The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Adventures in Pizza Crust

ImmyB's picture

Adventures in Pizza Crust

Hello Everyone!

I am new to this forum.  I have been dabbling with making pizza dough every since I graduated from a health supportive culinary school a few years back.  For the most part, I've been pretty happy with my results.  Recently, I tried a dough recipe by Mario Batali.  My curiosity was peeked when I saw the recipe called for white wine.  This week will make my third time trying this dough.  The first time I tried this dough, I noticed that unlike most doughs I've done in the past, after refrigerating it overnight, the dough seemed flat, lifeless.  It just didn't have much elasticity.  I noticed also that the dough didn't rise much initially when left at room temperature before being refrigerated.  I was worried at the time that maybe I'd killed the yeast, the water was a bit warmer than I normally do when I formed the dough. 

Anyway, the next day I made another dough from a different recipe after seeing how flat Batali's dough was.  I  was very tempted to scrap the dough but decided to give it a chance. I ended up letting the dough stay out at room temperature for two additional days and punching it down once on day 2.  This turned out to be the absolute best crust I've ever made.  It had a very tangy taste to it reminiscent of wine or cheese.  I've been trying to reproduce the result every since trying different levels of yeast, different amounts of fermentation cold and room temp.  I plan to continue playing with Lahey's "no-knead" dough.  Does anyone know if this dough would be safe to leave out at room temp for 2 days?

I'm wondering if some of you out there could help me understand what would have created this.  Was it the room temp fermentation for a couple of days? 



Chaze215's picture

B: I suggest you check out I have been over there for the past few months and those guys are very helpful and know what they are talking about. Good luck!


ImmyB's picture

Hey thanks Chaz!

I skimmed their site in the past. Definitely going to go take a closer look.  :) 

cranbo's picture

At 2 days at room temp, depending on how much yeast was in the recipe, it could have been slightly overfermented; that certainly would give you more tang in the flavor, but crust color (at rim and bottom) would probably suffer.

How was the crust browning? 

If you share the recipe you used, it will help people here offer suggestions. 

Lahey no-knead bread could stay out at room temp for 2 days, but you would have to use even less yeast; his recipe calls for 0.23% of the flour weight (1/4 tsp for 3c. flour), so you'd have to reduce that to about 0.1% of the flour weight, or around 1/8 tsp for 3 c. flour. 


ImmyB's picture

Hi Cranbo,

I felt the crust had a nice, golden brown coloring. It was nicely airy and crisp too.  Below is the Batali recipe I tried.  I altered the yeast because it seemed like way too much.  I opted to use one packet of Red Star dry active yeast.  The second go around, I tried 2 packets but the crust had a very yeasty, almost sweet taste.  It was okay but not what I would have preferred.

Source:  Food Network, Recipe Courtesy Mario Batali, Food Network, Copyright 2000


  • 1/4 cup light red or white wine, Fiano di Avellino
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups flour


Place wine, water and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix well to combine. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir for 2 to 3 minutes, incorporating as much flour as you can with the wooden spoon.

Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough is smooth and firm. Place in a clean, lightly-oiled bowl, using remaining tablespoon of oil and cover with a towel. Let rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.

For individual pizzas or calzones, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and knead into rounds. For one large pizza, knead into 1 large round. For either, let rest for 15 minutes.

I am going to bake my dough off today.  I'll try to take pictures of the different stages and post. 

copyu's picture

I am a bit intrigued and confused...I've never heard of a pizza dough that required white wine as an ingredient, but I'm very open to new ideas. What confuses me is that you seem to have ignored the use of fresh yeast, which is a completely different animal (and I use that word advisedly!) from 'active dried' yeast or 'instant' yeast. 

Also, there is no mention in the formula you posted about refrigeration, or extra-long fermentation times. From reading the formula you posted, it sounds like a 'same-day' bake to me.

Alcohol, one of yeast's waste products, kills the yeast when it reaches around 15%—yeast, honey, flour and water make even MORE alcohol than the 11-12.5% of alcohol in the recommended wine...Of course, it's highly unlikely that you're reaching that particular level in your dough, but the longer you leave such a mixture, the more alcohol you'll produce, even at low temps and that is NOT going to help your yeast to raise the dough...maybe the use of 45g (or even 60 grams!) of fresh yeast is recommended, so that there are enough 'survivors' to raise the dough.

