RECIPE: Overnight straight pizza dough

Ken Forkish
Ken Forkish. Photo courtesy Alan Weiner

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Flour Water Salt Yeast” by Ken Forkish.

This dough recipe has two advantages: First, the long fermentation allows the dough to develop great flavor. Second, its schedule works for people who have a day job. The timing works like this: mix the dough at 7 p.m.; then, the next morning, give yourself fifteen minutes to divide the dough, shape it into balls, and wrap and refrigerate them. You can use the dough that evening or anytime over the next two days to make pizza or focaccia, using any of the recipes in chapter 14. When you get home from work, all you’ll have to do is make a sauce and prepare your toppings as the oven and pizza stone are preheating. As with all of the pizza doughs in this book, use a high-quality all-purpose white flour, preferably 00 flour (see page 204), ideally Caputo brand.

This recipe makes five 340-gram dough balls, each of which will yield a thin-crust pizza-stone pizza about 12 inches in diameter or a thick-crust iron-skillet pizza. If you use this dough for focaccia, see page 215 for details on amounts of dough for different applications.

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Bulk fermentation: About 12 hours

Proof time: At least 6 hours

Sample schedule: Mix at 7 p.m., shape into dough balls at 7 a.m. the next morning, and make pizza that evening or anytime over the next 2 days.


7¾ cups white flour

3 cups water

1 tbsp + ¾ tsp fine sea salt

Scant ¼ tsp instant dried yeast


  1. Hydrate the yeast: Measure 700 grams of water at 90°F to 95°F (32°C to 35°C) into a container. Put 0.8 gram (a scant ¼ teaspoon) of yeast in a separate, small container. Add about 3 tablespoons of the measured 90°F to 95°F (32°C to 35°C) water to the yeast and set aside.
  2. Autolyse: Combine the 1,000 grams of flour with the remaining 90°F to 95°F (32°C to 35°C) of water in a 12-quart round tub. Mix by hand just until incorporated. Cover and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Mix: Sprinkle the 20 grams of salt over the top of the dough. Stir the yeast mixture with your finger, then pour it over the dough. Use a small piece of the autolysed mixture to wipe the remaining yeast goop from its container, then throw it back in the tub. Mix by hand, wetting your working hand before mixing so the dough doesn’t stick to you. (It’s fine to rewet your hand three or four times while you mix.) Reach underneath the dough and grab about one-quarter of it. Gently stretch this section of dough and fold it over the top to the other side of the dough. Repeat three more times with the remaining dough, until the salt and yeast are fully enclosed. Use the pincer method (see page 67) alternating with folding the dough to fully integrate the ingredients. Cut and fold, cut and fold. The target dough temperature at end the of the mix is 77°F to 78°F (25°C to 26°C).
  4. Fold: This dough needs one or two folds (see pages 69–70 for instructions). It’s best to apply the folds 30 to 60 minutes after mixing. After folding, lightly coat the dough and the bottom of the tub with olive oil to help prevent sticking. When the dough is 2 to 3 times its original volume, about 12 hours after mixing, it’s ready to be divided.
  5. Divide: Moderately flour a work surface about 2 feet wide. With floured hands, gently ease the dough out of the tub. With your hands still floured, pick up the dough and ease it back down onto the work surface in a somewhat even shape. Dust the entire top of the dough with flour, then cut it into 5 equal-size pieces with a dough knife or plastic dough scraper. Each piece should weigh about 340 grams; you can eyeball it or use a scale. (If you plan to use any of the dough for thin-crust iron-skillet pizza or focaccia, divide that portion of the dough into pieces weighing about 200 grams.)
  6. Shape the dough into balls: Shape each piece of dough into a medium-tight round following the instructions on pages 71–73, working gently and being careful not to degas the dough.
  7. Refrigerate: Put the dough balls on a lightly floured baking sheet, leaving space between them to allow for expansion. Lightly oil or flour the tops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

See chapter 14 for instructions for shaping, topping, and baking pizzas. Stored in the refrigerator and tightly covered, any leftover dough will keep for up to two days. You may prefer the next-day dough as it develops flavors with more time in the refrigerator.

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