With this Neapolitan pizza recipe, you will be able to make incredible pizza dough without kneading. That’s right, no kneading!
For people new to making fresh dough, kneading by hand 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once completed, the dough can be covered back up and left to prove/rest.
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.
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.
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.
There are a few things to look out for when checking if your dough is ready for proving. In fact, I’ve even written an entire article about how to tell if your dough is proved here.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s jump into the recipe now! Get ready to make some of the nicest yet easiest pizza you’ve ever experienced!
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.
Serving: 2-4 people
Yield: 2x 10” pizzas
Prep Time (Dough Handling): 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2-10 minutes
Total Time: 24 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.
A fantastic App I always use for calculating water and yeast quantities is called PizzApp+. I’ve provided the links to this app for both Android and iOS below:
For Android: PizzApp+ on Google Play Store
For iOS (Apple): PizzApp+ on the App Store
To use the app for this recipe:
That should look like this:
If you notice at the bottom, the app tells you the exact quantity of ingredients you need. Perfect! If you play around with it you will notice as you change the prove time (leavening) and the room temperature (RT), the amount of yeast will change accordingly.
This app really is so handy!
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.
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!
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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