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Pizza Dough

I am having a terrible time getting this right. I following the directions I watch what the pizza people do. My dough is always too stiff. The good pizza dough is soft, droopy and elastic. I believe that when I knock the dough down, and somewhere in the process I wind up kneeding again is where I go wrong. Help.

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  1. (Shouldn't this be in Home Cooking?)

    Don't make your dough so stiff. Use less flour or more water.

    1. Are you measuring your ingredients by weight or volume? A cup of flour can vary in weight by 1-2 ounces, which will affect the dough.

      When you "knock down" the dough, what method are you using? The point is to redistribute the yeast so they can keep eating. If you are forcefully knocking it down, you are undoing the first rising.

      If the dough is too stiff, it may also need a bench rest. Let the dough sit on your counter/board/work area, covered with a towel, for about 20 minutes.

      You want the dough to be soft and elastic. If it is too sticky, dust it with a little flour. Be gentle with it, though.

      1. Non Congomina gives good advice; you're probably making the dough too dry; experience will teach you to leave it more than a little sticky, and to handle the sticky dough without adding very much extra flour. But King Arthur Flour (http://shop.bakerscatalogue.com/detai...) sells a dough improver product, which is mainly malt powder. You add a couple tablespoons to your dough and it becomes much easier to roll out.

        1. The type of flour makes a world of difference. I get bread flour from a local bakery. When I stopped using King Arthur's bread flour and started using this stuff, my pizza/breads improved about a 1000%. The improvement in elasticity, in particular, was night and day.

          You can play with the level of hydration in your dough and that might help, but if you're using crummy flour, you won't be able to duplicate the results of your favorite pizzeria.

          As far as kneading the dough after it's proofed... that's a huge no no. If your recipe is telling you to do that... track down another.

          3 Replies
          1. re: scott123

            scott123, do you know what brand of flour you get from the bakery, and what % protein it contains? Also, what part of the world do you live in? I know that in the USA the treatment and sale of flour is regulated, which can lead to huge variance in the success of recipes dependant on one's location.

            1. re: Non Cognomina

              Spring King Spring Patent Flour:
              http://www.progressivebaker.com/produ...

              About 13% protein

              I live in New Jersey (home of some of the best pizza on the planet, if I may say ;) )

              1. re: Non Cognomina

                Yes, it is bromated.

                Bromation is just a way of oxidizing/aging flour quickly. The unbromated version of this flour, Spring Hearth Spring Patent,

                http://www.progressivebaker.com/produ...

                should produce the same results if allowed to age for a bit. For those concerned by bromate, that's a suitable alternative.

                Bromate doesn't give me much of a warm fuzzy feeling, but in the context of a thin crust/high heat pizza (bromate is converted at high heats), I'm comfortable with it.

                And working with this flour gives me more joy than anything else I've ever done in the kitchen. Sauteeing onions in bacon fat is a close second :)

          2. Wish I could remember where I read this but the gist is ..... even using the dough from your favorite pizza joint will not produce the same crust at home. The difference between your 500 degree residential oven and a commerical 800+ degree pizza oven makes a huge difference.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sherri

              Commercial pizza ovens are rarely heated that high. The exception would be the wood fired neapolitan style gourmet pizza places. The typical local pizzeria uses a vulcan style oven, set to between 500 and 600 degrees.

              The primary difference between a pizzeria oven and a home oven is not temperature but thermal mass. The thick baking stone 3" on all sides, provides even sustained heat. With the right equipment, this phenomenon can be recreated at home.