How to Stretch Pizza Dough – A Complete Guide

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Pizza being a standard meal in our world has led many of us to acquire the right skills in its preparation. One has to learn how to make the dough of the pizza stretch, which is why many of us will claim that it is straightforward to prepare one at home.

Everyone loves a well-shaped pizza. Whether a rectangular or circular shape, we love it. But this comes with the effort of stretching the dough into these particular shapes.

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Someone has to know about gluten. That is the protein that ensures the dough is chewy. It is usually tight in cold conditions. That will aid the dough to stretch out and snap back more so like a rubber band.

Beofore we go on, check out the recipes below to learn how to make perfect pizza at home.

The trick to stretching pizza dough

Sometimes, we want the shortest route to achieving our goals. Here are a few ways that can make your task a little bit easy.

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1. Bring your frozen dough to room temperature.

Since the dough is cold, you have to warm it for about 30 minutes at room temperature to stretch it. That helps make the dough quite loose for easy shaping.

Sometimes we buy the dough already packed at our grocery stores. If that is the case, then remove the plastic packaging and place it in a bowl. Place the bowl in a warm place for a minimum of 30 minutes.

2.Apply olive oil to the workspace.

It would help if you now got yourself ready to work on the relaxed dough in the bowl. The next step is stretching. Kindly ensure that you don’t apply flour to the working space because it would harden the dough.

What you should do is rub your hands and the work surface with olive oil. That ensures that the dough does not stick onto the work surface. It also ensures that your pizza gets a crispy, golden crust.

3. Pressing the pizza dough

Ensure that the pizza dough is covered with olive oil before you begin to stretch it. So first, flatten the pizza dough into a flat disc. Keep pressing the dough with the palm of your hand till it flattens into a large disc.

Use the three fingers from both hands to press the dough from the center so that it widens. You should ensure that the dough is soft and does not shrink back. If you look at the dough and it is not yet perfectly shaped, you should not be worried.

4. Use gravity and hands to stretch the dough

Some people find tossing up the dough when cooking pretty impressive, but no. The right way to stretch a dough is by keeping it close to you; use your hands to pull when on the surface so that you get an even crust.

Hold the dough with both hands on the edge carefully as the remaining part hangs down. Some people will want to keep an eye on the thickness of the dough. As you rotate the dough like a wheel in one direction, it easily stretches.

Sometimes to confirm if we have done an excellent job, shake the pizza peel, and if it doesn’t stick, then you have done a great job.

Dough relaxation

Most people find it hard to stretch a pizza dough and ask why their dough seems too hard. Here are some reasons for your tribulations and their solutions.

The reasons for toughness are:

  1. You have a dry dough.
  2. You overworked the dough.
  3. Use of wrong flour.
  4. Intense gluten.
  5. The yeast you are using is not working.
  6. A short time of raising

A lot of flour

Too much flour in your dough could be the reason for its toughness compared to the amount of water added to it.

That makes the work of the cook hard. The solution to that is adding less flour. The rule of the more the water, the softer and stretchier it is applied.

An overworked dough

If you work too much on the pizza dough, it could lead to its hardness. That means that the more you mix and blend the mixture, the gluten develops some strains hence forming a network that is too strong.

So you will often find yourself asking, to what extent do I need to knead? The obvious answer is depending on how you want it to be. So sometimes, you might have to study through the instructions on the wheat packaging material.

Examining if the gluten has developed

When stretching pizza dough, you need to know if the gluten has developed a good network. Below are the test methods:

Poke Test

That is where you are required to dive your finger 1cm deep into the dough. That is supposed to let you know if it has developed if the dough springs back.

If it does so, then it is ready for rising, but if it doesn’t, then the gluten development is insufficient.

Windowpane Test

Stretching the pizza dough as thin as possible is another test to check if the gluten has developed.

You should be able to see through the dough without tearing it. If the dough is torn, then more mixing and blending needs to be done.

Wrong Flour  

The type of flour used aids in how you mix and blend your dough. Flour that is stronger and has more gluten will develop faster than others hence a chewy dough. Such types of flour includes bread flour which cannot make good pizza dough.

The stability of a pizza dough depends on the following:

Gluten Content

More gluten makes a healthy pizza dough. If the gluten is less, the dough formed will be soft and does not maintain its shape upon rising. As you purchase your flour, ensure that it does not have too much gluten or less gluten.

Absorption of water

The flour that you use to make your dough should be adequate to absorb water hence a soft dough quickly.

What can make gluten not relaxed enough?

Sometimes, gluten that is not relaxed can make your dough tough. When mixing and blending the dough, the strains get more rigid and more challenging. If the dough feels hard to mix, it is good to let it rest before kneading.

