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Does NY pizza dough need olive oil?

I've got a big batch of NY-style dough cold fermenting in the fridge for a party this weekend, but I just realized I forget to put in the olive oil. It isn't much, about 6 tbsp oil to 9 cups flour.

FYI I am using this Serious Eats recipe, doubled: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20... and it has turned out well in the past. Will it work without olive oil or should I toss the dough and mix up a new batch?


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  1. You might consider making a mini pizza to test this dough. Recipes for classic Napoletana pizza dough doesn't call for oil. Although, Peter Reinhart, in his book American Pie, points out that if you use bread flour you will end up with a tough, chewy crust because the oil tenderized the dough. In this recipe he calls for 00 or all-purpose flour.

    1. Mix the oil in with some flour to make a paste and then knead that mixture into the already fermenting dough.

      Pizza dough w/o oil is very hard to chew.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        I only VERY rarely put oil in my pizza dough - it isn't hard to chew at all - ?

        1. re: Kelli2006

          I don't have that problem with leaving out the oil. I find if it proofs enough beforehand, it's easy to stretch and has a lot of airpockets throughout. The low and slow proof in the fridge really does make a difference.

          That said, I recently started to add flavored olive oil to my dough, usually a tablespoon or so. I haven't noticed any difference in texture, but it sure adds to the flavor!

        2. Personally I wouldn't worry about it.
          IMO, flavorwise it will be better having gone through the slow rise without it..

          However, if I was determined to incorporate it into the batch, I'd have no problem doing a couple of (gentle) "stretch and folds" to work it in when you're ready to do the "2 hr countertop - form into balls" phase. - Like you said, it's really not that much. Kelli's paste idea would work, but I wouldn't bother for what amounts to 1 TBS per ball.

          Actually, now that I think of it, might be a good time for an experiment - add oil to only some of the batch and see which pies you like better.

          1. Depends on how you define 'need.'

            Most NY style pizza dough uses oil, so if you're going for 'authenticity,' you could make an argument in favor of oil as a must.

            OTOH, the dough will still work without oil. Since you already made the batch of dough, I think you'll probably do more harm to it texture-wise by reworking it to add in oil than you will by just making it as is. I certainly wouldn't throw it out if you didn't mess it up otherwise.

            Oil has a somewhat subtle effect on the softness and density of the finished crust (it tends to make it softer and more dense, and also tends to make it hold a bit better if you don't eat it right out of the oven). To get an idea of what I mean, Papa Johns pizza crust uses a lot of oil (along with a good amount of sugar) - it creates that kind of effect. Neapolitan style pizza and many wood- or coal-fired oven pizza doughs use no oil at all (but use a very hot oven to ensure that the crust springs up dramatically and is very light).

            TL/DR: just use the dough as is, and eat the pizza fresh out of the oven. It will be fine.

            1. Thanks for the replies, all. By the time I had a chance to go look at the dough, it had risen quite a lot so I didn't want to squeeze out too much gas by folding the oil into it. I'll just leave it be and see how it turns out, might be a good experiment since I've made the oil-containing recipe before.

              2 Replies
                1. I only use water, yeast, salt and flour in my pizza dough.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: treb

                    Same here. And I do a really high hydration - 75%. I see a lot of very dry pizza dough recipes; I like my wet one better.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      I do a lean dough as well, at about 70% hydration. I am considering adding a little oil next time, though, just to see what it does to the texture. My crusts are great when they're fresh but they do toughen up when cold/leftover, and I love my leftover pizza! I use AP flour but add about 10g of gluten per kilo of dough.

                  2. I went ahead and made the pizzas for the party with oil-less dough. Those posters who said the crust would be tougher were dead-on correct. It was crispier and harder, but not necessarily in a bad way. The undercrust had great crisp texture when freshly baked, but the leftover slices the next day were tough and chewy.

                    One unexpected result is that I did not get much oven spring at all. The outer crust was about 1/4 the height it normally is, with much smaller bubbles. Not sure how having no oil could cause this, but then again it was not a perfectly controlled experiment.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      Did you use bread flour, and did you knead it a lot? That would make the dough tougher without the toughness-tempering aspects of the olive oil....

                      Or the other possibility is that the dough was just too dry without that additional liquid.....

                      1. re: sandylc

                        I used 00 flour and I kneaded it until it passed the "window pane" test.

