Easy no knead Neapolitan pizza dough

Neapolitan pizza dough that’s actually easy!

With this Neapolitan pizza recipe, you will be able to make incredible pizza dough without kneading. That’s right, no kneading!

 No knead Neapolitan pizza!
No knead Neapolitan pizza!

For people new to making fresh dough, kneading is often seen as an intimidating proposition. Whilst it’s probably not as difficult as you think, it is a bit messy and it can be tricky to get the technique right.

I have spent a long time devising this no knead method in order to produce the best results with minimal effort, equipment, and technique required.

For this recipe all you need is a mixing bowl, weighing scales, and the ingredients. No electric mixer or anything else is required!

Everything takes place in the bowl and you never need to remove the dough. No mess, no hassle, just beautiful Neapolitan pizza dough!

The Recipe

Be sure to read the notes below this recipe as there are some important considerations. There is also a detailed explanation of the process with pictures, at the bottom of this page.

Difficulty: Easy

Serving: 2-4 people

Yield: 2x 12” pizzas

Prep Time (Dough Handling): 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2-10 minutes

Total Time: 12/24 hours

Ingredients

Method

  1. Roughly mix the ingredients in a large mixing bowl to form a shaggy mass of dough
  2. Cover with cling film and leave to autolyse (rest) for 1 hour
  3. Stretch and fold the dough 5-10 times and re-cover
  4. Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes
  5. Stretch and fold the dough 5-10 times and re-cover
  6. Leave the dough to prove at room temperature for around 20 hours
  7. Divide dough into 2 halves
  8. Shape into dough balls and cover with cling film
  9. Leave dough balls to prove for 2 hours

That’s it, the dough is now ready to stretch and shape to make Neapolitan style pizzas with!

Be sure to check out the recipe notes below, as there are some important considerations with this recipe.

Notes

Explanation

The Autolyse – The 1st key to no knead pizza dough

The autolyse is a technique used by artisan bread makers to improve the quality of a dough. What’s more, it’s super easy and requires no technique.

What is the autolyse in pizza dough making?

All you have to do is to roughly mix your ingredients, in a large bowl, into a shaggy mass – we’re not worried if it’s lumpy at this stage. Then we just leave the pizza dough, covered up, for at least 30 minutes but up to a few hours.

No knead Neapolitan pizza dough just mixed
This is what you’re looking for

When we return to the dough it will be smooth, stretchy, and much less lumpy. How easy was that?! We haven’t even done anything! And that’s the beauty of the autolyse.

How does the autolyse work?

Over time, the flour absorbes the water and becomes hydrated. This is similar to the process that happens when dough is kneaded. It may seem like magic, but it works brilliantly!

After the autolyse, your pizza dough will be smooth and stretchy, which is perfect for Neapolitan pizza.

Where does the autolyse technique come from?

The technique was discovered by French chemist, Professor Raymond Calvel. He had noticed the decline in quality of French bread following the second World War.

He devoted a lot of time to experimenting with dough and revealed that by mixing dough and allowing it to rest before kneading, it reduced the amount of kneading time required. It also produced a dough that had excellent flavour and texture.

Stretch and Fold – The 2nd key to no knead pizza dough

Following the autolyse, the dough will still be somewhat lumpy. This is where the kneading would usually start. However, we can use another technique borrowed from artisan bread making. This technique is called the stretch and fold.

What is the stretch and fold technique in pizza dough making?

With the dough still in the bowl, grab an edge of the pizza dough and stretch it upwards, allowing the dough to stretch under its own weight. Then fold this down to the middle and grab another edge. Repeat this 5-10 times.

No knead Neapolitan pizza dough folded
Should look like this after a few folds

Once completed, the dough can be covered back up and left to prove/rest.

What does the stretch and fold do for the pizza dough?

The stretch and fold mixes the ingredients whilst stretching and strengthening the dough, and incorporating air into the dough. After each stretch and fold, your dough should be well mixed and very smooth.

How many times should I stretch and fold?

Generally, 2 sets of stretch and folds are enough but you can carry out this technique as many times as you like, just leave 30 minutes between each set of stretch and folds.

