Four words: cold fermented pizza dough. Now, this does not scream delicious when you say it out loud – but actually this recipe could be a complete game changer for you.
Yeah, this might lead you to make the best pizza dough that you have ever tasted.
It’s true that cold fermented pizza dough is the ultimate way to better the texture and the flavor of your pizza dough.
This might not sound like the easiest recipe to test out, but fear not! It is actually pretty simple.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about cold fermented pizza dough, along with a great recipe for you to test out.
This recipe should give you that perfect Neapolitan-style pizza dough, so what more could you want?!
When it comes to pizza dough, it is important to remember that this is not a quick process. You need a fair bit of time, and also patience.
If you are wanting a speedy recipe that you can whip up in an hour or so then this is not the article for you.
Don’t get us wrong, making cold fermented pizza dough is a lot easier than it sounds, however you do need a fair amount of time to make sure that it is the absolute best that it can be.
What Is Cold Fermented Pizza Dough?
As we said, this does not sound like the most appetizing pizza dough recipe ever… But, when you break down what cold fermentation is then actually it is not so bad.
So, cold fermentation is a metabolic process that produces changes that are chemical in an organic substance. What does this mean in human terms?
This is where the yeast in your dough eats the carbohydrates and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is the classic baking principle of yeast turning sugars in the flour into gas.
This is where your dough will grow in volume, and the natural flavors of your dough will be enhanced and you will have a pizza dough that is really tasty.
You will most notice any kind of flavor enhancement in the pizza crust, this is because the starch in the dough and the sugars in the dough will be consumed by the yeast, and so the crust will develop a more complex flavor due to this.
The flavor is hard to pinpoint exactly, but it will definitely give you that rustic, and authentic Neapolitan pizza feeling.
Don’t be fooled, getting a flavor as great as this really takes time – so the slower the process then the more flavorful your pizza dough will be.
How do you slow down the process? Well, you do this by slowing down the fermentation process which means that the yeast can take its time.
This can be achieved by lowering the temperature at which you leave the dough to prove.
By lowering the temperature, the speed at which the yeast consumes the sugars in the dough will reduce and this will help to create these heightened flavors.
One thing that we must stress is that you must find a balance between allowing your dough to rise and also allowing your dough to undergo the fermentation process.
Even though your pizza dough might be fermenting, this does not mean that your dough will rise. The pizza dough can be fermenting and developing a delicious taste without actually rising.
So, you could end up making a pizza crust that tastes great but does not have that light airy texture with large air bubbles.
It is clear that when you are making cold fermented pizza dough you need to have a balance between the development of flavor and an increase in the volume of the dough in order to achieve the absolute best result.
Cold Fermented Pizza Dough: What Is The Best Place To Store It?
Although it may sound like a complicated process, actually all you need to do is store your pizza dough in a cool environment so that it can ferment slowly.
Some ideal places to store your dough would be the fridge, rather than just leaving your pizza dough to ferment at room temperature.
One thing to bear in mind is that the fridge might actually be too cold for cold fermentation because the temperature of the fridge will slow down the fermentation process so much so that the dough will almost stop rising.
However, this does not mean that you will not be able to make amazing cold fermented pizza in the fridge, you can still do this but you might need to leave the dough for longer just so it can fully ferment and get that nice rise.
The perfect temperature for cold fermentation is around 59-64 degrees Fahrenheit but, the majority of us will not have food storage space that will keep to this kind of temperature.
However, if you have a basement then that will be a pretty great place to ferment your pizza dough because it will stay at around the right temperature that you need to cold ferment pizza dough all year round.
How Long Should You Cold Ferment Your Pizza Dough For?
The length of time that you should cold ferment your pizza dough is totally dependent on the temperature that you are fermenting your dough at.
In order to get a really great flavor development from the cold fermentation process, you should leave your pizza dough balls for at least a day.
Don’t get us wrong, you can use the dough sooner but it will not be as tasty as dough left to ferment for a full day.
