The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pizza Boy trying to perfect pizza dough at home

Plane1's picture

Pizza Boy trying to perfect pizza dough at home

Hi Pizza Dough Enthusiasts!?

I work at a local pizza shop, not a chain, and after mastering the assembly of the pizzas. I decided to try making some of the specialty pizzas at home, instead of paying the specialty price, but I'm having issues with the dough/crust. the dough is very firm, not as in over toasted, just near to impossible to chew, making the pizza less enjoyable. Iv read some othe posts talking about similar issues, but what they suggested was using a stone, and raising the heat as high has possible 500, 750, claming pizza shops heat theirs to 900-1000 degrees. well at the pizza place I work at we use pizza pans and heat to 425, taking about 15 mins to finish a pizza.


The recipe I used:      Note: I used all purpose flower, and I might have used extra virgin olive oil or somr variation of oil not sure right now
* 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling (Chef's Note: Using bread flour will give you a much crisper crust. If you can't find bread flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour which will give you a chewier crust.)
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1 envelope instant dry yeast
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees Fy
* 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons

Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

I asked around at the pizza shop to compare recipes and they use the same basic ingrediants, to what ratio I do not know, Im still knew. I had one batch that came out superior, but not perfect and I think with that batch I used hot tap water instead of just normal tap water. that batch of dough seemed way softer than the dough we have in the shop, the shop has dough that holds its basic form instead of pulling into a string when you try to pick it up.

Id like to mention that I am a college student, which directly corilates to the amount of "Dough" I have. "Haven't heard that one before in the 'Bread Forum' geez" so any suggestions or recipes please keep in mind a low budget.

I now have new pans to test out, similar or the same as the shop has. they use crisco on the pans, not sure if that has a huge difference I was just spreading butter on the cookie pans I was using.

My intention are to have an high quality easy dough, just something that isnt rock hard. I hope to be able to create a somewhat resturant looking pizza at home. I know how to top it, and I dont really want to experiment with different alterations a whole lot, but some good dough advice or recipes would be greatly appreciated. just imagine all of the new friends that would want to hang out knowing I make the best pizza around. 

Thank you in advance,
Pizza-Maker Paul

patnx2's picture

Paul first of all realize that really good pizza is more then a recipe. Many variables that include consistency ,get a scale thermometer, and a stone. I would suggest learning bakers %. How hot your oven gets,usually home ovens are 500 to 550. With different flours there is a different need for water, AP flour needs less water then higher gluten flours.  What style pizza are you wanting to make? Thick crust,cracker or deep dish etc.  And of course practice more. Continue to post questions and tell of your progress. Good luck and prepare for a fun journey. Patrick from Modesto

breadboy025's picture

A few words of advice:  I have been making pizza for about 3 years now and have better and better success the more I do, but the best thing I did was to get Peter Reinhart's book about Pizza.  It has a number of recipes in it and they all work pretty well.  You begin to get a feel for it when you make enough, but what seems to be the best trick is to let the dough ferment in the refrigerator for 1-5 days.  When you do that, the yeast develops really nice flavor and you get good caramelization of the dough.  Also, try using milk or milk substitute for some of the water.  That adds a bit of richness, and use a stone in the oven.  Set the oven for 500-550 (whatever the top is) for an hour or so, get the stone nice and hot but don't touch it.  Get a pizza peel and/or parchment paper and slide the pizza directly on the stone.  Buttering the pan is something i have never done, but I don't think it is as good as direct contact with the stone.


The type of mozzarella is also variable--I actually find Walmart brand mozzarella the best but experiment around.  Too much oil in the dough will lead to a lax dough in my opinion, and working it when it is cooler rather than at room temperature helps with the stiffness factor.  Let me know what you find out because I am always looking to improve as well.


Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

I find I get the best results when I make a biga the night before with a very small amount of yeast (just a pinch) and enough flour and water from the original recipe to make a somewhat stiff dough. (The ratio should be about 2/1 by weight, with twice as much flour as water.) I let this rise overnight, first for a few hours on the counter, and then in the fridge. The next day I add my salt and the rest of the flour and water from the recipe. I want to end up with a very loose dough. I mix this up in my KA at medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough clears the sides, but not the bottom.  I let this double at room temp, then shape.  The baking, of course, is done in the hottest possible oven on a stone. I find the biga not only improves the flavor, but makes shaping so much easier.  I seem to get a lot more extendability without tearing.  

