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The Best 72 Hour Pizza Dough

This 72 Hour Pizza Dough is a labor of love, but worth every minute. It is chewy, airy, and the perfect base for a Neapolitan style pizza. It is made out of only 4 simple ingredients: bread flour, water, yeast, and salt.
Prep Time3 d
Total Time3 d
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Low Fat, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 384kcal
Author: Brianna May

Ingredients

  • 425 grams bread flour 3 cups + 6-7 Tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast*
  • 1 ¼ cup warm water 296 ml, 105 degrees*

Instructions

Day 1

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, salt, and yeast.
  • Slowly add the water to the flour mixture, stirring simultaneously.
  • Once the dough has come together, dump the dough and any flour remaining in the bowl on a floured surface.
  • Knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky but not sticking to your hands. Add more flour to your hands/surface if needed.
  • Form the dough into a ball.
  • Place the dough in a greased bowl.
  • Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise at room temperature for 20-24 hours.

Day 2

  • Place the dough into the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 48 hours. See note below to make multiple pizzas.

Day 4

  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before baking.
  • After 1-2 hours, place the dough onto a lightly surface. The side of the dough that was touching the bowl should remain the bottom the entire time.
  • Use your hands to spread flour on both sides of the dough.
  • Gently begin to use the sides of your hands to press the center of the dough and begin to flatten it out. Leave the crust thicker and do not press the edge at all.
  • Repeat this process until the dough is shaped in (somewhat) of a circle.
  • Fold the crust over one of your hands. Flip the crust back and forth between your hands. Continue stretching the dough until it has thinned out.
  • Place one hand flat on the dough and the other on its outside of the crust. Gently reinforce the crust.
  • Continue to round out the pizza. Do not overwork. See notes for more info about baking a homemade pizza.

Notes

Bread Flour: I highly recommend bread flour for this recipe. It will give the crust an incredible chew because it has a higher protein content. I have not tested this recipe with all purpose flour. 
Active Dry Yeast: Yeast is imperative for making pizza dough. It causes the dough to rise. I typically use Red Star Active Dry Yeast
Warm Water: Be sure the water is around 105 degrees. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
Refrigerator: The dough can rest in the refrigerator for up to 96 hours. After that it should either be baked or frozen for later. 
Freezer: After the dough has fermented (rested in the refrigerator for 40-96 hours), transfer it to the freezer in either lightly greased airtight baggies or airtight containers. Store for 2-3 months. 
Thawing: Place the frozen dough into a greased bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 2-3 hours before baking. Continue to step 11.
Precision is key. You will have better (and more accurate) results if you measure the water and flour with a food scale. Use the back of a butter knife to level off the yeast in the measuring spoon. 
Be patient. The 72 hour fermentation process results in the best taste and texture. It doesn't even compare to a same day pizza dough recipe. 
Be gentle. When handling the dough, do not press or punch the dough with pressure. This will burst all of the air bubbles. Instead gently flatten and stretch the dough. It should not resist you at all. This is one of the benefits of a long fermentation period. The glutens relax and the dough is much more malleable. 
Do not be afraid of flour. The dough should not be very sticky. During the kneading process I typically add at least a couple of tablespoons of flour to get the dough to come together and not stick to my hands. When shaping the crust, be sure to spread flour on the bottom so it does not stick during the baking process.
Do not use a rolling pin. The dough is extremely malleable and should be stretched with your hands. Rolling pins pop all of the air bubbles that formed during fermentation. 
Making good pizza dough takes practice. Each time I make this recipe, it is a little better. The more familiar you get with what the dough should feel like, look like, etc. the better your pizzas will taste.
This recipe can make 2 medium pizzas (12-13 inches) or 1 extra large pizza (17-18 inches). To make 2 medium pizzas, after Step 8, place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Split it into 2 balls. Place each ball into separate grease containers. Continue to Step 9. I recommend making 2 to fit in a standard size oven. 
Baking: Preheat your oven with a pan or stone inside for 45 minutes as hot as it will go (mine gets up to 550 degrees).  Prepare your pizza on a peel or pan that is lightly floured. Be sure the bottom of your crust is well floured so it does not stick. It should slide off this pan to the pan or stone in the oven easily. Read more about baking a pizza with or without a stone.

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1165mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g