In a cool room, such as your basement, then you want to leave your dough for a day or two, but if you are fermenting your pizza dough in your fridge then you will want to leave it four as little as three to as long as five days.
This will ensure that your dough gives you the best possible pizza crust.
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Cold Fermented Pizza Dough?
So, it is really important that when you are making your pizza dough that you use ingredients that are of great quality because this will contribute to the flavor of your pizza dough.
After all, if you are spending all this time cold-fermenting your pizza dough then you will at least want it to taste nice.
If you are going to spend all this time on your dough but not use ingredients that are of pretty good quality then you may as well stop now.
It does not matter how well you master your kneading technique, if your dough is not flavored with the best ingredients then there is no point even trying to make it.
We recommend that if you are planning on making cold fermented pizza dough, then you should invest in great ingredients before you start baking.
Is Flour Important When Making Your Cold Fermented Pizza Dough?
To put it bluntly, YES. Flour is arguably the most important ingredient you use when you are making your pizza dough.
After all, flour makes up the biggest portion of the pizza dough and is where you can really notice the difference in the taste and the texture of your dough if you end up using the wrong flour.
Yeah, you could opt for the best quality water, the finest grain salt, and the most pricey yeast on the market, but with the wrong flour then your pizza crust is just going to be very disappointing.
Additionally, the flour is where the majority of the flavors developed through cold fermentation reside, so flour is that ultimate make or break ingredient when it comes to cold fermentation of your pizza dough.
When it comes to picking your flour you really want to be using strong flour for cold fermentation. How do you know the strength of the flour that you are using?
Well, this is measured in W, and flour most commonly ranges from 100-300W.
If you use a stronger flour when you are cold-fermenting your pizza dough then your dough will have a much stronger gluten structure and this will keep its shape for much longer.
The strength of the flour will actually tell you the gluten’s ability to create and form much stronger gluten walls.
The gluten walls work hard to trap the gas produced from the fermentation process, and this is the main reason why the dough will increase in size when it is rising.
In fact, strong gluten walls will hold onto the gas for longer which is an absolutely essential part of long fermentation.
A weaker flour would actually puncture and collapse if left to cold ferment for too long, and this is what can be called over-proofing.
This happens because the strength of the gluten structure cannot contain the gas for such an extended period of time.
There are lots of different flours on the market that you can sample for cold fermentation, but we’d say that the ideal strength is around 300W.
A flour at this strength will certainly keep up pretty well in both a cool room temperature for as little as two days, to as long as a week in the fridge.
One thing to note is that unfortunately not all flours have their strength printed on their packaging – but the strength of the flour relates pretty closely to the gluten content of the flour, so keep an eye out for flour with a gluten content between 12-15%.
What Are The Best Flours On The Market For Cold Fermented Pizza Dough?
This is a tricky question to answer because this partly comes down to personal preference as well as our top recommendation.
So, for cold fermented pizza dough, you do need strong flour in order to achieve a great proof and rise.
So, one of the best flours on the market that you can use is strong Italian Tipo 0 or 00 flour because this will allow you to achieve a great cold fermented pizza dough.
You could also use bread flour and make some pretty nice pizza, but if you do want the best result we would say that Tipo is the best way forward.
What is Tipo? Well, this is Italian-milled wheat flour, and the number 00 refers to the finest milled flour on the Italian flour scale.
In fact, Tipo 00 is considered to be the highest quality flour on the scale because it utilizes the core of the wheat and therefore has the least amount of wheat middlings.
Tipo 00 flour has impressive stability which is an important measurement of how strong the gluten is within the dough.
As we have said before, strong gluten is key for cold fermentation because this means that the dough will keep its shape for longer and this will avoid your dough being dense and dry.
Overall, we would definitely recommend Tipo 00 flour because it is a fine grind flour with high protein (and therefore gluten) content.
You need to make sure that you knead your dough properly so that you will have a dough that is pretty stretchy and has great elasticity.
This will be easy to achieve with Tipo 00 flour because of its strength and high stability being perfect for cold fermentation; this is perfect for your pizza dough as what you really want is for your dough to retain its structure during the elongated leaving time.
