The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

4th of July pizza making and breakthrough

breaducation's picture

4th of July pizza making and breakthrough

I've been tinkering with pizza dough for awhile now and recently I've had a break through both in my dough formula and with the bake.

Most formulas I've found online for serious quality pizza doughs are designed with high heat wood fired ovens in mind. These doughs are usally high-hydration doughs which work really well in an extremely hot oven. The problem with this for me is that my oven only taps out at 555 degrees, a good 350 degrees cooler than a traditional pizza oven. What results is a dough that doesn't stay crispy, takes too long to color and doesn't rise all that well.

What I've discovered with pizza dough is that there is not one dough that will work with all ovens. Rather, the best pizza dough is the one that works best in your oven. In my case that calls for backing off the hydration significantly. I've found that, in general, the hotter your oven the higher you can push the hydration.

For my oven at 555 degrees the best results I've gotten have come from using a 68% hydration dough. The resulting crust has just the right amount of crispiness with a soft open crumb.

This brings me to my dough formula. I have tried using a purely commercial yeast dough, either straight or with preferments and the results have been good but not quite as complex a flavor as I would like. I've also tried using pure sourdough leavening and have gotten good flavor but the texture is off. The crust is not light and airy enough.

I've finally settled on what, for me, is the perfect pizza dough. It's a hybrid of commercial yeast and sourdough. With this dough you get the best of all worlds. Light,  soft and flavorful with a thin, crispy crust.

What makes it even better is that the process is very easy and does not take much work. Simply combine all ingredients and let ferment 2 hours  at 76 degrees with 2 folds. After that you can let it sit in the fridge until you are ready to use it. The minimal mixing time results in the most flavor possible and an open crumb. You may want to autolyse this dough if you make it yourself as I did encounter a little bit of elasticity when I attempted to stretch out the doughs for pizza making. Poolish instead of sponge might also help with this.

Here is the formula:

IngredientsBaker's %
Instant Yeast0.39
Liquid Starter15


I also figured out a new way of baking the pizza that more closely simulates a pizza oven. With the oven at 555 degrees it takes way too long to get a nicely crisp crust. So what I do is bake the pizza on a stone as normal until the crust has fully risen and the cheese is melted, about 3 -4 minutes. At this point, I put the pizza directly under the broiler and char it for maybe 10-15 seconds. This is enough to get a perfectly charred crust. The best part was that the family loved it!

All the ingredients in the bowl ready to be mixed:


Anaheim pepper and mascarpone cheese:


Brussel Sprout:


pmccool's picture

You have worked through the various factors to arrive at a process that is adapted to your situation and tastes.  It's very refreshing to hear, compared to proclamations that "This is the ONE AND ONLY way to do pizza!"  Best of all, it gives me some ideas to play with the next time I develop a hankering for pizza.  Which, by the way, is now closer to happening after seeing your pies!


breaducation's picture

Yeah, there can never be one and only right pizza dough. I mean everyone prefers something different in their dough. Heck there are even some days where I'm just craving some roundtable and could care less about a quality dough. It's all a matter of what you like.

Glad I could inspire some pizza cravings!


SylviaH's picture

I especially like the way the cheese didn't brown and melted nicely...yumm!  I think the broiler use can come in handy for many a home oven pizza bake and you have got a nice system going for your oven.  

Little changes can make wonderful big differences in flavor.  Flours like the Italian Caputo 00 are much better suited for the high heat of a wfo oven and the flours you have choosen are wonderful for the home oven.


breaducation's picture

Yes, the broiler really makes the difference. Without it, the pizza takes way too long to brown and by the time it does have some nice color it's all dried out and has a thick crust. Blehh.

Thanks for the kind comments.

dabrownman's picture

what works for you is inspiring.  The pizza isn't bad either.  It just looks terrific and delicious - the perfect combo.  Nice baking all around.

breaducation's picture

Thank you so much!

ramat123's picture

Thanks for the post, I'll be using your recipe tomorrow with friends and family coming in:

1. What's the sponge content?

2. Liquid levain you mean 100% hydration?


David Zonsheine

breaducation's picture


The sponge is 100% flour, 65% water and 0.1% yeast. Let ferment for around 12 hours at 70 degrees. The liquid levain is indeed 100% hydration. I think I actually had around 25% whole wheat flour in the levain too but that's not neccessary, it's just how I keep my starter. I would also seriously consider impletmenting the autolyse if you try this. It will just make stretching out the dough a lot easier when shaping.

Good luck and I'd love to hear about your results!

bnom's picture

I agree that too high a hydration does not work as well in a home oven as a lower hydration - and Sylvia, I've used 00 flour too but didn't like it as much as my 11.5  percent AP.   I haven't found it necessary to use a broiler to achieve the quality and color I want, but I do find it important to cook the pizza for five minutes or so before putting on the cheese -- particularly mozzerella.  By putting it on later, it keeps the cheese from breaking and maintains it's  creamy quality. 

ramat123's picture

I've been baking sourdough bread for a few years and Pizza for the last two with many different recipe but this one... Wow, the dough was amazingly elastic the flavours was much better than any other recipe I've been using. I have using Pivetti Farina Tipo "00" AP flour.

Thank you so much.