Basic Recipe for Yeast Dough

  • Active Time 10m
  • Total Time 2h 55m

Makes 6 rolls or pizzas

However simple it may seem, the making of yeast dough requires patience, skill and experience. Many cooks in Italy prefer to buy it ready prepared from the baker: Using this recipe, however; you can try it with a good chance of success. It provides the base for baking not only homemade bread but also pizza and a whole series of savory pies with a variety of fillings that belong to the classic Italian gastronomic tradition. Much depends on your oven, however; and to achieve a good result it must be heated to a high temperature - in the case of a domestic oven not less than 500 degrees F.
Another basic recommendation as far as pizza is concerned is that it must on no account be put into a pie plate or pan, but is simply laid on a capacious baking sheet in order to reproduce as closely as possible the conditions of the big wood ovens in the pizzerie of Naples. As they say in Naples, "the pizza must be born on the marble bench naked as Venus, amid the clouds of flour created by the kneader; and must slither dry and intact from the baker's shovel to bake in the soft blazing heat of the brick oven." This of course, is the classic pizza. But it should also be said that along the Sorrento peninsula in particular; as well as in Naples, the art of the so-called "pizza by the yard" made in long, narrow baking pans has emerged.
This is the basic recipe for bread dough. This quantity yields 14 oz (440 g).


  • 1/2 ounce dried or 1 ounce fresh yeast
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt


In a cup, soak the yeast with the water - no hotter than 86 degrees F or the yeast will die. Add about 1/2 cup of the flour; knead rapidly and shape the dough into a ball. Put it into a floured bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume.

Punch down the dough and work in the remaining flour and the salt, adding just enough lukewarm water until all the flour is absorbed and the dough is smooth and elastic. (Be sure to work away from drafts and air conditioning.) The formation of tiny bubbles on the surface is a sign that the dough is ready.

Put the dough on a floured plate, cut a cross in the top with a knife, and cover with a cloth. Set aside in a warm place for about 2 hours until doubled in volume.

To make rolls: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and shape each into a round or elongated roll. Make a cross in the top with the point of a small knife. Set aside, covered, to rise once more. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

To make pizzas: Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Smooth each piece of dough like a skilled pizza-maker does, stretching the dough with the fingers or rolling it out on a floured board.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Russell. All rights reserved.

RecID 1047

nutrition information per serving

177 calories; 1g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 27mg sodium; 36g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 6g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

Sign Up for Newsletters Here

Get recipes, private sale alerts and more goodies, oh joy!