However, if this flour does not suit you so much there are lots on the market that you can sample that might suit you better.
You can opt for cheap non-branded pizza flours or you can move further up the price scale and go for a pricier imported flour.
What is key to look for when it comes to making cold fermented pizza dough, is that you need to find a flour that is strong enough to endure the cold fermentation process.
A major downfall of picking the wrong type of flour is that your dough could end up getting punctured and then collapsing because the flour is not strong enough to withstand the cold temperature.
So, picking the right flour really does make all the difference – after all, the process of cold-fermenting your pizza dough is not a swift one and so, what is the point in wasting your time?
Save yourself the disappointment, and pick a flour that is strong enough to withstand the cold-fermenting process.
Another great flour on the market that is great for a long cold fermentation process is Caputo Chef’s Flour.
This flour is a great Tipo 00 flour, which is just what we have been recommending and it is a pretty strong flour. So, a bit of background on this flour is that it is milled in the region of Naples in Italy.
So, this flour is not the cheapest option on the market, but to help you perfect your cold fermentation process then it is certainly worth the price.
In fact, Caputo flours are used by pizzerias in Naples and are commended for their quality.
You will find it difficult to achieve anything other than the perfect proof with this flour, as reviews read that this flour can be left cold-fermenting for up to a week and your dough will not be over-proofed. Amazing!
What About The Other Ingredients?
So, this is just a quick run-down of the other ingredients that you might need in your kitchen ready for you to make your cold fermented pizza dough.
After all, the flour is the main component but the other ingredients cannot be overlooked!
‘First off, we need to quickly mention that clean water is really important for making your cold fermented pizza dough. So, when you are baking pizza dough you should always use clean water.
If you do not have clean tap water, then maybe consider buying some quality bottled water.
Additionally, you should keep this water at 68 degrees Fahrenheit because the temperature of your water will increase by a few degrees during kneading, and then the ideal temperature will be reached for bulk fermentation.
So, when it comes to the yeast component of your dough you can either consider using fresh or dried yeast.
In our opinion, we would say that fresh yeast does give you a tastier flavor, but we cannot lie to you. It really does not make that much difference in the taste of your pizza dough.
We have to add that dry yeast is a lot more convenient since it does have a significantly longer shelf life compared to fresh yeast.
A great recommendation from us would be to opt for whichever one suits you best, so if you are planning on making your dough in a relatively quick turnaround time then definitely opt for the fresh yeast.
One important thing to note when it comes to yeast is that you should adjust the amount of yeast-based on the type that you are using.
So, this recipe will need some kind of active dry yeast, so if you opt for another type of yeast then adjust it accordingly.
Here is a brief helping hand from us: 10g of fresh yeast is pretty much the equivalent of 5g of dry yeast, and 3g of dry active yeast. What can we say? You’re welcome.
When you cold ferment your pizza dough for an extended period of time, then the amount of yeast that you need is much lower than what you come across in the majority of pizza recipes.
This is due to the fact that you want to work to slow down the rising process, and if you are wanting to cold ferment your dough for an even longer time then you should really lower the amount of yeast more again.
Moving on to the salt element of the dough, this is relatively straightforward from us.
We just recommend that you go for a good, fine sea salt just because this will add to the flavor of your dough nicely. We told you this was relatively straightforward from us!
Next, we have extra virgin olive oil. In traditional Neapolitan pizza dough, olive oil is not added.
This is due to the fact that the oil will make the dough conduct more heat, and in a hot wood-fired oven the dough would end up burning.
However, you can actually use these conductive properties of extra virgin olive oil to your advantage when you bake your pizza dough in your home oven.
In your home oven, the oil will actually help you in achieving that crispier pizza crust.
Let us be clear, we are not advocating that you go out and purchase the fanciest bottle of olive oil but, we would still recommend that you make a small investment in a quality extra virgin olive oil.
Why do we recommend extra virgin olive oil? This type of olive oil is completely unrefined and it is the highest quality of olive oil, and it is the best tasting type of olive oil.
