Chef Sim Cass prepares to put pizza in the oven at ICE.

Chef Sim's Pro Pizza Dough

ICE's Dean of Artisan Bread Baking demonstrates his professional approach to pizza and dough.

As part of Epicurious' 4 Levels series, Dean of Artisan Bread Baking Sim Cass shares his professional approach to pizza dough, tomato sauce and toppings.

Chef Sim has been a baker since 1973. He's working with a three-year-old starter and recommends a three-day dough for "a soft, airy interior with a nice crusty shell on it and a lot of flavor."

First, you'll leave the pre-ferment, or biga in Italian, out for 12 to 17 hours to develop flavor and add nice holes to the pizza. Then, you'll combine the main dough with the pre-ferment to leave for another 24 hours, add the starter and refrigerate your combined, folded dough in an oiled bowl overnight.

Chef Sim's sauce should be cooked for three to four hours to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes, or about one hour if you add a little sugar. He leaves the sauce in blobs on the dough; tops the pizza with Parmesan in the middle for the first bite, followed by creamy, melted Bel Paese and round slices of mozzarella; adds pre-cooked toppings like sausage, mushrooms and olives for color; and drizzles oil on the top. Another pro tip: Break up basil on top so it's the first aroma at the table.

Watch the video below for portions of the demo and see Chef Sim's biga and dough recipes for your next professional-level pizza.


Chef Sim Cass' Pizza Dough


For the biga:

  • 285 grams high-gluten flour
  • 170 grams water
  • 4 grams fresh yeast

For the pizza dough:

  • 795 ounces water, 76 F
  • 7 grams fresh yeast
  • 115 grams all-purpose flour
  • 905 grams high-gluten flour
  • 21 grams salt
  • Biga
  • 57 grams olive oil
  • 50 grams starter, optional


For the biga:

  1. Mix all ingredients together, cover and set aside.
  2. Leave at room temperature overnight or refrigerate for up to five days.

For the pizza dough:

  1. Place water into the 60-quart bowl, sprinkle yeast on top and whisk.
  2. Add flours and salt to the bowl.
  3. Chop biga and add it to the bowl. (Slightly chopping the biga makes it easier to incorporate.)
  4. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes (like ciabatta dough) to build dough strength. Mix for an additional 5 minutes on second speed to tighten gluten.
  5. Add oil gradually while continuing to mix on second speed until fully incorporated. (This will be a wet dough.)
  6. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes then turn the dough.
  7. Let rest for another 30 minutes (1 hour total).
  8. Flour surface and the dough. Cut dough into 450 gram (1 pound) pieces for large pizzas and 225 gram (8 ounce) pieces for smaller individual pizzas.
  9. Prepare sheet pans by spreading them with olive oil.
  10. For 450 gram (1 pound) and 225 gram (8 ounce) pieces, use the 1-2-3-4 dough shaping method. Then turn over and make round but not too tight. It should be a loose ball. Place on oiled sheet pan and lightly oil the tops, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
  11. Allow the dough to remain chilled for at least 1 hour (or longer) while preparing toppings.

Learn the techniques Artisan Bread Baking with Chef Sim at ICE.

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