This 3 day poolish pizza dough makes the best crusts! Chewy & crisp, this dough has incredible oven spring & a well developed flavour.

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3 day poolish pizza dough

The dough can either make or break a pizza so it’s important to get it right!

For this recipe, we’re taking advantage of a poolish pre ferment & a long, cold prove in the fridge. This is the secret to making really good, artisan style pizza. If you’re after pizza with a chewy, airy crust, a crisp base & a well developed flavour, this 3 day poolish pizza dough recipe is for you!

Although this dough does take 72 hours to make, most of that time is hands off & the results really do speak for themselves…

What Is A Poolish?

A poolish is a liquid pre ferment that is used in place of yeast in bread & pizza doughs. To make this, we combine equal parts flour & water with a tiny amount of dried active yeast then leave to ferment either at room temperature, in the fridge or a combination of both.

For this pizza dough recipe, we’re making a 100% hydration poolish using a quarter of our total flour & 0.8g of yeast (this is a baker’s percentage of 0.1%). This is then left to ferment at room temperature for 1 hour then it’s placed in the fridge for 24 hours.

The Secret To Great Oven Spring

Oven spring is the term used to describe the dough’s final rise in the oven, just before the crust sets.

When dough is loaded into a pizza oven, the high temperature causes it to heat up instantly. At the same time, a combination of carbon dioxide (converted from sugar by the yeast) & steam (from the water) causes a rapid increase in the dough’s volume. This is what gives the crust its’ airy, open crumb.

The secret to getting the best oven spring comes down to a high level of hydration, good gluten formation, optimal fermentation & a high cooking temperature. This is easier than it sounds though & basically just means that we need to ferment & cook the dough at the correct temperatures & to make sure that we knead it for long enough. We’ll be going through each of these steps in detail in this post!

poolish dough crust

Ingredients Used

00 Flour

The type of flour that you use for pizza affects the type of crust that you’ll get. We’re after a light, airy, slightly chewy crust which means that we need to use 00 flour. This is an Italian flour that is finely ground & has a relatively low protein content. Less protein means less gluten which in turn, makes a softer dough.

If we wanted to make a firmer, chewier dough, we’d use a strong bread or plain flour instead.

The best 00 flour to use for pizza is from a brand called Caputo. For this recipe I used their Nuvola flour but their Classica or Pizzeria flour could be used instead.

Dried Active Yeast

Because we are making this pizza dough with a preferment, we only need to use a tiny amount of yeast (less than 1 gram!). As we’re fermenting this dough over several days in the fridge, we also don’t need to activate the yeast in warm water, just make sure to use yeast that’s still in date so you know it’s still active!

Salt

We use salt in dough to add flavour, strengthen gluten & slow down fermentation (depending on how much is used). Typically you’d use between 2% & 3% of the flours total weight in salt which gives a good flavour without being salty.

A good sea salt (like Maldon) is the best option.

Water

To make pizza with a light, open crumb, we need to use a fairly high level of hydration. Somewhere in the region of 60% – 70% of the total flour weight should be liquid. To make our dough easier to handle, we’re going with 65% hydration.

When you’re measuring out the water, it’s important to get the temperature as close to 25.5°c/78°f as possible.

Olive Oil

Adding a small amount of olive oil to our dough, makes pizza with a slightly softer texture. If you’d prefer a crispier pizza base, leave the oil out & replace it with extra water.

fermented pizza dough
Fermented dough, ready to stretch & cook

How To Make 3 Day Poolish Pizza Dough

Step 1 – Poolish

The first step is making the poolish pre ferment. To do this, we dissolve dried active yeast in water then mix in 00 flour until just combined. This mix is then left at room temperature for 1 hour in an airtight container that has enough room for the poolish to double in size.

Next, we place the poolish in the fridge & leave it there for 18-24 hours.

Day 2 – Dough

The next day, it’s time to make the actual dough.

First, we take the poolish out of the fridge & leave it at room temperature for 1 hour. At the same time, we mix together (in a stand mixer) 00 flour, water & olive oil until just combined then leave to autolyse for the same amount of time.

Next, the poolish is mixed into the dough, followed by the salt. We then knead the dough until it passes the windowpane test*. This will take around 10 minutes on a medium speed.

The kneaded dough is now left to ferment at room temperature for an hour then it is divided into 5 portions & shaped into balls. Finally, each ball of dough is placed into an oiled container & left in the fridge for a 36-48 hour long, cold prove.

*The windowpane test is used to check gluten development in dough. To perform, stretch a small amount of dough between your fingers. If it stretches thin enough so that you can see through it, it’s ready. If it doesn’t the dough requires more kneading.

Step 3 – Cooking

After 2 days in the fridge, the balls of dough are ready to make into pizza. But first, they need to sit at room temperature for 1½ – 2 hours. This is called tempering the dough & makes it easier to stretch/open up.

To remove a ball of dough from its’ container, gently tip it out onto a floured surface then flip it over so that it’s facing the same way as it was in the container (smooth side up).

There are many ways that you can stretch a ball of dough into a pizza base but the way I like to use is called the “steering wheel” method. This is where we first use our fingertips to press the dough into a disc (leaving a border round the outside) then hold it in the air & rotate it in our hands (like turning a steering wheel), pinching around the crust as we do so. This way, we’re letting gravity do the stretching for us.

