Trying to stretch out your pizza dough can be a huge pain if you’re not treating it right. If it quickly pulls itself back in after being stretched out and tears easily, you’re going to struggle to get the pizza base you want.
Although this might be annoying, it’s actually not uncommon. A lot of people struggle to shape their pizza dough properly, so there’s nothing to worry about.
When your pizza dough is like this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve made bad dough, you might just not be handling it properly so the gluten is tightening up.
Tight gluten is the most common cause of dough that’s difficult to stretch. When gluten is tight, it’s very elastic so it springs back easily. Get your dough to room temperature before you work with it and let it relax for 15 minutes if it feels too tight. Relaxed gluten is easier to stretch.
Any good pizza dough needs to be easy to stretch. If it’s too stiff and hard, you’re going to struggle to get it to a good size and thickness and it won’t cook well.
If you’re interested in expanding your baking equipment collection and becoming a better pizza-maker, feel free to check out my favorite baking tools. Once you start to use these, you’ll start to have a much easier time making any kind of bread.
The main component of great pizza is the crust, so it’s important that you nail it.
Making a good pizza is down to the recipe, ingredients, and the way you handle the dough, so here are some notable tips for handling your dough with ease.
1. Let It Relax
Never try and stretch your pizza dough out if you have just been working with it. Shaping it into a ball or kneading it will cause the gluten to tighten up and the dough will become more difficult to stretch, so you need to have patience.
You’ve probably noticed that dough becomes significantly more stiff when you knead it. You want your pizza dough to rest so your gluten can completely relax. When the gluten is allowed to relax, it becomes much more pliable and stretchy.
If you’re struggling to form your dough, simply leave it to rest for 15 minutes or so and come back to it.
After the rest period, you’ll notice that the dough feels much softer, lighter, and easier to stretch.
2. Bring It To Room Temperature
If you have been proofing your dough in the fridge, you don’t want to take it out and start working with it right away as it will be too difficult.
You see, the gluten tightens up in cold dough and is therefore more difficult to stretch and shape, so you’ll have a hard time getting it to the size you want.
The best thing you can do is take your dough out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for around an hour or until there’s no longer a chill to it.
Once the dough gets warmer, the gluten will become more relaxed and you should be able to easily stretch it to your desired size.
3. Use The Right Flour
Okay, so there’s not technically a ‘right’ flour to use for all types of pizzas, but the three most common are bread flour, all-purpose flour, and 00 flour.
The classic flour to use would be type 00 flour as it used to make traditional Neapolitan pizza, but you can still get away with using the other two.
People get great results with both all-purpose and bread flour, but the textures can come out differently. All-purpose flour gives the pizza a softer crust whilst bread flour gives a chewier but crispier crust.
The main thing to consider when making pizza dough is gluten development. You want a good amount of gluten, but not so much that it makes your crust too chewy. This is why some people prefer to use all-purpose instead of bread flour.
If you’re struggling with dough that’s very tight and tears easily, consider changing what flour you use. Try using type 00 flour for a good amount of gluten development and crust texture.
4. Find The Right Stretching Method
You might be having difficulty stretching your dough because of the technique you’re using. Some people find certain stretching methods easier than others, so you should find the methods that work best for you
When I first started making pizza dough, I found the easiest way to stretch it out was by using ‘The DJ Method’, but everyone has their own preference.
Since stretching dough can be so awkward, it’s very important to figure out what you like the most. Once you get good at the first method, you can try out other ways and become more experienced with handling your dough.
Take a look at this video so you can get a better understanding of how to stretch it out.
5. Get The Hydration Level Right
Getting the water content of your dough right doesn’t have to be difficult, but small mistakes can mess it up.
You need to get your dough to a point where it contains enough moisture to be very workable but not too much so it’s difficult to handle.
Having the hydration level too low will leave you with a dry dough that won’t be sticky and won’t stretch as much as you want it to. Additionally, it likely won’t give you the crust you’re aiming for.
Having the hydration level too high and you will likely have a mess on your hands. Dough that’s wet is often very sticky and difficult to handle. You’ll have to use a lot of extra flour when shaping it and be careful not to tear it.
Make sure that you use the right amount of flour and water by measuring your ingredients by weight. Avoid using volume to measure ingredients as this can throw off the ratios of your dough.
To be sure that you’re not adding too much flour and drying out your dough, you should stay away from adding more flour when you’re kneading it. The dough will be sticky when you start kneading it but it’ll soon start to stick less. You always want a little stickiness in your dough, so only add extra flour if you need to.
6. Don’t Use A Rolling Pin
One thing to absolutely never do is use a rolling pin on your pizza dough. It ruins the dough by pushing out any trapped gas and compressing its texture.
You might find it difficult to stretch your dough by hand, but rolling it out won’t improve it. It’s actually going to make the dough worse. Yes, it will ‘stretch’ the gluten, but not in the way it’s meant to be stretched.
Your hands are always your best tools for shaping and stretchy pizza dough, so don’t try and cheat by using a rolling pin. Just persevere and your pizzas will come out significantly better.
Important Steps To Making Good Pizza Dough
Making pizza dough that tastes great takes experience and effort, so it’s not often that an inexperienced person can make good pizza dough on their first few attempts.
This is why it’s so important for you to understand what goes into making pizza. You should know the techniques, the correct amount of ingredients to use, and how to improve its flavor.
Here’s what you should consider in order to make great pizza dough.
One thing that can make any dough better is time. Leaving your dough in the fridge for a day or two will give it much more complex flavors and your pizza will be significantly better.
By lowering the amount of yeast you use, you can leave your dough in the fridge for a few days to get far better flavors than you’d get from just a few hours.
Getting the baker’s percentages right in your pizza is essential to making sure that you get the dough consistency and texture you desire.
It’s best to keep the hydration of your dough around 60-70% so you can make sure it’s easy to handle, has a nice texture, and isn’t dry.
Keep the salt in mind too. You should aim for a salt level of around 2-3% for optimum results. The salt helps control the yeast activity as well as giving more flavor to the pizza.
Here’s something that every great pizza chef has. You absolutely need to be confident in everything you do to make the best pizza.
You need to be able to mix, knead, proof, and bake your pizza with complete confidence or you’re more likely to mess up.
Of course, confidence comes with experience, so you best get on with making those pizzas as soon as you can.