How to make delicious pizza dough from scratch

If you haven’t tried making your own pizza at home yet then now is the time to start. But first, read this expert guide to making your own pizza dough.

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For so many of us, pizza is the ultimate comfort food, whether we’re ordering in on a Sunday evening or celebrating at our local pizzeria on a Friday after a long week of work. But over the past year, with the frequent closure of restaurants, many people have been trying to recreate their favourite pizzas at home, searching high and low not only for the perfect recipe, but pizza ovens too, which have been one of the UK’s most popular lockdown purchases (pizza oven sales were up 306% last year).

Making your own pizza is an amazing way to impress friends or to add some excitement to a night spent at home. And if you can get it right, you’ll soon become obsessed with the process and the result.

Toppings are easy to recreate at home, especially if you’re firmly set in your ways when it comes to how you like your pizza (I’m looking at you, pineapple on pizza lovers). But one thing that is difficult to replicate is the chewy, soft dough pizzerias promise, especially if you avoided the lockdown sourdough trend and are fairly inexperienced when it comes to baking with yeast.

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But, fear not, with the right recipe and a bit of practice, you’ll be able to achieve the perfect pizza dough in no time. To start you off, we asked Thom and James Elliot, the founders of Pizza Pilgrims, one of London’s favourite pizzerias, to share their pizza dough recipe and expert tips on how to perfect it from home.

What you will need to make your own pizza dough

  • 1000g ‘00’ flour, like Caputo ‘blue’
  • 2g fresh yeast
  • 620ml tepid water
  • 30g fine sea salt

How to make your own pizza dough

  1. Make a mountain of flour and, using your fist, make a deep well in the middle of the flour, exposing the surface of the table.
  2. Crumble the yeast into the tepid water. Mash up the yeast in the water until it has dissolved.
  3. Fill your crater of flour with a third of the yeast/water mix. Using your fingertips, start making very small circular motions to combine the flour and water.
  4. Start dragging in some more flour to the mix. Once it reaches the consistency of porridge you need to add a bit more water. Don’t let it get too thick; if it starts to form a dough too soon it becomes difficult to incorporate the rest of the water. Keep dragging in a little flour until you have all the water used up.
  5. Sprinkle salt over the mixture while it’s wet to ensure it dissolves. Use both hands to push the remaining flour from the outside into the middle. Fold and press the mix until all the flour is absorbed and a dough comes together.
  6. Work the gluten by kneading the dough. Use the heel of your hand to stretch out the dough and roll it back up, while the other hand acts like an anchor. Continue this for about 8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and glossy. It should also feel tighter and elastic.
  7. Leave for 10 mins. Cover the dough with a damp cloth to keep from drying it out. 
  8. Then divide your bulk of dough into individual portions (230g dough balls for 10-inch pizzas). Place them in a tray or container 3cm apart. Cover.
  9. Leave the dough at room temperature for approximately 6 hours until it expands to almost double its size, then store in the fridge overnight. The next day remove the dough from the fridge for 1–2 hours and bring it back to room temperature before making your pizzas.

Whatever toppings you choose, perfecting your dough is a crucial part of making your own pizza, Keep it simple with a marinara, Pizza Pilgrims are based in London

Thom and James’ expert tips for making your own pizza dough

Take your dough out of the fridge at the last minute

Although you need to store your dough in the fridge overnight for the best texture, Thom and James explain that it’s crucial to take it out a couple of hours before you make your pizzas. “This will get in a final prove and it’s also much easier to handle when it isn’t cold,” James explains.

Move quickly with the dough

If you have ever worked with any kind of dough before, you’re probably familiar with the frustrating experience of it sticking to your surfaces. Thom and James have two tips for dealing with this. “Try to move quickly with the dough. If you leave it too long it will stick to the surface,” Thom says. “If you’re generous with the flour and add more during the process, you should be able to avoid a sticky situation,” James adds.

Holes are easily fixed

A common issue beginners face when making their own pizza dough is that holes form in the pizza but Thom and James say this is something that can be easily fixed. “If you over-stretch your dough and it gets too thin, holes will appear. But you can simply squeeze these back together before adding any toppings,” James explains.

Find more expert tips and tutorials on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.

  • Thom and James Elliot, co-founders of Pizza Pilgrims

    Thom and James travelled Italy for 6 weeks to perfect their recipe.

    Thom and James founded Pizza Pilgrims in 2011, in the form of a Piaggio Ape van converted into a mobile kitchen. After brothers James and Thom Elliot returned from six-week pilgrimage through Italy on the hunt to discover the true art of pizza making, the humble van brought slow-proved Neapolitan pizza with the best of Italian ingredients to thousands of Londoners via a 1 tonne pizza oven. They opened their first permanent site in Soho in 2013 and they now run 15 pizzerias and counting in London and the southeast of the UK, as well as the nationwide delivery of their pizza via their meal kits.

Images: Pizza Pilgrims

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