Pizza dough seems like a simple thing. After all, it’s only yeast, flour, salt, and water. But making dough that will produce a crisp, delicate crust is hard. Italian pizza makers have their secrets—but the biggest one is that, after making tens of thousands of pizzas, they can just “feel” when the dough is right. We interviewed Neapolitan pizzaiuoli, American bakers, and respected chefs about dough, and each had his or her own ideas—often conflicting. Some use wild yeasts, others use a starter. Some let dough rise overnight, others say two hours is fine. They even disagreed about what flour to use—high gluten or low, soft wheat or hard.
Here’s our conclusion: Neapolitan pizza crusts are thin and crisp. We got the best results using an all-purpose flour, high in protein, like Heckers or King Arthur, softened with cake flour. To give the yeast a chance to develop, we let the dough rise for three hours.