The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pizza dough always seems to become fragile + stick to proofing box.

danmatthews's picture

Pizza dough always seems to become fragile + stick to proofing box.

Hello all you Fresh Loaf bakers, i've another question for you all today: how do you store, ferment, and retrieve your pizza dough in small or large batches?

I have these boxes, which i purchased from ebay in a "pizza making starter kit":


What i'm finding is that - no matter if i heavily flour / semolina the tray, my dough always feels "overproofed" and fragile when i'm trying to retrieve it from the box.

I use the Roberta's Pizza Dough recipe ( and usually cold-proof for 24 hours or 72.

Even if I only cold-proof for 24 hours, the dough sticks terribly to the plastic base, the sides of the box, and is almost impossible to retrieve without it being a terrible mess.

I've also tried (as suggested by an article i read) fridging the dough without a lid for the first two hours of cold proof to allow excess moisture to disperse.

I really want to nail this, as i'm planning on doing bulk amounts of dough for events.

The things i can think of are:

- The type of plastic is wrong / isn't helping?
- My fridge isn't cold enough (seems fine for beer!)?
- I'm maybe not building enough strength in the dough in the stand mixer / food processor before fridging it?
- Would oil instead of flour / semolina help?

Any help at all is really appreciated - thank you all!

dbazuin's picture

Is the flour your using strong enough for long fermentation?

For example Caputo has pizza flour for shorter and long fermation. 
I use the flour for long fermation. And that seems to work fine. Not that I use box a like this. 
I put the dough straight from the proofer in the fridge and devide later.  

It stays in the fridge for about 24 ours. 

danmatthews's picture

Hmm, I'm using an organic bread flour with 12.5% protein content, that seems identical to caputo's protein content.

I do use it 50/50 with a Type 00 flour from the same miller though, so perhaps it's that that's the culprit?

I'll do some experiments - what's the potential problem here, that the starches are exhausted over a 24-hour cold proof?

dbazuin's picture

Is is not only about protein. The are other factors that makes a dough stronger.

The article a read was in Dutch so maybe not very helpfull for you. 

idaveindy's picture

Suggestion: maybe try some other containers that you have around the kitchen, with small tests, to see if it's the type of plastic.

IMO, that  container has too many nooks and crannies on the outside to be truely food grade. You can't get in all those tiny spaces and corners to completely wash.  You'd have to use a toothpick.

And, that extra  "step" on the inside is not truely food-grade either.  You want rounded corners/edges on the inside  for easy washing.

Here's what a dough tray should look like with smooth corners:

Your's looks more like a non-food container that is not expected to have regular washing.  Granted, _shape_ is not directly connected to the type of plastic used, but it "hints" at it.

danmatthews's picture

I totally agree - i think it's food grade "plastic", i.e. it won't leach chemicals into the food, but that step in the bottom is a pain in the arse - and you're right, it's a pain to clean.

I've already got another box on the way from bakerybits for doing larger amounts of sourdough at home ( - I'll try in this and see if there's a difference.

naturaleigh's picture

I just use a high-sided large roasting pan and don't have any issues.  My recipe also includes bread flour, durum and olive oil and I don't have any issues with sticking unless I use too much water.  I'm also using a sourdough-based recipe rather than dry yeast.  I used to use Tipo 00 flour but could not tell the difference so exclusively use bread flour or high quality AP flour (Heartland Mills is my current fave).   I mix the dough up in the evening, let it bulk a bit, then pop it in the fridge for 48 hours, then I shape, proof and use.  The one time I shaped early, then proofed for another day in the fridge, I had similar issues with dough fragility.  It seems to work much better with bulking it a few hours at room temp, then 2 days in the fridge (in the same large bowl), then shaping at the end of the 48 hours, 1-2 hour proof at room temp, then baking.  The dough has much more elasticity and I can get the crust very thin but with nice, chewy bubbles at the edge.  Not sure that entirely answers your question, but maybe it is just a simple issue of your dough being too wet for the flour you are using?

danmatthews's picture

It's totally possible, I'm also looking at this flour I'm using not being able to handle much hydration in another aspect which is my sourdough baking.

From now on i'll bulk in the fridge and separate and do a second rise before use. I was wondering if any pizzeria managers / bakers could let me in on some insight into how they do it at scale too. 

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