When shaping, it’s important to keep as much gas in the dough as possible. This is key to getting a good oven spring & crust.

Once shaped, we add a thin layer of toppings then cook in a 400°c – 450°c (750°f/840°f) pizza oven for 1-1½ minutes, making sure to turn the pizza regularly with a peel, to stop it from burning.

margherita poolish pizza

The Best Way To Cook Pizza

Pizzas are best cooked at a very high temperature, somewhere in the region of 400°c – 450°c (750°f/840°f). The only way that we can achieve these temperatures is by using a pizza oven, fuelled either by gas or wood. The cooking time will be pretty much the same either way.

When I cook pizzas at home, I use a Gozney Roccbox which is fuelled by gas. If you are also using one of these ovens, I’d recommend preheating it for at least 30 minutes, to properly saturate the stone.

Between pizzas, turn the flame to low & to cook, turn the flame up to medium-high.

3 Day Poolish Pizza Dough Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure to measure the water temperature accurately with a digital food probe.
  • Lightly grease the dough containers with olive oil. This will make removing the dough easier.
  • Flour your work surface before stretching the dough to stop it sticking.
  • Cook the dough in a pizza oven at 400°c – 450°c (750°f/840°f) & turn regularly, using a peel.
  • Preheat your pizza oven so that the stone is well saturated with heat.
  • Use a laser temperature gun for accurate pizza stone temperature readings.
  • Don’t add too many toppings to the pizza. This can make the crust soggy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use 00 flour?

For this recipe 00 flour is best. Caputo is the best brand to use & can be bought online.

Can pizza be made in a home oven?

Pizza is best cooked in a pizza oven but can also be made in a home oven. To do this, turn your oven to its’ highest setting & preheat with a metal sheet or baking stone inside. Cook the pizza directly on the hot stone. Keep in mind that it might take a couple of minutes extra.

How long can the shaped dough sit in the fridge for?

For best results, the balls of dough should be kept in the fridge for a minimum of 36-48 hours. An extra day or two won’t hurt but keep in mind that the flavour will be more developed.

Equipment Used

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3 Day Poolish Pizza Dough

This 3 day poolish pizza dough makes the best crusts! Chewy & crisp, this dough has incredible oven spring & a well developed flavour.
Cold Prove3 days
Total Time3 days
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 5 Pizzas

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Digital Scales
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Digital Food Probe
  • 5 Round Storage Tubs With Lids
  • Dough Scraper
  • Bench Knife

Ingredients

Poolish

  • 200 g 00 Flour
  • 200 g Water 25.5°c/78°f
  • 0.8 g Dried Active Yeast

Dough

  • 600 g 00 Flour
  • 300 g Water 25.5°c/78°f
  • 20 g Olive Oil
  • 20 g Maldon Salt

Instructions

Poolish

  • Pour the water into a mixing bowl, add in the yeast & stir to dissolve. Add in the flour & mix until just combined.
  • Transfer the poolish into an airtight container & cover with a lid. Leave to sit at room temperature for 1 hour then place in the fridge for 18-24 hours.
    Make sure to use a container with plenty of extra room! The poolish will double in size.

Dough

  • The next day, take the poolish out of the fridge & leave to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • In the meantime, place the flour, water & olive oil into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook until just combined then leave to autolyse for an hour.
  • Next, pour the poolish into the dough & mix on a medium speed until incorporated. Add in the salt & continue mixing until the dough passes the windowpane test. This will take 10-15 minutes on a medium speed.
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm (or a tea towel) & leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Next, tip the dough out onto a clean worksurface & divide into 5 even pieces. Each ball of dough should weigh around 260g.
  • Lightly oil 5 round storage containers then place a ball of dough into each.
  • Place in the fridge & leave to ferment for 36-48 hours.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge 1½ – 2 hours before using for pizza.
  • To make into pizza, first tip the dough out onto a floured worksurface then flip over so that the dough is facing the same was as it was in the container.
  • Using your fingertips, press the dough into a disc. Starting from the centre & working to the edge, making sure to leaving a 1-2 cm border (this will be the crust).
  • To stretch, I like to use a method know as "The Steering Wheel" stretch. Here's how…
    Using both hands, pick the dough up from one edge & hold it in front of you like a steering wheel. Now rotate the dough in your hands, pinching to form a crust as you do so.
    As the dough rotates, gravity will stretch it into a large circle.
    With this method you have full control on the thickness of the crust. If you'd prefer a thinner crust, pinch the dough nearer the edge. For a thicker crust, pinch more towards the centre.
  • Top the dough with a light layer of toppings then cook in a pizza oven at 400°c – 450°c (750°f/840°f) for 1-1½ minutes turning regularly with a peel to stop it burning.

Notes

This recipe makes 5 pizza doughs. Each will make a 12″ pizza.
For this recipe, I used Caputo’s Nuvola flour but you could also use their Classica or Pizzeria flour.
To weigh the 0.8g of yeast out, you’ll need a set of micro scales. If you haven’t got any it equates to a ¼ tsp of yeast.
This dough cooks best in a pizza oven but can also be cooked in a home oven turned up to its’ highest setting.
Use your hands to stretch the dough out before topping. This keeps the gas trapped in the dough, giving the pizza a better crust.
If you’re like me & use a Gozney Roccbox, this dough cooks best when the oven is preheated to 400°c – 450°c (750°f/840°f) & the flame is set to medium.

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