Jim Lahey's signature recipe from his New York success Sullivan Street Bakery.
17-1/2 oz. or about 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough*
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups water
* While I'm not picky about the flour — either bread flour or all-purpose is fine — what does concern me is how the dough is handled. Treat it gently so the dough holds its character, its texture. When you get around to shaping the disc for a pie, go easy as you stretch it to allow it to retain a bit of bumpiness (I think of it as blistering), so not all of the gas is smashed out of the fermented dough. I prefer to hold off on shaping the ball until just before topping it. If it's going to sit for a while — more than a couple of minutes — cover it with a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out.
Step 1: In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.
Step 2: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°F) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
Step 3: Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them**: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the centre; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn't actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
Step 4: If you don't intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2-3 hours before needed.
Step 5: Learn Jim's tomato sauce recipe here, plus how to bake his famous pizzas.
** I offer you two approaches for shaping. The simpler one, executed completely on the work surface, is slower than the second, where you lift the disk in the air and stretch it by rotating it on your knuckles. Lifting it into the air to shape it is more fun, too.
Makes 4 balls of dough, enough for 4 pizzas
See more recipes from Jim Lahey.
Reprinted with permission from Jim Lahey's My Pizza (2012 Clarkson Potter).