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Oct 27, 2012 06:18 PM

my pizza dough fought back

i successfully (and finally) made two great thin-crust pizzas tonite on my pizza stone. however, my pizza dough really fought back at me when i tried to shape it.
here's what happened:
i made this recipe:

from cook's illustrated: •For the dough:
•3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface (see note)
•2 teaspoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
•1 1/3 cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces; see note)
•1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
•1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
For the dough: In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.
Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

ok. i did that. then i put enough dough for 2 wrapped in saran wrap and into a ziplock and into my good freezer. last night i pulled it and defrosted it in the fridge overnight then at 5pm put it in a bowl (unwrapped but with the saran wrap just loosely across the top of the bowl) and it sat at room temp (and rose some) for 2 hours. then i went to try to shape it and then we battled, the dough and i. i got it to pull out by literally picking it up and letting it hang whilst turning it a bit to get it to stretch out.

WHAT did i do wrong? oh...and i used king arthur bread flour.

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  1. Looks good to me. I don't think you did anything wrong. Pizza dough always fights back, IME.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      Pizza dough, most certainly, does not ALWAYS fight back.

    2. Well from the looks of it, freezing definitely did something to the pizza dough. Your technique and ingredients seem fine, so I don't think anything went wrong there. In general, frozen dough is mixed a little differently than dough that's used right away. The former requires a higher amount of yeast to offset the loss of leavening power and additives like dough conditioners because freezing can alter the gluten structure of the dough. I think if you had frozen the dough after forming it you would have been okay but fermenting it in the fridge before freezing may have changed the characteristics of the dough.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chi_Guy

        ahhhh.... so maybe make the dough in the food processor, give it the 1 minute knead and then immediately put it in balls into the freezer? in other proofed/fermented some in the fridge and then again when i put it out on the counter?

        was i right to put it out at room temp for 2 hours prior to using it for the rise? is that enough/too much time?

        1. re: redgirl

          redgirl, according to the gurus on the site it's better to freeze it sooner than later: I take it to mean don't let it ferment in the fridge too long and put them in the freezer once you've kneaded the dough. I'm not sure how to compensate for the extra yeast though :-/

          Now keep in mind that fermentation is key to achieving a flavorful crust. Many pizza places cold ferment their dough for several days for optimum flavor. So if you'll be sticking it your dough ball in the freezer right away and using it soon after it defrosts, your dough won't reap the benefit of long fermentation. If you plan to use your dough balls within a week, I recommend to skip freezing altogether and just pop them in the fridge. They'll have more flavor and you'll avoid the negative effects of the freezer.

          Leaving it out at 2 hours is fine. I sometimes will leave it out for a bit longer if the dough hasn't quite warmed up. I find that it helps makes the dough more pliable, another way to keep it from fighting back.

          Good luck!

      2. That pizza looks great to me. That said, one HUGE discrepancy that I have noticed in various pizza dough recipes is that Italian flour is low in protein and many American recipes call for high-protein (bread) flour. Also, some recipes use time to develop the dough, while others use brute force (lots of kneading). I don't knead pizza dough at all and I never use bread flour. My dough never looks smooth when I am done working with it. I let time do my work for me.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sandylc

          I use Italian 00 flour and it makes the most gorgeous, silky dough that does not fight back and bakes up beautifully. I recommend using 00 if the OP can get some at an import store or similar. Some big grocers with bulk bins of flours will also carry it, or it can be purchased online. I've never used King Arthur Flour 00, but they make one that is reasonably priced. In my opinion, although other US flours can be used, the Italian 00 is such a pleasure to work with and adds such a nice texture to the finished product that I always use it when I have it around.

          1. re: team_cake

            From what I've gathered at (the site for the true fanatics) and some Chow threads, 00 is merely an indication of the fineness of milling (very fine). The protein level is another issue, and Italian 00 actually is a higher protein level than the King Arthur. It's also said that 00 Italian flour doesn't brown well unless you've got an oven that can top 700 degrees or so. But I haven't had the chance to test that. Perhaps that's why King Arthur uses a lower protein flour for their 00; I've never been sure why they don't duplicate the Italian stuff.

          2. re: sandylc

            The type of flour shouldn't make a difference here. Most NYC pizzarias use a high gluten flour which is more like bread flour than 00 flour. The 00 flour is used mainly for Neopolitan type pies. Those have a different texture than the pizzas Americans eat with a very soft crust. Neither type of flour though will improve the elasticity of the dough. According to Jeff Varasano, the main difference is the Italian flour results in a product with lighter spring and bigger air bubbles. He himself mixes the two together as the bread flour will give it the gluten development it needs and some structure.

            1. re: Chi_Guy

              " Italian 00 flour is considered 'soft'— low in the proteins called glutens that give dough its elasticity, like the flour used in the thin and supple Naples-style pizzas so popular in New York. ....The 00 designation refers to how finely the flour is milled, not the protein content. Some 00 flours are around 7 percent proteins, others are 11 percent or higher. "

              According to that quote, (a) 00 does indeed make a Neapolitan-style crust and (b) it's "quite popular" in New York. New York is, last time I checked, in America. It seems many Americans do enjoy this style of crust.

              In my experience, 00 flour does produce a more tender crust, but it is not necessarily "soft" by any means, especially if for a thin-crust pie. I will agree it will produce a more tender product. I find 00 flour so easy to work with that forming a paper-thin crust is very easy, and the dough still holds up to toppings as well as having a pleasant crunch. I'm American and I like the product of 00 flour for pizza dough in terms of taste and to work with, and it's possible the OP may, too, as well as other people who read this thread. I don't think you need to veto the idea of using 00 flour out of hand. Even subbing some bread flour with the 00 may improve the "fighting back" of the dough.

              And, depending on the protein content of the 00 flour, the dough may not lose any (or much) of it's non-Neopolitan qualities. Bread flour generally has 12-14% protein content and 00 for pizza should have 8-10%, which is slightly lower than all-purpose. Regardless, there's no reason OP shouldn't experiment with 00 (or other) flours; they may find it effects elasticity. Of course, kneading is another important component to elasticity, but different flours are a factor that effect the kneading time.

              1. re: team_cake

                NYC pizzas indeed are similar to those in Naples but they are not the same. In Naples they use all 00 flour which as you described creates a thin, delicate crust. You can't pick up a Neopolitan pizza in one hand like a NYC pizza. You have to eat it with a knife and fork. The crust on NYC pizzas by comparison though can be folded and eaten easily because of the higher gluten content. You can't get that using 00 flour alone. Most NYC pizzerias either use all high-gluten flour or a mix of of it and 00.

          3. I have never added ice water to make pizza dough, I start out with lukewarm water to get the yeast going ( a touch of flour and sugar help at this point), and I usually use the dough within the hour.
            I have on occasion stored extra pizza dough in a zip lock overnight in the fridge, but never in the freezer. Perhaps either one of those chilly "points" might have done something to the dough.

            Your Pizza does look fine.

            1. I would let it sit at room temperature longer to let the gluten relax. You can tell by doing the poke test. Page down on this to see how it should look: