The Fresh Loaf

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Wet and thin parts in pizza dough

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hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Wet and thin parts in pizza dough

Hi everyone,

I've benefited greatly from reading various posts on this forum, so I hope someone can give me a couple of advice on my pizza dough handling :)

Basically, I've followed this awesome recipe posted in the Pizza Primer by floydm (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/pizza), but I replace roughly half of the flour with pizza flour instead. The problem I usually encounter, is that my dough develops thin, wet spots when I try to gently stretch it into shape. I don't always see these wet spots before I start putting on the topping, so when I try to slide the pizza off the peel and onto the baking stone, the dough more often than not sticks to the peel, and I've got a roadkill on my hands...

Now, I was wondering if these thin, wet spots occur because the dough has not been kneaded enough? I've followed the instructions in the primer quite accurately, but this tearing that I encounter perhaps suggests that I should knead it even more? I'm using a pretty standard Kenwood kitchen machine with a dough hook for my mixing duties.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions :)

PS: I just watched a youtube video of Alton Brown making pizza dough, and he suggests medium mixing for 15 minutes...

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

When I make pizza, i usually just use ordinary bread dough, like the link says. But my bread dough tends to be a tad wetter than many recipes call for. (I just like the texture of the crumb better that way. I also prefer to use sourdough, but I digress.)

I would guess you have one of two issues. Either the dough is not uniformly mixed, or you just need more flour on the peel. I would be surprised if it's the former, but . . .

I learned, from several sources (Reinhart and commercial pizzarias) that it's best to let the dough rest in the fridge overnight prior to making your pizza -- it improves the flavor and the way it handles, and it also ensures the flour is all equally hydrated. Still, even without that step, you shouldn't have any incomplete mixing if your dough is developed enough to windowpane.

I form a pizza in the classic way -- squash a ball of dough into a "puck" on a floured wooden surface, and then gradually stretch it out into a disc. While I'm doing this, I make sure it's not sticking to the counter by lightly flouring the top and then turning it over from time to time. The stretching exposes fresh, unfloured dough surfaces that tend to stick, so you usually need to add additional flour to take care of this. If it starts to stick, I lightly flour the dough and turn it over again.

Once the pizza is formed (and NOT sticking to the counter), I put it on a floured peel (I prefer flour to corn meal) and give it a gentle shake to make sure it's not sticking. Once satisfied that all's OK, I'm ready to go. I learned to prebake the dough a bit at this point before adding toppings. I like this better because it forms a nice crust over the whole surface, even under the toppings that are added later. (I hate undercooked bread under the toppings -- it's a matter of personal preference.) And NOBODY can have a sticking problem once the dough is prebaked, no matter what the topping.

But, even if you put the topings on and then bake, you should be OK since you've made sure you don't have the "stickies" before you added the toppings. Just don't leave the crust on the peel so long that the dough wets the flour too much to prevent sticking.

ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

thanks a bunch for your reply :)

i also do the retarded fermentation bit by putting the dough in the fridge (at least) overnight. i think it gives the dough a very relaxed feel to it, making it easy to shape.

great advice concerning the short prebake; i haven't tried that myself, but that sounds like a good idea, especially when using "wet" toppings, that might otherwise make a thin dough quickly stick to the peel. 

i guess i should give the dough some time to relax when i stretch and shape it, and probably use some more flour everywhere (on the counter, on my hands and on the peel).

Grey's picture
Grey

I usually set my dough out on parchment, I knead it out with my knuckles in the air (I can't toss it though, I'm not nearly coordinated enough for that) then lay it on baking parchment, that makes moving it around with the peel SO much easier (And that's true of everything I bake, $3.50 at GFS for 100 sheets which I cut in half), if I'm really being fancy I'll dust the sheet with cornmeal first too, sometimes I still get wet spots and if you have to adjust the dough once it's on the parchment it can be a little bit tricky, but it's still a heck of a lot easier than trying to do it off a stone or a peel.

holds99's picture
holds99

It sounds like you're either not thoroughly mixing the dough or it isn't hydrated (wet) enough.  Pizza dough should be fairly straight forward.  I've even made good pizza dough in my Robot Coupe, not often, but I have done it.  Unless I'm making a large batch of dough I usually make it by hand.  That way I can feel the texture and know, by touch and feel, whether or not the dougn is right.  You should be using some olive oil in your dougn mixture and applying some on the exposed edges of the crust just before putting it into the oven.  If the edges get to brown, too fast (before the pizza starts to bubble, just cover them withs strip of aluminum foil to deflect the heat. 

 Anyway, here's a video clip of Richard Bertinet making sweet dough by hand but the same technique can be used for any dough.  Do an experiment and try this hand method and I think you'll be amazed at the results.

http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/video/2008/03/bertinet_sweetdough

Howard - St. Augustine, FL