Plane1's picture

Well I think im going for a more minimalist answer. Im trying to reproduce the process and outcome that I have seen at work. as far as pizza style? just a regular New York pizza, Im gonna guess deep dish, but to be honest I didnt know there were so many.

Im not really looking for and secret ingredience, or special recipe. Im looking for more of what can I somewhat replicatw this dough from work? everything seems similar, or the same.

where I work:
We cook our pizzas on Pizza Pans
We cook at 425, and the pizzas take 15 min (not 500 or as high as it goes for and hour. I dont understand that)
We make our dough, nead it and put it in the cooler till the next day use

I cant think of anything else you might need to know, but I would like to replicate this proccess and produce a similar quality pizza at home.

Maeve's picture

If you're trying to replicate the dough from work, why not ask them if you can observe or help out when they mix the dough?  Everyone else has given you the information that has helped me over the years:  baking stone, higher heat, Peter Reinhart, retarding the dough, using scales for consistent results.  My recipe has evolved over the years as I learn new techniques and my secret ingredients are King Arthur bread flour, durum flour (I grind it at home, but semolina bought at the grocery store works too) and mashed potatoes.  And provolone cheese instead of mozzarella.


This will sound snarky and I don't really mean it that way, but consider sampling pizza from other pizzerias, especially in other areas or cities.  Because once you've tried the methods and ingredients and techniques everyone else has described above a pizza baked at low heat on a crisco greased pan, you may find that you don't really like it very much.

Plane1's picture

not at all does it sound snary, I just dont have the time, or money currently to experiment with various option. I hope I dont come across as a jerk, when I seem to be getting all this great advise to make great pizzas and im just ingoring it in a way.

but Im just looking to make the basic dough recipe I listed work, for some reason its not working the way I expected. as far as asking about how they make dough, Im usually in the room when they make it, but its one of the jobs they only let certain people do because it can be easily messed up if its not done right.

going from the recipe I posted, not changing any ingrediants, possibly just quantities how can I achieve the following. I will compare my results with the shops dough.

Mine: when I pick up the dough up ready to use it streches out like a string, real druppy.

Theres: when you pick the dough up ready to use it is firm contains its basic shape and is much more controlable, while still easy to spread.

Mine: slightly sticky when spreading and lifts off the pan when lifting hand up. 

Theres: holds to the pan, not sticks, which is good, very easy to stretch using the right technique not sticky to the touch.

Mine: while soft and stretchy when handleing, the dough cooks and becomes hard as if biting into a hard dry sponge, in no way would I consider the dough over cooked at this point, it is Not a cruncky toasted issue

Theres: while firm and holds its shape when handeling. the dough cooks and expands the crust alot, prone to pizza bubbles, the crust is very much air filled, making it soft but crunchy. 

Im just trying to make this dough edible, If I can do that my pizzas are great. I just need small tweaks to the process Im doing to make the dough less horibble. once I can master this basic recipe I will try altering it. 

Thank you for all the advice

breadboy025's picture

Even though you have your set recipe and want to cook it as they do at the pizzeria on trays, you have to understand that home cooking is different than pizzeria cooking--the ovens retain heat differently, the humidity may be different, the size of the oven cavity is different, and so on.  The reason I suggested turning your oven very high for an hour with a stone is to get the stone hot.  the reason the stone works so well is because it heats the dough from below and cooks and raises the dough well, differently than the tray.  I have cooked in deep dish pans, on flat pans, on a stone, in a cast iron skillet.  They all do different things to the dough and your inconsistency could be due to the different way the dough is heated and the different fermentation time before cooking.


Your recipe sounds fine, but if it is coming out slack, try adding 1/4 c of flour (AP or bread) or less at a time to stiffen it up.  Oil in the dough I find also loosens up the dough, so try omitting that.  Also, put flour on the surface that you are using to stretch the dough, which will get absorbed by the dough and help to stiffen it (though you don't want it too stiff).


After stretching the dough, before putting the toppings on it, let it rise for 1 hr or so, and also try cooking it for 4-5 minutes before putting the cheese etc on it.  If you use a peel (which it doesn't sound like), use cornmeal to loosen it from the peel to put in the oven, and on a tray, rather than butter, use olive oil spray.  Crisco you mentioned above?  I don't know but it doesn't sound right.