No knead Neapolitan pizza dough ready to prove
This is after 2 sets of stretch and folds

The more times you do it, the stretchier and stronger your dough will become. With each stretch and fold, it generally won’t require as many folds. Just feel the dough as you go along and if the dough becomes difficult to stretch, leave it to rest again.

However, you will still be able to make excellent dough after just 2 sets of stretch and folds.

Testing your dough

There are a few things to look out for when checking if your dough is ready for proving.

One of the best checks is the windowpane test which I go into more detail on in this article. The easiest way to do this is to simply stretch a small piece of dough on the dough ball to see if it holds together without ripping (see image below).

No knead Neapolitan pizza dough is stretchy
If you can stretch the dough like this, you’re good to go

The best time to check your dough is 30 minutes after a set of stretch and folds. If the dough passes the test then it’s good to go. If it doesn’t, give it another set of stretch and folds. Be sure to rest the dough for 30 minutes again before testing.

The  prove – The key to all great Neapolitan pizza

A long prove is pretty much essential for great no knead Neapolitan pizza dough. The long prove will allow for greater gluten development and improved texture of the dough (and better flavour).

No knead Neapolitan pizza crust
A long prove produces a crust like this!

I recommend a 12 or 24 hour prove. Over the two, I prefer the 24 hour prove but a 12 hour prove will still yield excellent results.

Why use a 12 hour prove?

A 12 hour prove allows you to mix the dough on the morning that you want to make pizza and the dough will be ready for the evening. This is great if you are making pizza over the weekend, for example.

With a 12 hour prove, you can mix the dough at about 10am, and it will be ready to use at about 7pm on the same day.

For a 12 hour prove at room temperature, use 0.2g of instant dried yeast (assuming room temperature proving of 22 Celcius). Yes that is a very small amount, which is why I recommend getting a set of digital scales that are accurate to 0.01g.

What does 0.2g of yeast look like?

If you don’t have a set of accurate digital scales, the image below shows what 0.2g of yeast looks like on a regular teaspoon.

Yeast in No knead Neapolitan pizza
0.2g dried yeast on a teaspoon

Why use a 24 hour prove?

Being longer than a 12 hour prove, a 24 hour prove will generally produce dough with better texture and flavour.

I also like a 24 hour dough for convenience. 24 hours may sound like a long time but it doesn’t take any more effort, just a little more preparation.

The great thing with a 24 hour dough is that it can easily fit around your working day. You can mix the dough at 7pm and it will be ready to use at 7pm the following day. It’s super easy!

For a 12 hour prove at room temperature, use 0.1g of instant dried yeast (assuming room temperature proving of 22 Celcius). Yes that is a very small amount, which is why I recommend getting a set of digital scales that are accurate to 0.01g.

What does 0.1g of yeast look like?

If you don’t have a set of accurate digital scales, the image below shows what 0.1g of yeast looks like on a regular teaspoon.

Yeast added to No knead Neapolitan pizza dough
0.1g dried yeast on a teaspoon

Can’t I prove the pizza dough for any length of time?

It is true that you can prove for any length of time but it requires a bit of maths to figure it out. Personally, I find that 12 and 24 hour pizza doughs are the most convenient as well.

Many recipes you see online use short proving times, such as 2 hours. Personally, I don’t think these short proves produce great results and they don’t really make the process any easier, just quicker. This is why I didn’t include a recipe for a shorter proving time.

If you need to make dough for the same day, use the 12 hour prove. If you don’t need the dough until the following day, then use the 24 hour prove.

Whatever you decide, just adjust the yeast accordingly and you’ll be good to go.

Conclusion

I know I went into a lot of detail for a simple recipe but I wanted it to be as clear as possible. So many articles out there leave a lot of questions unanswered.

No knead Neapolitan nduja pizza!
No knead Neapolitan nduja pizza!

Hopefully this makes it clear how to make great Neapolitan no knead pizza dough. Now just go and experiment, it’s all part of the fun!

Good luck, and get mixing!

Tom Rothwell from My Pizza Corner eating homemade pizza

About Me

I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!

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