Do We Have Any Toppings Recommendations?
Some great news for you now, cold fermented pizza dough does NOT dictate how you should top your pizza!
Yeah, we give you full permission to use your favorite pizza sauces, cheese, and toppings – woohoo! But, naturally, we have some recommendations and top tips for you…
So, this one is a lot easier said than done, so avoid the temptation to overtop your pizza. That’s right; do not overtop your pizza.
If you are baking yourself a Neapolitan-style pizza then you will be wanting a quick bake.
By making the mistake of adding too many toppings, or too much sauce, or too much cheese then your pizza will take a lot longer to bake.
You could end up with a soggy and underbaked pizza which is not ideal. This ultimately wastes all your hard work cold-fermenting your pizza dough.
Also, as tempting as it is to add lots of toppings this will actually make it harder to transfer your pizza onto your pizza peel.
The weight of it will also make it more likely to actually stick to the peel. As sad as we are to admit this, less is more when it comes to topping your pizza.
Getting A Bit Saucy
You might be wondering what kind of pizza sauce you should opt for something simple. Forget all the complicated flavors and the hundreds of ingredients you could mix in.
We are certainly sticking with the less is more approach when it comes to your pizza sauce.
Fun fact, cans of tomatoes actually help you achieve the perfect pizza sauce, this is because tomatoes are not in season all year round so this might actually have an effect on the flavor of your sauce.
So, all you need to make the perfect pizza sauce is: one can of whole, skinless tomatoes, a little sea salt, some leaves of fresh basil, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.
Yeah, you just have to mix all of these together, and then you have a perfect pizza sauce. Result! We have been pretty vague with the salt and basil because you can just flavor this to suit your taste.
You can also just use tomato paste or a pre-made pizza sauce, of course, they will not be as tasty as your homemade sauce but they definitely do the job.
As well as the sauce being a pretty crucial element of the pizza, the cheese is also essential. After all, this is the essence of the pizza!
We are pretty laid back with the cheese front because we would say that you can use whatever cheese you want – but do not overload your pizza with cheese.
This will have an effect on your baking process.
Of course, if you are looking for a classic pizza cheese, then we would say that mozzarella is the ultimate choice because it will give your pizza a delicious texture.
All About The Bake
Baking can pretty much be done in whatever way suits you best. There are lots of ways that you can bake your pizza, but the best way to bake your pizza is quick at a really high temperature.
Yeah, this sounds pretty speedy after all your hard work cold-fermenting your pizza dough. But, in order to get that traditional Neapolitan pizza bake then this is the best way to do it.
A traditional pizza is only baked for half a minute! This is pretty tricky to replicate in a home oven, but the same flavor and texture can actually be achieved with your own home oven.
What are you looking for when you want to replicate that same Neapolitan baking environment at home? You will need hot radiating heat coming from above, and also a hot baking surface.
You must try and achieve a good balance between these two heat sources or you could actually end up with raw dough and a burnt pizza topping, or you could have vice versa which would not be ideal.
Quick baking your pizza dough will most definitely give you a crispy pizza crust that is still airy and soft on the inside. What more could you ask for?!
Now, if this is the kind of perfect pizza that you want then you will have to opt for the quick bake approach.
So, read on for more information on how to get that authentic tasting pizza bake at home.
Getting That Perfect Bake At Home
If you are lucky enough to have a proper pizza oven at home, then you are all set. This will give you that amazing-tasting pizza straight from your pizza oven.
Most of us are not this lucky, so here are some things that you can do that will get you that authentic pizza bake in your home oven.
So, for this, you will need a pizza peel along with a pizza stone or a pizza steel. Your pizza peel will be super helpful when it comes to transferring your pizza in and out of your oven.
This will just make transferring your pizza from your oven a lot easier, we would especially recommend this if you like making pizzas often as it will make the process of making your pizzas that bit more stress-free.
Deciding whether you want a pizza stone or a pizza steel is very much up to you.
The easiest and cheapest option is to bake your pizza in your home oven, and using the right tools will help you to achieve that authentic pizza dough taste.
