Dough recipe (2021)


Leopard Crust Pizza Dough

If you’re trying to make pizzas that look like this baby, then you’re in the right place. 

Everyone has their own personal take on what an ideal pizza should be – and that’s what makes pizza so great. There’s SO much room to make it your own! Here’s what I was shooting for in my crust…

Crust Goals

Spotty char
Spots, big or small – we love them all! Apparently, it’s not for everyone, but I’m here for it. I love the subtle smokiness and slight crunch they bring to my pizza life.

Puffy with a nice chew
We’re not going for a jaw workout, but a bit of chew is a beautiful thing. As a kid, I used to gut the middle of a baguette and eat that part first, so I guess this is where this preference comes from. 

✓ Flavourful as
I eat pizza everyday, so it’s gotta taste good! This stuff ain’t just for the gram! Shout out to Délices de Capoue for showing me just how delicious and flavourful pizza crusts can seriously get.

Over 200 Pizza
Experiments Later…

We have 2 options, depending on you:

Intro Dough
This is a good beginner’s recipe where you get a beautiful dough with minimal effort. This recipe is perfect if this is your very first dough or if you don’t have a sourdough starter and you’re not emotionally available for one right now. Jump to recipe ›

The Sourdough Train
For those who have a sourdough starter and already have baking stripes! Hop aboard ›

Intro Dough

Makes 3 dough balls (270g each)

25 minutes total hands-on effort

Prepare 1-3 days ahead

I highly recommend giving it 3 days so that your dough develops amazing flavour and it helps with getting the spots too!

This slow dough is your ticket to getting a pizza that ticks all those Crust Goals mentioned above, with the absolute minimum effort. We’ll use a tiny bit of instant yeast, so make sure yours is still active if you bought it a while ago or you won’t get a rise.

This recipe is about letting time do all the work for you! All you put in is about 25 minutes of work. Then, it’s over to your yeast and fridge to do the heavy lifting. Good things take time, and the more time you give your dough to develop, the more flavourful it gets!


468g strong 00 flour or bread flour with minimum 12.5% protein (100%)High protein means your dough will be easier to handle (heaps less sticky) and also less prone to tearing (no holes in your pizzas). Find the highest protein flour you can by check the protein % on the nutritional info label on the packaging.
14g sea salt (3%)Brings out the flavours that the dough will develop naturally. 
1g instant yeast (0.2%)The longer your dough takes to rise, the more time for flavour and aroma to develop within. Using such a small amount of yeast gives your dough the chance to reach its true, tasty potential.
327g water (70%)170% hydration is a sweet spot. It’s fairly high, while still being decent to work with.

If this is your first pizza and you don’t want to take any risks, you may want to start with 65% hydration (304g) so that the dough is easier to handle. You can switch to 70% for more tender crust once you’re more confident at handling dough.
Wondering what the percentages are about? Quick answer here!2

10 minutes of work

1. Mixing

In a large bowl or container, combine water and yeast. Stir until the yeast has dissolved.

Add flour and salt3 and mix it all in with a wooden spoon or your hands, inside the bowl. It will start out as a clumpy mess, but as you keep mixing and stretching it, will start to form a silky dough after about 5 minutes.

Cover your bowl with a lid or cling wrap, so that the surface of the dough doesn’t dry out.

Getting perfect fermentation
Take a bit of dough out to put in a smaller container and mark the level at which your dough fills it. This allows you to easily keep tabs on how much your dough has risen, because it’s hard to tell when dough has doubled in a bowl.

Yeast does the work

Takes around 16 hours if your room temperature hovers around 28°C, or 24 hours if you’re in a colder climate. This also depends on how active your yeast is.

2. Bulk ferment

Now we wait and let the yeast do its thing! This is called bulk fermentation (BF). It officially starts as soon as you bring yeast and flour together, and we move on to the next step when the dough is almost doubled in size.

  • Do not rush this step! Give the yeast time and your future, pizza-eating-self will be glad you waited.
  • Try not to let the dough go past double, because you run the risk of over fermentation4 (which will leave you with a sticky mess).
  • Don’t stress if you don’t see anything happening for the first 6-10 hours, especially if you already tested your yeast to make sure it’s active. Yeast grows exponentially, so it really picks up the pace after it’s had time to multiply.
How do I tell when the dough is ready?

Your small test-dough should look something like this. You can see it has almost doubled in height, and developed lots of nice, little bubbles.

The surface of your main dough should be smooth and stretched out like a doughy balloon.

How long does BF take?
The time it’ll take mainly depends on how active your yeast is and your room temperature. Some people with very active yeast have reported that their dough doubled in just 6 hours!

Your turn again!
15 minutes of work

3. Dough-balling

Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to make dough balls. Divide your dough into 270g pieces, and roll them up into dough balls. Place them into an air-tight container.

  • We want it air-tight, so that your dough can keep its moisture. If it’s drafty, it’s going to dry out and form a skin – not ideal!
  • Make sure you leave space in between each ball, as the dough will expand further.

Wait, but how?!
Here’s a short video where I share 2 simple tricks for shaping your dough balls. If you’re not used to handling dough, you may find it a bit sticky at first, so check this out!

Fridge does the work

4. Cold ferment

Transfer your container to the fridge.

  • This marks the start of the cold fermentation process. Even more flavour development happens here, while you sit back and don’t do anything at all!
  • You can make pizzas with your dough balls whenever you like from this point, but I highly recommend you let it continue developing in the fridge for 2 more days (it’s worth the wait!)

5. You’ve got dough balls!

When you’re ready to use your dough, take the dough balls out of the fridge for:

  • 1-2 hours, if you’re in a warm climate
  • 4-6 hours, if it’s cold where you are

…before opening them into pizzas. This step is called the final proof, where your dough relaxes after tensing up from the cold, and the yeast does a final push to make your pizza delicious!

To stretch your dough
Here’s my tutorial to show you how to stretch your dough into a pizza base; focused on achieving a puffy crust! I tried to pack in as much useful info as possible, in under 5 mins!


1 Why 70% hydration?
More water in your dough means more steam is created when the pizza’s in the oven, which then makes a PUFFY crust! On the flipside, the wetter your dough, the harder it is to work with and also the stronger your flour has to be to keep it together.

For reference, most Neapolitan pizza recipes are 60% hydration and then there are canotto-style pizzas that are 80% but a *#@& to work with unless you have the right flour, some experience and a brave heart. 

2 What are the percentages?
These are called baker’s percentages. They tell you how much of all the other ingredients to use, relative to the amount of flour, so that you can easily scale the same recipes up or down, maintaining the same proportions of each ingredient. I also like to suss it out when looking at other dough recipes, to learn from other pizza makers.

3 Won’t the salt kill the yeast?!
A lot of recipes advise adding the salt later, but this doesn’t make any difference in my experience, and I find it more convenient to just mix everything in one go. The salt acts to slow down the yeast, but in this case, that’s a good thing. If your room temperature is very, very cold then it may be worth mixing the flour, yeast and water first to give the yeast a head start, before adding the salt.

I did some digging to see if this was just me, but seems others like Bake with Jack and Food Geek also shared similar experiences in their YouTube videos.

4 Help! My dough over fermented!
Don’t stress! Remember: pizza is supposed to be FUN. Also, this helpful video by Vito Iacopelli will have your dough sorted in 3-4 hours.

Got a question?

DM me: @leopardcust

As someone who makes and eats pizza everyday, I’m here to share my slices! 🌏🍕 I’m more than happy to clarify anything above or troubleshoot any pizza issues, so don’t be shy!