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Michael Chiarello's Pizza Dough

Photo: Thomas J. Story
Total time 30 mins
Yield Makes ten 6-oz. balls of dough
This dough, courtesy of Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello, produces some of the lightest, tastiest pizza dough we've had. Roll or stretch these balls thinly to make pizza and a little thicker for piadine (a type of flatbread from Emilia-Romagna). For focaccia, lightly pat the dough into a flat rectangle and then dimple it with your fingertips. 


  • Sponge
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (not fast-acting)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • Dough
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups bread flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt, preferably gray salt

Nutrition Information

  • calories 369
  • caloriesfromfat 5 %
  • protein 12 g
  • fat 2.1 g
  • satfat 0.3 g
  • carbohydrate 74 g
  • fiber 2.7 g
  • sodium 914 mg
  • cholesterol 0.0 mg

How to Make It

  1. Make sponge: In a large bowl, mix yeast with 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°), sugar, and bread flour with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place (80° to 90° is ideal) overnight.

  2. Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine sponge, 1 cup warm water, all-purpose flour, 3 cups bread flour, and salt. Mix at low speed until dough is soft, sticky, and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes.

  3. Increase speed to medium and gradually sprinkle in remaining 1 cup bread flour. Mix until smooth, then cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest 30 minutes.

  4. Mix dough at low speed a couple of minutes, or until it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't, let it rest another 15 minutes; then mix again.

  5. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. With floured hands, knead dough several times until smooth and slam the dough hard onto surface a few times to help the gluten develop and make dough more elastic.

  6. Put dough in oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 to 4 hours. Divide into 10 equal portions and roll each into a tight ball.

  7. Let balls rise about 20 minutes covered with a kitchen towel. They are ready to use now, but if you want to store them, put them side by side in a lightly oiled 9-by-11-by-2-in. container with a lid. Drizzle tops with oil to keep a skin from forming.

  8. *Make ahead: Chill in container overnight or freeze up to 6 months. Let dough come to room temperature before proceeding.

  9. Note: Nutritional analysis is per dough ball.

Adapted from Live Fire (Chronicle Books) by Michael Chiarello. Bottega (Napa Valley, CA) and Coqueta (San Francisco)