These are 'questions' as much as suggestions...hoping this is helpful!



[Edit: I think the wine may be there to compensate for the fact that there is no "biga" or other "pre-ferment" which will give more of a 'sourdough' taste to the pizza crust...Adam]

ImmyB's picture

Hi Adam!

Thank you so much for responding and for all of your input.  There is a lot about baking that apparently I don't know!  I really appreciate what you've shared because it helps me understand the mechanics more behind what I'm doing and am attempting to do.  

The type of yeast I bought was a mistake. I didn't realize until getting home and looking at the recipe again.  Given what you've shared, it makes more sense that he called for the amount he did.  I recall as I was researching this recipe on a different site, someone mentioned thinking the amount was a mistake.  Probably they were thinking of active/instant yeast as well.  Since the first batch came out so well, I have continued to use the same yeast.  I'm going to have to try it with the correct yeast next time.

 Just a little clarification regarding the confusion on if this was a same day bake . . .  The first day and time I made this dough, I let it rise at room temperature and then refrigerated it overnight. The next day, the dough lacked elasticity and seemed different from what I normally encouter so I left it out all day at room temp fermenting. It seemed to be rising nicely so I decided to go for one more day.   The following day, which was day three, I bakd it off in the late afternoon.

Now, this latest batch of dough has a stronger wine in it.  The very first time I used a Pinot Grigio.  THIS TIME I used a port wine that I diluted slightly.  Also because it was such a dark wine, it changed the color of the dough.  At least it hasn't come out pink because when I initially mixed it, it was looking to be heading that way.  Also this time I've used  100% bread flour. I made the dough on Monday, let it rise at room temp.  I punched it down and let it rise again before refrigerating. I took it out yesterday to sit at room temperature.  I just divided the dough into 4 balls and have left it with a damp towel to relax before shaping and baking.  So to sum up, the first day it ended up cold fermenting and it is on day three of room temp fermenting.

At some point I think maybe yesterday but definitely today, I noticed it had dropped slightly from the level it had reached in rising.  Also, as I was forming the balls, it seemed to feel tighter.   Given what you shared about how alcohol effects yeast, it makes sense that it dropped a lightly.

I'm going to have to try this recipe again with the proper yeast.  I liked the sourdough taste of the pizza crust.  For me, it was perfect. I think I'd like to possibly play around with different wines.  I wouldn't use something as strong as what I did this time in the future.  It was just all that I had on hand so I gave it a try. 

I've taken pictures so I will try to share them soon. 


ImmyB's picture

Just as a side note, I've gone back and forth between Batali and Lahey's "no knead".  I really enjoy the feel and handling of Lahey's bettter.  I want to get that slight sourdough taste into it.  I like the idea of using doughs with low yeast so that the flavors in the dough can develop more.  I need to research more how to do this.

ImmyB's picture

ImmyB's picture

This is what the inside of the dough looked like when divided into four individual balls.  This dough felt pretty dry and was a bit of a shock after handling Lahey's "no knead".  It had a lot of elasticity and tightness to it.

ImmyB's picture

The toppings are zucchini and swss cheese.  I saw a video of lahey doing this and it looked tasty.  I didn't use Gruyere and I kind of wish I had but I used what was in my budget.  I made my own bread crumbs by toasting whole wheat bread in the oven on 350.  Also, I toasted pine nuts in a skillet.  Both were coarsley ground in a mini food processor.  I used a cast iron skillet to lightly saute a minced garlic clove with butter and oil, then added my crumb mixture and seasoned to taste with salt.  I liked the combo, I think the Gruyere would have been even better though.  For the zucchini, I shredded it on a box grater, lightly salted and let sit for 30 minutes before squeezing it out in a kitchen towel to get it as dry as possible.

ImmyB's picture

First pie.  It was pretty stiff and it actually looked and tasted kind of like whole wheat in that it had a certain denseness to it.  Edible but definitely not my best and not anything like the crust that I had created before.  You learn from mistakes as much as success so, it all works (smile).


ImmyB's picture

Okay, so here you can see at the top the first pizza which I baked a minute or two LESS and the second one at the bottom.  I preferred the botton one.  Again, both edible but nothing like what I had been getting.  I'm going to stick with Laheys for now.  Also, I didn't pick up any hint of that sourdough taste in the crust.