The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Shaping Pizza Dough

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Shaping Pizza Dough

Hoping to get some help with shaping pizza dough.  I have made some fine pizzas over the last couple years but never really tried to perfect or learn how to properly shape the dough.  My recipe is simple as follows:

WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH


Ingredients:

2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/2 Tbsp honey/sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast (bloomed)
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup water
1 tbsp white wine (optional)

Instructions:
Mix all together in a bowl until well combined.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Stretch and fold a few times. Let sit for another 5 minutes.  Stretch and fold a few times.  Rest for 5 minutes then divide into two equal portions and let rise for 2 hours in well oiled plastic wrap.

I made 2 pizzas with this recipe yesterday and baked in a 550 degree oven.  The crust came out nicely, but I am sure I can probably get it better if I actually knew what I was doing during the shaping.

The main thing that makes me think I am doing something wrong is the feel of the dough while I am shaping.  After the dough has proofed, I handle it, and it feels super soft and pliable and easily shapes and stretches.  After a minute of handling the dough, it seems to tighten up a lot and not allow me to stretch it easily.  It takes a long process of manipulation and finger poking and pulling till it finally gets to a decent size.  I suspect that what is happening here is initially the dough is super soft due to the proofing gasses.  When I work the dough a bit, it degasses the dough and it becomes stiff.  Correct?  Am I missing a step after proofing of degassing and resting?

Also to note, I like mine thin crust, so I try to get it as thin as possible.

Main questions are:  Is this tightening up of the dough normal?  Can you over manipulate and handle the dough?  Should I be taking it straight from proofing, quickly pull into shape and leave it?  I have watched some videos but they all seem to be professional with all the fancy flipping etc.  I don't want to do that.  I just want to shape a basic pizza dough.

I'd appreciate any help.

John

SteveB's picture
SteveB

John,

The pizza shaping video found here (scroll down the page a bit) might be of interest to you.

 

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks for the video Steve!  You sure work some pizza dough magic with those Brooklyn hands of yours. Also, thank you for opening my eyes to the breadcetera site.  Very nice.

John

kkinderen's picture
kkinderen

Once the dough starts snaping back cover it losely with plastic and let it rest five or ten minutes then go at it again. Repeat as necessary with rests of five to ten minutes. I try not to force it. If it fights stretching I think it is asking for a rest.

EricD's picture
EricD

You can certainly just let it relax for five or ten minutes as already mentioned, and it should open just fine. In my experience a pizza dough that's too elastic/doesn't open well just isn't quite ready yet. I'd try proofing an extra 30 minutes or an hour.

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

I agree with the suggestions for more proofing/more resting- when I make pizza, after the bulk ferment I divide and pre-shape the dough into flat discs about 5-7 inches in diameter (about half an inch thick or less), then cover and let rest/proof for 1.5-2 hours while I preheat the oven and prepare toppings, salads, etc.  When I'm ready to bake, I finish shaping the pizzas, top and bake.

You could also try a weaker flour than bread flour.  This will make the pizza more extensible (stretchable) and the crumb more tender, but will make it more delicate/ easier to tear while shaping. 

Last, you could incorporate some refrigerator time or use ice water to mix the dough- cold temps cause the yeast to give off a bit of glutathione, which makes the dough easier to stretch.


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks for your help folks.  I will try all these suggestions next time.  Also, I like a chewier, crisp crust, so AP flour might not be for me.  Who would have thought pizza would be so scientific!

John

EricD's picture
EricD

One other thing that might help is a shape for proofing. After you divide, do you shape the dough into balls as if they were kind of mini boules or really big rolls? If you don't, try to give it the ball form with a nice gluten sheath covering it, but it doesn't have to be quite as tight as it would be for a boule loaf. I think this would likely give you a better fermentation than just dividing. 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I just gave them a quick loose round shape before proofing.  Didn't make a tight surface like you would a bread.

John

Crider's picture
Crider

This one is of Tony Gemignani showing how to 'push out' the dough:

Also, taking out the oil from your dough will help with the crunchiness factor. Here's another link for more pizza making advice from Jeff Varasano.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Crider.  I actually did omit some oil as I knew oil makes the crust more soft and fluffy.

I will try to perfect the push and stretch method.  I did not use this method yet.

John

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

retard my pizza dough for 24 hours.  This makes it easier to shape.  You can also make a biga and then retard it for 12 hours or moe for better flavor.  When the dough starts to fight back, like doing S$F's, just let it rest a few minutes as kkindersen said and then it will be fine to stretch out some more.  I agree with FourChild too - that there is no need for bread flour and a high gluten flour is not what one wants for pizza dough.  

Try some Mojo de Ajo in place of a little less oil  too!  Yummy .  I like WW in my pizza dough too but use White Whole Wheat sometimes in a pinch.

Happy pizza baking! 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Mojo de Ajo??  Ahem...Arizona snob! 

What does a higher gluten flour do to pizza dough that one would not want?  I am ignorant when it comes to using AP flour in my breads or any non sweet baking. 

John

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is what makes the dough want to spring back.  I can't think of a bread where I would use bread flour now a days unless the other flours in the mix were weak like spelt and Kamut.  Many bakers have gotten away from bread flour for various reasons mainly because they found out US flour are high gluten anyway compared to other countries.  Why spend the extra money when it isn't needed? 

Hey I'm a brownman :-)  Take a head of garlic or two, take the skin off and chop it up .  Cover it by a half inch in a baking dish with olive oil; about 8 -16 oz, not the expensive stuff and bake it a 250 F for an hour or so.  Put it on grilled bread to make some really good garlic bread the easy way.  Brush it on pizza dough before piling on the toppings.   Put it in anything Italian and Mexican - including bread.  Mojo de Ajo is the most versatile of the great condiments out there - a real must have.  I put sun dried tomato and oregano  mine too if Mexican and  - rosemary with oregano for Italian. 

Try adding some fresh minced garlic, rosemary and sun dried tomato to your pizza dough too.  Once you do you won't go back to....eeerrr.....plain.. 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks dabrownman.  I actually use sun dried tomato and minced garlic often on my pizzas.  A specialty of mine, stolen from a local upscale restaurant chain here that I used to work at back in my bartending days (actually they had a location in Phoenix for a good 3 - 4 years but it's closed now.  Called Earl's)

Anyway, this pizza is called California Shrimp Pizza.  Has the following toppings:

1. Shrimp

2. Sun dried tomatoes

3. Pesto sauce

4. Asiago/Parmesan/Mozzarella

Sounds goofy if you are a pizza traditionalist, but it is sooooooooooo good.

I also do a goat cheese, roasted garlic and wild mushroom pizza.

John