FlourChild's picture

This to me sounds like your flour is the wrong type.  Flour type is very, very important.  The flour used by your workplace sounds like it has a higher protein content, which makes the dough absorb more water and allows the dough to rise high and have a strong structure.  

Here's my suggestion:  Use a high quality unbleached bread flour.  Don't try anything else until you get the right flour.  After that, be sure to knead the dough long enough (how long are you kneading it for?) so that your structure is strong enough to contain the gases that lighten the dough and make it rise in the hot oven.  Your description of the crust being hard makes me wonder if it has what many refer to as a brick-like texture.  This comes from not enough structure/ kneading.  It can also come from insufficient fermentation- do you leave the dough in the refrigerator for the same number of days that your workplace does?

Good luck!


LindyD's picture

Do you know the specific brand of flour the pizza shop uses?

Is the flour you are using unbleached and unbromated?


Plane1's picture

I dont know to be honest, I was using what ever was in the kitchen, it was white. how exactly do those effect the dough? and no Im not sure what brand they use, I know theres is white to. (I sound cooking illiterate lol) they keep it in a big berral, they make alot of dough. 

cranbo's picture

but Im just looking to make the basic dough recipe I listed work, for some reason its not working the way I expected.

You may want to check out, lots of great recipe examples there, and a ton of pizza experts.

If your recipe isn't turning out, it will be easiest to try out a recipe that has been proven over and over again by other pizza bakers than to try to fix the recipe you have; that's where comes in. If you're looking for a very specific style of crust (chicago deep dish/NY style/cracker/neopolitan/classic american), the people on that forum will have a lot of feedback and examples with pictures. 

If you're that intent on duplicating the recipe from work, try to find out exactly all the ingredients they use. Then perhaps post a photo of the pizza and crust you are trying to replicate, either here or at 

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

I have no doubt I got this recipe right here on TFL.  

Planet1, anyone can give you a recipe.  What you need is help with technique, like the feel of the dough at different stages of mixing and how long to knead and also when is the rise enough of a rise and not too little or too much.  This recipe seems long and complicated, BUT, it isn't.  It just has a lot of detail to help you as much as possible without being at your elbow to help you.  The three flours are common, not exotic and then there is oil, honey, salt, water and yeast.  You can do this.  You will be very proud of your crust with this.  If you don't have a scale, you can find one at a Good Will outlet.  I brought some items to ours yesterday and scanned the shelves.  I found a digital home kitchen scale for under $5.  A bread machine that looked like it had never been used, a Panasonic for under $20.  If you are looking to make pizza dough, you will, in time make breads, then pastries....get a kitchen scale at this stage of your life and you will not regret it as time goes by.  Signed, Paternal 

Sicilian Pizza Crust

5 oz all-purpose flour
13 oz bread flour
8 oz semolina flour (key ingredient!)

2 tsp salt

3 1/2 tsp yeast
1 oz (2 Tbsp) olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
17.5 oz water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand for 7-8 minutes, or in a machine for 6-7 minutes. Form a smooth ball and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Spray the dough with a bit of spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 75-90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Pull the dough up from one side and fold it over the top. Rotate the bowl and repeat.  Do this 2 more times. At about 30 and 60 minutes.

After the dough is done rising, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in 4 equal portions (or 6 for thin-crust pizzas) and form small balls by pulling the sides of the dough under to the bottom. Pinch the seals shut and set on the counter seam side down. If the dough is too sticky, you can either spray some spray oil on your hands, or dust the dough and your hands with flour. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid drying out.

Take one of the balls and form it into a crust by rolling it out or throwing it in the air like a pro. There are plenty of videos on this subject on YouTube, and I highly recommend watching some of them. 

Place the dough on a piece of parchment, cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough proof for about 45 minutes, until it is puffy again. While the dough is proofing, preheat your oven to 450F. It takes a while for most ovens to get there, so do it early.

Poke the dough with a fork all over, and slide the first crust into the oven, parchment and all. A pizza peel or thin cutting board works well here. Bake for 7 minutes, until it is just barely starting to brown in some spots. Remove from the oven, apply toppings, and pop it back in for another 8-10 minutes. You can cook the other crust while you are applying the toppings to the first.

It’s done when it is nicely browned around the edges, and the toppings are starting to sizzle. Let cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes.