Delicious-looking pizza that appears fresh out of the oven.


No-Knead Pizza Dough

Mar 24, 2017

Remember the no-knead bread that went crazy on the internets a handful of years ago, after baker Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC shared his recipe with the New York Times? It became one of their most popular recipes as people discovered how easy it was to mix up a quick, wet dough and leave it on the countertop overnight, rather than get their hands (and countertop) messy with 8-10 minutes worth of kneading. The resulting loaf is spectacular — much more impressive looking (and tasty) than most homemade breads, especially loaves made by those with little baking experience.

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If you’re not aware of it, here’s the gist: with a higher water:flour ratio than most yeast doughs, it’s time and moisture that allows gluten to do its thing, relieving the baker of any need to knead. The second stroke of genius is baking the loaf in a heavy, preheated pot, trapping the steam as the loaf bakes, which creates an unbelievably crisp, crackling crust — the kind you see in artisan bakeries. Yes, it really is that easy.

Fresh out of the oven pizza!

The second stroke of genius is baking the loaf in a heavy, preheated pot, trapping the steam as the loaf bakes, which creates an unbelievably crisp, crackling crust.

But here’s another use for that chewy, crusty, not-too-yeasty dough: as a base for your pizza. After mixing up the flour-yeast-salt-water and letting it rest on the countertop for 18-24 hours (there isn’t as precise a window as there can be with other yeast breads), you can stretch that sticky, bubbly dough out onto a baking sheet and top it with your favourite toppings. After the wait time, it will be wetter than it was to begin with, with bubbles dotting the surface. Instructions for baking a loaf include turning it out onto a floured tea towel (not terrycloth, or it will stick), folding it over itself a couple times and giving it another hour or two — I like including this step, but I have been known to go straight to stretching it out on the pan.

It may be tricky if you’re accustomed to using a preheated pizza stone, as the dough is very soft, with a looser structure than most pizza doughs, but do whatever you feel comfortable with. A heavy-rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or sprinkled with flour or cornmeal will work, too — then all you need are your toppings of choice and a hot oven. Because pizza ovens are typically 800˚F or higher, I crank mine as high as it will go.

No Knead Pizza Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant or regular active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp lukewarm water

Julie pulls at dough to show consistency.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in the water until you have a shaggy mass — the dough won’t be smooth.

Dough is on tea towel sprinkled with flour.

Cover with plastic wrap or a plate and leave on the countertop for 18-24 hours, until it’s wet-looking and the surface is dotted with bubbles. Turn out onto a well-floured tea towel or countertop (use a smooth one rather than one with texture, like terrycloth, which the dough will stick to); fold it over itself a couple times, sprinkle with a little more flour and cover with the sides of the towel. Let rest for an hour or two.

Dough spread on baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 450˚F, or as high as it will go. Using your fingertips, spread the dough out over a parchment-lined, floured or cornmeal-scattered rimmed baking sheet, pressing it right to the edges. (If you have a small baking sheet, you may want to divide the dough in half and make two pizzas.)

All-dressed pizza.

Spread with tomato sauce or pesto, grated mozzarella and your choice of toppings, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Makes one large or two medium pizzas.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

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Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.