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  • Writer's pictureAmar Dhaliwal

How to make Neapolitan pizza dough in the colder months

Dough making needs to take account of local temperature, humidity, and availability of ingredients. Here are the ingredients for my recipe for Vera ("true") Neapolitan Pizza Dough for Vancouver in the cooler months made with dried yeast. This recipe will be enough for six pizzas.


1000g type 00 pizza flour 600g of water, at warmish room temperature. By the way, it's more accurate to weigh water. 0.5g active dry yeast, this is a tiny amount and will require a micro scale to measure

A pinch of sugar, to pre-activate the yeast 30.6g fine sea salt


Why dried yeast and not fresh yeast?


I have made pizza dough with fresh yeast in Vancouver, specifically using Fleischmanns Compressed Fresh Yeast, and it works great.


The problem is that true Neapolitan Pizza Dough requires such a small amount of yeast that I would end up having to throw away 90% of the block before it went off. That clearly makes no sense.


So, until I am producing much greater quantities of dough, I have decided to use Active Dry Yeast, in particular this one from Caputo.




Let's make some pizza dough.


First, we need to activate the yeast. Take three or fours of tablespoons of water from the 600g of water you have measured and put into a microwave safe container. Put the container of water into the microwave and heat for 10 seconds or so. We want the water to be at 'blood' temperature of around 98°F or 36°C. Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature, let it cool if too hot. Once the temperature is correct add the yeast and a pinch of sugar to the blood temperature water and wait for 10 minutes for the yeast to fully activate.


Why are we activating the yeast? After lot's of experimentation I have found that during the winter months in Vancouver the yeast needs a bit of a head start. My kitchen is normally around 20°C to 23°C (on the low end over night) and this pre-activation results in a better rise. This might change when we get into the warmer months.


Once the yeast is ready then we can get going properly.


  1. Pour the room temperature water (600g minus the two to three tablespoons used to activate the yeast) into a bowl, add all the salt, and give it a good stir.

  2. Add about 10% to 15% of the flour to the water and stir thoroughly - the consistency should be like that of a single cream. As salt kills yeast, we are adding the flour at this stage to make sure that all the salt is covered by flour and not able to make direct contact with the yeast when we add it.

  3. Now add the activated yeast to the flour, salt and water mixture and stir thoroughly

  4. Add the remaining flour to the mixture in two to three batches and mix thoroughly - first with a scraper and then with your hands. Make sure to incorporate all the flour. You are aiming for a clean bowl.

  5. Once all the dough has come together - it will resemble a shaggy lump - tip it out onto your counter and get ready to knead.




All you knead is love


When you have brought the dough together, as described above, you need to knead for 15 minutes... this is where you will activate the gluten in the dough and your own core at the same time!!


When you have completed the 15 minutes bring the dough into a ball and cover for 10 minutes to relax.




All I knead is you


After the dough has rested for 10 minutes under cover, we will do the last fold and last rest before we form the pizza balls (or panetti).


The last fold involves stretching and folding the dough three times - with a half turn each time. Check out the following video.




Knead you tonight


After the final resting for 10 minutes we are now ready to form the pizza balls (or panetti).


After all the mixing, kneading, and resting we are left with 1,576g of dough - this will vary slightly depending upon ambient temperature and humidly.


We will aim for each pizza ball to be approximately 260g - precisely it would be 1,576 divided by 6 or 262g!



Shaping the pizza balls


Shaping the pizza balls takes a little practice but is easy when you get the hang of it.


Slice of some dough from the main ball and weigh it - you are aiming for 260g. Remove or add some dough as needed. The more pizza you make, the better your weight estimation skills will become.


To form the ball hold the piece of dough between your thumb and forefinger and using your other hand stuff the dough into itself until you have a nice tight ball. Place the ball on to your counter and do the final shape by cupping your hand around the ball and rolling it around a couple of time. Tighten the ball and then put into your proofing box.




Maturing the dough


If there are two key elements of making a true Neapolitan Pizza Dough they would be 1) the very little amount of yeast used and 2) the long maturation of the dough.


Once we have made our panetti we are going to let them mature at room temperature for 17 hours. In Vancouver, in February, my kitchen is between 20°C to 23°C.


Make sure you place your pizza balls in a proofing box with a lid and let fermentation do its magic.


For a properly matured dough, the minimum maturation time would be around 12 hours and the maximum around 24 hours.



The final product


As your dough matures it will grow and change shape. After 17 hours or so it will resemble more of a square than a ball and this is exactly what you are looking for.



Ora, vai a fare una pizza!!


Amar is a graduate of the pizza making school of Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana in Napoli.

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