The rest time helps the dough absorb enough water, making kneading easier. But this should not affect your dough stretch because it will still relax when raising the dough. That takes a few hours to some days hence a soft dough.

When yeasts fail in a dough

Whenever your yeast is not working, you end up having chewy and dense dough. So the yeast helps aerate the dough with carbon dioxide by using the sugar in the flour. But other methods can do what the yeast does.

Little kneading

The dough does not have gluten development. So when you knead the dough, strains are formed with walls that enclose the gas in the dough. That is why you notice an increase in the size of the dough when rising.

If the gluten is not fully developed, then the gas is not trapped for the fermentation process. So the gluten weakens over time if left for long, resulting in a chewy dough that will be hard to stretch.

Want to learn mor about pizza dough? check out the articles below.

Hindrances to stretching

Pizza being one of the loved dishes worldwide, its preparation has had some errors and trials. Its recipe varies from being time-consuming, tedious, and comfortable. Regardless of the method we choose, you have to be on the lookout for factors that affect the pizza cooking process.

If your pizza has to be great, you have to have the correct recipe from the word go. The dough that your user has to be well prepared before cooking. Then stretching of the dough is required. Finally, the dough with all the other ingredients on the pan is put into the oven.

Though the process looks easy and straightforward, you still need the right skills and effort to make it perfect. That includes eliminating errors and keenness. Below are some problems you can look into:

The dough

As you stretch your pizza, sometimes the dough easily rips off. So, I will let you know the sources of that problem and how you can rectify that.

Knead Your Dough Properly

As discussed before, kneading pizza dough makes its gluten grow. The more and longer you knead a dough, the more the chances of the gluten forming its network. When kneading your dough, the gluten is formed by the reaction between water and the flour.

The gluten formed is what makes the dough stretchy so that it does not rip. You can knead your dough but still not for long, and still the network forms. The recommended time is 5 to 7 minutes. Too much kneading makes it challenging hence not giving a light, airy crust.

Dough rest

A ripping crust is a problem that we have experienced with most of our doughs. Insufficient development of the dough makes the dough easy to tear. Yet, it is the one going to form a crispy crust.

If your dough is not prepared well, it will shrink back to its original form hence the disappointment. That will burden our work by ensuring that we give more proofing time for the dough before baking.

It is recommended that we allow our dough to rest for a while longer at room temperature to prevent that. That rest period for the dough ensures the gluten relaxes so that the dough is not stiff and rips when stretched.

Even dough stretching

Our hands are used to stretch the dough evenly from the outside. If done from the center, the dough created is usually thin. Other people will want to use a rolling pin, making a fresh dough from a thin cracker crust.

But sometimes, a fragile crust has some challenges that come with it. It will be hard for you to handle it. That is because it won’t be able to hold all the toppings of a pizza. So I recommend a third of an inch thickness for the dough.

High protein flour

Sometimes unending stretching problems like a torn crust could be caused by the flour. The protein that flour has is what forms the gluten, which in turn forms the pizza crust. So flour with high protein content is the best for making pizza doughs.

Besides, it is good to remember that more protein content in flour requires more rest when cooking so that it does not spring back to its initial form due to high elasticity. But now, there are setbacks for this.

Different healthy problems or preferences will make others not want the high protein flour. So you end up having to use some other ingredients to achieve a crispy crust and a mouth-watering pizza.

Pizza that doesn’t use gluten uses other types of flour like brown rice flour, millet flour, and dry yeast. These are just a few because there are many more. These are not bad at stretching. You will still achieve your intended purpose.

Dough flour

Nowadays, more and more pizza outlets are opening in our neighborhoods and cities. The pizza from these places is pure delicacies. Due to these, we find ourselves amid curiosity and mind-lingering questions.

It is natural to want to do our pizza preparation as well as they do it. So, what flour are these pizza shops using for their dough? That is because it will determine the kind of pizza crust you end up with. That is because of the different content in them, which include:

Gluten

Understanding different types of flour should be a priority because it helps us make our stretching activity easier. Some of the flour you can use include All-purpose white flour, gluten-free flour, and artisan bread flour.

Different flours have different textures depending on the amount of gluten in them. Some flours have low gluten content, like the cake and pastry, while all purposes have a  very high gluten content.

Your pizza dough texture is dependent on the amount of gluten in the flour. That gives the dough a stable texture; hence it is crucial for the pizza dough stretch. Gluten which is found in wheat, gives the dough its a stretchy factor.

Below are the two most commonly used flours:

All-Purpose Flour

Since all-purpose flour can be used for anything, the flour can make a thin pizza crust. The reason for that is because the gluten in all-purpose flow is not as much as that of others.

Its low gluten content makes it not rise as high as other doughs with many gluten contents. Due to its lower gluten content, the dough won’t rise as high as dough containing a lot of gluten when used along with other pizza dough ingredients.

