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Feb 3, 2004 12:39 PM

Shaping Pizza Dough

  • g

What is the best way to shape/stretch/from pizza dough bought from a restaurant? By hand? Rolling pin?

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  1. Is it best to shape when dough is cold or room temp.?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ghc

      It is best to shape with your hands when the dough is warm and pliable. A rolling pin will flatten the dough too much and will result not result in a light airy crust.

      I start by punching the dough with my hand and then shaping with the tips of the fingers. When it is large enough I then proceed to stretch the dough out further on my fist. It takes a little practice but isn't really difficult.

      1. re: ghc

        I leave it at room temp for the time I heat my pizza stone; at least an hour...I also tend to leave it on top of the stove, where it's warmer...I like to stretch it out, with my hands, on a non-floured counter...That helps the counter grip it, and helps "hold" it while you stretch...Pull it as much as you can in your hands, then put it on the counter, and work around and round the edges with your fingers, holding and stretching as you go...Let rest 5 to ten minutes, then you'll be able to stretch it a little further...Then, put the corn meal on yor pizza peel, and drape it over *that*, then add sauce, cheese and toppings...
        At least, that's what works for me ;)

      2. p
        Professor Salt

        By hand, if you like crust with voids and bubbles. Using a pin rolls out the air pockets in the dough.

        Depends on the dough, too. If you have an over-dry dough, you'll be tempted to roll it out because it won't want to stretch out. Stretch, let it rest, then repeat.

        If you have an wet dough, it'll stretch out really quickly when doing it by hand. Unless you're practiced at making pizzas and can work quickly, it might make sense to use a pin and parchment. For a super-wet dough, you can bake the dough and parchment directly on your stone, but halfway through baking, remove the parchemnt and rotate the pizza.

        1. Let dough stand at room temp-cold dough wil not "work" properly. stretch by hand. Do not use a rolling pin. If the dough fights let rest for a minute or 2.

          1. Yes--roonm temp only. With hands, not a pin. (If a pin is actually needed, then the dough's too stiff from cold znd probably made w/too much hard flour. I recommend at least 1/3 of flour be cake flour [Swanson's is one brand] or Italian '00' flour, avble NYC at Buonitalia in Manhattan's chelsea Mkt, and probably oter specialty stores here and there.

            For a clumsy person like me, using my hands or over stretching it over my fist is still a kind of ritual humiliation. I've seen real experts turn the stuff out so the disk ripples like a silk handerchief, and I hide my face in shame.

            I can't imagine the wet-dough/parchment business--fine if it works for you, but I've seen masters at work: their way is absolute simplicity, and that's what I aim at. Is the wet dough extra crunchy?

            1. In trying a recent apple strudel dough recipe I have learned what some of the other posters have stated above. Before you start, let the dough rest some. In fact the strudel recipe says, roll it into a ball, rest it on a floured surface and cover with an inverted bowl that's been warmed with hot water and dried. Let sit for about 90 mins. I've started doing this with my pizza dough now as well. This developes the gluten. The other thing the recipe indicates is if the dough starts to resist stretching, let it rest for a couple minutes then come back to it. Also mentioned above. I realize the strudel dough is unleavened and the pizza dough is not, but we are talking gluten developement here and these technques apply to both types of doughs.

              Three techniques have worked well for me in the past. When the dough is still small you can flatten it a bit with your hands then holding it vertically between your hands, flop it back and forth from one hand to the other, letting some of it stick out the top and stretch due to the force of moving it back and forth. Kind of like a tongue wagging. Once it gets a bit bigger you can let the dough hang from your hands while grasping it at the edge and simply work around the entire circumference kind of like a steering wheel. Lastly the albeit showy method of tossing the dough is great towards the end. The deal here is to make a fist with both hands and hang the dough from your two fists. Toss it in the air and make sure you give it a twist with your hands. This provides centrifugal force to stretch it very nicely. You should be going for spin here and not necessarily height. Believe me this isn't as difficult as it sounds. With all of these be sure your hands are well floured.

              Good Luck