This is a point of contention I have with a lot of bread books that retard doughs in the refrigerator overnight: the length of time they say it'll take a retarded (refrigerated) dough to come back up to room temperature (and proof) is almost always wrong. They underestimate by 50% or more: when they say 2 hours, mine takes 3-4 hours (longer with wild yeasts). 

My refrigerator's cold, but it's not a freezer, so nothing unusual there. I wonder: Does the author set their refrigerator to 55 F or warmer?

My room temperature is 74 F, so nothing unusual there either. I wonder: Is the author's kitchen a sauna?


Can you tell us what happens if you leave it out to proof for 4 hours?

If nothing happens still, then you have a problem with one or more of your ingredients. Check your yeast first, your water second, your salt third, and then your flour.

If it's not your yeast, then its most likely your water (too much chlorine or other treatment chemicals are killing your yeasties and bacteria). I always use distilled or filtered water.


[No ideas on the 00 flour; sorry. I have no experience with it.]


[Some might disagree with me on this, but there's not much to worry about in over-proofing pizza dough. I sometimes set my dough out for proofing and then go on a 4-hour bike ride. It's over-proofed by the time I get home, sure, but it's pizza dough. There's no harm done (or not much) when the dough's competing with toppings like tomato sauce, garlic, pepperoni, etc.]


Lindababy5's picture

Thanks for the suggestions!

I actually wound up proofing for closer to 3 hrs with NO change in the dough.

The flour was a brand new bag of unbleached organic AP King Arthur. The water was Brita pitcher filtered (new filter) and heated to 65 degrees, as indicated in PR's book. The yeast was just opened. If I have to start worrying about salt, then I'm going to order out :)

I'm going to test my yeast as indicated on one of TFL's forum postings.


wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Wow, then this is quite the mystery!

Do you have a source of radiation in your kitchen? And old dentist chair, maybe? :D


Oh, I meant quantity of salt! Too much and you get nothing, nadda, dead dough.

Lindababy5's picture

It might not be a mystery -- I have to test my yeast to see if it was DOA.


If I have a source of radiation in my kitchen, then faulty pizza dough is the least of my worries :)

jtdavies's picture

What do you mean by 65 degrees? 65 degrees Celcius is 149 degrees Farenheit. That seems much too hot to me.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

What is this Celsius of which you speak? :D

longhorn's picture

If the yeast isn't dead then something got in the way. That is a very reliable recipe in my experience and yields very fluffy, light dough balls. Only reasonable other possibilities are something in your water or you mismeasured and put it way too much salt.

Lindababy5's picture

I'm going to test the yeast, longhorn -- thanks for the feedback regarding the recipe.

I was pretty careful about all measurements (he gives only measurement, not weight for the salt)

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

the water?  It's easy to kill yeast with hot water.  I know you measured it, but could the thermometer be bad?

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Could have been something in the mixing or proofing bowl.

I know all your bowls are clean, though, so be nice. :D

Lindababy5's picture

I was pretty exacting about everything. Measurements, clean utensils, mixing bowl, hands, etc.

The thermometer is fine, thanks for the idea, though! I will test yeast and will report back.

Blackwill's picture

I make pizza dough all the time at the house, and I have never had occasion to retard the dough overnight.  I just give it one leisurely rise at room temp, form and bake it straight away.

Other than running short on time, I can't see a benefit to retarding a pizza dough, unless you are using a naturally leavened or sourdough.

My recipe is simple: 3 1/2 cups AP flour, 1/4 oz yeast, 2 T olive oil, 1 T salt, 1 T sugar, 1 cup water (110 F), and 1/4 cup white wine. I hydrate the yeast in the water, give it an hour to rise, and then off we go.


wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

You're brave admitting that in this forum. :D

This is the one I make when I'm feeling lazy:

  • 1000 g AP
  • 750 g water
  • 1/4 t yeast
  • 1 T salt
  • mix until a sloppy mess, no kneading
  • retard for 10 days (but poked every other day or so to move the yeastie beasties around–as they have no locomotion of their own–and to degas the dough).
Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi Linda,

I would check your yeast. Simple way is to disolve some in some luke warm water with a half a t/spoon of sugar. If there is no froth and bubbles with a creamy textured  top in about 10 to 15 minutes throw it out and buy a new serve of yeast.

Having made my own wild yeast starter I also use an instant dried yeast from time to time and I store it in the freezer to retain it's freshness once the seal on it's container is opened. If your an occassional bread maker you may like to consider this idea for your yeast storage as well.

For all my breads I use a bakers flour. I do not have have enough knowledge on 00flour to pass on only that  it appears to be used more for Italian pasta more than anything else.

Without being rude try this pizza base recipe. The measure is expressed in percentages as I do not know what quanity you like to make at a time. I am not claiming this to be a better pizza mix it's just a basic alternative that has served us well.

AP or bakers flour.........................100%                                                      

Yeast dry........................................1%                                                        Salt.................................................1%                                                   Water (%Can Vary).............................................62%

First make sure your water is luke warm. Mix half a small glass of your water percentage with yeast with half a teaspoon of brown sugar. Combine all other dry ingredients in your mixing container. When the yeast has frothed in the water combine with dry ingredients along with balance of water and your olive oil.

Now follow the rest of PR's method for kneading and fermentation and see how you go. BTW yeast and sugar in the water is optional. It's just something I tried one day out of curiousty as yeast loves sugar and I've stayed with it for any basic white loaf I now make. Otherwise just place your yeast straight in the dry ingedients if you like. Let us all know how you get on.

Good luck and cheers............Peter

jyslouey's picture

We used 00 flour and proved the dough for abt an hr and a bit in a warming cabinet at the baking class. We divided the dough into portions after degassing and pre-shaping into balls and was told this was the stage when we can keep it in the fridge till the next day  if we weren't using the dough immediately.  The next day, we can just take it out and roll it out thinly and then stretch by hands to form a pizza.  We used 200 grms of 00 flour and 50 ml  of room temp milk mixed with a 3 tbsps of water with 1 tbsp IDY. The amt makes two crispy pizzas @ 9" or 1 pizza and 1 calzone.  Here's what the finished product looks like.  I found the pizza a little bland but I guess it's up to us what we want to put for the topping.  Here we were given parma ham and a bit of rocquet and mozarella cheese which I baked tog. together with the dough.

Please let me know if you'd like to have my recipe for the pizza dough.  I've never tried it before so I can't say if it's a very good recipe but it seemed to work for me.