Using a pizza stone or a pizza steel will help you to recreate that pizza oven bake because using these will let you radiate heat from above and below the hot baking surface.
You need to initially focus on the baking surface because you need a baking surface that will retain and also conduct heat well.
We are sad to say that if you have a thin baking tray then this will not give you that authentic pizza base.
The best way to cook your pizza would be by using a pizza stone or a pizza steel. They actually serve the same purpose so it is up to you which one you opt for.
A pizza stone and a pizza steel work as conductors of heat, so when you cook your pizza on one of these you will be able to achieve that authentic pizza bake.
Your pizza steel will naturally be a lot more durable than a pizza stone because it is less prone to any kind of cracking, and it is easier to clean than a pizza stone.
One key thing to look out for is the thickness of your stone or steel because this has an effect on how much heat your stone or steel will retain.
Basically, a thicker stone or steel will bake your pizza a lot faster than a thinner one.
How Do You Use A Pizza Stone Or A Pizza Steel?
In order to bake a pizza on a pizza stone or steel, first of all, you need to preheat it. Place your stone or steel in the oven and allow it time to preheat for at least an hour.
This is because your baking surface needs enough time to not just heat up, but it needs to retain enough heat in order to cook your pizza.
An important thing to note is that if you are baking more than one pizza then the temperature of your baking stone or steel will be lowered.
This is because as you are changing over from your cooked pizza to uncooked pizza the room temperature will cool the baking surface down.
So, if you are cooking more than one pizza then you should reheat your stone or steel just to make sure all your pizzas come out great.
When it comes to getting that perfect bake on your pizza, radiating heat is a key component to this. This can be achieved quite well in your oven because it will have a grill element that does get quite hot.
This is a perfect way to increase the temperature in your oven to bake your pizza.
You should try to place your pizza stone or steel as close as possible to the grill element in your oven, so ideally the top rack will help you to achieve that perfect bake.
When it comes to deciding how long to bake your pizza for, well, this is a bit of a trial and error process.
No one knows your oven quite like you, but your pizza can take anywhere from 3-8 minutes if you are using a hot pizza stone or steel in your oven.
We definitely recommend that you keep a close eye on your pizza while it is baking.
Remember to keep a balance between the temperature of your oven and your baking surface, because if your oven cannot cope with the baking speed of the pizza stone or steel then you might end up with a burned pizza with undercooked toppings.
Essentially, just get yourself as familiar as you can with your oven and the equipment that you are using to bake your pizza.
As we said earlier, pizza steels might be more tempting than pizza stones because they conduct heat a lot better.
They are also more durable and are easier to clean and maintain. If you treat yourself to a pizza stone or steel then you will not have a soggy pizza ever again!
Don’t get us wrong, if you are a pizza pro and have your own pizza oven then this would of course be the optimal way to cook your pizza.
This is because your pizza oven can reach the desired temperature that will give you the perfect pizza base.
Again the key thing with this is to preheat your pizza oven and get it as close to 900 degrees Fahrenheit as possible and your pizza will take 60-90 seconds, or just until it is crispy and nice on the bottom.
Our Recipe For Cold Fermented Pizza Dough
This might very well be the moment that you have been waiting for. Yeah, this is our recipe for cold fermented pizza dough.
This recipe will give you about four portions of pizza, but you can of course tweak this recipe to suit your baking preferences.
Also, if you find yourself with leftover dough then you can always freeze this until you want to whip up another round of pizzas.
So, without further ado let’s get started!
- 500g Tipo 00 flour – this is the best strength flour that you can buy because it is strong enough to withstand the cold fermentation process.
- 320ml water – if you are worried about your tap water not being clean enough, then we recommend buying bottled water.
- 10g salt – this can be to your taste, so this is not so regimented.
- 1g instant dry yeast – if you can, definitely have some dry yeast in the cupboard because it has a much longer lifespan. However, if your turnaround of making your pizza is quite speedy then you could opt for fresh yeast. Some people do notice a difference in the flavor of your dough, but this is not all that major.