                        As I said, it was still crisp and good when freshly baked, but toughened up much more quickly than the oiled version when left to sit for a while. Another thing I noticed was that it browned a lot less on the bottom.

                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                          My suspicion is that your oil normally compensates for a lower hydration % than would otherwise be ideal for your oven. Lower hydration doughs that use only flour, yeast, salt, and water typically need very hot ovens (i.e. professional ones) to get a dramatic rise. Also, IME 00 flour typically seems to need even a bit more water than standard American bread flours or AP flour to get comparable results.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Kenji says that 00 flour is LESS absorbent and can use LESS water than other flours.

                            Here is what he says about different flours used for pizza dough:


                            I haven't used 00 flour before, but am interested in trying it to see what the fuss is about.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              I could be wrong, but in my experience doughs made with 00 flour seem to behave like they are less hydrated than they are.

                              To be fair, I stopped using 00 flour a while ago because I found I got more consistent and better results with bread or AP flour (which are also, happily, less expensive and easier to find). So my experience with 00 hasn't been particularly extensive. It is also possible that different 00 flours behave differently, since 00 indicates the fineness of the milling rather than the qualities of the wheat.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                I think that your speculation about different 00s being different is very likely spot-on.

                              2. re: sandylc

                                One of the greatest myths perpetuated on the home pizza baking public is that 00 pizzeria flour is great for everyone. It isn't. It's lack of browning ability is ideal for extremely hot environments, such as wood fired ovens, where pizza can be baked in 90 seconds or less, but, for the typical home oven that can't produce that kind of intense heat, 00 flour is the worst flour you can buy.

                                1. re: scott123

                                  Kind of agree - I got all fired up about it and was not totally pleased with the result. Thought it was me. My oven can only get to 550 degrees.

                                  1. re: scott123

                                    Luckily, I never fell to the 00 "spell" because, in the beginning, I'd never heard of it and later on, when I started getting more serious about pizza (pizzamaking.com)), I learned 00 wasn't for me. If it was more readily available, I probably would have tried it by now, but it isn't and I haven't.
                                    I've used all bread flour, all A/P flour, and various ratios in between. I use nothing but King Arthur flour, weighed ingredients, Zoji bread machine, and a 3 day (minimum) cold rise. My crusts are always fine. Different in subtle ways, but consistently fine.
                                    p.s. I always include a bit of olive oil and Turbinado sugar in my doughs.

                        2. Using all bread flour and only 67% hydration (I actually have read the recipe now!) will make a tougher crust that will need the oil.

                          1. Just to add to the earlier posts regarding hydration -

                            Pete-zza, the guru over at pizzamaking.com, has a technique to increase the hydration of 00 flour. To paraphrase, he adds flour to water (as opposed to the other way around) in a stand mixer.

                            Here's a youtube of Reinhart demonstrating the "stretch and fold" (the method I use because I don't have a stand mixer with a dough hook) to get a workable dough with 80% hydration.
                            He should have shown how each successive S&F make the dough more workable, but he doesn't.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                              Stretch and Fold is truly a miracle technique. I love it. So easy and so much better results then with kneading.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                Yes! I think I first heard of it from you, sandylc - and it has improved my breads/doughs tremendously. I was very much into the no-knead thing but I think the stretch and fold works much better and produces more consistent results.

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  Absolutely a miracle. I used to be a little bummed (don't think I've used that word since the 70's) that I don't have a mixer with a dough hook or paddle, but now I don't care.

                              2. I'd question the recipe - some would say you shouldn't really add sugar for an NY style though I like to when making a more "American" style pizza (different IMO then NY style). I'd give this one (or one closer to it) a try: http://www.pizzamaking.com/newyorksty...

                                I'd almost never toss the dough though, part of the fun of making pizza is eating the experiments along the way

                                If you bake pizza even semi regularly I'd measure by mass or weight rather than volume and find corresponding recipes/formulas for pizza dough. (I do use measures in volume for things like salt, etc if it is just 1/4 teaspoon)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: polite_algorithm

                                  FWIW, that hydration % is going to be too low to get ideal results in a home oven without making a lot of adjustments to increase the heat delivered to the pie and lower the cooking time. You'd wind up with very little rise and a pretty tough crust.

                                  It'll depend on your particular oven, of course, but I probably wouldn't drop below 60% hydration for anything shy of a serious professional setup (or intentionally making a cracker crust).