The challenge of using this flour when cooking pizza is that it may not withstand the tension when pulled apart when stretching. Due to the pressure, it gets easily torn.

Pizza types for this flour

The flour being one of the best for pizza, it is used in some of the world’s largest cities like New York. It aids in the preparation of pizza like the Neapolitan style pizza and new york style pizzas. Its nature of not treating apart or spring back helps create a good pizza.

Bread Flour

That is the second-best flour for pizza preparation. It has a higher protein content for gluten than all-purpose flour. The gluten content, as discussed earlier, helps the dough become stretchy and less challenging.

A dough made of bread flour is thick, fluffy, and soft. That makes it easier to stretch without being torn. The high gluten content makes it springy, hence unable to bounce back to its original form after it has been stretched.

This flour is used when you want to form a thin crust but doesn’t tear apart when stretched. It is also used for people that do well with protein in their meals as it has gluten.

Flours without protein for pizza

One example of this type of flour is almond flour. That is used by people that don’t use proteins in their meals. It is straightforward to cook with and recommended for first-time cooks for gluten-free pizza as it is reliable.

Though the pizza may not be stretchy enough, you are advised to add some little protein ingredients when making the dough to make up for the gluten’s absence that aids in the stretching.

That ensures that the dough formed does not get torn when stretching and still maintains its structure. We all want a well-shaped pizza whether it is circular or rectangular. What is essential is neatness.

Items that aid in pizza dough stretch

When stretching pizza dough, we have to be keen on some issues despite how we differ in our preparation methods. Always ensure that you sprinkle some flour on the baking surface so that the dough doesn’t stick.

Sometimes after stretching, the dough still springs back and then makes a point of letting it rest for a while before the stretching’s resumption. As you stretch, never let the dough’s center point be thin because it could grow a whole.

Below are the ways that you can use to stretch your pizza dough into whatever shape you want.

Dough Tool Kit

A dough tool kit contains the following items that will ensure your stretching is a complete success. These include a pizza peel, a pizza stone, and a cutter.

Some of you will want to use only fingertips to do the stretching because you will claim that the dough won’t spring back no matter what, which is true.

Some say you should use the power of gravity where you act like you are steering the wheel. Hold the dough perpendicularly to the pan or your surface of work. Then hold it as you turn your hands anticlockwise or clockwise.

The process of stretching a pizza dough

Preparation work

The first and the most crucial stage of stretching is first getting the pizza dough. That could be by purchase or homemade preparation. That is because without the dough then what would you be stretching.

Make sure that the dough is fresh. Sprinkle your workspace with some flour, and remember not to overdo the sprinkling; otherwise, the dough will be chewy. That will ensure that the dough does not stick on the workspace and start giving you any problems.

After doing that, now place your dough on the work surface. Spin that dough while holding it with your hands at the edges. Try and shape it a bit into the shape that you desire.

Stretching

Flatten the dough by pressing it out into a circular or rectangular shape. Place the hand that you’re comfortable with away from the edges of the dough. Slowly, push the hand down into the dough as you spread your fingers and rotate your wrist.

Don’t remove your hand from the dough, which can make the dough not evenly spread.

Hanging

That is done by raising half of the dough, so the rest sits back on the work surface. Hold the crust side with your thumb due to the weight and the upper side with the index finger as it cannot damage the shape of the dough.

Then pull apart the dough edges slowly so that it spreads gently without tearing—that aids in the comfortable stretch. Move-in circular clockwise or anticlockwise till the dough shape is even.

Throwing

Pick the dough with one hand, place it on it gently, and then transfer it over onto the other hand. Do this severally with gentleness, and don’t allow it to slip away from the hand. Ensure that you don’t enclose the dough between your palms but let it slide freely.

A clockwise rotation is advised so that your hand moves closer to your body and reduces tidiness and a circular shape to form.

Homestretch

That is where you use your fists to stretch the dough. You place the dough in between them and stretch it gently as you rotate it. Criss-cross your arms and keep rotating furthermore till an exact shape is realized.

Finalization

Now set the pizza dough back onto the work surface gently in a circular or rectangular even shape. That is now ready for toppings, and you can successfully pat yourself on the back.

Kindly take note

Always ensure that you use gentleness to put it back. That is because you will be able to notice any non-uniformity on the dough. The dough could be torn, and a hole develops. So it is at this point that you press it firmly so that an exact shape is formed.

Conclusion

When stretching your dough, the type of flour used and how you stretch it is crucial. It would help if you capitalized your effort in getting the best gluten content flour.

Knead your dough within a given period. Ensure that the dough is not chewy for easy stretching but not too much to be torn apart and the perfect pizza dough is realized.

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