- 10g extra virgin olive oil – this is the best quality oil to get for your pizza dough and it will give you that true authentic pizza experience.
- A pinch of semolina – this is great for dusting the pizza peel.
- Tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings of your choice – it’s your pizza, so who are we to tell you what you can and can’t top it with?!
So, now it is time to talk about the recipe:
- Making the cold fermented pizza dough – this is a stage that requires patience and persistence. You cannot rush this stage, as this is the foundation of your pizza process. So, first of all pour room temperature water into a large mixing bowl and add salt until the salt is completely dissolved.
- Time for the flour – next up you add some of your flour to this mix and make sure it is mixed in well until it is completely incorporated and has a batter-like consistency. Add the yeast and dissolve it in your flour-water mix, then gradually add the rest of your flour into your mix until the pizza dough has formed. Once you have mixed in all of the flour, leave the dough to rest for half an hour before adding in the extra virgin olive oil. This allows the gluten to hydrate and begin to develop.
- Start kneading your dough – you can either do this by hand or in a mixer at a low speed, and this can take from anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. You should be left with a dough that is nice and smooth. You will have to increase the amount of flour you are using if you are working in a particularly humid environment, or reduce the amount of flour that you are using if you are in a dry environment.
- Time to leave your dough to bulk up – and by bulk up, we mean bulk fermentation up! But, before you can cold ferment your dough you need to leave it to rise in a bowl covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap for 2 hours. This is called bulk fermentation because you are allowing the whole dough to rise.
- Time to make your dough balls – so, now your dough has finished bulk fermenting you should split it into 4 equal size pizza balls – you can do this by using a scraper, a knife or just your hands.
- Contain your dough balls – put your dough balls into a container that is airtight, or use a bowl with plastic wrap again. The most important element of this process is that you must achieve a state of air tightness. This prevents a hard surface of any kind forming on the dough balls.
- Time for cold fermentation – yeah, it is time to leave your dough well alone for 3-5 days. Put your dough in your refrigerator, or a cool room. Leave your dough well alone, any kind of interference will spoil the fermenting process completely.
- Get ready for that bake – so, a few hours before you are going to bake your cold fermented pizza you should take out the dough and put it at room temperature. This will ensure that your dough is more malleable and it should bake a lot better. Ensure that your oven is preheated before you put your pizza in to bake, and put your pizza on the top rack of your oven. Getting all of your toppings and your pizza sauce ready will save you stress right before you bake your dough.
- Time to make up your pizza – when your oven is hot enough, this is your opportunity to make up your pizza. Take out one of the dough balls and place this into a small bowl filled with flour. This prevents the dough from sticking, so once you have coated the ball, lift it up with your hands and dust off any flour that is excess.
- Stretch out your dough – work out the size that you want your pizza to be, and stretch your dough out to this size. Leave about an inch on the edge of the pizza to form the pizza crust.
- Top your pizza – add your sauce, cheese and the toppings of your choice to your pizza and lightly drizzle a pinch of semolina to prevent the dough from sticking to the peel or the pizza stone or steel.
- Transfer your pizza into your oven and bake it – we definitely recommend that for your first attempt that you keep a close eye on your pizza when it is baking. Your pizza can go from being cooked to perfection to then being burned to a crisp in seconds. Bake your pizza in your oven for 3-8 minutes.
- Enjoy your pizza – place your pizza onto a serving plate and cut it into slices for everyone to sample and enjoy.
So, overall it should take you approximately 35 minutes to prepare your pizza dough.
Naturally, the longest waiting time is the cold fermentation process, and the cooking time would on average be 5 minutes.
This would be perfect served as a main course, or as a snack over some drinks with friends, or as a family weekend treat.
The Perfect Pizza… No Pressure!
So, you have made it to the end of all things cold fermented pizza dough!
We have divulged in absolutely every aspect of making the perfect cold fermented pizza dough – from the perfect conditions to store your dough in, to some of the best pizza topping choices – we think it’s safe to say that we have covered all bases…